Thanks to mobile, our primary job as marketers is to be there and be useful for consumers in moments of need. Margo Georgiadis, Google's President of the Americas, shines a spotlight on three brands who are leading the way in winning these micro-moments.
Every second, your brain is asked to process 400 billion bits of information.1 If that sounds like a lot, it's because it is … aside from a few Google engineers I know, most of us can only process about 60 bits per second.2
Scientists equate it to shining a spotlight. Your brain focuses on what's in the spotlight, and turns out the lights on everything else. For example, I was recently helping my daughter shop for a new car. I started, naturally, with the brands I knew best. But as I hunted, I noticed a whole bunch of other car brands — specifically brands that were best at helping me answer the questions I needed to know: what are the crash ratings? Does it get good gas mileage? Does the resale value hold up? Wouldn't you know it: as soon as my "spotlight" shifted, I started seeing these brands everywhere — in my neighbor's driveway, in front of me at the stoplight.
We ended up buying one of these brands — a Nissan Versa. It made me realize that our primary job as marketers is to be there and be useful in these micro-moments — moments when someone is looking for answers, discovering new things, or making a decision. Moments when the spotlight of intent is shining in our direction. Today, most of these moments are happening on our smartphones.
Micro-moments have transformed the consumer decision journey in virtually every industry. Today, micro-moments are where consumers' hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost. That's great news for all of us marketers. It means the biggest opportunity in marketing is simply to "be there and be useful" to consumers in their micro-moments.
In my job leading the Americas team at Google, I get to work with and learn from so many brands. Today, I want to share examples from three brands who are leading the way in winning these micro-moments.
"Consumers leave signals about themselves all over the web, inviting us to help them solve their problems. It creates a big opportunity for us to deliver on their needs in micro-moments." —Eric Reynolds, CMO of Clorox
The Clorox Company's stated mission is to make everyday life better, every day. From Clorox bleach to Hidden Valley ranch dressing to Fresh Step cat litter, the company's products are an indispensable part of our daily routines.
Clorox marketers and brands have tapped into micro-moments by adopting an approach where they stop interrupting the content people are interested in, and start becoming the content people are interested in. "It's our responsibility to meet consumer expectations and be more responsive to their needs," says Eric Reynolds, CMO of Clorox. "Consumers leave signals about themselves all over the web, inviting us to help them solve their problems. By harnessing this data and intelligence, it creates a big opportunity to deliver on their needs in micro-moments, and continue to keep our brands top of mind."
This focused approach from Clorox brands on sensing and responding to key signals has required a commitment to embracing leading technologies that enable them to translate the data into insights and to explore real-time measurement capabilities. It has included a collaborative team effort from multiple disciplines including Marketing Communications, IT, Insights & Analytics and Brand Marketing.
For example, someone looking for game day spread inspirations will be met with a :15 recipe from Hidden Valley to ranch up their menus. Someone looking to be educated on whether the flu is trending in their city is met with Prevention Tips from Clorox Cold n' Flu tracker on Clorox.com. Someone just looking to be entertained by fuzzy feline creatures is met with cat videos by Fresh Step Litter on YouTube.
"Since consumers are drawn more to relevant experiences and immersive content, this micro-moment approach should further Clorox brands' ability to truly create strong relationships with our consumers," says Mr. Reynolds.
The result? Clorox is committed to helping their consumers time and time again in these micro-moments, so much so that they have allocated 40% of their media spend to digital platforms – nearly 30-40% of which is now consumed via a mobile device.
"Winning micro-moments is what will help us to convert customers onto our platform and make them loyal bookers." —Pepijn Rijvers, CMO of Booking.com
Booking.com prides themselves on their no-nonsense push to turn "lookers into bookers." As an unabashedly direct response-focused advertiser, this means a laser focus on turning every ad into a transaction. "If the user has no intent, it's not a worthwhile thing to do," Darren Huston, CEO of Booking.com, has said of the company's marketing philosophy.
It's no surprise, then, that travel micro-moments are playing a central role in the US growth strategy for Amsterdam-based Booking.com.
According to Pepijn Rijvers, CMO of Booking.com, "In the U.S., we're very much a challenger brand. Compared to big household names like Expedia and Airbnb, Booking.com is relatively new in the eyes of US consumers." To overcome this barrier, Booking.com built a US-based marketing team whose top responsibility is to understand Americans' travel micro-moments and then deliver on those needs better than anyone else.
The new team "obsesses over making sure the conversation that we have with a user — both in our marketing and in our frontends — is as helpful as it can possibly be. Our marketing communication is all about really being able to answer consumers' questions in the most granular, most detailed, most perfect way. Winning these micro-moments is what will help us to convert those customers onto our platform and make them loyal bookers — and transform us from a challenger brand to a leader in the eyes of US consumers."
The result? Booking.com's US approach helped parent company The Priceline Group accelerate their global accommodation business, booking 27% more rooms by the end of 2015 vs the same period the previous year.3
"One in 20 Google searches is for health care info. We're focused on building tools that help us be there and solve real problems for them in all of these micro-moments." —Brian Tilzer, Chief Digital Officer for CVS Health
Fast Company deemed CVS Health, an American pharmacy and health care company, among their top three Most Innovative Companies in 2016. Why? At a time when competitors are closing stores, CVS is embracing digital to help people manage their health in online micro-moments — transforming their business as a result.
CVS Health launched their Digital Innovation Lab in Boston in mid-2015, which has already churned out digital tools that are addressing real problems. "We know that one in 20 Google searches are for health care information4," says Brian Tilzer, Chief Digital Officer for CVS Health. "This points to our customers' increasing preference to manage their health digitally, in micro-moments throughout their day. We're focused on building tools that help us be there and solve real problems for them in all of these micro-moments."
Consider Cathy5, a 45-year-old mother of two. Cathy manages her family's prescriptions, including monitoring daily medications for her aging father. CVS Health saw the frustration many customers like Cathy faced trying to tackle these tasks: dealing with paperwork, phone calls, and waiting in line. So they set out to simplify the process for her, enabling her to get all of these things done quickly and easily on her smartphone.
For example, by downloading the CVS/pharmacy mobile app for herself and her dad, Cathy can set reminders for him to take his medication and even load the reminders to his Apple watch. When her husband changes insurance carriers, Cathy simply scans his new insurance card to notify CVS of the change. Cathy has also opted in to receive mobile notifications when she enters a CVS/pharmacy, so she knows that her family's medications are ready for pickup the moment she enters the store.
CVS Health has seen the tangible impact these digital innovations have on millions of people like Cathy: one third of its customers use CVS Health's digital tools, and – according to recent research by the company's research arm – people who use these tools are more likely to fill their prescriptions and more likely to adhere to their medications. To keep up this success, CVS Health has increased their investment in digital by 5X over the last two years.
These brands are winning micro-moments because they are doing three things exceedingly well. First, they're there. Whenever and wherever their potential customers need answers, information or advice, they are meeting that need. Second, they are useful. They provide the right answer to the right person at the very moment they need it most. Finally, they hold themselves accountable, ensuring their efforts are driving both brand lift and bottom line results. The brands that get this formula right and make the most of the "spotlight," will be those that win over consumers.
1 Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza, January 2007.
2 MIT Technology Review, August 2009.
3 Priceline Group Financial Results for 4th Quarter and Full-Year 2015
4 Official Google Blog, February 2015.
5 CVS Health, November 2015.