The Zero Moment of Truth in The Digital Marketing Era – Part 2

A few weeks ago, I discussed Google’s description of the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)as it was defined back in 2011.  Today, I’m going to elaborate a bit further into how ZMOT applies to today’s online environment.

When it comes to digital marketing, we’re talking primarily about a two-headed monster.  Google as it relates to paid search and Facebook for paid social.  Google alone receives billions of search queries every day which I’m sure all agree, helps them have a little idea of what people are looking for.  Facebook on their part have reached 2.2 billion users worldwide, each of them sharing all sorts of information about themselves and their interests.  By the way, if you’re interested in this type of stats and live data, you’ll have fun visiting this website.

Our goal as digital marketers is to help our clients reach their goals.  Or more practically, help them get new customers to buy their products or services.  The challenge however, is to convince them that their customers journey is no longer a single-touch journey.  Today’s journey is composed of multiple touch points and micro moments of truth that will ultimately (and hopefully) result in a purchase or conversion.

Content Marketing

You have questions? We’ve got answers.  That is the essence of content marketing.  No matter how much information you add to your website, you will always have customers that have questions about your offerings.  When and how they find those answers determines your actual moments of truth.

The Zero Moment Of Truth

Information and content at the Zero Moment of Truth is the type of basic information that any customer will have about a product or service. Typically, this is more of an educational stage where the customer doesn’t really know what she wants and she’s seeking more information before moving to the next step.  The way you provide this information may vary but normally, you would want to set up a basic FAQ section on your website, explainer videos, blog articles, etc.  Using popular platforms like YouTube, Medium, etc. will help you add this information to multiple channels.

The First Moment Of Truth

At this stage, your potential customer has a much clearer idea of what they want and your content needs to be dedicated to reinforcing their knowledge and lead them to a purchase.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to eliminate any type of frictional element that may interfere with the execution of their purchase.  The term “cart abandonment” is a real term and whether you have an online store, a booking engine or a submission form at the end of your conversion path, you need to ensure that the process is as simple as possible.  Amazon.com has this frictionless process down to science!

Depending on your industry, you will want to create compelling special offers, limited time deals, social media contests, add testimonials -from actual customers-, packages, additional incentives, loyalty programs, to name a few.

In addition to the above, it is equally critical to have superior customer service with knowledgeable staff or real-time chat, quick social media responses and so on.  This is “conversion time” and you want to ensure that your customer doesn’t leave at the last minute because a question goes unanswered.

The Second Moment Of Truth

As a digital marketer, to me this is the critical moment.  The second moment of truth is when your customer is already using your product or services and hopefully, having a great experience. This stage is what will determine whether your Customer Acquisition Costs will be amortized overtime when you also benefit from your Customer Lifetime Value.

A good experience will turn into a positive Third Moment of Truth.  A bad experience will likely result in bad reviews that will hurt your own ZMOT for your next prospective customer.  Since we specialize in hospitality marketing, here are some content types that can support the Second Moment of Truth:

  • Hotel FAQ Section — Help your guests with the most common questions during their stay.
  • Location Guides/Area Attractions — Sure they love your hotel, but help them love the destination too.  Dining guides, local tours, museums, entertainment, concerts, sports, etc.
  • Social Media — At this point you should have dedicated staff to answer the most basic shared questions and comments about your property.
  • On Site Activities — Provide a clear way to help your guests learn and access any of your onsite activities or programs. And no, making them leave their room to go to the lobby to read off an easel is not enough.  Provide them with information at their fingertips.  No friction.
  • Feedback Forms — Often overlooked, you need to entice your guests to come back again.  Offering an incentive to fill out a quick online form or provide a positive review will go a long way in making them important and by feeling that their opinion counts.

The second moment of truth is about earning your guests’ trust and ensuring that they have a great experience during their stay.  Remember that the second moment of truth will not only feed your ZMOT but it will also be a critical factor toward the third and last moment of truth.

The Third Moment Of Truth

Continuing with the hotel guest example, the third moment of truth starts right after the guest experience. This is the time when you want your guest to become a fan of your brand and turn into your unofficial ‘ambassador’ with her circle of friends.

How many times have you read bad reviews about a new movie, yet a couple of your close friends that actually saw the movie had a good experience and recommended it to you?  And of course, you listened to your friends’ feedback rather than the third party reviewers and you went to see that movie too.

That’s why the Third Moment of Truth is so important for all businesses.  It’s the stage at which your marketing campaigns have very little or no influence at all, and you just rely on your customers’ (great) experience to do the selling for you.  It’s about turning a satisfied customer into an influencer.

MGR Conclusion

So what has changed between twenty years ago and today?  The key point is to understand how the Internet and more recently, the uber presence of mobile devices has facilitated everybody’s access to information.

In the era of traditional media (TV, Radio, Print) we would see an ad or commercial for a hotel or resort (stimulus), followed directly by the First Moment of Truth, visited a travel agency and trust the person behind the desk with her knowledge and/or sales pitch.

In today’s connected world, we no longer have to trust other experts.  Instead, we can become the experts, do our own research, compare rates, read reviews, and a number of other micro moments that will lead us to an educated decision.

The Internet or any of the dominant players like Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have not changed the environment.  The Internet has merely exposed information and content that was not available at our fingertips before.  Consumers have become smarter and businesses can no longer hide their weaknesses. Bad services and products have always existed.  Only now, they can’t hide anymore behind a glorified print ad.

Today’s marketing professionals need to be much more aware of their own space in the market place than ever before.  Consumers are constantly looking for information and if your company is not there during the Zero Moment of Truth, you can rest assured that one of your competitors will.  And then, they will also support their guest or consumers through the first, second and third moments of truth, hence feeding future prospects for your in the future.

How strong is your presence at the Zero Moment of Truth searches for your guests?

Thank you for reading.  Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)

Photo by Karina Miranda on Unsplash

2018-10-07T23:07:05+00:00