In this mobile age, when many folks carry a Internet-connected device with them everywhere, useful content marketing that helps potential customers complete specific tasks may be a powerful way to engage those patrons when they want immediate help learning, doing, or buying something.
Research suggests that many people will use their smartphone nearly 150 times each day for about one minute at a time. While the majority of these mobile sessions may be focused on texting, email, or social media, some will be searches and inquiries. These are the moments when folks want and need help.
According to Google’s director of ads marketing, Matt Lawson, “For marketers, these moments are an open invitation to engage. …At Google, we call these micro-moments. They’re the moments when you turn to a device — often your smartphone — to take action on whatever you need or want right now. They’re the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments that are loaded with intent, context, and immediacy.”
Micro-moments Represent a Significant Marketing Opportunity
Micro-moments may be especially important for introducing your business to new, potential customers, who have just used a search engine like Google or content site like YouTube to try to get help.
First, consider the person’s need. Google reported that 91 percent of folks that have a smartphone will consult it whilst in the middle of task, to get help or ideas.
Next, note that during this moment of need, folks are not particularly loyal to a given brand. In fact, about 65 percent of smartphone users said they looked for the most relevant, perhaps most useful, solution regardless of which company or brand was providing that solution.
To engage potential customers during this micro-moments of need, Google suggested three strategies: be there, be useful, and be quick. Each of these has suggested actions associated with it, but in our context of discussing content marketing, let’s focus on being useful.
When You Are Useful, Consumers Seek Out Your Business
Nine out of ten smartphone users have stopped in the middle of a task to get ideas or help. These people were actively seeking out content that was useful to them at that specific moment.
If your business can provide a solution, you’ve won the moment and, potentially, a conversion.
Consider a hypothetical example. Imagine that it is Thursday evening, a fellow leaves work and gets on the train, heading for home. Smartphone in hand, he starts looking through Facebook and remembers that he is supposed to go to his nephew’s birthday party on Saturday afternoon, but he doesn’t have a gift yet.
He searches for “gift ideas for 12-year-old boy” and finds Fat Brain Toys’ “Top Toys for 12 Year Old Boys” page.
“Rather than relying upon vague manufacturer supplied age recommendations, we ask every customer for whom the end user of the toy will be,” The Fat Brain site reads. “Using these responses we’ve been able to build highly accurate age ratings for most of our toys and games. We hope you find this list of the best toys for 12 year old boys helpful in your quest for the perfect gift.”
In a couple of clicks, the commuter has ordered the 14-in-1 Solar Robot, wooden boomerangs, and a copy of the Encyclopedia of Immaturity.
Thanks to overnight delivery and the fact that Fat Brain is a time zone west, the gifts will arrive in time.
A bit of useful content in the form of age-specific product listings won the moment. What’s more, if this customer finds himself in a similar situation later, he might come right to Fat Brain Toys.
A myriad of similar examples could be cited, but the key is that when your business has something useful to offer, consumers will come looking for it.
You’re Helping, Not Interrupting
Useful content available when your potential customers want it also changes the relationship between your business and your shopper.
Content marketing draws would-be customers in. They are seeking your advice and aid. Other forms of advertising, however effective, are still a push, if you will, and not a pull. Those ads are still an interruption. And when a person is inundated with interruptions, sometimes she just stops listening altogether.
In fact, for some smartphone users, interruptions are often not tolerated.
In the context of micro-moments, Google’s Lawson wrote that “mobile empowers us to navigate through it all on our own terms” — resulting in short micro-moments.
“Behind these mobile bursts are countless interactions, like texting a spouse with a carpool update, dropping a quick work email while waiting in the ATM line, or posting a Bermuda vacation photo to make friends jealous. These types of moments have personal value, but they’re not necessarily moments when we’re looking to engage with brands. And if a brand tries to butt in with a distracting or irrelevant message? Swipe.”
To further put this point into perspective, consider how many smartphone users feel about phone calls.
“Text me. Email me. WhatsApp, Facebook, iMessage, Skype, DM me, or send me a heartbeat from your Apple Watch. I don’t care. Just don’t call me,” wrote Thomas Ricker in a June 2015 article.
“How self-centered are you to think you can inject yourself unannounced into my life whenever you want, causing me to drop everything just to focus on you?” Ricker continued. “And you can forget about leaving a voicemail — I never set it up.”
If Ricker and others — this attitude is common with millennials and early adopters — feel this way about interruptions from people they know and like, how do you imagine they would feel about your ad?
“Today’s consumers are staring at an invitation avalanche, with every company asking for likes, follows, clicks, and attention. This is on top of all the legacy advertising that envelops us like a straitjacket. There are only two ways for companies to break through in an environment that is unprecedented in its competitiveness and cacophony,” wrote marketing guru Jay Baer in his book, Youtility. “They can be ‘amazing’ or they can be useful.”
Amazing can be hard to do. But, useful can be both simple and effective.