As evidence-based marketers, we are constantly testing the most profitable ways to engage consumers. But consumers themselves are becoming more educated and demanding more evidence before making each purchase. The rise of evidence-oriented consumers has reshaped the buying cycle and increased the importance of quality content, social media optimization and marketing technology.
In Jim Leckinski’s ebook ZMOT: Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, he defines the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) as “that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service (or potential boyfriend) you are thinking of trying or buying.” The ebook—an excellent example of Google’s content marketing—posits the ZMOT as a new phase of the buying cycle enabled by our instant access to information.
Whereas the buying cycle once consisted of a stimulus (tv ad, radio ad, etc.), a First Moment of Truth (handling a product on the shelf) and a Second Moment of Truth (experience with a product after a purchase), the ZMOT has now become the most influential stage of the buying cycle. Google’s research indicates that 84% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on ZMOT actions such as:
- Online comparison shopping
- Conducting research with search engines
- Reading product reviews online
- Visiting a brand’s website
- Liking brands on social media platforms
The ZMOT reveals the rise of a new kind of consumer who wants to base even her smallest purchases on some sort of evidence—Leckinski writes how even a commonplace product like Scotch Tape received 3,000 user comments the first year they allowed comments on their website. Evidence-oriented consumers are willing to invest the small amount of time it takes to research a product in order to validate their purchase decisions.
Instant access to information has made it even easier for consumers to judge products by the tried-and-true metrics: “better,” “faster” and “cheaper.” In order to find the product that can best improve their lives, consumers rely on a brand’s online content, consumer reviews and social proof from their personal network. They can also use search engines to find where the product is most readily available, and comparison shop and seek coupons to find the best value.
In order to win in the ZMOT, businesses need to engage consumers with quality web content, social media and marketing collateral. Your content is a chance to court potential leads with your brand’s key differentiating factors. Social media can act as a stimulus, as well as provide a platform for consumers to discuss your brand. Marketing automation platforms can help you nurture leads in order to move them through the buying cycle.
Businesses should also be taking advantage of mobile technology. According to Google’s video The Mobile Movement, only 21% of advertisers have optimized their websites for mobile devices. This is a missed opportunity since 79% of smartphone users use their phone to help make shopping decisions. Google is also quick to point out that gaining a first position in search results is even more important in mobile, due to the decrease in screen real-estate. Mobile technology therefore makes solid SEO and PPC strategies more vital. Your business should include QR codes in advertisements to influence consumers during their ZMOT and on your products themselves to engage consumers during their First Moment of Truth.
The instant availability of information is stimulating consumers to engage with brands more than ever before. They are already online, researching your brand and discussing your products. Dominate that conversation by producing quality content, and embracing marketing technologies that expand your business’s reach to the greatest number of evidence-oriented consumers.