When was the last time you went online to research before purchasing a product?
I don't know about you but I do this every day.
But, how important are the reviews of your friends when you are looking to buy something?
Very important, right?
Well, things weren't always like that. When computers and mobile devices weren't so widely spread, people relied on printed commercials and on the salesperson's advice to make a purchase decision.
Now, things have changed. Consumers have changed.
But have marketers changed too?
Are you satisfying your customer's need to compare, evaluate and rate the products they seek to buy?
Let me tell you why you should and how you can do this efficiently.
The Zero Moment Of Truth
Recently, Google has released an interesting e-book talking about this new, required change in a marketer's strategy, as a consequence of behavioral novelties.
That moment when consumers are trying to choose between similar products, by gathering different information online, is identified as a new phase of the purchase process and is called The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
Here is the story in short:
Before the era of WWW, when purchases were made mainly at the recommendation and advice of the sales person, there were three stages in consumer's behavior:
The Stimulus - The moment when consumers acknowledge the need for a certain product. It could happen after seeing a TV or a written commercial, after hearing about that product from a friend or just after experiencing certain life changes that awaken that need.
The First Moment of Truth (FMOT) - Also called "The Shelf Moment", this is the moment when the consumer reaches the store, sits in front of the shelf and chooses between brands.
The Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) - Happens after the purchase, while the consumer uses the product. At this moment, the consumer is either satisfied or displeased and she will further recommend the product or not.
Now that communication between people is much easier and word of mouth is so powerful, the decision making process has changed. People stopped relying solely on the advice of the sales man and started documenting on their own.
They wouldn't research anymore just for expensive purchases such as a car or a place to live. They could afford now the time to research even for things as meaningless as a $5 bottle of shampoo.
Because it takes less time to run a quick search online and find the best product to buy, rather than spend time looking at an entire shelf of products and not knowing for sure which would be the best choice.
ZMOT in a marketer's eyes
So, what does this change mean for a marketer?
The Zero Moment of Truth is the moment when consumers switch from undecided to decided. This makes it crucial for winning over the prospective customer.
Therefore, you must reinvent your entire strategy and design it in such way that it meets the needs of your customers at their Zero Moment Of Truth.
In other words, it means that:
It's essential to be present in their ZMOT! If you miss when this moment occurs, you lose the prospective customer.
You must tell your side of the story. Leave no room for competition to create a false image of your brand in their attempt to improve their own.
Consumers need to have access to detailed and clarifying information related to your brand and product. If there is a lack of information available for your products and services, your prospective customers might choose other brands just for the fact that they don't want to risk having bad surprises from a product they don't know much about.
You must be transparent and gain consumer's trust. Trust plays a major part in consumer's decision making process.
You should be available to provide answers. If your prospective customers have unanswered questions, they must be able to discuss them with someone and find the information they need.
ZMOT winning techniques
Ok. So, to be the winner in the Zero Moment Of Truth battle, you must find the places where ZMOT occurs and speak the words your customers want to hear.
Here are several things that you, as a marketer, can do to win the ZMOT:
Show Up in Search Results
Google Search - is one of the most common techniques people use for learning about the things they care. So this means that you must optimize your website to show for the searches people perform when they are at their ZMOT.
Think of all the words people would most probably include in their searches at this moment (such as best, cheap, free, top, prices, opinions, reviews, ratings, offers, promotions, discounts, coupons) and brainstorm relevant keywords for your own webpages to optimize.
You can also use Google's own auto fill function to see exactly how people are searching for your brand & category and "steal" these keyword suggestions.
It's far more easy to watch a video than to read a piece of writing, and people are growing accustomed to get the things they need FAST. Therefore, having videos to explain your product features are making the consumer's research easier and bring you closer to the desired ZMOT win.
Engage In Discussions
People like to ask questions and to seek other people's opinion. Therefore you must go where all the others are going. You must be present on forums, on reviewing sites, on Q&A sites, on social platforms.
Make sure you don't miss any community that talks about your brand or product. It doesn't matter if good or bad things are said about your brand, is important to be there and tell your side of the story.
Allow & Encourage Customer Experience Sharing
To win the ZMOT of your prospective customers it is important to be transparent in your relationship with your existing customers. Having unedited feedback from your clients on your website and forums means that you have no dirt hidden under your carpets and people can trust your word.
This will only grow your prospective customer's confidence in your brand and ease your path toward winning their ZMOT.
Adapt Your Channels
Mobile devices are becoming a regular tool in the hands of consumers. And mobile ZMOT searches as well. Therefore you need to make sure you are also available on this type of devices and your message is able to satisfy the need of a consumer on the run.
Be Ready for Dynamic Changes
The things that could push a consumer into the ZMOT are sometimes transient or unpredictable, and to explain this I'll use Jim Lecinski's own example.
Lady Gaga's video "Telephone", in which Beyonce showed up wearing an amazing makeup based on a yellow eye shadow, generated a flood of online searches for terms like "Beyonce yellow eye shadow" or "Beyonce honey bee yellow makeup".
If you were a makeup producer or seller, you would have wanted to show up for these searches, right? But to do that, you must be fast and agile.
So, be always prepared to react to this kind of stimuli and welcome consumers in their spontaneous ZMOT queries.
A Marketer's Thought
We are now seeing and living some fascinating transformations that compel us to change the way we think as marketers and rewrite the rulebook as we go.
What do you do to win the Zero Moment Of Truth?
I'd be very interested to hear your winning techniques.
Please comment below or tweet so others can share their opinion.
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