Marketing March 17, 2016 Last updated September 19th, 2018 1,736 Reads share

Managing Micro Moments

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Want to understand what micro moments are made of?

Picture this: you’re standing on a crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn green when you suddenly remember that you need new jeans. But instead of immediately heading to the nearest clothing store, you’re like to whip out your phone. You do a quick Google search for “affordable blue jeans” when you receive an SMS. It’s your friend, and he’s asking if you’re free in 10 minutes. You smile as you spot Starbucks just a few feet away, and send him a reply that you’ll meet him there. You go back to the search just as the light turns green; but your mind is already preoccupied on whether you’ll order an espresso or a macchiato.

Purchasing decisions were surely simpler in earlier years than it is now.

Instead of buying something straight away, today’s consumers will go through various stages before finally getting the product. But these phases are not necessarily connected in a linear manner. A customer can hop from one stage to another, completely skipping one or two steps in the process.

And this all happens in a fraction of a second.

Customer Intent During Micro-Moments

Customer intent is a person’s purpose and how it will affect conversion. For instance: a customer who does a Google search for a pair of jeans most likely has an intent to buy. Micro-moments on the other hand, are mobile moments that are open to influence. In the previous example, standing before a crosswalk is a micro-moment, because there’s a good chance that a person will check their phone and be exposed to a brand.

These days, it’s not enough that you’re at par with your competitors. You need to offer MORE. Utilizing intent AND micro-moments will give you that edge when it comes to a) delivering excellent customer service, as well as b) becoming an authority in your industry.

A good example would be Kleenex’s “Softness Worth Sharing” campaign in 2010. Knowing people would usually catch a cold during the Winter season, Kleenex decided to give an old trick a new twist. Instead of simply sending out free samples, they encouraged people to send someone a get well soon pack. The Kleenex brand was able to take advantage of both customer intent (people want their loved ones to feel better when sick) and micro-moments (time spent on social media on portable devices).

Thanks to their initiative, they were able to send their one-millionth pack of tissues in 2011.

Identifying Opportunities to Delight

You may think that it was easy for Kimberly-Clark to spot a customer intent based on their product. After all, people use tissues all the time, but especially during cold weather because may tend to catch a cold. But it’s not so much about spotting intent as it is identifying the type of intent.

According to entrepreneur and analyst expert Neil Patel, there are three types of customer intent:

  • I want to go (navigational)
  • I want to know (informational)
  • I want to buy (transactional)

A customer can have one objective only OR develop from one purpose to another.

For example: let’s say a consumer just wants to look up a good pair of blue jeans (informational intent). So he browses some online catalogs and maybe, saves a couple of pairs he likes to a Wish List. The user is not yet ready to buy. But at one point, he sees something that really captures his attention. He reads the product info, loves it, and finally decides to add it to his cart (transactional intent) and check out.

This entire process may take place within a few minutes, several hours, or for a period of days. Your goal then, as a marketer, is to:

  • Align your product/service in every stage of the customer intent
  • Provide everything that a customer needs to feel confident enough to move towards a transactional intent
  • Ensure a one-of-a-kind customer experience during micro-moments

It all begins by being visible. Whether your target customer is ready to buy or not, being there for them during those micro-moments will help you gain an edge in today’s overly-competitive commercial industry.

Three Elements of an Incredible Micro-Moment

Not all of us could afford personal assistants. But our phones are pretty close to that. We use them to send emails in the wee hours of the morning, check on a family member, and look up shopping information. According to a Google survey, 91 percent of participants use their phones in the middle of a task.

Admit it: how many times have you grabbed your phone while doing something else (i.e. getting coffee, watching TV, or during a meal)? If brands want to stand out from their rivals, they need to take advantage of these micro-moments when consumers are open to influence.

But how?

#1. Take Them By Surprise

Who doesn’t love a good surprise? If planned and executed properly, the recipient will surely remember the gesture for years to come. Morton’s Steakhouse knows this all too well when they created one of customer service’s best moments.

