How micro-moments should inform mobile messaging

As mobile devices grow in importance for marketers, tailoring your online presence for the small screen is more crucial than ever. Consider these insights.

The shift to mobile communications isn’t always easy for marketing and communications pros.

They’ve relied on news releases as their primary format far too long, and the traditional all-text release, often shared as a PDF, is not exactly inviting on a mobile device. Anytime you need to turn your phone horizontally, and then zoom in on text, you have not created a positive user experience.

Search engines are the new front page

In the past, media outlets were an audience’s most important discovery engine.

The stories that resulted from media relations or publicity was a big part of the value PR pros provided to clients. Of course, we all know social media changed the equation.

Now audiences turn to search engines and those top 10 results. Instead of wondering if your organization got coverage, you should be asking: Are your stories breaking into the top 10?

Do you show up when a travel blogger has an urge to check for info about your city? Are you visible when a reporter notices a flurry of activity on Twitter and needs to find out more information for a possible story? Are you easily found when a customer has a question and needs some extra help before deciding to buy?

Mobile screens come first

A study by Altimeter found that mobile is a viewer’s first screen .

In the last 10 or so years, mobile use has gone from virtually nothing to 81 percent penetration , with search on mobile eclipsing desktop use. Not only that, three-quarters of people believe smartphones make them more productive.


Google coined the term micro-moments to describe people’s behavior on mobile devices. The company breaks down mobile users desires into four main moments: “I want to know”, “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy.”

Here’s how these moments translate to marketing and communications:

  • “I want to know” is all about awareness. This the place for news and informational stories.
  • “I want to go” refers to specific locations or events. Think retail, community engagement or big consumer or sporting events.
  • “I want to do” is all about ideas. Develop content that features tips, lifestyle stories, white papers (if your business is B2B) or how-to videos that inform rather than sell.
  • “I want to buy” is obvious, but you need to make sure you have a seamless path to purchase and that you’re measuring outcomes tied to your business goals.

Intent beats demographics

In mobile communications, communicators must also shift the way they view an audience.

For too long marketers and communicators have relied primarily on demographics to reach customers. With the rise of mobile, demographics no longer give communicators a full understanding of what consumers are looking for.

If you’re only focused on demographics, you’re missing out on about 70 percent of potential customers. Consumers’ immediate needs may not have anything to do with who the organization is targeting. For instance, 40 percent of baby products are bought by people in households without young children and 45 percent of home improvement searches are done by women .

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely says marketers should also pay attention to time pressure in situations when desire for info exceeds the time available.

Your content must be situation-specific. If you’re planning a vacation, you’ll probably spend time researching various sites and deals, and maybe even choose a brand you’ve dealt with before. Conversely, if you were stranded at an airport and needed a room ASAP, you’d probably choose the first good option that was available and close by.

Companies must recognize when consumer needs supersede brand loyalty and create content tailored to that moment.

When to go mobile

It’s essential to shift your focus from traditional to mobile communications and come up with big ideas for the small screen.

You can do that by getting a handle on what your audience is looking for and when.

Figure out:

  • What are your customer’s pain points?
  • Where do they go during the day?
  • How can your brand help answer questions and solve their needs?
  • When are your customers open to new messages and content?

Once you have the answers, you can begin developing a strategy and creating mobile communications designed to achieve your company’s business goals.

How are you tailoring messages for mobile audiences, PR Daily readers?

Martin Waxman, MCM, APR, is CMO of Spin Sucks and runs a consultancy, Martin Waxman Communications . A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog .

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