The smartphone has changed the way businesses promote themselves. Business owners used to sell to customers through traditional advertising such as buying space on billboards or handing out flyers on the street and more. The rapid transformation of technology has made businesses shift their focus to the smartphone. People rely on smartphones more than any other item to answer their inquiries.
- As of 2018, 77% of Americans own a smartphone. That's compared to 35% in 2011.
- A Google study showed customers prefer mobile websites over mobile apps
How Buying has Changed
Before the rise of technology, a purchase had to be well-researched with the help of magazines, reviews and store visits to see if an item was worth buying. Today, users bring out their smartphone and look at what they want to know, visit, do, or buy.
Consumer behavior has changed so much that 70% of purchases made in-store came from customers who looked up information on the product and 92% of people who used search ended up making a purchase. One of the reasons consumer behavior has changed is because of the shift to smartphones.
Users have tons of ways to purchase a product besides visiting a physical store. Now, customers may easily purchase an item with a click of a button.
Nowadays, brick and mortar stores have adapted to digital trends such as claiming business listings and creating websites. There are even businesses that operate solely online as e-commerce stores.
Customers have so many options to make a purchase and their habits have been coined by Google as “micro-moments”. Google defines micro-moments as the times that a buyer wants to KNOW, GO, DO, or BUY.
Let's set an example of an owner who owns an ice-skating rink located in Utah. The owner is looking to improve the online presence of his ice-skating rink with the help of search engine optimization (SEO).
The owner whips up his smartphone, selects a mobile browser and enters “Utah SEO services” to research and find an SEO company that may help online presence of his business through SEO (I want to KNOW). The owner found a Utah SEO company that provides SEO and digital marketing services. He fills up their contact form and gives the business a call to set up an appointment (I want to GO).
After meeting the SEO company, the rink owner decides that the service offered by the SEO company compared to other companies will be beneficial to improve the online presence of his skating rink and is ready to make a purchase (I want to Do). The SEO company provides the ice-skating rink owner a portal to transact and purchase the SEO service. Owner clicks on the link and makes the purchase online via credit card (I want to BUY).
The SEO Company then assists the owner with his website and begins improving the online presence of the ice-skating rink, and after a few months, the owner is seeing an uptick of customers because customers can now easily find the ice skating rink online.
1. I Want to KNOW
The user's "I want to KNOW" moment occurs when they would like more information and details about what they are looking for.
Here's an example of an “I Want to KNOW” moment: Let us say you want to research a business. You take out your smartphone, enter the business name, click on a few links that talk about the business and check out the website of the business as well. Before the rise of search engines, you probably had to check the telephone listing or went to a library to do research.
Consumers today simply open their phone to research a product or service. Businesses put relevant information on their website because 85% of users who made a purchase used their mobile device to find useful information on a product.
2. I Want to GO
An “I want to GO” moment is when customers want to visit a business via physical or digital store.
Since the user went through the “I want to KNOW” moment, the customer has done enough research about the business and would like to visit the store. Your next action is to look for a nearby shop. You take out your smartphone again and look for the closest store near your location.
In the old days, people read classified ads, relied on word of mouth, checked telephone listings and yellow pages to find a store. Today, users simply whip out their smartphone and type phrases such as "Businesses near me" to find a store or go to the online store itself.
Around 50% of consumers who searched for the nearest address catering to their needs end up visiting the establishment within a day and then, 18% of the said visit results in a purchase!
3. I Want to DO
The “I Want to DO” Moment occurs when you already decided to make a purchase but, you are deciding on which version of the product works best for you.
Here's how an “I Want to DO” moment will occur on the example we provided. Since the user already visited the online retailer or a physical store, the user can use their smartphone to view online retailers, their pricing, add-ons, and promos for that specific product you are looking for.
Before, customers only get to compare prices by visiting multiple retailers. Today, buyers don't even have to visit different shops. All the buyer can do is compare the different offers for the product they are looking for and make sound decisions on the product they will buy.
Users tend to learn more about the finer details of their desired product or service with a review. One type of review that seems to stand out is an instructional video. Google studies showed how smartphone users even prefer to purchase items from companies that display videos on their mobile sites or apps.
4. I Want to BUY
The “I Want to BUY” moment happens when you are in the process of purchasing an item already.
When it came to purchasing, the usual option before was to go to the store physically and purchase an item from the store. Today, buyers can purchase almost anything from their smartphone. The same idea works for businesses. Customers can find a business online and immediately purchase on their website.
The rise of e-commerce also means that companies now allow an option to make purchases online and at the palm of their hand. E-Commerce has given buyers an avenue to purchase items without even stepping into a brick and mortar store.
Users can make a purchase on the desktop or on-the-go with their smartphone and they would still be able to make a purchase. They can even buy an item online and pick them up in store.
Savoring The Moment
The smartphone has become the user's anchor on their buyers' journey: From doing research all the way to a purchase of a product. People who want to know about an event or a product would pick up their smartphone to research (I want to KNOW).
Users who want to visit a shop nearby can use their smartphones to find directions to go to a shop or gather information such as an email address or a phone number to reach out to the business (I want to GO). The customers may be doing research on the event or product on how to use or make the most out of the event/product (I want to DO).
The buyer already wants to purchase something but, they want to choose the best place to make the purchase. When customers are already making the purchase, they are in the “I want to buy moment” (I want to BUY).
Google's micro-moments show how the smartphone has changed the way we obtain information, compare businesses, visit a business, and select a business to transact, and then make a purchase.
Paul Staten is the co-founder and CEO of SEO Werkz , a Utah SEO Company. He is famous for delivering his twins at home and trying out for American Idol and being immediately rejected. In 6 years of Operation, Paul and his team have helped hundreds of small business earn a positive ROI in the digital space. His leadership has earned the company a place in the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the US.