Google’s ZMOT Proves Customers are Influenced by the Internet

Procter & Gamble Co., the powerhouse behind brands such as Dawn® and Vicks®, determined three key points that define the exact moment your prospects turn to paying customers. The Moment of Truth (MOT) is the a-ha moment triggered by a series of events that affirms the decision to exchange money for goods.

That was back in 2005. Today, regardless of whether you sell clothes or coffee, houses or personal care goods, each step that leads to the MOT is driven by stimulation and the combination of appeal and experience.

Take the purchase of coffee, for example. It’s not an uncommon expense for the average morning commuter on foot, bike, or car. But every person who invests in a $4 cup of coffee takes the MOT journey.

The MOT Journey (in regard to coffee)

Stimulus is the desire for a caffeine boost at 8 a.m., and it engages every sense. The prospect can see a coffee house on every corner. They catch the familiar scent of a fresh-brewed roast. Memory recalls the whoosh of the espresso machine, hints of hazelnut and chocolate on the tongue and a warm cup in hand. Stimulation puts the prospect that much closer to being a customer.

The First Moment of Truth is the evaluation stage (or what a prospect sees on the shelf). Of the coffee shops available on every corner, the prospect must now decide if they’re going to choose your cup of coffee or your competition’s. In P&G’s first MOT study, grocery shoppers knew whether or not they wanted a product within seven seconds of looking at the store shelf.

Your coffee house’s visual appeal and surrounding environment (aka its shelf) matter as much at the value of the coffee itself — and they have seven seconds to connect with a prospect. Is your business more appealing than your competitor’s at first glance?

The Second Moment of Truth draws from a potential customer’s previous experience. If the prospect is a return buyer, was their last experience in your coffee house a positive one? If the prospect has never purchased your coffee, how likely are they to return, based on the experience you show them today? With return buyers you’re in luck. Loyal customers are typically more profitable than first-time buyers.

Forbes contributor Paul B. Brown, notes that it’s far easier to sell to existing customers. “If you have done a good job taking care of your customer in the past, and your products have performed well for them, they are usually willing to give any addition to your product line a try,” he wrote in a 2014 article.


fig1Figure 1: P&G’s MOT Journey

P&G’s Flaw and Google’s ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth)

For years, P&G’s MOT journey illustrated how customers decide which product they’ll buy, and from what business. But in 2011 Google filled in what they considered an enormous gap in the series.

The original MOT worked best if prospects were in proximity to your business — if they happen to walk, ride or drive by. But P&G didn’t include prospects searching the Web.

Shading in the empty space, Google inserted the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT) between Stimulus and the First Moment of Truth to account for prospects conducting online research in addition to offline research.

The ZMOT is the new word-of-mouth advertising for prospects who want to know more about both your business and what other people have to say about their own experience.

fig2Figure 2: Google’s revised four-step series.

The ZMOT Changes the Rules

With the Internet in the palm of their hands, prospects use social media —Twitter, blogs, Yelp, etc. — to guide the decision-making process. In support of the ZMOT, Google’s 2011 ZMOT Heat Maps used independent research from Shopper Sciences to track the frequency of online searches against the point of purchase for 5,000 shoppers in 12 different industries.

In travel, tech, automotive, and restaurant industries, the closer to the purchase point shoppers got, the greater online media influenced their decision.

Subscribe the Boise Weekly Digital’s blog for more on ZMOT and how to optimize your ZMOT results. Unless you know you ZMOT and use it to get front of your prospects, the Internet will write your consumer guide for you. Will you profi