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What Google's Micro-Moments Say About Micro-Learning

Google recently released, “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile”, a guide for advertisers to take advantage of our quickly shifting mobile world. The piece outlines three keys to successfully capturing consumers’ attention in the tiny moments that make up our mobile obsessed day - be there, be useful, be quick. Do those three keys sound familiar to you? While it’s a great guide for advertisers, I also think you’ll find strong parallels between how advertisers and training and development professionals should be (or are) taking advantage of the small screen that has become our closest companion.

The introduction tells a story we are all too familiar with at this point, but still shocking to see put to numbers. How “87% always have their smartphone at their side, day, and night.” How when asked to describe a smartphone’s role in day-to-day life we use “phrases like ‘attached to my hip,’ ‘butler,’ and ‘lifeline’” and how “30% are willing to admit that they actually get ‘anxious’ when they don’t have their phone on them” (1).

After reconfirming our obsession with mobile, Google defines what they refer to as micro-moments, “moments when we turn to a device - often a smartphone - to take action on whatever we need or want right now” (2). These are not the moments when you are texting your husband to see when he is picking up the kids or when you are instagramming a picture of your rad vacation, brands are not welcome during that time. These are moments when you are trying on boots at DSW and you need a brand tie-breaker or when you are hard-boiling eggs for the second time and you forget how long to leave them on the stove. For advertisers, micro-moments, are an “open invitation to engage” with consumers and build (or build upon) brand relationships.

The opportunity for micro-moments happen all of the time. Think about your daily routines. You may be surprised to realize how often you consult your smartphone, consciously and unconsciously; “82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store” and “91% of them turn to their phones for ideas in the middle of a task” (2). The majority of you have already integrated mobile, the vehicle for these micro-moments, into your daily habits. And as Google points out, it’s only a matter of time. “In the past year alone, websites in the United States have seen 20% increase in mobile’s share of online sessions, 18% decrease in time spent per visit, [and] 29% increase in conversion rates” (2). Consumers are increasing the number of sessions, decreasing the time per session, and still finding what they want, which means brands are getting better at creating and reaching customers with mobile content that’s readily available at the very moment the customer needs it.

What was most interesting to me when reading through this guide for advertisers was that if you switch a few words here and there the arguments and keys to success outlined for micro-moment advertising are the exact arguments and keys to success that training and development professionals rely on for performance support and sales enablement. Be there, be useful, be quick.

Be There.

The very first thing you have to do to make your performance support and sales enablement successful is to “be there.” As Google puts it, “You’ve got to anticipate the micro-moments for users in your industry and then commit to being there to help when those moments occur” (3). Learning translation: “You’ve got to anticipate the [performance support moments] for users in your [company] and then commit to being there to help when those moments occur.”

What’s most important to consider during those be there moments? It’s the perfect intersection of intent, context, and immediacy so it’s imperative to make sure you know the intent and context of your learner to solve their immediate need. Brainstorm all different scenarios and put yourself in the shoes of the learner so you can figure out what would be most helpful in each situation. Are they deep in the hospital without an internet connection (context) hoping to show a surgeon 3D animations of their new knee replacement technology (intent)? In that situation, do they want text on screen or audio to trigger the main selling points they should be going over or do they have it memorized and that information would be distracting to the sale?

Main takeaway? “Provide information at the the very moment of need and you’re sure to gain some fans.” Agreed, Google.

Be Useful.

Seems obvious, right? The best micro-moment (performance support and sales enablement) content is, the useful kind. The exact information the user wants at that exact moment.

One of the most critical stats that Google shared is that “only 9% of users will stay on a mobile site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs (for example, to find information or navigate quickly)” (4). This makes sense for micro-moments when there are several brands competing for the consumers’ attention. If they don’t find it on one site, they’re probably just going to move on to the next one — but what about for sales enablement and performance support? You may not be competing with other brands, but their are certainly other resources the learner can find and reference instead. It might just be a simple Google search or maybe the marketing team has a resource up for customers that they go to instead. Or worse, they could just give up on resources all together and “wing it”. If they get frustrated when trying to find information from your systems enough times, don’t expect them to return to give you another chance. As always, content (in context) is king.

Be Quick.

I can’t emphasize this enough, this is exactly why bite-sized is the right sized. When your learners are searching for information, they want it NOW, and they don’t want it to take forever to get through it.

So how do you eliminate speed as a barrier?

First, establish a goal and eliminate steps. What are you trying to get out of your performance support system? “Start with that goal and think about how you can cut the number of steps a user must take to reach it.” For example, if your goal is to allow reps barrier free access to content, create a filter based on media-type so they can narrow searches down to the media type they prefer to learn through instead of making them sift through all of the learning material to find the videos, PDFs, or whatever they prefer.

Second, anticipate needs. For example, Google describes one of these best practices as “put the big stuff first” so the most common actions are the easiest to complete. Or if you have a returning user, your system could incorporate functionality like ‘favorites’ or ‘recently viewed’ to make it as easy as possible to reach the information important to that individual.

Third, load like lightning. Just like a consumer shopping for their next pair of golf clubs, learners want information NOW, not 20 minutes - scratch that - 20 seconds later, right now. Instant gratification is no longer reserved for toddlers, that’s why “70% switch websites or apps because it takes too long to load” and “67% because there are too many steps in a purchase”(5). Make a frictionless environment.


If there is even a stretch of a resemblance between the data we have gleaned from Google’s micro-moments whitepaper and performance support & sales enablement, then keep these three principles in mind - be there, be useful, and be quick for your learners. If you want to get the full scoop - check out Google’s whitepaper “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile”.


  1. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Google. https://think.storage.googleapis.com/images/micromoments-guide-to-winning-shift-to-mobile-download.pdf, 3.
  2. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Google. https://think.storage.googleapis.com/images/micromoments-guide-to-winning-shift-to-mobile-download.pdf, 4.
  3. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Google. https://think.storage.googleapis.com/images/micromoments-guide-to-winning-shift-to-mobile-download.pdf, 5.
  4. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Google. https://think.storage.googleapis.com/images/micromoments-guide-to-winning-shift-to-mobile-download.pdf, 11.
  5. “Micro-Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile.” www.thinkwithgoogle.com/ Google. https://think.storage.googleapis.com/images/micromoments-guide-to-winning-shift-to-mobile-download.pdf, 17.

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Sydney Hill

Not to mention refreshing, positive and downright invigorating. Should we expect anything less from a personality that absolutely bubbles…

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