Once upon a time, there was a saying in advertising: he who shouts the loudest gets heard clearest. The ‘Golden Age of Advertising’ (think sharply dressed ad executives chain smoking cigarettes with fully stocked office bars) seems like an alien world compared to today’s advertising landscape. Due to the technology available and the limited number of accessible media outlets, it was relatively simple to predict the media consumption patterns of your target audience.
Take TV for example, there were only a handful of channels that were watched by a majority of the population. By showing an ad on just one of these channels, you were almost guaranteed to hit a majority of your target market. This also meant that the largest brands with the largest budgets were often the ones who were heard.
With the widespread adoption of powerful mobile devices, the way in which we consume media, as well as interact with brands, has fundamentally changed. The regular, predictable, and extended opportunities to get in front of your customers have by and large been replaced by fragmented and intent-saturated sessions. These micro-moments, a phrase coined by Google to represent these short and sporadic bursts of mobile search activity, are full of I-want-to-moments: I-want-to-buy, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-know, I-want-to-do. Micro-moments present a huge opportunity for brands and allow them to provide customers exactly what they want, precisely when they are looking for it. This is especially true in the world of retail, where customers have an almost unlimited capacity to research, compare and contrast from anywhere. Factors of convenience, including hours of operation, proximity to the customer, and price are often the primary determinants in a customer’s purchase decision.
How can you win the hearts and minds (and wallets) of consumers during these micro-moments?
Easy: Be There, Be Useful, Be Quick.
They say in life, showing up is half the battle. In this case, it’s more like one-third of the battle. 51% of mobile users have discovered a new brand or product from a mobile search. One-third of smartphone users have purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they needed it. Today’s customers aren’t as loyal to brands as they once were; they are now loyal to needs. Whether they’re looking for a new TV, a new pair of shoes or a new couch, it’s highly likely that they will at some point turn to Google for information. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think of common searches they may be using. Use these as keywords to get in front of them during their micro-moments. How can you plan around the way people actually use Google Search? Google Trends is a great tool to analyze historical search data and is a great place to start planning your search strategy.
Being useful has everything to do with providing the customer what they are looking for in their moment of need. What kind of information would retail customers likely be looking for during a micro-moment? Store location, hours and a phone number are all safe bets. The importance of a phone number cannot be stressed enough. Smartphones, however wildly advanced they have become, are still phones. A human interaction with a knowledgable representative can still be, in many cases, the quickest resolution to a question or problem. Click-to-call and call-only-ads are an excellent way to drive calls to your business. Google+ is a great place to start when preparing for your micro-moments. It is a great (free) way to list your store’s location, hours and phone number directly in search results. More advanced options for retailers include shopping ads, which allow eCommerce business to advertise products, prices and availability right in search results.
No one likes to wait around in real life. This is true in the digital world as well. Studies have shown that even the smallest delay in load time (we’re talking fractions of a millisecond) have been shown to drastically reduce conversion rates. Having a quick loading mobile website or app is crucial. Being quick is not just about load time. Reducing the steps of a purchase funnel can also be a huge advantage. Finally, anticipate your customer’s needs. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine the kind of information they would be looking for on-the-go and in-the-moment. This goes hand in hand with being useful. Don’t overload them with a responsive version of your full site, which may be slow to load and full of irrelevant information to the mobile, on-the-go customer. Stripping down your mobile experience leaving only the most relevant features will improve the customer experience from a usability standpoint in addition to reducing load times.
To put the usage patterns of today’s mobile user into context, think about this: the average mobile user has 150 interactions with their phone every day, spread out across just 170 minutes. Without a doubt a majority of these interactions are focused on keeping in touch with those we care about, whether it be text messaging or checking social media channels. However, they also involve intent saturated bursts of internet browsing. Whether they are focused on finding a place for dinner, finding out when their favourite shoe store is open until or checking the stock of the newest Star Wars video game at nearby stores, the context of these searches present a huge opportunity for retail businesses of all sizes. It’s no longer about who can shout the loudest, rather, it’s about who can communicate their customer focused solutions most effectively and at the right moment.