Consumer behavior and expectations have changed, and marketers are scrambling to figure out how to cater to the new breed of shoppers. With the rapid penetration of smartphones and the internet, people now have the power to research on their own–whenever, wherever.

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Buyers no longer have to rely on salespeople to feed them information on products or services because they now have access to more reliable resources, such as product comparisons and reviews by other buyers and industry leaders. A study shows 88 percent of consumers do online research before making a purchase.

The immediacy the internet provides gave birth to shoppers who are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever. Google calls them “consumers in the age of assistance.” Empowered by smartphones, people search with intent and expect instant, relevant results. They form their decisions and preferences in these moments where they search for answers.

Google calls these moments Micro-Moments.

Google’s Four Micro-Moments

Google segregated consumers’ search intent into four categories: I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments. These smaller decision-making moments represent different stages in the buyer’s journey. Together, micro-moments determine how the journey ends.

Consumers across different phases of the journey have different expectations and intent. You have to provide information relevant to what they currently need, so they advance to the next stage in the journey. And the micro-moments help you do just that.

Micro-moments help you determine the intent of the searcher. You can use this information to tailor your content to better fit the searcher’s current situation. Leveraging these micro-moments is the key to making sure that you can close a sale. 

Tip: perform keyword research using paid or free keyword research tools to know the common search terms related to your business or industry and the ones that lead to your web pages. The keywords will tell you how far along the searcher is along the buyer’s journey, whether they’re in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage.

I-Want-to-Know Moment

This is when a consumer is exploring or researching but isn’t planning on buying anything. The searcher has a general idea about the product or service and is looking for more information. This micro-moment aligns with the awareness phase. Searchers who want to know are considered prospects.

Think with Google says the I-want-to-know moment is often critical to the next stage, which is I-want-to-go. Searchers need relevant data to spark excitement about an upcoming experience, build confidence on their purchase, and make the most out of their budget.

Keywords such as “best restaurants in Miami,” “things to do in Manila,” and “how much breast milk can I bring on a flight” are some examples of I-want-to-know search queries. 

How do you target consumers who want to know? 

Give them the information they need.

This isn’t the time to make sales pitch because the searcher is still exploring the possibility of purchasing. Sixty-five percent of smartphone users look for the most relevant information, regardless of the company providing that info. So you have to push valuable content instead of the promotional kind. Otherwise, you’ll risk losing prospects. 

From your keyword research, perform some of the popular search terms related to your category on your own device. Do any of your web pages appear on the first results page? If not, start crafting content that address these queries. 

Also, make sure your answers are easy to find. You can do this in multiple ways.

  1. Fix the interface of your website so that the navigation is intuitive. A well-designed site helps visitors find what they need more quickly.
  2. Implement mobile-friendly web pages. Since 2015, more than half of Google’s searches happen on mobile, surpassing desktop queries. And the number increases each day as smartphone penetration rises. Mobile users would rather look for product information on their phones than talk to a salesperson in-store. With consumers becoming more smartphone-dependent, it’s crucial that you establish presence in the medium they use most.
  3. Invest in SEO. A good SEO strategy improves your ranking on search engine results. Once your page reaches the first page, it has more chances of getting online traffic.

Next on the buyer’s journey are the I-want-to-go micro-moments.

I-Want-to-Go Moment

These are moments when someone is considering buying a product from a nearby store or looking for service providers near them. In this phase, consumers are looking for options within their neighborhood. Often, they already have a general idea of what they want, they just don’t know the specifics, such as where to get it and how.

I-want-to-go moments align with the consideration stage in the buyer’s journey. Consumers who want to go are considered prospects or visitors if they land on your site.

Keywords such as “breakfast nearby,” “car dealership Phoenix, AR,” “Salt Lake City SEO consultant,” and “near me” searches are common for I-want-to-go moments. 

How do you target I-want-to-go searchers?

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Make sure they can find you.

Notice that this micro-moment is particular to location and proximity. This reflects the fact that consumers today want immediate results, so they tend to opt for products or services that are close by. 

Use location signals to boost your content. This means catering to “near me” searches through your content. Point people to your stores by offering directions. You can include on your site a well-designed map showing how to get from a popular or easy-to-spot landmark to your shop. Another option would be to share a dropped pin on Google Maps on your contact page.

Also, create location-specific content to attract more local visitors to your website or social media pages. Some topics you can cover are news and upcoming events related to your industry.

After visitors have landed on your website, you can turn them into leads by leveraging I-want-to-do moments.

I-Want-to-Do Moment

People search for I-want-to-do queries when they want to complete a task or try something new. This micro-moment means the searcher is seeking help with something in particular, and it’s crucial that you provide what they need instead of pushing promotional content.

The I-want-to-do micro-moment is similar to the I-want-to-know one in the sense that both fall under the researching phase. Consumers care more about relevance here in terms of content rather than brands. This micro-moment falls somewhere between awareness and consideration because searchers are looking for the best or easiest way to do a task.

The difference between the two is that I-Want-to-Do micro-moments give you a better chance to establish authority. Helping someone with their concern may categorize you as an expert in that field. It also allows you to leave a lasting impression, which can aid brand awareness.

So what’s the key to winning I-want-to-do searchers?

Help consumers get more done.

How-to listicles, infographics, and instructional videos are popular answers for I-want-to-do moments. It’s better if these content pieces appear on your website, instead of on third-party sites. This way, the searcher may form the impression that you’re a dependable brand and will likely remember you for providing valuable answers.

Make sure your content immediately gets into the tutorial. Think with Google says that 91 percent of smartphone users pause in the middle of their task to search information or inspiration online. This means they don’t have the time and would rather consume content that cuts straight to the point.

Don’t forget to add descriptive titles and relevant tags to your content to help searchers find them easily.

This is also where lead magnets would come in handy. Offer additional content, such as webinars, free trials, and other valuable freebies in exchange for email addresses. For example, a visitor watched a video on how to make vegan pancakes. After the tutorial, you can offer a short recipe book with more vegan meals in PDF format.

The last micro-moment on the buyer’s journey is I-want-to-buy, which aligns with the decision stage.

I-Want-to-Buy Moment

This is the part where the consumer is ready to make a purchase, but they’re still on the fence about which product or service to choose. You can influence their choice by being there with the right information.

Shape consumers’ preferences.

Employ positive messaging by using the “you” perspective. Focus on your audience’s problems and show them you care about their needs. It’s not about highlighting the unique selling points of your products, it’s about telling them how these items can alleviate their concerns. 

When you’re describing car tires, for instance, say “You can get to your destination no matter the weather,” instead of “the tread depth ensures excellent wet weather traction.”

Also, make sure you’re offering a seamless transaction. Consumers today are always looking to save time, which is why cashless transactions have skyrocketed. Accepting card payments and partnering with digital wallets are good ways to tap into the cashless economy.

Ultimately, Google’s four micro-moments are about studying your target market. What questions are they asking? What channels are they on? What search terms are they using? The data will help you create content and ads that deliver valuable answers.

The needs of the modern consumer evolve each day, and there may come a time when marketing models such as the micro-moments have to be amended. But if you commit to this strategy – continually learning what your market needs – then you should be able to keep abreast with the changes in the industry.