We live in an era of mobile-first customer experiences. Yet customers don’t even think about being mobile first; they just connect as part of their everyday lives.
Modern brands are learning that they need to be there for consumers, to be useful, and to be quick in what Google coined more than two years ago as micro-moments—those moments that occur when people reflexively turn to a mobile device to buy, know, or do something or go somewhere in real time.
But as technologies and customer behaviors continue to change, we know marketers must keep changing, too. So where does that leave micro-moments? That behavior served as a powerful way for marketers to think about consumers and how to orient their strategies to win them. I, too, have spent the past two-plus years studying them.
The short answer is this: Micro-moments are going nowhere. Instead, they’re graduating to their next phase—one where they’re accelerating in quantity and importance, and they’re driving ever-heightened expectations for consumer experiences. We are now headed toward the age of intelligent, real-time, on-the-go assistance, and it makes mobile and any connected device more instrumental in how consumers find brands and make decisions.
The Ever-Evolving Empowered Consumer
Google recently published an interesting article that got me thinking, especially this part:
Illuminating this behavior [micro-moments] and the associated consumer expectations proved to be really useful for marketers ... It helped marketers think about which moments mattered most, and it created urgency. It also inspired an evaluation of a range of legacy habits and approaches—from how to think about share of voice and how to measure business results to how to deliver useful experiences.
Customers must be at the heart of any marketing strategy, and their behaviors and the technologies they use to discover and make decisions should inspire what brands do next.
What was good enough or even great yesterday is no longer the standard for engagement tomorrow. The team at Google would know. They relentlessly study the data behind search and clicks that help them reveal how to better help brands. Since the emergence and rapid pervasiveness of micro-moments, they identified a few key consumer characteristics that call for critical thinking among modern marketers.
• The ‘well-advised’ consumer: Customers are only becoming more connected. As they do, they become more informed and empowered. Their expectations, preferences, and behaviors also evolve along the way. They want to make the best decisions, without friction, as validated by their peers, whether it’s the biggest or the smallest decisions.
For example, Google found that mobile searches for the term “best” have grown 92% in just the past two years. Mobile, enhanced algorithms, and now AI are making search easier and faster and are helping consumers do more with less effort.
• The ‘right now’ consumer: Mobile devices are also real-time devices, and apps such as Uber, Postmates, DoorDash, et al., are fueling an on-demand economy. Consumers are conditioned to get what they want when and how they want it. Google refers to consumers in this regard as “right now” consumers. I often call these modern consumers “accidental narcissists” because apps, services, social media, and the on-demand economy are teaching them that they are at the center of their “egosystem.”
Whether it’s a last-minute decision or something that they simply need in the moment, consumers are using their mobile devices to buy anything and everything—because they can. Add to this the rise of voice-powered devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, as well as voice-powered apps such as Google Assistant and Siri, and the right-now/accidental-narcissist consumer is even more empowered in micro-moments.
• The ‘right here’ consumer: When it comes to local search, consumers reach for the device closest to them in the moment they need to find what they’re looking for. Consumers expect brands to respond with the right information to deliver location-specific responses.
In the past, for example, a local search query might include business type and ZIP code or city with extra descriptors to improve the results. Over time, ZIP code and city were dropped in favor of simply saying, “near me.” Now consumers increasingly just type or say “business type” (e.g. florist, Mexican restaurant) and let the results guide them—with local relevance built in. The same is true for branded apps. Consumers don’t just want to see what’s available; they want to see what’s available based on their location. They assume that brands and devices already know where they are.
Right-Now, Right-Here Consumers Are In Control
We live in an emerging age of assistance. Devices are getting more intelligent and capable, and consumers are becoming more connected and empowered. Their behaviors and expectations evolve every day as a result. Consumers are learning to expect immediacy, relevancy, and utility. They’re increasingly looking to brands to engage them faster, without friction or cumbersome steps, and with personalized and useful information. And those expectations will only escalate.