What are micro-moments?

Micro-moments, a term originally coined by Google, are mobile actions that are brief in nature. In these moments, the user’s intent is to find an answer to a question, find somewhere to go, find something to do, or buy something — as fast as possible.


Why micro-moments are important

The number of smartphone users is steadily on the rise. In 2014 there were 1.57 billion users and in 2020 that number is forecasted to increase to 2.87 billion. This steady rise in usage also means a rise in micro-moments.

In other words, more people will be able to look up virtually any piece of information in the blink of an eye. Search engines within browsers and mobile apps that can load answers/results in milliseconds make this possible.

According to a 2017 study conducted by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, individuals over the age of 18 spend more time engaged with their mobile device than they do with a desktop or laptop. And research firm Dscout ran a study back in 2016 that shows we touch our phones, on average, about 2,617 times a day.

People are using their smartphones to quickly find information in the small moments where they are waiting in long lines or sitting on a train and there’s an opportunity for brands to get in front of them.

How micro-moments work

  1. A smartphone user has a question they need an answer to. (Which of these products on the shelf have the best reviews? Where are the closest office supply stores near me? What is the weather right now?)
  2. The user takes out their mobile device and enters their question into a mobile browser or app.
  3. Almost instantaneously, the user receives an answer or a variety of options to choose from.
  4. The user takes action. (They purchase an item, go to a certain location, consume new information.)

Examples of micro-moments

According to Google, micro-moments are grouped into four categories:

  • Find an answer to a question. A fan of a specific TV show uses their smartphone to search for recaps or reviews of the latest episode. This search lets them view a list of various personal blogs and entertainment websites to get the information they need.
  • Find somewhere to go. A tourist is walking around a busy downtown area in search of a place to eat. They pull out their smartphone and search for a specific type of cuisine with their favorite food/travel app in hopes of finding a nearby restaurant.
  • Find something to do. A driver sees their check engine light turn on and wants to investigate the reason. They search Google looking for answers and find how-to guides posted by popular automotive retailers.
  • Buy something. An individual is about to have guests over their house and forgot to pick up a bottle of wine. They pick up their smartphone to research the best nearby liquor stores. Then they open their favorite wine app to see which wine is best for the price. From there, they go to the nearby store and get the perfect bottle.

Micro-moments for app marketing

When someone chooses to use a browser app on their smartphone (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc) in place of a topic-specific app, this represents a marketing opportunity for mobile app teams.

To drive eyeballs to your app, you can answer questions on an owned or third party website (Quora) that are related to content inside your app. When people arrive on these pages from search engines, you can link to your app’s landing page and encourage them to download it for features that don’t exist on the open web.

In addition to this, you can create partnerships with online publishers who rank high in search results for topics related to your app. When people arrive on their website for an answer to a question, you can “upsell” them to your more feature-rich app. Or you can skip the partnerships and extra content creation with PPC and, for a price, have your app rank #1 in search results.

Additional resources

If you’re interested in learning more about micro-moments, Google has a lot of great resources. They coined the term after all. Just keep in mind that when they’re talking about searches within mobile browsers, many of the same concepts can apply to searches made within mobile apps.