This is a guest post by attorney Michael Steinger of Steinger, Iscoe, and Greene, with offices in Florida.
When you have a question, where do you turn? If you're like the majority of Americans, you turn to Google before anything else. Whether you are wondering the weather, the price of eggs at your favorite store or what blood alcohol content your state considers legally drunk, you are contributing to the more than 3.5 billion searches per day.
It's safe to assume that the majority of these searches are conducted with the intent of finding a quick answer. That assumption is only strengthened by the fact that over half of all searches are done on mobile platforms.
Google knows searchers don't want to spend more than a few seconds to get the answer they need. This has given rise to the concept of micro-moments -- intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference. And, as these instant searches have been on the upswing, the usage of mobile apps has been steadily decreasing.
Understanding Today's Consumer
Google recently released some great statistics regarding the rise of micro-moments. For instance:
- 91 percent of all smartphone users look up information while working on a task.
- 82 percent consult their smartphones when they are shopping.
- 10 percent of those buy something different than they originally planned.
- Quality, timing and/or relevance of a company's brand influences the perception of a brand for 69 percent of online consumers.
- 69 percent of leisure travelers look up travel ideas while they have spare time. About half of those change their travel arrangements.
So why are consumers moving more toward micro-moment searches instead of app usage? The answer is simple: more variety in the results. For instance, if you are trying to find a product at the cheapest price, you likely won't just search Target's app for it. Rather, you'll search for it on Google to get the price from Target, Walmart, Best Buy and even e-commerce sites like Amazon. Once you've made your decision, you may complete your shopping experience through a branded app. But even that isn't certain, as it requires you to take extra steps.
Capitalizing on Micro-Moments
To take full advantage of micro-moments, you first must understand the construct of them. There are four main types of searches that lead to micro-moments:
- I want to know… 66 percent of smartphone users will look up something they see on a TV commercial, for instance.
- I want to go… 82 percent of users use a search engine to look up local business, and the use of the phrase “near me” has doubled in the past year.
- I want to do… Over 100 million hours of “how-to” videos are watched on YouTube each year, and, as mentioned before, 91 percent of smartphone users look up information while performing a task.
- I want to buy… As mentioned above, 82 percent of smartphone users consult Google while they're shopping. Accordingly, mobile conversion rates have increased 29 percent in the past year.
With these four search intents in mind, you must craft your brand's content to make sure you are a part of micro-moments. This means thinking like a searcher. Are you answering commonly-asked questions? For instance, if you own an auto parts store, you should have short, succinct guides to performing simple tasks, like replacing a headlight. Bulleted lists are the perfect way to go. Even better, a video can offer much more guidance than words can.
However, thinking like a searcher goes beyond just what someone may type into Google. You must also consider vocal searches -- i.e., “Hey, Siri” and “Ok, Google.” To use the same example, someone may type into Google “how to replace headlight on 2014 Chevy Equinox.” However, when they use Siri, they may instead say, “Hey Siri, how do I change the headlight on my Chevy Equinox?” Being optimized for both can drastically improve your click-through rates from micro-moments.
Is This the End of Apps?
While raw statistics show app downloads and usage on the decline, many experts believe this is nothing to be worried about. Sean R. Nicholson, Integrated Marketing Leader, social media guru and founder of SocMedSean.com, says to think of it as “app usage normalization” rather than “app usage decline.”
“If you look at the standard portfolio of apps installed on the average user's' phone, they are pretty consistent: email, calendar, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube and a host of relatively popular apps,” Nicholson says. “The vast majority of smartphone users have very similar apps installed. Depending on the age group, you also have widespread adoption of apps like Snapchat, Musical.ly and Group.me.
Realistically, though, there is a not that much difference in the standard set of apps that most users have adopted.”What is on the decline, he says, are apps that provide temporary distraction. In order to remain on a person's smartphone, apps should provide real value. Our attentions spans are short enough as it is, he says; there isn't much room for inconsequential games and other apps.
However, it is that short attention span that makes micro-moments so successful. “Marketers have to consider how can they get their message across in under 5 seconds,” Nicholson says.
“Can we capture the user's attention via a mobile ad while they are opening an app? Can we grab their attention in those precious seconds while they turn their attention away from the TV screen to their mobile device during a commercial break? Can inspire them to engage with us through a tweet that provides them assistance? The world of marketing has become about moments, and good marketers will not only recognize this, but embrace it.
What This Means for Attorneys
Just a few short years ago, attorneys who created long content about legal matters were lauded both by peers and by Google. While delivering in-depth blogs is still a great marketing tool, attorneys must now realize what searchers are looking for.
Being able to provide a quick answer to such questions as, “Can I refuse a Breathalyzer?” or “Can I get compensation for pain and suffering?” can greatly boost your position on Google results. Cerissa Stevens, director of marketing for Steinger, Iscoe & Greene in Miami, says attorneys can take advantage of micro-moments in a few ways by focusing their online strategy with the user in mind: Ensuring your users and potential clients have a great experience with your website from their mobile devices is the number one, most important thing attorneys can do. Start with a mobile-friendly, fast website.
Optimizing your Google My Business listings is extremely important. Smart phones and Google are catering more toward “near me” searches than ever before. Adapt your content strategy to answer Frequently Asked Questions of potential clients after they've been involved in an accident. People don't look for answers by using keywords; they ask real questions. They talk to Siri or Google as if it were a real human being, and they expect to be answered in the same manner --- as well as accurately, quickly and efficiently.
The market for dedicated attorney apps is slim. They take up space on users' phones, and will likely never be used. If someone does get in an accident, the app likely won't have the answers they need. Rather, they will want to speak with an attorney now. Trying to go through an app for that is more clumsy than just a Google search, no matter how well the app is designed.
Rather than pouring money into an all-but-useless app, focus instead on capturing leads from micro-moments. Micro-moments are an integral part of your marketing mix to pull the clients in at the time they need you most.
However, traditional marketing and long-form content still play very important roles to keep the brand relevant and reach clients when they aren't in a need-to-know-now moment. Plus, with traditional marketing techniques, you can provide more in-depth information about the subject and your brand, thus demonstrating you are a trusted authority in your field --- a highly important factor in SEO. Finding a balance between micro-moments and traditional marketing is crucial to the success of your law firm --- and ignoring either could spell ruin.