Michael Gearon


Michael Gearon

Micro-moments is a term that has come from Google first talked about in 2015. It highlights that the way we interact with brands and how we consume content has changed and that peoples mental models have changed. A micro-moment can be described as a time when a person needs to:

  1. Learn something
  2. Do something
  3. Discover something
  4. Watch something
  5. Buy something

These moments are highly intent-driven, there is a specific outcome that is needed to meet the user need. Examples of micro-moments are:

  • Fact checking something on a search engine
  • Checking the time
  • Discovering a new place to visit whilst waiting for the next train
  • Booking a table at their favourite restaurant for dinner later that day

What has changed?

If we look back about 15 to 20 years the internet was fairly slow and relatively simple and devices that connected to the internet were static, usually a desktop computer or laptop. Now in most cases we readily have access to fast internet speeds and a whole computer in our pocket. What this has resulted in is rather than long internet sessions, sitting in one place we use smartphones and tablets to make short, quick sessions to answer questions or solve problems we have and then carry on with our day. It is much more fragmented and as a result we go through hundreds of micro-moments a day.

From a user experience and marketing perspective consumers expect for brands and organisations to meet (if not exceed) their expectations and deliver them a consistent, fast experience and answers their intent-driven moment so they can carry on with their day.

How can we change?

Now that we know how consumer habits have changed, what can we do? Google say there are 4 “I-want-something-moments” that are:

  1. I-want-to-know moments: when a person is just exploring or researching. Here is an opportunity to provide content through social media, website and other channels that aren’t pushing for a sale but instead help the consumer answer their question
  2. I-want-to-go moments: when someone is trying to get somewhere, it could be a local business or see what is around them. An opportunity is to provide up to date store information such as opening and closing times and clear directions to the nearest store
  3. I-want-to-do moments: when a person needs help completing a task or wants to attempt to try something new. Providing guidance, samples and other useful materials can help the person understand what your product does
  4. I-want-to-buy moments: when that person is ready to make that purchase and may require help, assistance or expertise. If the sale is online consider live chat, reviews, streamline the checkout process and provide consistent communications during the sale. If in store then make sure stock is available or that it can be delivered to store or the person’s address and again provide consistent messaging and help when needed

Discovering the micro-moments

The main way to discover the moments the consumer has with a brand is through customer journey mapping. If you search customer journey maps they come up with all sorts of diagrams, but essentially a customer journey map is a way to visually map out the stages a consumer goes through when trying to do something.

Let’s take an example, a person is looking to book a holiday, what steps would they go through? The first step is motivation, they want to find somewhere to go to. Then they may see an advert for a brand for a place to visit whilst they are out and about, which could be followed by some initial research on their phone. Then time passes, perhaps on the weekend they do more in-depth research looking at reviews, trips that they could on and then at some point book the holiday. But the journey map could go on to highlight the experience leading up to, during the trip and the after experience.

There are lots of micro-moments within this journey it is a good opportunity to see where are the gaps, the pain points, the opportunities and what is going well. Once mapped it can also be a good opportunity to align teams and strategies to ensure consistency across all of the different touch points.

Key points

  • Micro-moments was coined by Google, highlighting how people interact with brands has changed due to a change in behaviour
  • A moment does not just having to be about buying something, it can be learning, doing, discovering or watching something
  • People expect consistency across all of the steps, one way to ensure consistency is map the customer journey
Michael Gearon

Written by

Michael Gearon

Senior Interaction Designer and Co-Author to Tiny CSS Projects