The term “ZMOT” has been bouncing around the online marketing world for a few years now. If you’ve run across this phrase you may be wondering what it means and if it can really make a difference to your online business. ZMOT, essentially, is a different way of looking at the buyer experience, and yes: Used appropriately, it can redefine your marketing and content forever.
What’s a ZMOT and Why Should I Care?
ZMOT stands for “Zero Moment of Truth,” the time when a consumer makes a purchase decision based on the research they have done and the influences in their life – especially from an online perspective. The core idea behind the Zero Moment of Truth is that customers are using online features to make up their minds before looking at what a store has to offer. They use a mix of basic Internet searches, social media, and content interaction to reach a decision. These things can also inform a future purchase even if that wasn’t the ultimate goal.
The ZMOT is the sign of our times, and it says several important things about your potential customers: They have access to vast amounts of information. They prefer to field the opinions of friends and experts, not necessarily brands. They can use mobile devices to find ideas, reviews and prices at any place, at any time. Ultimately, these consumers have a ton of control over the buying experience and how it occurs.
Studying ZMOT scenarios for your company is a fantastic way to find effective marketing channels and to pick deal-making content, so let’s take a closer look.
Power Tip: Google has supplied its own handbook and other materials on this concept, notably Winning the Zero Moment of Truth. While a little outdated (2011), try this eBook for the company’s own take on the concept.
Real Life Moments
The ZMOT is all about real-life situations where people make swift purchase decisions. The ZMOT may be a few minutes of research or months of building experience, but it always deals with practical situations where people make up their minds using what online resources are at hand. Ready for some examples? Here are a few popular versions:
- The Homemaker: This person is choosing design and décor for a house (a related version deals with picking out new clothes). The buyer no longer pays much attention to traditional fashion channels or magazines. Instead, they browse Pinterest, ask their friends on Facebook for ideas, look up blog posts for tips, and develop their own complex sense of style. Then they create that style with DIY projects and specific online purchases, frequently with a focus on discounts and free shipping.
- The Foodie: This person is heading out to a restaurant with friends. However, thanks to their interest in cooking and an active lifestyle, they spent last evening browsing health news and nutrition blogs, learning about saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup. Now cautious about picking out unhealthy foods, this buyer has already decided to order a salad before even looking at the menu.
- The Spontaneous Buyer: The spontaneous buyer noted on Twitter that a local company is having a free event downtown. They were already heading downtown to meet friends, so this person takes a few minutes to stop by the event. At the booth, the buyer notes an event-only discount on products and decides to buy one. Then the buyer Tweets the purchase and mentions the discount in the post.
- The Tech Fan: The tech fan is about to make a big tech purchase, possibly a new screen or phone. This fan scours blogs and reviews to search for all the relevant details and specifications. After watching videos comparing different models or unboxing the product, the tech fan will make a decision. The purchase itself will take only a minute and will probably occur online.
Note that not every ZMOT is connected to a purchase. Sometimes people use resources to learn more about a product they already have, a person they haven’t met, or a place they want to visit. The common theme is a search for information and perspective that is tightly controlled by the searcher.
A Brief History of ZMOT
To fully understand the ZMOT concept, we have to go back to the mid-2000s, where Proctor & Gamble were working on a new marketing strategy for their collective mass of corporations. P&G wanted a way to representative that moment when a customer walks up a supermarket aisle and decides to pick a product from the shelf and move it over to their cart. They called this the “First Moment of Truth” or FMOT, and spent a tremendous amount of marketing energy toward it.
The thought was that the FMOT only lasted seconds, but was the most important time for brand impact – for the small factors making up the brand to all work together and convince a consumer to make a purchase. Partly because it was an accurate idea and partly because it was P&G that created it, the FMOT quickly grew in popularity.
Fast forward nearly a decade, and Google was looking at a world where e-commerce had arrived in full force. When it came to buying online, the FMOT just wasn’t as useful – branding and buying had evolved into more complex concepts. So Google decided to reinvent the idea as the “Zero Moment of Truth” or ZMOT.
Interestingly, the ZMOT phenomenon is not restricted only to pure e-commerce stores. Brick-and-mortar stores are just as susceptible, since customers can now research items on computers and smartphones before even walking into the store, especially if stores have an online component. This has led to trends like showrooming, where consumers go into stores to look at products but ultimately purchase them online for better deals. According to a study by IRI, in 2009 around 83% of people made a purchase decision before entering the store – and that number has only increased since then. If you are a e-commerce store, Volume Nine is a leading Ecommerce SEO Company and can help you drive traffic to your website and increase conversion rates as well.
What ZMOT Means for Online Marketing
As you can see, the ZMOT shows that customers have switched to specific types of online content to make up their minds, content like:
- Mobile and Desktop Searches
- Social Media Discussions and Posts
- Blog Posts
- Crowdsourced and Expert Reviews
- Site Information on Pricing, etc.
In other words, online marketing and SEO playing an increasingly important role in marketing, while customers depend less than ever on traditional ads. So let’s turn to what strategies the ZMOT should be influencing in your business.