As technology continues to evolve and improve, how we live our lives is also constantly changing. And because we live in a consumer-orientated society, new technologies are assuming a greater role in how we buy and consume goods and services, creating a new paradigm in the process.
In the “old days,” long before the internet and smartphones, the yellow pages, TV ads, and print media were the standard means by which consumers learned about products, but today’s tech-savvy consumers do their own research in a series of “micro-moments” that work in a circular process. Successful brands that understand these micro-moments and how they relate to their consumers are poised for even greater success as smartphones improve and wi-fi continues to expand.
The term “micro-moment” was first coined in a 2011 e-book written by Jim Lecinski and published by Google, titled, Winning in the Zero Moment of Truth. The book was immediately a hit with those in the advertising, search, social, and marketing spaces, whose goals were to connect with consumers when the consumers were beginning their “discovery” of a brand.
According to Lecinski, there are actually a series of micro-moments, starting with the “zero moments of truth” (ZMOT), when the consumer decides to look for a certain product or service. The ZMOT is then followed by the “first moment of truth” (FMOT) when the consumer sees a brand’s product, and the “second moment of truth” (SMOT) follows when the consumer experiences the product. Finally, the “ultimate moment of truth” (UMOT) is when the consumer shares his or her experience of the product and brand online with other potential consumers. In the years since Lecinski’s book was first published, the concept and definition of micro-moments have evolved, but its importance in the consumer landscape has only grown.
As the idea of micro-moments garners more attention and evolves in its own right, consumers, and brands that understand the trend will benefit. Because micro-moments represent a non-linear journey through the customer experience, consumers will have more options to learn about and connect with brands, while at the same time, brands will have more opportunities to expand their consumer base resulting in more initial sales and return sales in the form of brand loyalty.
Find the right moment
Tracing the background of the micro-moment phenomenon is not difficult, because, unlike many other modern marketing trends, it’s almost entirely a product of the Internet Age. Before the internet, brands had fewer options to connect with their potential customers. TV ads, billboards, and print ads were the extent of pre-internet advertising, and although they were effective at the time, the connection they made with the consumer usually took much longer than a moment. After the consumer sat through or read the ad, he or she would have to go to the brick-and-mortar store, and then they would also often have to talk to a salesperson. Each step in the process obviously took many moments.
As time-consuming as this process was, it was the only way brands connect with potential or existing customers. For example, if an appliance or electronic equipment malfunctioned, a consumer either had to call a professional or worse, read the owner’s manual, which was usually as arcane as hieroglyphs to most people. But the emergence of the World Wide Web, and later smartphones, streamlined the consumer process into a series of moments, where the average consumer has much more control and brands have more opportunities.
The most recent evolutionary step in micro-moments involves the ubiquitous nature of smartphones in modern society. It’s important to consider that when Winning in the Zero Moment of Truth was first published, smartphones were relatively new. The iPhone was first released in 2007 and the Android system came out in 2008, so when Winning was published not everyone had a smartphone, and many who did still used them like an earlier generation cell phone. But as smartphone technology improved, people became more comfortable using them for many aspects of their lives, including research on consumer products.
According to a Google study, 62% of smartphone users are more likely to take immediate action when they encounter an unexpected problem, which creates micro-moment possibilities for many brands. Another example of how smartphone uses influences micro-moments was demonstrated in a 2015 Google study.
In that study, it was revealed that 82% of smartphone users utilize their phones when making a potential purchase at a brick-and-mortar store. Consumers are using their phones to research products and in doing so they take immediate action, sometimes altering their initial decisions. The disruption caused by smartphones in the consumer world has made the concept of the micro-moment even more important for brands and has redefined it in some ways.
Lecinski’s basic concept of the micro-moment still holds true today, but as micro-moments have grown in importance thanks to smartphones and the growing popularity of YouTube, the key moments are defined as “know,” “go,” “buy,” and “do,” but not necessarily in that order. And because micro-moments are not linear, brands have begun integrating multi-channel and omnichannel marketing campaigns with micro-moments.
Brands are now “mapping” each micro-moment of a consumer’s journey, which can be done by creating personalized social media experiences, interactive media, and purchases that are easier. A number of brands have been successfully utilizing micro-moments for quite some time, so let’s take at a look a couple that may provide a roadmap for other brands.
Micro-moments in action
As micro-moments become a more important element of the success of companies, there are a few notable examples of those that know how to take advantage of key moments. The pizza and food delivery business offers an interesting example of how technology at first extended the number of moments in the consumer experience, before Domino’s brand shorted it to a series of micro-moments.
Some of you may remember back when you had to call Domino’s to order a pizza. Many thought that the online ordering process would simplify things, but it instead added an estimated 25 more steps. The executives at Domino’s knew that was just too many moments for their consumers, which was confirmed by the low number of people who were ordering online. Domino’s responded by reducing the number of steps and as a result, online orders increased by 60%.
Hyundai is another brand that has recently taken advantage of micro-moments, namely the “know”/research moment. There are many micro-moments involved in the purchase of a car, so Hyundai took advantage by bringing test drives to potential customers’ homes or by meeting them in neutral locations. This strategy eliminates steps in a potential consumer’s journey while emphasizing the all important moment of knowing.
The future of micro-moments
Among the micro-moment trends to watch out for in the future, perhaps the greatest will be the increasing importance of social media. Most people today have some type of social media account, and most brands are seeing this as a key way to connect with their consumers at multiple moments. YouTube in particular has been a useful way for brands to connect with their consumers at the “do” moment.
A good example of a brand connecting with consumers on YouTube would be a company that sells cooking utensils. In order for the brand to take advantage of the moment when consumers are cooking in the kitchen (do moment), they can create a cooking channel on YouTube that features the brand’s merchandise. This is a great way for a company to create brand loyalty and create a cascade of more micro-moments in the process. The numbers show that the nexus between YouTube and other social media and micro-moments will continue, offering more opportunities for brands and consumers.
As the younger generations become the key consumer demographic in the US, statistics show that how brands reach them in a micro-moment will be vital. One study shows that 67% of Millennials believe that they can find a YouTube video on most subjects they want to learn (know). This is further bolstered by a Google study that revealed “how to” videos are growing by 70% per year and more than 100 million hours of “how to” content was watched in North America in 2015.
Live in the moment
The future is clearly moving toward a “do it yourself” reality, where consumers have increasingly more knowledge and power to research, purchase, use, repair, and improve products in a series of micro-moments. As consumers take advantage of this new economic reality, the most forward-thinking brands will also be able to take advantage by offering their customers the easiest path to access micro-moments during their consumer journey.