Dr. Dave Chaffey explains why Google is pushing ‘Micro-moments’ and offers his advice on what the implications might be for digital marketers.

Have you noticed Google’s new push on ‘Micro-moments’? Like me, you’re probably trying to determine what they’re about – are they useful as a concept to review and improve your use of search marketing or explain its value to budget-holders?

It’s not just Google who are pushing this concept. Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond tells us that ‘Consumer Engagement Is Shifting Toward Micro Moments’. Meanwhile, Brian Solis of Altimeter Group and Author of What’s the Future of Business (WTF) has explained ‘Why CMOs Need to Invest in Micro-Moments’?

What Exactly Are ‘Moments’?

Google recommends marketers consider these 4 key moments . They explain the importance of Moments in relation to mobile devices:

We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers.

It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped.

Research presenting the increasing importance of these 4 ‘Moments’ is summarised in the visual below.

  • I want-to-know: using mobile devices for research
  • I want-to-go: near me and local business searches
  • I want-to-do: content to support a task, including How-to content
  • I want-to-buy: consulting the phone in-store on buy decisions

Google Micro-Moments illustration

What is the Value of Moments?

To understand the value to marketers of ‘Micro-moments’ we have to go back to a previous ‘Moment’ that Google devised – that’s the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT for short. In 2011–2012, Google released an influential whitepaper by Jim Lecinski who looked to prove how consumer behaviour had changed with online searches.

Google didn’t follow-through by updating the research – treating ZMOT as a campaign. Perhaps they felt it was too narrow since it focused mainly on retail and in-store purchases.

What Has Changed?

Google still has the same challenge – persuading budget holders to spend more of their ad budget with Google. But today, a lot more search and media time is on mobile compared to 2011, so Google is looking to encourage advertisers to reach their audience when they’re using mobile devices – that’s why ‘Moments’ are getting a big push today. Google’s TV ads even feature people searching on mobile with examples of moments to encourage this search behaviour.

What are the Implications for Client-Side and Agency Marketers?

For now, Google hasn’t fully explained the implications of its latest research, it seems to be more of a teaser. Writing on the AdWords blog, Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing says:

This is just the beginning. Over the course of the coming months we’ll provide strategies and examples of how to connect the dots between intent and context, in order to win all the moments that truly matter.

In the meantime the implications, as I see them, are:

ONE. You need to update your keyword research to incorporate these new intent behaviours based on context.

Old school search marketers will likely be amused by this push, since the main implication is that you need to know which keyword searches to target, so in this sense ,we’re being encouraged to perform more keyword research. But it’s good to see the heart of our search marketing efforts, legitimised. For me, keyword search has never been about long, uncategorised keyword lists, but rather semantic analysis of qualifiers used in search and grouping similar consumer search behaviour and then understanding their business potential, which brings us to…

TWO. You need to do a mobile-specific gap analysis.

Once you better understand these new search behaviours, the business opportunity needs to be understood. Hopefully, you are already segmenting by mobile searches in analytics to check visibility following the Mobile-Friendly update that came into play in April 2015. To assess the potential of ‘micro-moments’ performing a mobile-specific gap analysis will help see the potential. Again, nothing new here, I used to champion gap analysis when I wrote the first Econsultancy SEO Best Practice guides and for ClickThrough Marketing and other agencies, showing the opportunity or potential returns from investment are a key part of pitching for new work and keeping clients informed about their returns.

THREE. You need to prioritise investment in search across mobile and desktop searches.

We know that mobile search volumes have increased in all sectors, dramatically in some. But this does not necessarily mean that investing in targeting mobile searchers has the highest ROI since we also know that conversion rates are much lower on smartphone, so targeting mobile searchers may not be the best use of AdWords budget, so the implication here is to review how you can use location and device bid adjustments. Of course, over-time searchers will combine searches across mobile, tablet and desktop, so this necessitates getting into a better understanding of cross-device conversions, which are available as Estimated Conversions. We’ll explore tracking cross-device behaviour in more detail next time since Google has recently introduced some new benchmarks to help understand this behaviour.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.