E-commerce Micro-Moments: How 5 Seconds Changes Everything


In 2015, Google published a paper, coining a term that made marketers and SEO specialists everywhere take notice. After years of exhaustive research, Google identified specific moments in a consumer’s decision-making process that guided these shoppers to their ultimate destination. These decision-making points were called “micro-moments.” More than ever, micro-moments are shaping how consumers are making their purchasing decisions. Leveraging them to your advantage will become critical to your eCommerce health in 2018.



What are Micro-Moments?

Micro-moments are the decision making points where a consumer looks to a device (increasingly, this device is a smartphone) and takes action on an immediate need. This moment of decision making is the intersection of immediacy, intent, and context. That is, what do they need right now, what do they want, and how does it relate to what they know?


When it comes to a shopper’s intent, Google identified four basic wants: the need to know, the need to do, the need to buy, and the need to go. Nearly every shopping decision a consumer makes with their mobile device can be traced to those four needs.


Context defines your customer’s journey to making a purchase. There are multiple steps in this journey and they are defined by a need. Take for example; a customer wants to make sushi at home. Think of the steps they’re going to take as they make this journey.

  • They may read up on the types of sushi to find out about various rolls, look at pictures of hand wraps, or the difference between chirashi and nigiri sushi.
  • From there, they know they’ll need special tools and ingredients.
  • Our amateur sushi chef may also decide to watch a few how-to videos to get a feel for what making a roll looks like.
  • From there, the actual purchasing decision comes into play.


Depending on their immediate need, they may ask Google what shops nearby carry the items they need, read reviews, or check store hours.


This journey takes place for everything, from learning a new task to researching and buying a new sound bar for your television.


The key in all of these activities is that they take place over a long period of time, with small bursts of activity as the potential customer has both time and a need or desire. They make informed decisions on this in about five seconds, giving you a very short window to seize their attention and engage them into your customer cycle.


So a micro-moment is essentially when a consumer takes those five seconds and turns to their device to buy, do, go, or know something. However, just like everything else in marketing and consumers, the micro-moment continues to evolve.


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The Evolution of the Micro-Moment

As more and more people adopt smart phones and begin to experience “on-demand” satisfaction, their expectations of shopping and eCommerce have changed. After all, consider the last time you used your smart phone to get the weather, or asked Siri what time a movie was showing locally. The answers are at your fingertips, and that instant gratification bleeds over into other parts of their mobile experience. The bar for what it takes to satisfy the new consumer continues to rise, leading Google to reveal three new behaviors.


The first is what Google terms the “well-advised” consumer. This type of consumer is the one who needs all of the information before they make their decision. And with smart phones able to deliver that research, this segment is empowered to do their research. This research has led to an increase of over 95% in mobile searches for the “best brand” of something since 2015. According to Google’s research, while 80% more people are using mobile search to find toothbrushes, the search for “best toothbrush” has more than doubled.


Micro-Moments and Your Business - How 5 Seconds Changes Everything searching on mobile phone in city


The second shift is in the type of person who wants to find things that are near their immediate location. Dubbed the “right here” consumer, these shoppers want locations that meet their intent without having to specify it. For instance, someone who is looking for someplace to eat may search for a specific type, such as Korean BBQ. In the past, that search would have included cues that indicated they wanted someplace nearby. Now, this type of consumer expects that information whether or not it is specified.


The last shift in consumer behavior is all about immediacy. This “right now” consumer needs to make a last-minute purchase or decision and is relying on their mobile device to help them get things done. According to Google, these shoppers are 50 percent more likely to make an immediate purchase compared to a similar group from just a year ago. That’s because they have the information at hand with the instant connections that their devices provide to make the decision they need.


Smart companies have already started to evolve their marketing strategies to address these immediate needs of the shopper. From utilizing video and making it an assistive marketing endeavor, to writing content that addresses a person’s intent at whatever stage of the consumer cycle they’re in, marketing has evolved to capitalize on these moments. The changes and evolution of micro-moments demand that successful marketing continues to change and grow with consumers, which leads to the question of how a company can leverage this ever-changing landscape to their benefit.


How to Make Micro-Moments Work for You

Now that you know what micro-moments are and how they are evolving, the question becomes this: How do you make this work for you? There are several things that you can use to help you capture a shopper at any given micro-moment.

  1. Be There with your Business’ Google Profile – If your business has a physical location, make sure that your business profile on Google is complete and accurate. Google has instituted a program called Local Guides that lets users verify if the information on your profile is correct. This will help with the “right here” or “near me” demographics who are looking for somewhere to do something.But that’s only going to satisfy half of the micro-moments out there. Don’t neglect the need to know micro-moments or the moments that demand assistance with a purchase. Your company has to think about what your customers want from you or what they could want from you. Once you figure out that intent, you can tweak it to take advantage of your shopper's specific circumstance.
  2. Showcase Usefulness with Relevant and Original Content – It may seem like people are always talking about content for your eCommerce site. There’s a reason, however, that content is king. For shoppers who are doing research on a specific product, or just looking for information about something that’s piqued their interest, this is a great way to introduce them to who you are.Whether it’s an informative piece on painting a house or a short video showing them how to make the perfect California roll, content that appeals to a consumer at their need at that particular moment.
  3. Quickness Saves the Day – When it comes to mobile search, speed is where it’s at. Nearly half of all mobile users polled say that they’ll leave a site if it is too slow or unresponsive. They’ll also leave if your site makes them go through too many steps to get the information they need.


This means taking a hard look at your website and making sure that it’s ready for mobile traffic. This could mean integrating AMP into your media pages or eliminating unnecessary steps in your checkout process. The key is to recognize that these are micro-moments. Whatever you can do to make your customers (or prospective customers) browsing faster and more responsive is better and will result in better conversion and fewer abandoned baskets. 

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