What Are Mobile Micro Movements

By Madison Taylor
July 18, 2019
above view of a meeting

Here’s some news that won’t surprise you: people use their smartphones a lot. By some accounts, the average person unlocks their phone around 150 times every day, for everything from taking photos to reading news to social networking.

A lot of those unlocks take the form of “micro-moments.” The idea of micro-moments has arisen from Google in the last few years, describing the small interactions that customers have with brands that don’t fit neatly into the buyer’s journey.

So what do they look like? And how should marketers keep them in mind?

What’s a Micro-Moment?

We all know the basic idea of the buyer’s journey — the process by which strangers become aware of your product, learn more about it, decide that it’s the solution to their problem, and make a purchase. As it turns out, that picture doesn’t tell the whole story.

Over the last few years, Google has turned up an interesting insight from their search data: people don’t always follow a predictable, consistent path from awareness to purchase. Instead, they supplement their buyer’s journey with a series of quick, fleeting interactions — single Google searches or web page views. These are micro-moments.

Micro-moments can be sorted into four basic categories:

  • Learning: customers are far more likely to supplement the marketing materials they’ve seen from a brand with third-party reviews and descriptions. Customers frequently Google a product they see on TV to find out more.
  • Going: searches for “near me” have doubled in the past year, and more than 80 percent of smartphone users use search engines to find local businesses.
  • Doing: how-to videos account for more than 100 million hours of Youtube content watched in the last year.
  • Buying: 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phone when making purchasing decisions in a brick-and-mortar store.

Re-Imagining the Buyer’s Journey

Imagine a buyer wants a new blender. The traditional buyer’s journey would tell us that the customer will do some research first, figuring out what they want in a blender or whether a food processor would be a better fit for their needs. They’ll then start comparing options until they find one that they like. Finally, they’ll make a decision and purchase a blender.

The reality is a little messier. A customer might go straight to Target, which carries six different types of blender. Once there, they’ll eliminate four of them for being too expensive, leaving two options. Only then will they look up reviews on their phone to decide between them.

The steps in the buyer’s journey are all out of order, but this is an increasingly common customer experience. The main driver of this trend is smartphones. Virtually any information you can find on a desktop browser is readily available on mobile, especially since retail apps and mobile websites are increasingly common.

Consider the following statistics about today’s smartphone users from NGDATA:

  • 91% turn to their mobile devices in the middle of performing a task for ideas or inspiration.
  • 65% say that when searching on their mobile devices, they’re looking for the most relevant information – regardless of the company providing that information.
  • 90% don’t have a specific brand in mind when they set out to make a purchase.
  • Among those who do have a brand in mind, 1 in 3 have made a purchase from a company other than the brand they intended to buy from, simply because a competitor provided the information they needed in the moment they needed it.
  • 51% have discovered a new company or brand while browsing for information on their mobile devices.

This phenomenon is a double-edged sword for marketers. On the one hand, we’d like customers to already have our brand in mind when they go to make a purchase — and they don’t. But on the other, there’s a huge opportunity here: to be there when consumers conduct these on-the-fly searches.

What Our Fellow Marketing Pros Are Saying

Micro-moments represent a potentially major shift in the landscape of mobile marketing, so we wanted to know what other marketers had to say on the subject.

From Jim Yu, Founder and CEO of BrightEdge:

“Savvy marketers capture customers earlier in the decision-making process by creating content that speaks to those explorative I-want-to-know or even I-want-to-be-inspired moments.”

The availability of customer data has never been better — today’s marketers have no excuse for not knowing what their customers want, where they’re looking for it, and how they’re trying to find it. If marketers are going to properly make use of the new-look buyer’s journey, they’ll have to take advantage of that knowledge.

From Joei Chan, content marketer at Mention:

“When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance, and usefulness of marketing more important than ever.

Since our preferences and purchases are shaped in these micro-moments, the brands that do the best job of addressing customers’ needs in each moment – notably on mobile – will enjoy a huge competitive edge.”

The important thing to remember is that although mobile browsing and purchasing may be gaining on (or even surpassing) desktop search, it’s not replacing it. Desktop browsing still constitutes nearly half of webpage visits, and there are still plenty of people who will spend an hour on their laptop finding the best vacuum cleaner before they set foot in a store.

What micro-moments offer is the opportunity to supplement your current content marketing approach with new formats and new material — material specifically designed to take advantage of the openness of mobile users to new brands and new products.

Even though Google first reported their findings on micro-moments back in 2015, most brands are still committed to the linear idea of the buyer’s journey. These new trends in mobile browsing can give you the ability to get ahead of the curve and access customers you never would have reached otherwise — as long as you’re willing to embrace them.