Winning ZMOT in 2016

We all know the world of content marketing changes daily. Ideas and trends from just a year ago now seem obsolete. Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is an exception to the rule. In fact, nearly five years after its introduction, ZMOT is not only as relevant today as it was in 2011; it’s more relevant.

Coined in June 2011 in Google’s eBook Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, ZMOT refers to the moment in the purchasing process in which a potential customer begins to search for information to guide his or her purchasing decision. As a company, “winning” the Zero Moment of Truth means meeting the customer in that moment and providing the desired information. The result? Building trust and—eventually, if not immediately—leading the customer to purchase your product. 

According to Jim Lecinski, author of the ZMOT eBook, the power of ZMOT is “its power to help shoppers make great decisions and its power to help companies tell their stories at the moment of highest impact.” In our always-connected world, that power is even greater today than it was in 2011. As consumers, our willingness to make a purchase without a high level of confidence is lower than ever before, which means no matter where we are or what the purchase, we will research our options before making a decision.

Here’s an example: I was recently in Las Vegas for a conference and stayed at the MGM Grand, which is home to Cirque du Soleil’s KÀ show. I knew I wanted to see a show while I was in town, but did I immediately decide to see KÀ? No—I pulled out my phone to research reviews, show times, prices, other shows at the MGM Grand and even other shows outside of my hotel; I might have ventured out to another venue depending on what the reviews told me. I ended up choosing KÀ—and was glad I did—but I made that decision because the MGM Grand and Cirque du Soleil managed to win my Zero Moment of Truth.

This type of purchasing process, especially on mobile, is even more common today than it was a few years ago. In fact, according to this Search Engine Land article, the number of consumers who regularly check online reviews for local businesses increased by 17% from 2011 to 2014.

Of course, it’s not just about online reviews. The consumer journey is defined by hundreds of what Google refers to as micro-moments. These “real-time, intent-driven micro-moments” can include anything from looking up reviews to finding how-to instructions to learning more about a product or topic. To win the consumer’s ZMOT, your company needs to provide the right information at the right moment.

So how do you do that? Lecinski’s eBook includes a list of seven suggestions for winning the ZMOT. Let’s take a look at how those seven suggestions still apply today, along with some new suggestions for winning the ZMOT in 2016.

Lecinski’s suggestions for winning at ZMOT:

  1. Put someone in charge. In 2016, the consumer journey is changing more rapidly than ever. You need a dedicated expert in charge of following the consumer journey and ensuring your company is meeting the consumer at the right time, with the right information.
  2. Find your zero moments. Whether it’s a traveler searching for information about the area around your hotel or a new mother trying to determine which baby monitor is best, you need to know your consumer, you need to know what they’re asking, and you need to know how they’re asking for it. As more companies become better at providing the right information in the right place at the right time, the competition for winning ZMOT is higher—if you’re not there when the consumer needs you, your competitor will be.
  3. Answer the questions people are asking. It’s all about intent. If someone is searching for instructions on installing new tile, give them instructions, not an ad for your company’s tiles. Consumers’ expectations are higher than ever; if you’re not providing what they need, you’ve already lost.
  4. Optimize for ZMOT. Are you optimizing across multiple platforms? Are you creating share-worthy content? Are you tracking results and changing course as needed? Even if you’re providing the right information, it’s useless if the consumer can’t find it.
  5. Be fast. Since the dawn of the Internet, we’ve continued to expect faster and faster results. Respond to online reviews as quickly as possible. Take advantage of news stories and trends to create timely content that resonates with your target audience. If you’re not fast and getting faster, you’ll fall behind the competition.
  6. Don’t forget video. We all know the Internet is a visual place. Now more than ever, consumers expect vibrant, engaging, educational images and videos. If you don’t provide them, and your competitor does, you’re likely to lose the ZMOT.
  7. Jump in. It seems simple, but it’s as applicable today as it was in 2011. Winning the ZMOT is not an exact science; dive in, track results and stay flexible.

Suggestions for winning at ZMOT in 2016:

  1. Focus on mobile. According to a May 2015 report from Google, more Google searches now take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan. Whether a consumer is checking online reviews while in a store or searching for instructions on how to change a flat tire from the side of the road, that consumer is looking for answers on mobile. If you’re not providing the info they need on mobile, you’re not winning the ZMOT.
  2. Think global. ZMOT is a consumer behavior that is occurring—and growing—around the world. For instance, Google’s recent study on winning the ZMOT in Asia revealed that 78% of Asian women use search as a significant part of their decision-making process for consumer packaged goods. This means you not only need to be providing the right information in the right place at the right time; you also need to provide it in the right language. Content localization is a must if you want to win the ZMOT with international consumers.
  3. Remember there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The path to winning ZMOT varies hugely depending on industry, target audience, location and more. Whether you’re a hotel chain  targeting international business travelers or a children’s clothing line targeting moms, you need a unique, customized plan for winning the ZMOT. It’s all about jumping in, tracking results and adapting to the ever-changing consumer journey.

Enjoyed this post? Read more by Laurel!

Laurel ReeseProject Manager

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