Three Ways to Make Google’s ZMOT Work for Tech Marketers

The next big thing from Google is its Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) concept, which the company describes as:

…a new decision-making moment (for consumers) that takes place a hundred million times a day on mobile phones, laptops and wired devices of all kinds. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world. 

The main premise of ZMOT – that people search online for information about the products they buy before they buy them – seems a bit intuitive as the foundation for a “revolution in marketing.”  

The next question, though, is more thought provoking: What are you doing about it? There are three things that tech marketers can do to help make ZMOT work for them.  But first, some more background.

ZMOT is the focus of a website, blog and e-book, and is based on marketing research developed by Proctor and Gamble in 2005 that defined the “first moment of truth” (or FMOT) as the time when customers see a product in retail and make the decision to buy.  The SMOT – or second moment of truth – comes when they try the product and it works as promised (or doesn’t).  Both of these MOTs presumed that a consumer is stimulated to buy by PR or advertising.  

P&G used this insight to revamp its marketing and product development efforts to win all of these MOTS.

FMOT and SMOT aren’t relevant to the marketing and sales of high-dollar chip, IT system and other complex products that have long sales cycles.

But the ZMOT is relevant.  A complex purchase process is all about finding out information: about the part or system, about how well it works, about what peers think of it, and about the company and how well it can deliver.  Adding more digital information into the mix is important to supporting the sales cycle and winning the ZMOT.

This is backed up in the e-book by quotes from Beth Comstock, the senior vice president and chief marketing officer of General Electric.  She says:

Maybe if you make locomotives, or the software that automates production lines, you think: Why should I have videos or web content out there? Who’s going to use that?  But one day at our marketing council we did YouTube searches for just those kinds of things. And you know what? Up came hundreds of videos, including videos from our competitors on things like intelligent thinking for production line automation. It was a great eye-opener. 

So, what’s a tech marketer to do?

ZMOT is real for tech marketers, so what can you do about it? 

The ZMOT e-book lists a few exercises and seven key steps to winning the ZMOT.  Three of these are most important for tech marketers:

  • Test your digital presence:  What happens when you search for your product category?  Try searching for the “best” product in your category.  This kind of an audit can give you a sense of what your customers see when they are looking for your product.
  • Understand customer search behavior: Know what your customers are searching for – their “zero moments” – and base digital marketing campaigns around this information. Naturally, Google has tools to help with this, including its Keyword Tool.
  • Answer customer questions: So now you know what customers are searching for, will you provide them with the answers?  ZMOT says its not enough to be in the top results if what comes back doesn’t answer the question.  To win that moment you need both great SEO and the content that people are looking for.

ZMOT is more than just a good reminder that people look online before they buy, it’s a call to evolve PR and marketing programs to fully embrace this reality, a point that resonates with both consumer and tech buyers.