A common theme at SXSW this year was winning the “micro-moment,” as coined by Google and how marketers need to focus and win in these moments to inspire consumers to try, buy and love their brands and products. I attended several panels that discussed these critical moments from multiple perspectives. This piece brings this new information in sync with my thoughts on the topic going into the conference for a new, evolved POV.


First, what is a “micro-moment”?

We all know that the traditional marketing funnel is no longer indicative of the consumer journey. There is no linear way to discover, learn about, and purchase products anymore. The mobile device, and not the television, is now the center of the consumer’s universe in an always-on digital world.

There are, however, still critical phases in a consumer’s decision journey in which a brand needs to win in order to inspire consumers to choose them over their competitors. These phases can broadly be defined from the consumer’s perspective as Discovery, Comparison, Purchase, Experience, and Social Sharing.

But, because of our constant connection with media via digital and mobile devices, there are thousands of micro-moments in within each phase that influence what products consumers try, buy, and love. Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, says that moments are a connection between an event and context that creates an opportunity for interaction. The number of moments will only increase as every device becomes an opportunity to engage with the dawn of the Internet of Things.

Are there different types of “micro-moments”?

Based on research, discussions, and learnings from SXSW, we have defined four types of moments in which we can connect with consumers:

  • Active: When someone is actively searching for something, asking a question on social or viewing educational content directly related to your product or vertical.
  • Passive: When someone is just relaxing, looking through feeds or enjoying entertaining content.
  • Achievement: When someone has accomplished something in a game or an app and feels a sense of success.
  • Device-Responsive: When a moment is triggered by real-time data from wearables and other connected devices.
  • Environmental: A moment triggered by environmental data (like the weather) or when someone is near something that might be of interest to them, based on what we know about them.

What can we do in these moments to inspire consumers to buy our products?

First, I’ll tell you what NOT to do. Don’t interrupt what they are doing with heavy-handed brand-first messaging. If the rise of ad blockers is telling us anything, it’s that consumers don’t want to be interrupted with brand messaging that doesn’t provide value.

Which leads us to what TO do. Add value in these moments. And how do we do that? Each type of moment provides different opportunities to add value. Here are some examples of how to add value for each type of moment:

  • Active: This one seems easy, but be careful, here be dragons. Make sure you have editorially-based content and real-time response that answers the question as a trusted adviser. Each medium will be different, of course. How you answer in search will be very different than on Twitter, for instance.
  • Passive: This type is the most like what traditional advertising did with television. But we can’t serve the same type of brand-first content. Add value to the consumer. Present the content from his or her perspective. What is their unmet need and how can your brand solve it?
  • Achievement: The rush of dopamine we receive when accomplishing something in a game or in real-life provides an interesting moment to connect. Give a virtual high-five to the consumer by providing a reward that is linked to your brand promise.
  • Device-Responsive: Wearables and other connected devices will provide a steady-stream of real-time opportunities to interact. For example, your wearable device knows if you are tired at 3:00pm. If our personalization data knows you like green tea (and not coffee) it the afternoon, we can prompt you with a notification about the best green tea in the area.
  • Locational: This one is tricky. The temptation is to send a coupon as soon as a consumer is near your product. The risk of consumers turning these features off is high if we abuse them. What matters here is what you already know about this particular consumer. Unless you know enough to send something hyper-relevant that adds value in a real way, don’t send any message at all.

How do I get to know my consumers?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that can learn more about your consumers through their journey across multiple devices will become increasingly important. Modern marketers will get to know their consumers through real-time data gathering and segmentation and they will use predictive analytics to provide higher levels of value in these micro-moments over time.

Planning for and delivering valuable content in these moments that matter across multiple devices will determine which brands consumers choose to try, buy, and love. This will change marketing forever (again).

David brings over 20 years of experience in business strategy, creative writing, technology, integrated marketing, and social media to develop and execute 360-degree communications campaigns that drive action and advocacy for brands. His expertise in real-time digital communications and analytics has helped drive measurable growth for brands in many different industries. 

This post was originally featured on the MMC blog here.