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.

But there’s one buzzword that may have more substance 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 discovery and awareness stage in the buying cycle when the consumer researches a product, prior the seller’s knowledge. 

According to Think with Google, 53% of shoppers say they always do research before they buy to ensure they are making the best possible choice.

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. 

The Lamb Agency points out that the foundation of the ZMOT is rooted in the traditional 3-step mental model of marketing:

3 Step Model - Zero Moment of Truth

There is another moment beyond purchase in the ZMOT framework that’s worth noting; the second moment of truth – the customer experience with your product or service.

Let’s look at a simple scenario of someone encountering the ZMOT during a B2B buying cycle:

  • 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 to learn more.
  • 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.
  • Next comes the first moment of truth, where Lisa decides to purchase a marketing automation system.
  • 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 new ZMOTs upend the traditional linear decision-making model. Simply put, consumers not only have changed where they decide, but how as well.

Forbes points out ZMOT affects today’s “always on” consumer.

“Contrary to the traditional model’s portrait of the decision maker as a lone wolf who only solicits feedback after the sale, the new “always-on” consumer constantly requests advice from her social network.”

 

It’s important to keep this in mind when designing your customer experience. Here are a few ways that you can make sure your B2B product or service passes the ZMOT test:

1. Make information accessible. Consumers will be looking for the following types of content to help them make a decision: 

  • customer testimonials 
  • buyers guides 
  • case studies 

Consumers want reviews that are coming from your customers and clients, not directly from you.

2. Focus on optimization. Most product research starts with an online search, so it’s important that your site is optimized for SEO. Do your own Google search on your brand, reviews, and opinions on your products/services in your industry. This will give you the consumer’s point of view when they’re researching your products or services.

3. Think video. It’s not a coincidence that YouTube is the second most popular search engine on the internet. Consumers are looking for visuals to help them decide. For B2B, this means incorporating product demonstrations and webinars into your strategy.

THE WRAP

Putting a strategy in place to prepare for the zero moment of truth should not drastically change your current marketing strategy. It is important to be aware of what information consumers need during this process, and how easy it is for them to access it.

Looking for new ways to innovate your marketing strategy? Check out our new guide, 5 Ways Marketers Can Innovate to Drive Growth.

This post was originally written and posted by Jenna Hanington on November 2011. Updated April 2020 by Crystal Garrett.