You’ve just launched your new website. You spent a significant portion of your budget working with a top web developer who made your website look slick and attractive. You’re confident that this new website will increase your business ten-fold, and the price of the web developer will pay off in no time. However, as time goes by you don’t see a significant increase in business. And when you check your website analytics, you’re shocked at how low your visitor numbers are.
This is what can happen when you don’t pay attention to the ZMOT. This is a term coined by Google called the Zero Moment of Truth. Before ZMOT, there was FMOT, the First Moment of Truth. This is the moment a consumer first physically sees a product, which leads to them buying the product. With the internet, we now know that consumers can make their buying decision long before ever going to the store and picking up the product. First, they go online to search for information and read reviews before making a purchasing decision. This is where the Zero Moment of Truth occurs — the moment where the potential customer chooses to look at YOUR product during their online research..
Due to the vastness of the internet, an online search can lead a potential buyer down any number of paths: a company’s online store, a Facebook page, a review site, a competitor’s online store….the list goes on. Google tracked 3,000 online shoppers and found that every single one of them took a different path to get to their final purchasing decision.
As a business, you want the web-savvy consumer to find you on the web, and you want them to purchase your product or service. ZMOT highlights the importance of businesses being available on multiple channels – having an eye-catching and informative website is important, but so is having a strong presence on social media, web advertising, a presence on partner websites, and on aggregate sites.
I would encourage any business to take the time and read through the plethora of information and case studies Google provides on the ZMOT website. If you’re selling a product or service, ZMOT should be one of the first things you look at when developing or redeveloping your web presence.
Case Study : Real Estate
Real estate is a great example of the importance ZMOT. Unlike your basic online store that sells a product, real estate agents need an online presence to get hired by potential home owners to help them find their new home. This changes the normal online shopping process, which usually goes something like this:
With real estate, it’s different. Potential homebuyers can be in all sorts of different stages of their homebuying process when searching for information online – they may be ready to buy, they may have just started thinking about it, they may be somewhere in between. Regardless, as a real estate agent,you want them to visit your site and you want them to find the information they’re searching for.
So how do people reach their real estate ZMOT?
We conducted a small marketing survey to determine the most common path for potential homebuyers to reach their moment of truth where they choose a real estate agent to call. Interestingly, after Googling for real estate in the city they were living in, every survey participant chose to go to a third-party aggregator site over going directly to a real estate agent’s website.
Thirdparty review sites
A real estate called Zillow appeared to be a popular pathway leading homebuyers to reach their ZMOT. This site allows users to post reviews about their experience buying a home with a real estate agent, so for our client this was a crucial piece of information that we needed to take into consideration for our digital strategy.
Unlike your own website and advertising, it is hard to control the increasingly-popular ZMOT pathway that is reading customer reviews. However, that does not mean you should ignore these type of sites when thinking about your web presence. Instead, take a proactive approach by monitoring your online reviews regularly and responding to any less-than-stellar ones in a way that tells that customer and any potential customers reading the review that you are willing to makes things right. This will make potential customers less likely to be affected by the bad review, because they can see that you’re putting the customer first.
In an ideal world, people would go directly to your website rather than going to an aggregate site because your website is content-rich and tailored specifically to your products and/or services. It is possible to alter a person’s ZMOT by making Google keyword searches a priority in your digital strategy. While there is no guarantee that you will rank number one on Google, proper search engine optimization can greatly improve your website ranking and make it more likely that people will click on your website.
How To Determine Your ZMOT Pathways
Finding the ZMOT for your customers is part of a larger environmental analysis that is crucial when establishing your web presence. If you’ve never thought of or even heard about ZMOT before, it would be wise to spend some time conducting an environmental analysis and creating or editing your digital strategy based on the results of your ZMOT. You want to determine:
are people deciding to buy your product when they reach your website? or before?
is your business on third-party review sites online? how will you handle negative reviews, to avoid turning away potential customers?
is your website mobile-friendly?
are your competitor’s websites more mobile-friendly than yours?
is your website appearing high on the Google search list?
how are people arriving at your site?
where are your inbound links coming from?
Once you have found the main pathways people take to get to your site and to the “buy now” button, you can improve your website greatly by making these pathways as accessible as possible, removing any roadblocks that customers may run into along the way.