You’re probably tired of hearing statistics about how many people use smartphones, shop on mobile and so on. So I won’t bore you with that.
In fact, you may decide — in a micro-moment — to click off this article. But before you do, consider this: What do you want to do?
It only takes a moment to decide. Are you hungry? Need gas? A massage? Which theater is playing that movie you want to see tonight? Do you need a Lyft or Uber?
In these few seconds when a thought occurs to you, you pull out your phone and click your Google icon. You enter a “Near Me” or “Close by” search, and let the map dots guide you.
It’s during those few seconds during which brands are made — or broken.
You can’t escape it now: If your business doesn’t show up in search results, you’ve lost business. How do you make sure you’re there in that micro-moment, when a potential customer decides to act?
A New Marketing Battleground
The way we use the internet has changed dramatically — from daily sessions on our desktops to fragmented interactions throughout the day on mobile. Americans check their smartphones about 47 times per day, on average. This creates millions of isolated moments throughout the day during which brands have an opportunity to connect with consumers.
Last year, Google coined the term “real-time, intent-driven micro-moments” to describe those split second decisions to search for something online. Consumers grab their phones and type in a search because they want to know something, want to go somewhere or want to buy something. These moments are where brands must now battle it out for consumers’ attention and favor.
Micro-moments are defined by a consumer’s impulse to know, find or buy. But we’re dealing with a tectonic shift in the way consumers think, shop and buy. This is forcing marketers to rethink their branding strategies:
According to Google research, 82 percent of smartphone users check their phones while standing in a store, deciding what to buy — and one in 10 will buy a different product than they planned.
Millennials, the fastest-growing group of consumers, aren’t influenced by celebrity endorsements — and 83 percent of them don’t trust advertising. They turn to referrals from friends and online reviews as a primary source of information about products and services.
Brick-and-mortar retail mainstays are disappearing, because eight in 10 Americans are now shopping online. That’s 79 percent of U.S. consumers who shop on the web or their phones, up from just 22 percent in 2000.
The ‘Near Me’ Revolution
Importantly, “Near Me” searches have increased 34-fold since 2011 at a rate of 146 percent year-over-year. And search results pages are brutally unforgiving — they prominently display a business’s star ratings along with review snippets. If you don’t have a bank of fresh, recent, positive reviews, you may not show up at all in the search results.
In its report, Google explains how one company, Red Roof Inn, was able to capture Near Me traffic in that micro-moment when a traveler’s flight is cancelled. The hotel chain increased bookings by 60 percent across non-branded search companies by sending targeted ads in real time following flight delays and cancellations. However, this strategy may have fallen flat if Red Roof Inn’s online reputation wasn’t up to par.
What the consumer finds out about your brand, products or services based on the star ratings and reviews s/he sees during this critical moment will win or lose the business. Your ability to capture this unclaimed business comes down to the strength of your online reputation.
New Consumer Behaviors Require New Strategies
If marketing teams hope to cash in on the millions of micro-moments that now govern consumer behavior, they must strengthen their brand using Online Reputation Management (ORM) strategies. Only businesses with high star ratings and search rankings will win on this new hyper-local, impulse-driven battlefield.
Here are some key strategies to consider:
Actively request reviews from all customers immediately following customer interactions, to build review volume. Make the requests in person, if possible, then follow up with text or email. Some ORM platforms offer mobile apps that make this possible.
Respond to all negative reviews to demonstrate your commitment to the customer experience and satisfaction.
Keep your business listings and social profiles accurate and up-to-date for all locations.
Meet customers where they are — on key review sites like Google, Facebook and others, as well as social channels where your customers turn to the community for advice and recommendations.
Syndicate positive reviews across social media to increase visibility and awareness in your brand.
Implement a comprehensive Online Reputation Management platform that enables you to monitor and manage reviews, business listings and social media, while providing deep analytics and reporting for insight and operational improvements.
Live — and Market — in the Moment
Consumers self-educate more now than ever before, because all of the information is at their fingertips — anywhere and everywhere, at any time, whenever they want it. To win them over during those micro-moments that lead to split-second decisions, you must reach consumers where they are, when you’re needed. You must earn their business through social proof and a solid reputation… otherwise, when you pop up on the results page, your next potential customer will scroll right past you — and take their lifetime value to a competitor down the street.