ZMOT - Zero Moment of Truth
Research online before FMOT - First moment of truth
How ZMOT works is by providing research options to consumers much earlier than ever before. While this has always been possible through the use of printed materials and informal word of mouth, it is now so easy that everyone does it. This is true for all levels of purchases as well.
Google has noted that people are researching such inexpensive purchases as pens. Where they would previously go to a store and grab any packaged pens, now they are using their mobile phone or home Internet to actually review the merits of the different types of pens. This is being done for a 39 cent item. Maybe the consumers are tired of poor quality examples, ones that cause staining, or maybe the consumer has spare time. Whatever, they are doing presales research for all types of products. If it is try for a simple pen purchase, what about larger items.
Consumers looking for big ticket items like cars or appliances are now conducting extensive ZMOT research far before they approach a dealer. Facebook and other social media sites are being queried to see if friends have any recommendations. Review sites are being checked. Just by entering the exact model number, a consumer can receive a wealth of information. Comparison sites show the relative merits of various options. All of these presales inquiries are examples of Zero moment of truth and, as you know, it is easy for consumers to do.
In the earliest days of marketing, companies concentrated on the first moment of truth. That is, when a customer came in the door, what could the company do to help ensure a successful sale? Product placement was a key. Having informed sales staff was good. Controlling the environment with mood lighting, music and other aesthetics were known to be productive. Product information was available but only provided to those customers who needed, (and asked for), it.
Companies today can provide a more successfully sales environment by paying at least some attention to zero moment of truth concepts. Is the company aware of ZMOT opportunities specific to their product? Are competitors doing a good job in this area? Is there a particular person in the company who is responsible for presales information and the delivery of the material over the Internet? By making a single person responsible, a company can ensure that adequate attention is paid to ZMOT and that it doesn't get ignored.
There is an upside for companies that embrace the new information delivery mechanisms: customers are more prepared to buy when they do finally arrive at your establishment. Provided that your product does what you say, is better than others in the market, is available as you promise, your customers will arrive expecting to complete their purchase. In fact, with the level of presales research done by your customers, you may hopefully find that the final sale process is much quicker than normal. This represents good sales metrics for the company.
In past days, companies would advertise using traditional methods such as phone books and media ad spots. A marketing budget would be allocated in advance. The company would purchase ads and wait for customers to arrive. All advertising costs were evaluated on the basis of the leads that they generated. For a $500 ad that resulted in 10 new potential customers, the effectiveness would be measured as $50 per lead. A cheaper media ad might produce fewer leads but at a lower marketing cost. Unfortunately, it was often difficult to measure just how many leads resulted from a particular ad cost. This is less of a problem with ZMOT.
Now when marketing money is spent by the company, there are much more direct ways to measure the effectiveness. A social media page can include visitor tracking, (hits). Two way interactions, (likes), can be very helpful to observe. Pages that lead potential consumers to more information, (landing), can be analyzed for results as well. This represents a major shift in favor of businesses compare to the advantage that media companies had previously.
In the pre-digital age, the marketing amounts were paid and the number of leads could not be accurately tracked. Doubtless many more leads came in after a media campaign but many of these may have been random arrivals at the establishment. Businesses desperately wanted their advertising to have direct correlations with the number of leads. Unfortunately, there were few ways to support this kind of feedback with the old forms of advertising.
With zero moment of truth marketing, the direct result of campaigns is clearly understood by the business. Each user action can be measured in real time as the potential customer reviews materials that lead to a sale. There are viewer statistics for web pages, click rates for online advertising, forum post counts and many other feedback mechanisms. For those information channels that do not have direct feedback, the company still benefits because the ZMOT factors improve the customer conversion rate. That is, when a ZMOT type of customer arrives at the business, they are more likely to complete a sale.
Because of the tendency now for consumers to access product information earlier before, and in greater depth, it is more important than ever for companies to be represented on the Internet. In the beginning of the Internet age, it was fine for an agency to simply have a web site. Later, it became important for the web site to be freshen on a regular basis with up to date content. Now companies should strive to have a web site with as complete, and accurate, information as possible at all times. While this may represent a shift in marketing effort from media campaigns to content editing staff, the return to the company can be significant. With keen attention to ZMOT, the company will be able to accurately calculate a return on technology investment which was not always possible with the older forms of media advertising.