Micro-Moments Marketing: How To Win Customers in 2021

Google introduced the term micro-moments in 2015, stating micro-moments are “game-changers for both consumers and brands.” Two years later, Convince and Convert mentioned “mapping customer micro-moments’’ as one of the seven hottest content marketing trends for 2017.

Fast forward to 2020, in the Meet The 2020 Consumers Driving Change report, IBM emphasizes consumer behaviors have fundamentally changed, and they’re now shopping in micro-moments.

“Rather than being a planned, discrete activity, shopping occurs whenever and wherever the mood strikes today’s always-on consumers — and this is increasing while they are doing something else. Seven in ten consumers surveyed say they shop in these so-called ‘micro-moments,’ and 35% do so at least weekly.”

So what do micro-moments mean? Why are they important? How can marketers leverage these moments to approach shoppers and turn them into customers?

Let’s not waste any time.

What Are Micro-Moments in Marketing?

Here is Google’s definition of micro-moments:

“Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device — increasingly a smartphone — to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something.”

Everyone has micro-moments — every single day. Micro-moments are intent-rich as we make decisions and preferences: “I want to know,” “I want to go,” “I want to do,” or “I want to buy.”

Because we want, our expectations in these moments are higher than ever: we expect to get exactly what we’re looking for right away. No more “I’m happy to wait” or “I can get it later.”

What Are Four Types of Micro-Moments?

Google defined four critical micro-moments as follows:

  • I-want-to-know moments: When someone is exploring or researching but doesn’t want to buy yet.
  • I-want-to-go moments: When someone is looking for a local business or is considering buying a product at a nearby store.
  • I-want-to-do moments: When someone wants to try something new or needs help to complete a task.
  • I-want-to-buy moments: When someone is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what to buy or how to buy it.

As you can see, marketers can do many things to be involved in these micro-moments and help customers get what they want. For example:

  • I-want-to-know moments: A customer can search for a keyword/phrase (for example, lipstick for dry lips) on Google. Marketers can optimize their website for search engines to get their brand to show up to the customer.
  • I-want-to-go moments: The customer may use a more specific, relevant keyword to search, for example, Sephora lipstick for dry lips Dallas. Local SEO and paid search campaigns can be useful in this stage.
  • I-want-to-do moments: The customer may search for a question on Google or ask on social communities. Marketers can use content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to approach the customer. Regularly sharing useful tips/tricks can be a good strategy.
  • I-want-to-buy moments: The customer is on your website and ready to make a purchase. You can use a live chat to guide them through product information, payment, and shipping. The goal is to make them confident and go to the checkout page/sign up for a trial as soon as possible. Giving an offer like a discount or a free gift can give the customer a little push.

Micro-Moments and Always-On Consumers

Years ago, shopping was often planned in advance. It could be involved in preparing for an event or taking a trip. Marketers might easily predict when a consumer wanted to purchase something.

But now that’s gone.

Today’s consumers buy products and services unseen. Thanks to smartphones and social media, they now buy anywhere, at any time when the mood strikes them. Sometimes, they might spend days researching a product, but other times, they purchase without a second thought. They now don’t wait for big moments to go shopping; in contrast, they now buy in micro-moments while doing other tasks. More than ever, consumers shop on an as-needed basis.

Over seven in ten consumers shop in micro-moments.
Source: IBM

“At various times, the same person can be shopping for a party, a gift, or a meal, for example — and doing so from the treadmill, at lunchtime, or in countless other settings. While a shopper may still be doing replenishment for food, it may be done individually for particular items as needed, rather than during a single, regular weekly trip.“— IBM

Today’s consumers don’t want to be told what, when, or how to buy — they now control their wants and needs. They’ll tell you when they’re ready to engage, what information they’re interested in, and how they want to buy. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are becoming more conscious about their spending habits and the brands they buy from. In the latest report, The Big Value Shift, Accenture expected responsible consumption “to persist as a long-term trend and key influencer of future success.”

Today’s consumers are highly aware of what they’re looking for: materials, size, colors, design, time delivered, payment. They come to brands with a specific need and expect their need to be met right away. They’re now rarely happy with “bear with us,” “try again later,” or “you’ll get your order after three days.” They have so many options that they can’t find any reason to wait for a brand when another can fulfill their need immediately.

