Google rolled out the terminology in 2011 for the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), so it’s likely something you’ve heard of or even understand generally. Gone are the days of a consumer journey that was a straight line from advertiser to consumer to purchase (if that ever really existed). The old path to purchase has been replaced by a process complicated by the pervasive nature of the internet. However, even the ZMOT hasn’t stopped evolving, and the consumer journey is increasingly influenced by the omnipresence of mobile capabilities. Understanding the Zero Moment of Truth as it exists today is vital to successfully guiding your customer through the consumer journey, not to mention successfully capturing new prospects and leads, and converting them into customers.
What Is the ZMOT?
While you’ve heard of the ZMOT, and know it’s important, you might still be left wondering, “What exactly is the zero moment of truth and why does it matter?” In the most basic terms, the ZMOT is literally the moment a customer has a question about a brand, product, or service, and they turn to the internet to find the answer. To elaborate, the original ZMOT occurs between the “stimulus” and the “First Moment of Truth” on the traditional consumer journey, and it encompasses the number of sources a customer refers to online as “research” before making their purchasing decision. At the time, Google’s study noted the number of sources customers referred to nearly doubled from 5.3 to 10.4 in only one year, and reached at least 12 in 2012. Today, that number continues to grow.
One new aspect is the Ultimate Moment of Truth. This is the point at which the sales funnel turns into a continuous cycle, where one customer’s Second Moment of Truth is shared online and becomes part of the data that will influence yet another customer in their ZMOT. The behavior characteristic to the ZMOT is also global, as are the effects of the Ultimate Moment of Truth.
What’s really changed the game is the introduction and proliferation of mobile, and when, where, and how consumers are looking for their information. This means taking advantage of micro-moments — which we’ll discuss more in a moment — and leveraging the Power of Now to its full advantage. Consider that more than 82% of customers are using their mobile phones in-store while shopping to do brand and product research and to elicit opinions of peers on social media. The ZMOT of those purchases are brief and impulsive, and they don’t fit anywhere on a traditional model of the consumer journey. Is your brand intersecting the customer’s moment of need/desire with content that’s relevant to them?
How a Brand Wins the ZMOT
Being in the right place at the right time with the right (or interesting) and relevant answer is the key. It offers a competitive advantage over other brands for the mere virtue of turning up in search results at the impulsive moment the customer searches for them.
First and foremost, you need to be operating with a holistic brand presence. You can’t operate with merely one channel anymore — your customers will be using dozens (or more). Then, you need to be able to identify what ZMOT you want to target — e.g., what questions are your customers asking, where are they asking them, and what needs do they have in the moment that you can meet? At this point, you can strategize the best way for your brand to intersect those moments specifically with brand presence and advertising. Even with something as ubiquitous as the internet, your brand can’t be in all places at all times, and you need to focus your time and resources on what matters most. Remember, like any other marketing strategy, you need to test it, course correct, and test again.
What all this comes down to is that brand loyalty means less than relevance and immediacy. Customers want instantaneous information while on the go to take instant actions for instant gratification.
Moments Matter in the ZMOT
Winning the Zero Moment of Truth means more than attaining a single moment. Since the concept was developed in 2011, Google has realized that the ZMOT is actually made up of dozens of moments. These have come to be known as micro-moments. This is because smartphones and devices have opened a world of information available at a customer fingertips, around the clock. Now customers will spend more than 15 hours doing research through mobile sites and apps, and 93% of those customers will make purchases. About 55% of customers will make a purchase within the hour, and that grows to 83% if you look at purchases made within a day. They aren’t just looking for product and service information, either; 71% use a store locator to find a physical location, hours, and contact information.
What may surprise you is that people won’t just look for information to make shopping decisions. Here’s a few other statistics:
- 62% will look for solutions to a problem from their smartphone and take action right away.
- 90% utilize their smartphone to complete multi-step tasks toward long term goals throughout their day or while on-the-go.
- Searches using the clarifier “near me” has grown 34 times.
- 84% of TV viewers are using their smartphone or tablet as a second-screen device, 29% of which are looking for show related information, while 12% are utilizing social media to discuss what they’re watching.
It’s possible to take advantage of these moments, whether it’s a TV viewer that wants to purchase the purse they’ve just seen on their favorite show or ensuring that you’re the top result for how to fix their broken device.
Be Where Your Potential Customers Need You!
Customers want a seamless experience not only across channels, but across devices. Most important, however, is the mobile experience. Mobile searches are outpacing desktop searches and roughly 33% of CPG searches originate with mobile searches. The first step to being where the customers want to find you is by ranking well in mobile searches.
The next step in being where customers will find you consists of a little footwork. Here’s a few tips:
- Commit to being there consistently — This may sound obvious, but this is an aspect that’s easier said than done. It requires dedicating time, resources, and even personnel to actively and fluidly ensure your brand is successfully available in the right moments.
- Embrace a culture of innovation — It’s important to explore new avenues, whether it’s new methodologies or new branches of your online and mobile presence. This will invariably lead to the discovery of new ways to meet and exceed the expectations of your customers and uncover trends you may not be addressing.
- Identify key moments and micro-moments — Understand the customer’s context when reaching that point. The behaviors, goals, and expectations a customer has are as vital as being available in that moment. It doesn’t matter how present your brand is if it isn’t actually meeting their needs. This includes mobile load times and other platform considerations to ensure your content is not only easy to discover, but easy to consume.
- Meet new needs and create positive feedback across channels — It’s important to remember that in some ways, you are not in control of where your brand will intersect with customers. A good deal of content will come from past and present customers in the form of reviews, videos, how-to lists, and much more. How your brand interacts with and encourages this step will greatly influence new customers. (In fact, 85% of customers will read about 10 reviews throughout their ZMOT.)
- Plan for nonlinear purchase paths — While it’s true that you can’t plan for nonlinear consumer journeys completely, taking advantage of programmatic, real-time advertising can help assemble micro-moments in a way that leads to your brand.
Now that you understand the Zero Moment of Truth a little better, it should be much easier to leverage to your advantage. Compete for customer attention throughout their day. After all, it’s exactly when they’re looking for you.