Engage at Scale: Leveraging Individualized Customer Micro-moments ( Part 1)

This is a two-part series. There are various definitions about Customer Micro-moments that exist. This series that explores an increasing understanding of the customer as technology and customer behavior evolves and what business must do to keep up with this evolution.

We now live in an experience economy. Content creators, influencers, media platforms and advertisers understand the fundamental shift that gives us ONLY seconds to spark customer attention, and minutes to action appropriately to maintain that attention.

How we got here: Personalized Marketing is not New

For anyone that has come from database marketing world, we have embraced one-to one marketing from the time Peppers and Rogers evangelized its value in the 1990’s. The principles have not changed much,

…one-to-one marketing (also called relationship marketing or customer-relationship management) means being willing and able to change your behavior toward an individual customer based on what the customer tells you and what else you know about that customer.

Mass marketing has developed a one-to many message, in an attempt to find the relevant few in the crowd, and inspire them to purchase. However, direct marketing’s evolution to target at a more granular level in seeking relevance, created a movement that has gained increasing headway today.

We’ve gone beyond demographics to begin to infer intent based on search behavior.

When Google cornered the term, ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth), they seemingly uncovered true understanding of human intent. It allowed us into the mind of the consumer, understanding purchase funnel activity and allowed us to refine our understanding of the consumer and how they make decisions. Google defined ZMOT this way:

the precise moment when they [people] have a need, intent or question they want answered online.

Google went to to convey,

A brand that answers these questions at just the right time scores a double win: It helps improve a consumer’s life and stands to gain a competitive advantage over brands that don’t.

Social data has accelerated this understanding. For someone who came from banking my exposure to social networks and the dynamics that that occur within communities allowed me to discover the level of transparency and authenticity that existed among people who truly cared about their communities.

Community perpetuates because of shared values

This is caring exemplified. The level of opinion and discussion among a variety of niche topics like current events, climate change, celebrity gossip also gave way to individuals sharing personal stories – personal and professional challenges and successes, moments of pride, and serendipity. Suddenly the forum that came together because of the one topic or event was nurtured by sheer caring.

I realized this when I worked at Yahoo! Answers. There was a reason people kept coming back to ask and answer questions. And perhaps it started out with wanting to be the Yahoo! Guru – the all-knowing expert. But it grew into an online place where people asked questions just because they wanted to re-ignite a conversation and spend some time where their opinion was valued. I always knew there was something special when one of the strongest properties on Yahoo! continued to drive reach, frequency and engagement but failed to monetize.

There is no direct correlation between traffic and purchase. This is an inferred result. Our team was successful at helping to nurture the communities, and keep them safe. But we realized that putting ads on the site did little to give advertisers any attention. As far as the community was concerned, they were blind to the ads. They were there for other reasons. These content creators and engagers had developed a new virtual coffee shop to meet their peeps, when they could spare a moment.

It’s these communities that have shifted consumer attention from marketing messages to information sources they trust. This has hampered performance for the modern-day marketer and has challenged them to discover ways to capture the coveted consumer attention and keep it.

Enter “Micro-moments”

In an era where mobile continues to be ubiquitous, so too have behaviors shifted rapidly from desktop to mobile. For the first time, volume searches have been overtaken by mobile and, in the process, has begun to introduce more time and location relevant behaviors more closely related to purchase intent. Google brought recognition to their new term, “micro-moments”  that signifies:

those small but critical windows when a customer demonstrates intent by reaching for their phone to act on a need in the moment.

Brian Solis wrote about the the customer micro-moment. He stated this:

Google found that in these micro-moments, customers focus their actions by intent, search based on context and desired outcomes, and expect everything to move at the speed of mobile. These behaviors are most often based on the following activities:

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

Where micro-moments go beyond mobile or the search box…

Brian referenced these principles behind micro-moments that will re-architect the mobile experience: 1) designing for intent 2) understanding context 3) built for speed (right time and right place).

The concept of an always-on market that needs retail to adapt to the more impatient consumer also brings with it a well of data that can guide businesses to provide for the best experiences.

I would argue that micro-moments, while readily apparent in some cases, may be nuanced in most cases. What people do in mobile continues to be a “fragment” of their lives. While intent may be gleaned by how consumers interact with their apps, what they read, what they click on and what they search for, these are minimized by the events or moments that may, for the most part, not reveal any consumer intent. However, they could also be significant business triggers that can inform a potential purchase opportunity.

Consumer intent may not be readily apparent;  but for a business, consumer life events, in and of themselves, present their own opportunities

TODAY we espouse the value of content. IMAGINE a real estate agent who is writing a post about tips to finding the perfect house. AND while he’s writing that post, the prospective client he just met a week ago just closed on their first home. He missed that window of opportunity.

We begin to realize that micro-moments, while customer-led, do NOT always overtly signify an intent to purchase. And this is where the definition changes. Micro-moments present themselves everyday. What we share, the content we read, those to whom we speak, the topics we convey, the important and not-so important moments we capture – contribute to these perpetual life events. These contribute to these digital breadcrumbs that lead the customer to an intended path, either consciously or subconsciously. Each micro-moment presents itself and with technologies today provides the business with a perspective –outside their controlled purview – in near real-time.

If you had “more context” about your customer – those micro moments that were time-relevant and business-relevant and you had the opportunity to do something about it YOU would seize that opportunity. This context is the knowledge gap. It is also the holy grail that allows the business to build and nurture enduring relationships with its customers.

Part II continues to explore the evolving definition of micro-moments and how business can take advantage of information that NOW brings context to truly understanding our customers.