You may think that the “Power of Now” doesn’t sound like an approach to marketing but the phrase does in fact represent a dramatic shift in the way marketing works. In fact, it refers to how the entire customer journey has completely shifted. All businesses — whether you work in a huge corporation or you’re a small business owner, perhaps especially if you’re a small business owner — need to change in order to create a successful marketing campaign.
So the question becomes this: Are you where your customer and their needs intersect? Are you embracing the Power of Now?
How the Consumer Journey Changed
Traditionally speaking, the consumer journey is defined by the company and its marketing strategy. Brands developed their message, controlled communication channels, and carefully orchestrated “big moments” for brands to shine. Budgets were allocated to long-term, almost standardized schedules for brand awareness, along with equally scheduled and carefully paced direct response calls-to-action. To quote the Wall Street Journal the “old [marketing] model was a four-course meal in the same restaurant.” The customer journey was relatively linear and depended largely on salespeople to provide information.
So what has changed? Quite simply, the answer is “mobile.” The way people interact with technology and thus interact with information has completely changed. That has fundamentally shifted how customers access information for decision making, including purchasing decisions. This means mass marketing is on the out, and collections of experiences and data exposure are what will coalesce to determine success. As the WSJ put it, “Today’s [model] is a series of constant bite sized snacks all over town.”
The consumer journey is much more sporadic, and marketing to them requires a new way of thinking — the power of now. It is important to remember that there is no backwards direction with technology. The way people access information has changed forever, and you need to determine what to do to meet their needs. Consider these statistics from UserTesting: mobile website browsing has increased by 20%, but time spent on a particular mobile web page has decreased by 18%. And yet, conversions are up by nearly 30%. Basically, a customer is spending shorter moments to find exactly what they want, right now.
It is also important to remember that consumers can opt in — or out — of different things that can throttle or completely close out how they receive marketing. They can look up several pieces of information, such as specifications, reviews, and price comparisons all very easily. And they do; Google says that more than 82% of smartphone users utilize their phone in-store while shopping. Furthermore, 1 in 10 ended up purchasing a different product than what they went into the store intending to buy. Many times, they don’t want to talk to a salesperson; they often prefer suggestions from peers over the opinions of experts. Most importantly, they want to find what they’re looking for, now.
The power of now is made up of micro-moments, which some people refer to as micro-targeting. What are micro-moments? Perhaps the best illustration of the definition is Google’s video about them. In short, it refers to the moment consumers turn to the internet on their smartphone to meet their needs. One way of looking at this is the search for certain intentions, including: I want to know __, I want to do __, I want to buy __. You can find more complex versions of these intentions, of course, such as: time for a new __, show me how to __.
The key to understanding the necessary shift in marketing strategy is this: micro-moments are your opportunity to present yourself to a customer as a potential answer to what they need right now.
How to Embrace the Power of Now
There’s a few impacts to understand in order to start off on the right foot when you start using micro-moments. Remember, it isn’t just how a customer shops that’s changed; it’s also why. Aside from immediacy, there are two other aspects that deserve consideration.
- Brand loyalty is replaced by loyalty to personal needs — Customers are less likely to reserve action to have access to their preferred brand. In the face of immediacy, they’re going to shop for the product or service that offers what they want, has good reviews, falls inside their price point, and will achieve their needs instantly.
- Relevance will be key to bounce rates and conversions — People are using their mobile devices in short bursts of activity with high expectations for their results and little patience for anything outside of their immediate interest.
Steve Dennis, in writing for Google, also mentions key factors that play into the customer experience. Namely, your message needs to be: harmonized across communication channels, localized to where the customer is, socialized for a connection economy, amplified to be found over the static of marketing, and personalized for the customer to find it at the right moment.
At the core, what you’re attempting to do is attach added value to micro-moments. Of course, these are all guiding concepts so far. When relearning a major aspect like marketing, you also need actionable ideas and best practices to start moving forward.
Create a “moments” map of micro-moments that you can’t afford to lose or simply want to win:
- Identify where these key moments occur in the consumer journey
- Note where and how these moments occur in order to leverage them for guiding the customer on their journey
Determine customer goals and needs for these micro-moments:
- Consider things from the client’s perspective: What makes things easier? What makes things faster?
- Identify key trends and patterns of intent to be addressed
Use context for targeted experiences:
- Note associated behaviors, interests, and expectations that define pertinent moments
- Review your current media efforts and your new marketing plan: present your products and services at the right time in the right way to appear to your customer in context
Optimize for cross-channel, multi-device delivery:
- Anchor to the consumer and their moments to define your message and format
- Determine which messages and formats are appropriate and easiest to discover wherever the customer will need them
Continue measuring results:
- Give teams the tools and methodologies to develop this new approach and ensure a positive ROI
- There will be measurement gaps, so ensure teams have credible estimates to prevent things from falling through the cracks
Seize the Power of Now, Right Now!
Does your marketing strategy currently revolve around creating large moments?
Take a look at your market segments with fresh eyes. What kind of micro-moments do they experience? How do they align with your services? Do you need to re-evaluate your market segments to align with these micro-moments?
Identify which micro-moments are the best to integrate into your marketing. How can you use these moments to intersect with your customers in real time?
Review your marketing tactics. Which ones are most effective for intersecting a customer’s micro-moments? Do you have the tools you need for geo-location triggered moments? What about behavior based moments?
Use these points to begin to embrace the power of now to better target your audience and create an effective marketing strategy.