On October 14th, at the Google offices in Manhattan, global search marketing group SEMPO held its inaugural SEMPO Cities event, the centerpiece of which was a panel discussion on the topics of Micro Moments and the intent-based marketing strategy espoused by Acronym known as See, Think, Do. Moderated by Acronym Chief Marketing Officer Mike Grehan, who is SEMPO’s chairman, the panel included: Avery Durnan, Agency Development Manager, Google; Norma Berry, VP, Digital Marketing, Denihan Hospitality Group (a client of Acronym); and Forrester researcher Collin Colburn.
After a brief video was shown depicting the many iterations of Google’s Micro Moments—representing consumers’ continual desire for all manner of information on their mobile devices—the discussion turned to how See, Think, Do is transforming brand marketers’ content marketing strategies, and why the traditional marketing funnel today more closely resembles “a bowl of spaghetti.”
Here is an edited transcript:
Mike Grehan: How does Google’s Micro Moments reflect the See, Think, Do approach to understanding consumer intent?
Avery Durnan: Several years ago, Google introduced the idea of Zero Moment of Truth, and we’re breaking that down even further with Micro Moments. We see this a couple of different ways. There certainly is an “I want to buy moment.” But we also see these “I want to do moments, I want to know moments.” This is really the See, Think, Do intent-based framework that Mike has talked about for many years. An example of “I want to go,” particularly for hospitality groups, might be me researching videos YouTube for the best Asian summer vacations. In that context, I am looking on YouTube for information. Most of this is happening from smartphones. Over half of our YouTube traffic in the U.S. is coming from mobile devices. Not tablets but smartphones. So we see people on the fly: while you’re waiting for the subway, while you’re waiting for your next meeting to start, you’re searching for these kinds of Micro Moments and expressing your intent directly. At Google, we can serve up an ad that directly relates to that intent-based strategy.
Mike Grehan: How does Denihan use it in a practical sense, looking across the entire spectrum of Website, mobile strategy and the analytics that go with it? Is Micro Moments something brand new that you’re developing strategy around?
Norma Berry: We also embrace the See, Think, Do philosophy of Acronym. At the end of 2014, we decided to change the way we looked at things, you know the constant display advertising and paid search, and we embraced content marketing. The whole goal of that was to create those moments, not about just selling a product but before people even started looking for a hotel room. Really talking about what our customer base wanted to learn about and eventually to convert them and engage with them. This whole year has really been based on content strategy and tying that together with our digital strategies, and then once they are at one of our properties also embracing See, Think, Do. That would be the Micro Moment of “we want to go out to eat” and serving up content like we have a great celebrity chef restaurant downstairs or talking to them about a particular cocktail they can find on our site.
Mike Grehan: From your perspective as a researcher, what are you seeing? Are people talking about Micro Moments?
Collin Colburn: It’s an interesting question. When our clients come to us they are asking questions about their customers’ journey. What is it, when does a customer discover us and research our brand, then when do they engage with us and after a purchase. There are Micro Moments in each of those phases. Our clients I think are struggling most with being able to figure out how do I engage in each of those micro moments. How do we make ourselves discoverable in each of those moments? One thing that I always think about with Micro Moments is that they have to be glance-able. But increasingly, Micro Moments are things that are going to be on wearables. You get a notification that your heart rate has gone up. Or your flight has been delayed. Specifically for search, when you take out your phone and search for something, increasingly there is an answer in that search engine result. Not just that I can go through a list and find what’s most relevant. Google actually will answer your question more times than not. That’s a perfect example of a mobile or Micro Moment.
Mike Grehan: You and I were talking in September about how your business was generally, and with New York getting really busy particularly with the Pope coming in. Did you think about having a Pope strategy for Micro Moments?
Norma Berry: There was a Pope Strategy from both a pricing perspective and as well as how much inventory we would hold back.
Mike Grehan: I’m sure he’ll forgive you and bless you for it.
Norma Berry: I think he did, actually. We also did write content about it and prepared our guests well in advance to let them know in that moment “how do I get around the city” because it was a little bit difficult to do that. We needed to address those Micro Moments as well when the guest was in house and wanted to know how to get to the East Side of town or uptown. We had the information readily available for them.
Mike Grehan: How do you develop a strategy that addresses the See and Think stages not just always the Do stage?
Norma Berry: We have a great base of business intelligence data that we use to understand customer lead times and affinities based on them. The Think and See part are really around our content strategy. It’s about what are the best things to do in New York City, or “where should I stay when I’m in New York,” or the best restaurants and bars. We’re seeing a lot of visit traction from that. We’re not seeing the instant booking or conversion against it, but we’re seeing reduced bounce rates and people then coming back a couple times later and then making that booking. Then there’s always the social media and CRM side, there’s the organic, the optimization. From a paid search strategy we always look at numbers and keywords that talk about things that are happening in the city that you particularly want to go to. More location based.
Mike Grehan: From your research, do you think that on the paid search side people are seeing it more as a direct medium as opposed to being able to figure out how to use paid search to get somebody at the See stage?
Collin Colburn: One of the things that I’m working on is research about click-to-call advertising. From that I’ve learned that marketers are thinking a little bit more about the other stages, like See and Think. With click-to-call a lot of the calls that come in are actually not for purchases. They are about questions to learn more about the product or brand. And even more so they are in the post-purchase period where someone has a question, a customer service call about a problem or how to use a product. This speaks to the discovery stage.
Mike Grehan: Some marketers have come to see that end-user behavior is changing so dramatically along with the way we use media. As marketers, we’ve always had this notion, sort of like our little blue blanket that we can hang onto, that the sales funnel is people coming in at the top, and then they drop down and get pushed through a little hole at the bottom, which always sounded a bit painful to me. But that was the way the conversion funnel worked. But we’re seeing more research trends to suggest that the path to purchase is completely fragmented and people are coming in at very different points. Would you agree that the funnel is probably gone?
Collin Colburn: Absolutely. Micro Moments is a classic example of how that’s been completely fragmented and the idea of the funnel doesn’t work as well as it used to. We have more research from the search marketing world around how people choose. How they decide to search for something in the first place and how they decide to actually make the click. We humans don’t make rational decisions as much as we think we do. You can’t just think of it as a linear process: step one, step two and step three, and each of my customers is going along that path. Humans don’t work that way.
Avery Durnan: I feel like the conversion funnel now looks more like a bowl of spaghetti than perhaps a funnel. What I would suggest is to look at the See, Think, Do strategy framework and how that lines up with your current media, marketing and content strategies because it’s the backbone of everything.
Mike Grehan: How do you get sell in for See, Think Do in the C-suite?
Norma Berry: It takes a lot of conversation and really just getting people to understand the process. Half of the battle is that a lot of people don’t understand digital marketing and that it takes a while to reap the benefits. Putting the strategy in front of them and showing them what the potential outcome was and now, six months later, because we said it would take a minimum of six months to show them the proof, that’s what really helped. Once they saw our visits are going up, we’re getting less of a bounce rate, conversions have increased, they are now relaxed. But in the beginning it’s painful because you’re saying “give me six months to do this.” It’s keeping them informed throughout the process that really goes a long way.