Micro-Moments: How Consumers Are Using Their Smartphones In 2016

In 2015, Google announced that it had discovered a new consumer behaviour that changes how people interact with their smartphones. Google found that North Americans had increased their mobile sessions by 20%, however, the actual length of those sessions had decreased by 18%. What this means is that while smartphone users are increasingly turning to their mobile device(s) for information, immediacy has taken on paramount importance. Users want their information right now, and they are losing patience. While, on the surface, this sounds negative, it actually presents opportunities for marketers. Google is now referring to these occasions of a need for information as micro-moments, and has divided them into 4 major categories:




  1. I want to know
  2. I want to go
  3. I want to do
  4. I want to buy


Micro-moments are instances where a consumer is looking for information on the fly–while they are tidying, waiting for a bus, even watching television–and they want answers without being made to wait. In fact, 91% of users check their phones for information while performing a task. Marketers can capitalize on this new behaviour by being there, being relevant, and being helpful in the moment.


Micro-moments – I want to know


Consumers frequently turn to their smartphones–rather than tablets or desktops–when they want answers. This behaviour is known to take place while consumers watch television. “I want to know” moments generally happen when consumers are at the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.

Talk with DSM about how to engage consumers online HERE.

When a consumer sees a commercial on television for a product or service that interests them, they will look for more information on their phone. This is an essential moment for marketers to be ready with educational and entertaining content. This is not the moment for advertisers to deliver a hard sell, but rather to nurture the consumer further through the engagement funnel. By providing content that answers the consumer’s questions when they are engaged, a brand can attract the awareness and interest of that consumer.


Micro-moments – I want to go


Consumers are often looking for information when they’re on the go. If they are looking for restaurants, stores, products or services, marketers can benefit by providing that information promptly. “Near me” searches (i.e., “okay Google, dentist near me”) have virtually doubled over the last year. Furthermore, 50% of smartphone users will visit a business they have found in a local search within 24 hours.


Optimizing for local SEO and mobile functionality is essential for capturing the attention of consumers in the “I want to go” moment. Offer as much relevant information as possible. For example, a mobile site that includes hours, directions, reviews, a click-to-call button, and (if applicable) local inventory listings is more likely to attract consumers into the brick and mortar location.


Micro-moments – I want to do


The internet has become the universal instruction manual, cookbook, and DIY guide. On Youtube, searches for “how to” videos are growing at an average annual rate of 70%.
Marketers can capitalize on these moments by anticipating what their prospective customers might be looking for, and publishing educational content to YouTube. For example, a high end grocery and/or kitchen wares company could upload a series of instructional cooking videos that features their brand of foods and cookware. Not only does this fulfill the need of the consumer, it will also develop brand awareness and affinity.


Micro-moments – I want to buy


Consumers today regard their smartphone as a personal shopping assistant. Frequently, users research products and reviews before making a purchase, with 82% of smartphone users researching while already in the store. Furthermore, 93% of consumers will make a purchase after doing product research on their smartphone.


Consumers will search for reviews in a variety of online properties. Cnet is a popular site for electronics reviews, Amazon offers user reviews for a more generalized set of products, and YouTube covers essentially anything a user might want to find.


A recent study found that 65% of brands surveyed received a boost of interest after their Trueview ads are seen by users on Youtube.


By delivering content in the “I want to buy” moments, brands can engage with consumers that are ready to make a purchase. However, it is essential for brands to be there in the first place, in order to close the sale.


How marketers can prepare for micro-moments.


Google recommends the following key objectives:


Be there:


Similar to keyword research, with micro-moments, marketers need to try to anticipate how–and on what platform–consumers will try to find information. Whether it is a Google search, a Youtube search, or even checking review sites, brands must be there in the moment.


Be useful:


To make the most of micro-moments, marketers must strive to understand what it is specifically that their target is trying to accomplish with each search for information. Are they looking to buy, or are they looking to learn? What knowledge are they trying to gain, and for what purpose? As Google puts it, “you’ve got to be relevant to consumers’ needs in the moment, and connect people to the content they’re looking for”.


Be quick:


Micro-moments are short bursts of inspiration or demand. Content must be readily available, quick to load, and easy to navigate in order to maintain consumer engagement. In the case of an “I want to buy” moment, the fewer steps necessary to complete the transaction, the better. Consumers will navigate away from a page–and likely to a competitor’s–if they are not having their questions answered in a timely fashion.


Market to the micro-moments that matter in 2016.


Smartphones have affected the way consumers engage with content online. While our attention spans continue to shrink, our need for information at any moment is growing. Businesses that don’t adapt to this new consumer behaviour will be missing out on an ever-expanding share of the market.


Learn more about marketing for micro-moments in 2016.