If you’ve not read Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), I highly recommend it.

It neatly summarises a growing argument: the way that consumers buy has changed forever.

Moments of truth

Up until now, leading brands have been the ones who consistently win at two ‘moments of truth’ for their consumers:

  • The first moment is the consumer experience when they’re about to buy something (e.g. standing in front of a freezer cabinet looking at the peas)
  • The second moment is what happens when they use it for the first time (the peas are on the fork, so to speak).

Google argue that the ability to create and share your own content about brands has given birth to a new moment, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Consumers can now discover a great deal about you before making a purchase; without going anywhere near your marketing or sales. Their research found that people now look at over 10 different sources of online information before making a purchase. 

What does this mean? It means that as marketers we need to understand how to win at ZMOT.

A new way of buying

Stop for a moment, and think about the last time you bought something new. Does this sound familiar?

  • Step 1: what do I want to buy today? Ah, plane tickets to Spain!
  • Step 2: Make mental list of who I know that sells tickets
  • Step 3: Do some initial research to create a shortlist of providers with the best combination of price and flight times
  • Step 4: Pause… how to choose between them?
  • Step 5: Open a new browser window and type “BA flight review” and repeat for other options.
  • Step 6: Skim the scores, start reading what people say about their personal experiences and make your decision taking all this on board.

Thanks to free wifi this can happen anywhere. In the aisle of a store choosing a new radio, in the shop price checking or on the bus searching for ideas for tonight’s dinner.

Jim Lecinski, Google:

Why would people make decisions based on the opinions of strangers? They don’t. They make decisions based on the opinions of people like themselves. Which is who they find at ZMOT.

So how do you win at the Zero Moment of Truth?

You can do what Google suggest and use tools to see what people are searching for. This is a good start but only goes so far. You need to understand exactly what people find when they look for you and develop your strategy accordingly.

Start with getting a good idea of what they see:

  • Collect social data that talks about you and your category (from review sites, blogs, tweets – wherever).
  • Review the hard data: see how you score, who’s talking about you and where.
  • Properly analyse the comments, blogs, tweets etc., this is where hearts and minds are won. It’s here that people share compelling personal experiences about brands. Social Media Research techniques can help you manage this as it lets you create real insights from thousands of natural online discussions.
  • Repeat on a regular basis to observe how your market is changing.

When you can see what they see, you can then:

  • Design a content strategy that speaks directly to consumer interests.
  • Use the insights to make better products or improve your service.
  • Engage active or insightful consumers.
  • Understand about what’s going on in the market.

In short, you can start actively competing at ZMOT instead of letting it happen without you.

Jeremy Hollow

Published 5 October, 2012 by Jeremy Hollow

Jeremy is the Founder of Listen & Learn Research and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow on Twitter

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Comments (7)

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Jorge Franco, Consultant at WSI

Definitely, ZMOT is here to stay. You must be available for your prospect's findings, WHEN he's looking for your products, not when YOU choose to show them.

almost 6 years ago




maybe Google should read it. Actually maybe they should practise what they preach.

List of Google products currently dysfunctional

Google Chrome
Google Places
Google Local
Google Reviews
Google Calendar

and there's probably a few more I've missed.

Don;t get me wrong, I like Google products, it's just that a lot of them don't actually work for a lot of people.

EG: Number of search results for Google Chrome is broken: 45 million.

Oooops, obviously Google isn't actually looking at what people find when they search for their products.

almost 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

I'm a big fan of this ZMOT idea. I think it's extremely relevant. But incomplete.

I've been struck by two separate interactions this past weekend that demonstrated how ZMOT comes AFTER more traditional and face-to-face interactions.

In one instance, a friend was asking - in a social setting - which film to go and watch that evening. After receiving various suggestions, she THEN went online and checked out different reviews (as above).

In another instance, someone I know is the market for a new Smartphone. She's got an iphone 4S and is considering the iphone 5. But, again in a different social setting, it was various people's opinions face-to-face (and what she'd read and see about on TV ironically) that then prompted a web search via her current iphone!

What struck me was that we're often looking at the web research journey out of context. Yes, we're never going to know what prompted that online investigation but without even thinking about it - and trying to influence it perhaps - it's a bit like asking,"Which came first? The offline interaction or the online?"

almost 6 years ago

Jeremy Hollow

Jeremy Hollow, Founder at Listen & Learn Research & Outtaskers Ltd.

Hi Andrew

You make a good point. Just looking at ZMOT from an on-line perspective will miss a great deal.

That said, it does capture a sample of the whole discussion and so gives us information and insights into the broader picture. And it gives us a scale of data that would be impossible to recreate physically (at least with my schedule).

almost 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

Hi Jeremy

Absolutely agree. The caveat I'm making I guess is that, by overly focusing on the online conversation, we may miss a huge part of the picture.

We've got to be careful, therefore, and not simply 'reverse engineer' what is said and done online and assume we have all of the information to make our informed (marketing) decisions.

At the very least, we should account for these, what will often be unknown decision making factors (chats in a pub, over the 'garden fence' etc) and not simply extrapolate the ZMOT model when the data doesn't justify it.

almost 6 years ago

Manoj Shah

Manoj Shah, Digital Services Director at Pull Digital

Come on guys: "in the isle". . ?! (Thanks to free wifi this can happen anywhere. In the isle of a store choosing a new radio). In the isle of Google I guess that spelling is obviously not strong.

almost 6 years ago

Jeremy Hollow

Jeremy Hollow, Founder at Listen & Learn Research & Outtaskers Ltd.

Hi Chris

Thanks for taking the time to read the article and for discovering our missing 'a'. We've found it now and it's safely back where it belongs.

almost 6 years ago

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