Author and speaker Peter Shankman loves his steaks. Four years ago, he jokingly tweeted to the restaurant how he’d like some dinner when he lands at Newark in two hours.

He didn’t think much of it after that. He shut off his phone just before he boarded and forgot about it. But believe it or not, one of Morton’s staff drove for 23 miles just to deliver a hot meal to Shankman.

So many things could have gone wrong then, as told by Shankman himself. His flight could’ve been delayed, he could’ve taken a different exit, the thunderstorm in the area may have caused problems, etc. Still, what makes this story so endearing is a company’s unwavering drive to push against odds and make a customer happy.

Key Takeaway: As Peter explains in his blog:

“We live in a world where everyone you meet is a broadcaster. Look around. Think of all your friends, all your colleagues. Do you know anyone anymore who doesn’t have a camera in their phone, or anyone who doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account? As I say in my book over and over again, customer service is no longer about telling people how great you are. It’s about producing amazing moments in time, and letting those moments become the focal point of how amazing you are, told NOT by you – but by the customer who you thrilled.”

Surprising customers is like the gift that keeps on giving. For one, you make them feel special (which is priceless on its own). Second, you get yourself one loyal client for life. Multiply that and you will have a group of happy, repeat customers to help raise your revenue.

#2. Simply Listen

Surprises can be tough to pull together. But there’s something most businesses can do that doesn’t involve expensive gifts or driving for miles: listening to a customer.

Sainsbury’s, one of the leading supermarket chains in the United Kingdom, certainly knows the power of this easy task when they decided to do something fun in 2011. A young customer sent them a letter pointing out that their famous tiger bread looks more like a giraffe. When Chris King, then members of the customer service department, gave them an answer, the pressure was on in social media to have the bread’s name changed because it made more sense.

Key Takeaway: The supermarket chain not only endeared themselves to folks who love their products, they also received free advertising from their fans. Thanks to their cool and candid reaction to the request, this is one customer service story that will go down in history.

Ensure that you’re interacting on your social media accounts. Read comments and respond accordingly. Search hashtags to know how online users are talking about your brand. If there are complaints, answer as quickly as you can. In addition: if the occasion calls for it, don’t be afraid to be a little candid!

#3. Be on Search

Worried because you’re a small business owner in a sea of big competitors? Not sure how to start taking advantage of micro-moments? Don’t worry: car manufacturer FIAT also felt the same way when they returned from their 28-year hiatus from the auto industry.


Car manufacturing giants like Nissan, Honda, and Toyota have always been in the market. By the time FIAT released their innovative small city car, the new generation of car buyers hadn’t even heard of the brand. If the company didn’t do anything and simply left their fates to traditional marketing, they would lose a lot.

FIAT’s goal was simple enough: to introduce the brand to Gen X and Y, as well as to revive their name in the hearts of Baby Boomers who remember them from bygone days. And they want to begin with being visible on search results.

Thanks to creative mobile marketing efforts, FIAT saw a 120 percent sales growth between 2011 and 2012. As their brand was seen on top of most mobile search results, consumers saw them as a market leader and as a maker of quality small city cars.

Key Takeaway: Businesses need to understand that when people go online to research on products or services, their minds are not yet made up. They may go looking for a specific brand – but they can still be persuaded to try another variety. In fact, Google’s survey says 1 in 3 mobile users bought from a brand other than the one they first had their eye on.

But this won’t happen unless you’re THERE. Understand what your target consumers are searching for – and be there during those micro-moments. This can be accomplished with the right SEO and web design tactics. If you are launching a new product or service, accompanying your strategies with PPC is also advisable.

Micro-Moments in the Future of Commerce


Back then, marketers would align their products or services based on a customer’s age, median salary, location, or highest educational attainment. Not anymore. Today, people look up information based on what they want to do, places they want to discover, and topics they want to discuss about. Anyone – from any age bracket or salary grade – can buy even if it’s not directly advertised to them.

So don’t limit yourself to traditional demographics when marketing to your target audiences. Consider how your products/services can delight customers during fleeting micro-moments.

Images: ” Author’s Own“


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Al Gomez

Al Gomez

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