If you still don’t feel convinced, think about the times your friends and you are buying from social media (a.k.a. social shopping). According to FIS’s 2020 U.S. Consumer Behavior report, 85% of Gen Z respondents follow brands on social media platforms, with nearly half making purchases via these sites. Among those Gen Z purchasers, 34% do so every day. Thanks to social shopping, customers can check products and prices directly from a post, select through different styles/colors and even make a purchase without leaving their social media accounts.

“Social media has emerged as a viable direct sales channel that is poised for significant growth. Social media is a hub in many consumers’ omnichannel purchase journey. That presents big opportunities for brands who can leverage their existing social media presence to elevate customer engagement. Brands will want to broaden their social strategy to use social media as a direct sales channel.“


Today’s consumers are always on, in many ways.

From Micro-Moments to Micro-Needs

Consumers are increasingly looking for products or services with specific attributes that align with their values. They have a set of criteria to consider when buying something.

Imagine you want to buy a watch. Here are some things you might consider:

  • A sport style or a vintage one?
  • An analog or digital type?
  • Features: Timer, stopwatch, GPS, speed calculator, multiple alarms, etc.
  • Materials: Canvas, gold, or silver?
  • Wate resistance
  • Brand: Rolex or Seiko
  • Dial size and style
  • How does it fit in my wardrobe? Do I need to buy new clothes to match the new watch?
  • Power source: Automatic, solar, or mechanical?
  • Luminosity
  • Weight

The list might go on.

Because consumers are more specific about what they want, it’s crucial for brands to offer items based on those particular requirements. Ensure that your product has special qualities tailored to meet your target consumers’ demands.

Having said that, IBM’s survey found that a convenient and easy shopping experience is still at the top list of consumers’ desires: “Moreover, the top requirement of all surveyed groups is for brands and retailers to “simplify my life.”

Always-on consumers also expect a personalized shopping experience. According to Salesforce, 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty, and 69% say the same of personalized customer care. Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.

From micro-moments to micro-needs, brands now face many challenges in understanding customer behaviors and meeting customers at the time and place they have a need. As Dan Gingiss says:

“Most companies must realize that they are no longer competing against the guy down the street or the brand that sells similar products. Instead, they’re competing with every other experience a customer has. This presents an opportunity for forward-thinking brands to create positive experiences that customers want to talk about to others. It also suggests that CX [customer experience] professionals should be monitoring the experience at a wide variety of companies and industries for inspiration.”

How To Implement Micro-Moments Marketing

Understanding micro-moments helps you capture customers’ attention at the right moment, in the right place. You can then implement marketing strategies to approach those customers, find out their pain points, and provide the right solution.

By identifying micro-moments where purchase intention is high, you can also introduce offers to encourage customers’ decisions.

Here are some tips you can use to implement micro-moments marketing:

1. Use data to identify micro-moments

An effective way to identify the moments that matter is using data. Data analysis can uncover behavioral triggers, trends, and impulse points where the right message will fulfill consumer’s needs.

Tools to consider:

  • Website analytics, social media analytics, brand tracking, CRM.
  • UX, CX on mobile, desktop.
  • Data visualization, content management, custom audience segmentation, etc.

2. Be where your potential customers are

Set up your brand presence across channels and places: website, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, landing pages, company directories, local business directories, review sites, etc.

Review your customer experience on both mobile and desktop. Check site loading speed to ensure the best experience for your customers. Regularly update content on channels to interact with followers.

3. Understand and segment customers

To win customers, you need to understand exactly who they are: demographics, psychological, behavioral. Why did they buy from you? How were your products beneficial to them? Is there any reason beyond product benefits that made them buy from you? Where did they hear about you?

Once you do research on your customers, group them into segments. Each segment includes those who have the same interest, hobbies, or any other characteristics.

4. Conduct customer surveys or polls

Ask, don’t guess. Use survey makers like SurveyMonkey to create a survey questionnaire and send it to your customers. To increase participation, offer a free gift or a value.

In doing that, remember to design the questionnaire in a way that helps you get the right answers from customers. Don’t just add random questions without doing market research beforehand.

5. Run paid advertising campaigns

Either PPC (pay-per-click) ads or social media ads or TV ads are OK as long as you can set your ads to show when your customers might have a need. If you aren’t familiar with these paid advertising campaigns, take time to learn, and that’ll pay off.

I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding micro-moments. Under current circumstances, your customer behaviors are fundamentally changing. It’s your job to keep yourself updated with those changes and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Have you had micro-moments marketing in place? If not, now is time to create it.

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