Do you remember the Mobilegeddon? In the last two months, Google has announced several updates to the search engine algorithm and AdWords: all in the name of the mobile mind shift.
The updates were in response to the impact of the smartphone on the way customers make purchase decisions. Google wants you to think in terms of Micro Moments, ‘in the moment’ opportunities that will change the rules of mobile engagement.
There was a clear statement behind the mobile-friendly update and the new image-format ads: mobile devices have completely disrupted the way people communicate and connect with others, products and brands.
“What used to be our predictable, daily sessions online have been replaced by many fragmented interactions that now occur instantaneously. There are hundreds of these moments every day - checking the time, texting a spouse, chatting with friends on social media.” (Google)
As the smartphone becomes an indispensable companion in our daily lives, we are witnessing a change in the way people search for information and decide what product/service fits their needs the best.
Think about it: when you need to find a quick solution to your problem or to scan deeper into a certain topic, the first thing you do is to reach for your smartphone. It is now pure instinct, especially for younger generations.
This is the Age of the Customer in full display: we don’t just go online, we live online.
How will this trend affect different industries (retail and consumer brands above all)? Consider these insights, collected by Google researchers:
- 91% of smartphone users turn to their phone to look for instant ideas while doing a given task;
- 82% of users turn to their smartphone while they’re in a store, to decide which product to buy and influence the purchase decision;
- 62% of users are more likely to take action right away toward solving a new task because they have a smartphone;
- 90% of smartphone users have used their phone to make progress toward a long term goal or multi-step process while ‘out and about’;
- 69% of online customers agree that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company's message influences their perception of a brand.
Rather than spending long periods of time to research on a desktop or laptop, we now turn to our mobile devices in a continuous series of small sessions. A completely new customer behavior. The challenge for brands, then, is to be visible and reachable whenever customers pick up their phones during these moments.
Fragmented interactions create multiple touch points across all channels. You can’t leave them out when planning your digital marketing strategy. Customer experience turns into mobile customer experience, and the idea of a linear customer journey is now dead and gone.
The customer journey map, shaped by mobile connectivity, is fractured into hundreds of real-time micro moments, driven by specific intents. Each one is a critical opportunity for your brand to engage customers and guide decisions.
Micro moments, as defined by Google, basically unfold through a set of "I want" demands:
“They're all micro moments, and they’re the new battleground for brands.” (Google)
With these very words Google has launched the new website Micro-Moments, a place to gather all insights on customers’ mobile behavior, and help marketers understand the opportunities and challenges of connecting with customers when it matters most, with relevant messages.
Brian Solis, one of the first media guru to talk about Google’s micro moments, has clearly stated on Forbes that micro moments are the real game changers for both customers and brands:
“Here’s the thing, in these micro-moments you are present or hidden, engaging or disingenuous, helpful or inconvenient. Customers expect answers and direction their way, in the right time, on the device and in the channel they are using.”
After defining the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ - that moment when the customer journey begins with a search - Google takes a further step into the fragmentation of our life as human beings and customers. Breaking the map into smaller, decisive fragments.
Here’s the battlefield you may want to control to become customers’ top choice. The constant flow of communication makes it difficult to differentiate yourself from competitors. Shorter attention-span make it even harder to acquire customers and retain their loyalty:
“Google’s concept of micro-moments represent the new frontier (and reality) of digital marketing. It’s all real-time and everything is on demand.” (Brian Solis)
What can you do to ensure that your brand is there when customers need it?
Map the Customer Journey
Map to learn exactly what stages people go through when interacting with your brand, starting with the Zero Moment of Truth.
Trace Key Micro Moments
Use the map to understand those moments when people want to find info, make purchases, learn about products.
Identify Customers’ Needs
For any given micro moment, discover the needs, desires and wants that drive customers' behavior. Put yourself into their point of view.
Use Big Data to Improve
All the data you gather about customers with mobile technology have the primary purpose to find what you might be missing and should improve.
Deliver Content With Context
You can leverage mobile devices to deliver the right content at the right time. Personalized experiences are the key to survive in de-massified markets.
Always Exceed Expectations
Study new ways to meet and exceed customers' expectation. As Walt Disney once said, "Whatever you do, do it so well that people will want to come back".
Test & Optimize the Journey
Find your set of KPIs and measure results constantly. The only way to know if you're delivering a great experience is to improve while dealing with customers.
If the future of society really resembles the picture created by Google, the destiny of your brand identity and digital customer experience starts with identifying these pivotal micro moments. To discover how to take instant action and offer instant gratification to your customers.
"Micro moments happen all the time and all along the consumer decision journey. And they’re becoming the new battleground for brands – where hearts, minds and dollars are won." (Google)
Here's Google livestream event about Micro Moments, with Matt Lawson (Managing Director, Ads Marketing at Google).