All businesses should be looking to get the edge over their competitors. The internet and social media has blown the world of marketing wide open and millions of businesses are making noises on channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. All this means that influencing your target audience has never been so possible yet so difficult as it is today.
The one thing we can all agree on is that as consumers, our buying process is markedly different to what it was even a decade ago. The points between a customer having a need for a product or service and them actually buying it is far more complex with dozens of pieces of information affecting their decision. Part of this process is now called the “Zero Moment of Truth” or “ZMOT”, for short. Whilst arguably unremarkable, it serves an important purpose when it comes to designing a strategy to win sales and leads.
What is ZMOT?
Like many things in life, the simpler the idea, the more useful. ZMOT is no exception. In fact, ZMOT is just a name and model Google has put to something that we already knew existed. Watch this short Google video that sums up what ZMOT is and why it matters to you and your business. Enjoy!
Here’s the thing:
Google actually published their ZMOT e-handbook all the way back in 2011 but the majority of business owners still haven’t heard of it. Of course, they’ll know that there is this zero moment of truth, a point where people are exposing themselves to as much information before making a buying decision, but knowing how and when you can influence them is vitally important in modern-day marketing.
So what does it actually mean for your business and how your customers buy your products and services? To help us, we need to gain a better understanding of exactly why the zero moment of truth became so important in the buying process over the past decade.
There are two main driving factors behind the rise of the zero moment of truth:
1. A global economic recession
Comparing prices and getting the best deal on products and services has never been so important for both businesses and consumers. This has seen the rise of countless price comparison websites and you search for the best deal on virtually anything you want to buy within minutes on the web. People have become increasingly savvy out of necessity – everyone wants the best deal. And this leads us nicely onto the next factor; the fact that all of this information is at our fingertips – the boom of technology.
2. The tech age and freedom of information
Consumers can now use multiple inputs to make their buying decision. The graphic below shows just some of the ways in which consumers kit themselves up in order for them to make the most informed decision possible. In fact, the graphic is relatively simple when you think how many factors are contained within each element of the ZMOT and how many time people flit between each of them. The key message here is that the path between ‘stimulus’ and ‘shelf’ is now non-linear, in fact, is in not even close to linear.
Why is ZMOT so important?
Time to ask yourself:
“what does this actually mean for my business?”
Well, it means that your business is going to be scrutinised from all angles. How do you stack up against your competitors? Do you provide a better service? Are you cheaper? How to you treat people over social media? Have you scrimped on your website? How easy is it to buy from you? Are your products well-reviewed? Good value?
These are all things that can now be assessed by your customers within five minutes of seeing your brand, product or service. The majority of consumers now check out a company’s social media presence before making a purchase. Why? Because of the transparency of these public networks and the chance to see the personality and ethos of a brand.
Mastering the Zero Moment of Truth
It is clear that social media plays a major role in ZMOT and, therefore, the channels through which you are able to influence your audience’s buying decisions. Distributing quality content to really add-value to your networks rather than just selling is going to help you build a rapport with your audience and grow that network through this sharable content.
This is something we really try and hammer home. As a social media company managing an array of brands’ social presence, the key word is ‘resonate’. If through our content, behaviour, and tone of voice we can resonate with our target audience better than our competitors, then we’re winning the zero moment of truth.
And there’s more…
Social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn enable companies to actively go out and identify their target audience and start speaking to them. These might be people who have never heard of your brand or even realise they need your product or service! By utilising search and interaction techniques like conversation drivers this is all possible and you can start influencing their decisions!
Another major element of ZMOT is the important review sites. Local businesses simply have to be using Google My Business to accumulate reviews and improve their SEO. Depending on the business, product and nature of consumers, having reviews on Facebook, Amazon, Yelp and TripAdvisor (for anyone marketing pubs or restaurants or in tourism) are absolutely crucial to winning at ZMOT.
Great branding to show consumers that you mean business and won’t compromise on quality and attention to detail is just another way to convince consumers you’re the real deal. Of course, once you’ve got this nailed, this acts passively to improve your conversion rate.
So what’s the bottom line?
You business needs to be active on social media and aware of what can be done to influence people’s decisions. Potential customers seeing poor social media accounts negatively impacts on brand perception and you’ll be losing ground to your competitors. This is equally important for B2B businesses and if your social media goals include finding collaborators – professional and active social media accounts are simply a given in this day and age.
Get active, get a strategy in place and start generating return from your hard work!
Read more about social media strategy and influencing your audience here.