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Author's avatar By Expert commentator 29 May, 2017
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How Marketers can use Google Zero Moment of Truth model

I first had the idea for this blog 2 years ago. Man oh man, take a second to consider how the landscape has changed over the past 3 years… Every other business is an app start-up, Vine withered and died, the leader of the free world uses Twitter to start wars and robots are taking over the feckin’ world.

Yet still, there are plenty of marketers who don’t know about Google’s ZMOT and one thing still remains true: one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today is how to keep up with their customers.

With the above in mind, I thought it was worth refreshing and reposting this blog for those marketers who are still trying to find that sweet-spot between permission-based content marketing and driving conversion online.

The ZMOT idea was first written about in 2011, in Google’s ‘Winning The Zero Moment of Truth’ — a free ebook readily available to download. ZMOT derives from Procter & Gamble’s ‘FMOT’ concept (‘The First Moment of Truth’): defined as the first point at which a shopper comes across a product on the shelf. Pretty much the point of purchase or failure for the product.

Today’s Marketing Model

Google Zero Moment of Truth

Our American friends at Google pronounce it ‘Zee-Mot’, which is evidently up for grabs depending on how British you are (I’m all about ‘Jay-Zed’ and ‘Fifty-Pence’). Google suggested there was an entirely new model in play due to the shift in mobile technology and consumer behaviour (no shit).

So now, prior to the ‘First Moment of Truth’, comes ZMOT — the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’.

So what is it and is it still relevant?

Perhaps it’s worth starting with what it isn’t. It isn’t about filling customers’ feeds with poorly targeted, badly timed and irrelevant messages that don’t matter (to them). It isn’t about advertising at customers. It isn’t about hammering them into submission via their feeds either.

It is about time though. Our time is becoming increasingly more precious; so how (and when) we imbibe content is evermore a tricky thing to get right. Mad fact for you: a goldfish’ attention span is 9 seconds. As of 2017, a human’s is 8 seconds. Time…

Time and attention span — and our increasing disinterest in content that’s not relevant to us — or not entertaining, or not intuitively delivered. That’s one the biggest things that’s changed in the past few years

Google’s Definition of Content Marketing

So ZMOT is essentially a more scientific way for Google to label content marketing.

The book is 6 years old now and every marketer knows about content. But the concept still stands strong when it comes to marketing strategy — as a way for marketers to consider how to develop an appropriate digital transformation strategy for their business.

If a brand isn’t strategically and usefully active within the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’, then it’s entirely less likely to have a share of voice within the ZMOT. But is having content enough..?

6 Tips to get you started

1. Carry out a content audit.

Evaluate all content you currently have on — and offsite. Categorise it in terms of what strategic value it could have and what place it could have within a structured content strategy.

2. You need a content strategy.

If you don’t have a content strategy, get busy. And consider that it will go hand in hand with your SEO strategy. Then plan your content properly; making sure you deliver great quality content at regular intervals. It’s about Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘jab, jab, jab, right hook’ concept. Essentially, you have to give in order to gain the trust from your customers — earning the right to ask, at the appropriate time.

3. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes.

Match content with what your brand’s personas are interested in — and when they’re likely to be interested in hearing from you about it. What do they look like and what do they behave like? What makes them tick and where do they go for their online research and entertainment? Define those outposts and seed your content there. And always be realistic about what you want your customers to take away from your content, versus what they actually want and are willing to share.

4. Stop advertising at people!

Seriously though… Since the dawn of time, SEO and advertising media people have been trying to exploit new technology platforms to turn what was a great social technology platform into an opportunity to shout at consumers. Here’s the thing: Thanks to ZMOT and consumers’ shortening attention spans, they’re making their own informed decisions — fast. They’re bouncing around the web on multiple devices and at lightning speed. They know what they’re looking for — they merely need online confirmation as to what they can buy; from where and and at the best price. They cannot be bullshitted or patronised. So don’t try.

5. Your brand is more important than ever before.

The internet is drowning in sub-standard content. Quality content is what’s required. Content that is engaging; entertaining, inspiring, or educational and informative. Your content has to tell a story about your brand — fill in the gaps for consumers. Ultimately, what it comes down to is brand trust — just as it’s always done. If you can’t do it well, don’t do it at all.

6. Exploit the ‘Second Moment of Truth’.

So they’ve found you via some seeded or shared content; they’ve come to your site and they’ve bought your stuff. Well done for getting this far!

You’ve turned a lead into a prospect and a prospect into a customer. But ask yourself just how loyal your customers are, or how easy it will be for them to forget your brand the next time they’re in the ZMOT. They’re now in the funnel, and if you have a strategy to turn these customers into delighted customers, then give them a platform in which to express their delight. Give them a reason and opportunity to share their brand love in the Zero Moment of Truth. Of course, it might make sense to evaluate just how great your customer experience is, before letting them loose on the internet to share their brand experience. Food for thought. In fact, you may realise that the key to your digital transformation plan is actually to start by improving your customer service!

7. Evaluate; dial up, dial down, switch off.

Just because you’ve got one content campaign right doesn’t mean you’ll get them all right. And if you don’t keep a close eye on your analytics, you will never truly know what content worked and what didn’t. Evidently once you know which content works, it stands to reason that your ZMOT strategy should contain more of such content! Bin off the stuff that isn’t working.

SmartInsights have developed the RACE framework which takes you through the stages of a successful digital marketing strategy

As with many marketing practices, you can choose to read a fistful of blogs, or read some books. Google’s ‘Winning the Zero Moment of Truth’ is available to download for free here. More importantly, you can keep up to date with Google’s sharing via the thinkwithgoogle.com. Don’t take my word for it — take the word of the guys who own this playing field outright. They make the rules after all…

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