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The importance of micro-moments: The mobile customer journey

The importance of micro-moments: The mobile customer journey

According to eMarketer, global mobile ad spend is expected to double from $100 billion in 2016 to nearly $200 billion in 2019 — accounting for over 70 percent of digital ad spend worldwide. This explosion in mobile ad spend mirrors the rapid growth of mobile, which has changed the game for advertisers and consumers alike. Mobile is now not just about the device; it’s a lifestyle. People are mobile, not just their devices.

Customers are making decisions based on mobile content that serves the right purpose at the right moment. Content, therefore, needs to address user intent and be accessible everywhere — across multiple device types, multiple platforms and multiple channels.

Mobile micro-moments

More Google searches now take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers worldwide. Because of this massive shift in consumer behavior, marketers have had to recalibrate their mobile strategies.

The key to mobile success lies in understanding this behavioral shift. Mobile has surpassed desktop in terms of searches performed, but it has not replaced desktop. As comScore’s “2015 U.S. Digital Future in Focus” report notes:

While most of the growth in digital media consumption over the past four years has occurred on smartphones (up 394 percent) and tablets (up 1,721 percent), these mobile platforms are not eating into aggregate time spent on desktop, which has still grown 37 percent over this time period. The digital media pie continues to get bigger and Americans engage with screens during more occasions throughout the day than ever before.

In other words, consumers aren’t using their mobile devices as a replacement for their desktop computers — they are using these devices in whole new ways that weren’t previously possible.

The proliferation of mobile devices means that consumers can now take action to address their needs immediately and on the fly. Google defines these instances as micro-moments, when a consumer reflexively turns to a (generally mobile) device to fulfill an immediate need. These micro-moments are classified as one of the following:

  • I-want-to-know moments
  • I-want-to-go moments
  • I-want-to-do moments
  • I-want-to-buy moments


Consumers are more receptive to marketing messages when they have a want/need and are seeking to address that need in the moment. Search marketers must consider this when designing and optimizing mobile content.

Mobile demand and customer intent

With mobile, brands must have the content in place to meet customers where they are in their online customer journey. They must be equipped to understand what prospects are doing online and what will motivate them to convert during micro-moments.

This is where marketers come in. In this mobile environment, marketers are tasked with helping brands identify customer intent using search data and addressing these micro-moments with useful content that is optimized for mobile. As I’ve said before:

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.

Understanding search data and trends provides marketers with insights into the topics and types of content consumers are looking for. Identifying the demand for mobile content and understanding intent help marketers produce content (and formats) that resonates, engages and is mapped to conversion touch points (micro-moments) in the customer purchase funnel.

For example, at BrightEdge, we’ve seen leading brands obtain huge wins when they optimize their mobile experience with videos and imagery. There is a strong correlation between conversions and the use of video and multimedia content in certain industries, such as Media and Entertainment, Travel and Hospitality and E-commerce.

Nike e-commerce: search demand and mobile content

Nike (disclosure: client) is an excellent example of a brand that has utilized search data to deepen their engagement with sports fans via their mobile devices. With 63 percent of searches during big games happening on mobile devices, the brand utilized Google data to understand search spikes after major moments during sporting events.

From the data, it became evident that fans were turning to their second screens to find big game statistics. The result was the development of Nike’s 3-D Phenomenal Shot campaign that showcased the world’s greatest players in moments of unpredictable brilliance.

Nike has utilized mobile to ensure that its brand is accessible to consumers any time, anywhere. The resulting online success has been driven through cross-channel, mobile-oriented content and e-commerce strategies.

Best Western: local and mobile

According to Google data, “94 percent of smartphone users search for location info” and “82 percent of smartphone searchers use a search engine when looking for a local business.” Additionally, consumers are increasingly using their devices while in a store, with 82 percent of smartphone users reporting that they consult their phones in-store when making a purchase decision.

Understanding how search keywords are used at various moments is important to staying relevant, and mobile and local go hand in hand.

Earlier this month, I managed to catch up with Felipe Carreras, director of e-commerce at Best Western (Disclosure: a BrightEdge customer) on this very topic.

For a hotel brand like Best Western, there are huge opportunities to drill down to the local experience and build out that content. Instead of focusing on high-level destination content, Best Western is getting much more targeted in its storytelling. For example, instead of talking about things to do in San Diego, marketers can go the extra step and talk about things to do in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Best Western hotels are active in their communities and have stories to tell — stories that allow them to connect guests in a more meaningful manner.

We’ve known about the “always connected” consumer for some time, but now content needs to keep pace. We have just a few seconds to engage a customer and get them interested in taking the next step.  To that end, mobile content needs to be to the point, engaging, and easily “snackable.” The days of long-form editorial are giving way to short video snippets and blog posts.

Felipe Carreras, eCommerce Director, Best Western
In September of 2015, Best Western launched a new, responsive mobile website for smartphones and tablets, as well as apps for iOS and Android. For the fiscal year to date (December through March), mobile revenue has more than quadrupled over the previous year. This tremendous growth comes not only from an improved guest experience, but also from mobile-centric advertising and retargeting.Being able to understand the context, the mindset, of their guests as they connect with Best Western in a host of new ways has enabled Best Western to grow its online presence significantly.


The mobile explosion has significantly changed the way online marketers look at the customer journey. Using the micro-moments framework is an excellent way to understand the online customer journey from search discovery intent through to purchase intent.

Furthermore, the introduction of AMP highlights the importance of mobile content delivery and the need for marketers to ensure that content is optimized and delivered to consumers at speed as they quickly move from moment to moment.