Micro-Moments: The Moments Japanese Marketers Can’t Afford to Miss

Mia Ozawa, Kazuki Notsu / April 2016

The omnipresence of smartphones has greatly changed the way people buy goods and services. Marketers today need to be aware of these shifts, as well as the moments that can influence and change consumers’ purchase intentions. These intentional moments—I-want-to-know, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-go moments—are what we call micro-moments.

Changes that smartphones are making in our lives

 Today, more than half of the Japanese population has smartphones, which drastically changes the way these people live their lives. In this article, we’ll look into how marketers should react to smartphone use as a norm rather than exception, and what strategies are needed to respond best to this shift.

Let’s take an everyday situation as an example: replacing a broken hair dryer. Before online shopping, going to the electronics store would be the first and only option. But today, there are countless ways to buy a new hair dryer. We can search and compare different brands and models on our smartphones, find out where certain hair dryers are available, and even purchase them directly from our smartphones. In fact, 49% of online retail transactions in Japan are made on mobile devices.1

With the advent of smartphones, it’s more difficult for marketers to predict which purchase route consumers will take, as well as the types of behavior they will engage in to act on their purchase intentions.

49% of online retail transactions in Japan are made on mobile devices.

Micro-moments: moments marketers cannot afford to miss

As the number of paths toward a purchase decision increases, the number of moments that influence consumer intentions increase, too. These micro-moments happen when a consumer forms an intention and then uses a device within reach to research or purchase a product or service on the spot. These moments are small but critical. They can be pivotal moments in which the consumer forms an opinion about a product or brand.

Micro-moments present huge opportunities for marketers to understand consumers' intentions and meet those intentions along the path to purchase. Here are three basic steps to making the most of micro-moments: 

  • Step 1: Identify the critical moments to capture.
  • Step 2: Deliver the right message at the right time.
  • Step 3: Measure the result of every captured moment.

Now we’ll take a look at some practical solutions that help achieve these objectives and make the purchase funnel more effective.

Leveraging micro-moments to build awareness and accelerate consideration of the brand

In a study comparing consumer behaviors after having viewed branded content or advertisements on smartphones and television, smartphones consistently scored higher than television on metrics like visits to the company's website, purchases, word-of-mouth (both on- and offline), forming positive impressions, and video sharing.2 In particular, smartphone viewers are 1.6X as likely as TV viewers to turn to their peers in person and talk about the video content they’re watching. Smartphones are an extremely personal device, and when consumers share content, they can effectively convey a brand’s message while prompting others to act.

Getting people to share your content will require more than simply owning a smartphone. Here are three action items to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the message is effective. This means the message needs to be effective on smartphones, follow the 3H (Hero, Hub, Help) content strategy (introduced in the seventh installment of this series), and be adjusted creatively so your content is relevant to consumers’ situations and needs.
  2. Secure a wide audience reach while meeting consumers in their many micro-moments.
  3. Understand consumers’ contexts to grasp their micro-moments using an array of targeting functions, including audience, content, location targeting, and remarketing.

To properly see the effects of these action items, measure the ad-recall rate and level of brand awareness (discussed in the seventh installment) compared to any increase in search results.

Maximizing conversions through micro-moments

As many as 15% of phrases searched every day are new phrases, signifying the constant change and evolution of micro-moments.3 In the wake of shifts in online behavior, the effectiveness of conventional keywords is limited when it comes to driving conversions. One way to overcome this state of flux, or even improve performance, is by automating the targeting and distribution of ads across search phrases related to your landing website.

Data shows that 95% of visitors leave a site without converting during their first visit4, and 49% of site visitors return two to four times before converting.5 To increase conversion efficiency, a seamless consumer experience is essential. Google has created a playbook called Mobile Retail Apps and Sites: Designing a Better Experience for Shoppers6 as a reference for all marketers to improve consumers’ experiences on their mobile sites.

The effectiveness of a great consumer experience can’t simply be measured based on the last click. Marketers must also look at the effects of using attribution while consumers are at the top of the purchase funnel. This includes the conversions that span both the on- and offline worlds, as well as the conversions that happen between computers and smartphones—and vice versa. 

Strengthening customer relationships with micro-moments

Apps are key to strengthening relationships with customers, especially in moments of need. People these days use their smartphones an average of 200 times per day, and 86% of that time is spent on apps.7

With increasingly rich interfaces and experiences, apps promote higher conversion rates than mobile sites. This means that having an app in addition to a mobile site allows you to meet customers where they are, continuously build stronger bonds, and develop higher overall lifetime value (LTV) of customers.

Given these insights, here are three core principles for marketers trying to strengthen relationships through an app:

  1. Make a high-quality app that’s simple, easy to understand, and certain to meet the needs of the consumer.
  2. Allow for easy conversion. If the consumer needs to enter a lot of information to make a purchase or move on to the next step, he or she will likely drop out during the process.
  3. Include measures like deep linking to entice frequent use and attract new consumers while retaining returning ones.

A top-quality app can’t create a stronger customer relationship if it is not installed. Focus on relevant micro-moments to promote the app and encourage its purchase and/or installation. Unsurprisingly, 75% of consumers conduct some kind of search or comparison prior to downloading an app.

It’s clear that the popularity of smartphones has dramatically increased the number of crucial moments in the consumer journey, and seizing those moments is a major key to success for marketers.

Although many companies engage in mobile marketing, a number have trouble finding effective ways to market their products or services. Why not take this opportunity to reassess your marketing strategy and see if you’re maximizing all of the important micro-moments for your brand?

This article was originally published on June 26, 2015 in Japanese.

From Consumption to Engagement: The Evolving Relationship Between Users and Content in Japan