The Zero Moment of Truth: What Is It & Why Should You Care?

The marketing world is plagued with buzzwords. We see them in blog posts, hear them in day-to-day conversations, and read them in industry articles so often that we had to create a guide to keep them all straight.

But there’s one up-and-coming buzzword that may have more substance to it than most: the “Zero Moment of Truth.” Coined by Google in their 2011 eBook “ZMOT”, the term refers to the moment in the purchase cycle between the stimulus (what alerts you of a product, like an ad) and first moment of truth (a term used by Proctor & Gamble to refer to the decision to purchase).

So…What is the zero moment of truth?

The zero moment of truth (ZMOT) refers to the point in the buying cycle when the consumer researches a product, often before the seller even knows that they exist. The number of consumers researching a product online prior to purchase has been on the rise in recent years as the internet and mobile continue to advance. In 2011, the average shopper used 10.4 sources of information before making a purchase decision, compared to half as many sources in 2010 (ZMOT, 2011).

What does the ZMOT look like?

While much of the research behind the ZMOT has been focused on B2C companies, B2B companies have something to learn from the concept as well. Lets look at a simple scenario of someone encountering the ZMOT during a B2B buying cycle:

  1. Lisa, a marketing director at a software company, sees a PPC ad on google for marketing automation. The ad functions as the stimulus in this example because it piques her interest enough for her to want to learn more.
  2.  Lisa decides to do some research. This is the zero moment of truth, where she looks at product reviews and buyers guides to find the right marketing automation system for her needs.
  3. Next comes the first moment of truth, where Lisa decides to purchase a marketing automation system.
  4. Lastly, there is the second moment of truth, which is the experience that Lisa has after buying the product.

How can B2B marketers prepare for the ZMOT?

The most important lesson from Google’s eBook about the zero moment of truth is that marketers need to be aware of the ZMOT, and prepared for it — regardless of whether they’re B2C or B2B.

“If you’re available at the Zero Moment of Truth, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying.” (ZMOT, 2011)

Here are a few ways that you can make sure your B2B product or service passes the ZMOT test:

  • Make sure information about your product is readily available. Consumers will be looking for the following types of content to help them make a decision: customer testimonials, buyers guides, and case studies. They want reviews that are coming from your customers and clients, not directly from you.
  • Focus on optimization of both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. Most product research starts with an online search on a computer or phone, so it’s important that your site is optimized for SEO. Try doing some of the following searches on Google: your brand, reviews of your brand, and opinions on the best product/service in your industry. This will show you exactly what a consumer sees (or does not see) when they’re researching your product.
  • Think video. It’s not a coincidence that YouTube is the second most popular search bar on the internet (ZMOT, 2011). Consumers are looking for visuals to help them decide. For B2B, this means incorporating product demonstrations and webinars into your strategy.

Putting a strategy in place to prepare for the zero moment of truth should not drastically change your current marketing strategy. After all, the fact that consumers research before purchase isn’t earth-shattering news. But it is important to be aware of what information consumers need during this process, and how easy it is for them to access it.

What do you think of the ZMOT? Let us know in the comments!

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