It is not news for marketers all around the world that marketing got very difficult. While new technologies, different social media sites and search engines give us enormous possibilities to promote a service or a product, it does not make the life of a marketer or a small business easy. If anything, it got harder. Switching from traditional advertising such as TV, radio and magazines to the digital era of marketing turned the advertising world into a battlefield. Many businesses and marketers are feeling overwhelmed with how to get the attention of a customer, accumulate reach, engagement and of course, convert the visitors into buyers.
While the technologies evolved, so did the customers. And thanks to the massive “Media noise” it’s getting even harder to attract them and seem original. Each person is getting approximately 5000 advertisements every day in different shapes and forms. Brand loyalty was what started to dominate markets, therefore inhibiting startups even more. Getting a person to switch to your service is at the peak of its difficulty unless the target market is the “top of mind” people. The picture might look depressing, but it is not as bad as one might think.
Customers yesterday vs customers today
Today we are in an era where the majority of buyers are millennials. They think differently compared to the previous generations and hence, marketing needs to take a different approach.
To understand what today’s advertising model looks like and what most of the businesses do wrong, let’s take a look at the old model of advertising both from the customer’s and business perspective.
The first step of the customer’s journey is a stimulus. It is a moment when the customer hears about the product and starts thinking about it. Let’s look at an example.
David, while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning is reading a newspaper and sees an advertisement for a new TV which has a better resolution, larger screen and looks nicer. He remembers the old TV he has at home and thinks how good would it be to get a new one. So the advertisement stimulates his desire to have a better TV.
This is a reaction every business wants to get from the potential customer. However, in the old advertising model, there were very small opportunities to get it. One could air an expensive commercial on TV, put an add on a newspaper or magazine or promote the product through the radio. In the end, it all came down to sitting and waiting for customers to come barging through the door.
The first moment of truth
The first moment of truth is a stage of decision making. This process can be affected by several things, comparing the product to other similar products, going to the shop to see the actual product on the shelf or asking friends or neighbours for an opinion.
Let’s go back to David who was thinking about a new TV on his way to work. Once he got there he told his co-worker Michael about the ad. Michael on his behalf mentioned that his neighbour had recently bought that exact TV and was very satisfied with it. David decided to visit the shop and see the product himself.
During the old advertising era, companies were not able to track or affect the decision-making process. Simply because there were no means to do so. You could not measure how many people saw the advertisements, and on which stage of the customer journey, they were.
The second moment of truth
The second moment of truth is a touchpoint between the customer and the brand. This is the stage when the customer takes action and buys the product and starts his experience.
When David went to the shop and liked the product he decided to purchase the TV. From this action, he made a connection with the brand and started his experience. He took the TV at home and turned it on. He saw that the actual product was as good as it was said in the advertisement. As a result, he will consider buying other products of the same brand when he will need them. At the same time, he will promote the brand with word of mouth as he will tell it to his coworkers, family members and friends.
On the other hand, if David saw that the product does not have a good quality, he would never buy from this brand again and would not say anything good about it.
As in the previous case, on the second moment of truth brands were unable to identify what was the customer thinking about the product. They could not get feedback or monitor their transformation into a brand ambassador.
This model of advertising was unchanged for more than 100 years. With the digital world evolving and millennials becoming the majority of buyers it got clear that this model does not work anymore. However, many companies that are unsuccessful in their advertising make the same mistake. They follow the old model. Instead of advertising on newspapers, they put ads on the internet and that’s it. Needless to say, it does not work this way. In 2017 Business Insider reported that at the end of 2018, 30% of internet users would have Adblock. However, the numbers in 2019 are higher and most of the Millenials use Adblock now. Moreover, 70% of customers do not trust any type of ads (online and offline). So how can businesses advertise in the correct way? The answer lays in the new model of advertising known as ZMOT.
How does ZMOT work
ZMOT is a model of advertising which was first introduced in 2011 by Google. The model is the most valid representation of a customer’s journey and will stay this way for a long time. This is why it is important to know how it works and how your business can benefit from it.
The journey starts in the same way as it was in the old model – with a stimulus. However today the radio and newspaper ads are minimized. The stimulus today is driven by display ads, social media ads, search engine marketing and similar tools.
In the new model, David sees the product on his mobile phone while scrolling Facebook when drinking his first cup of coffee. After seeing the ad he thinks about the product but instead of getting to the first moment of truth he is getting to ZMOT – Zero Moment of Truth. He goes to work, opens his laptop and searches for the product on Google or on Amazon. The first thing he does there is read reviews of the product. This is why reviews are getting more and more attention and space on the Internet. Business and marketers should be well aware of the power of reviews as potential customer consumes more than 20 pieces of content before making the decision. There are a lot of examples of reviews of products or services that can make an impact on decision making.
While surfing the internet, David reads multiple reviews, compares them to each other and checks similar products as well to make the best choice. If the reviews are negative, he either stops his journey or gets interested in the product of other brands. If the reviews convince David that the product is good, he is approaching the First moment of truth – goes to the shop and sees the product or to the company’s website and makes the purchase.
The following stage is the second moment of truth – the experience. After using the product for some time David might or might not like it. Either way, there is a good chance that he puts his review as well. With this, he is creating ZMOT for the other people on the Internet.
The customer journey is changed forever
As you can see the model is not fully changed but has added one more stage. However, the stage is one of the most important ones in today’s world. While 70% of people do not trust advertisements, 88 % of people trust online reviews. Most of them are millennials who as I have mentioned represent the majority of buyers. This advertising model will never go back to the old version as the journey of a customer has now changed forever. The brands that are late to understand it will suffer the consequences.
How to put ZMOT in practice for the best results
Today we are lucky to have tools to track the results we are getting from different types of advertisements. One can find out how many people got interested, clicked on the ad, if they visited the website and which pages or products they viewed there. Implementing ZMOT the right way in a marketing strategy will yield a higher conversion rate, increase sales and the level of brand loyalty. Here’s how it’s usually done.
Increase the organic reach
Facebook is one of the best ways for brands to be visible for a large audience. Once the potential customer searches for information about your product he or she will visit your page and see the reviews there. These kinds of reviews are especially important if a company operates in the hospitality or tourism industry. If you have a restaurant, cafe, hotel or any entertainment facility, customer reviews are essential for potential customers. Organic reach plays a big role to take the potential customer from the first (stimulus) to the second – ZMOT stage. While the organic reach has decreased significantly in recent years, it is still very important to have good organic visibility. To get or maintain good organic visibility one needs to be active on social media and produce content that is relevant to the business, is unique and various. Do not rely on pictures but use all the tools that are available especially videos that are getting more organic reach than any other type of content.
Have a strong blog
Blogs are something that can elevate the visibility and be used best for ZMOT. With strong and active blogging one can entertain visitors and provide solutions for their concerns. At the same time, blogs provide endless content materials for social media. When someone sees a company’s ad, gets interested in the product and searches online there’s a good chance that the company’s blog will appear in the result. This gives them the possibility to show their product to the customer in the best way possible.
As mentioned, reviews are the most important part of the Zero moment of truth. Because of this, there are multiple websites that do reviews of new products in technology, clothes, financial services and etc. You can socialite positive reviews and distribute them among various third-party sites that specialize in reviews.
Yes, Emails are still a thing. I do not mean that you should spam all your customers or potential customers with information they do not need. In the past, email marketing was considered more of a mass marketing strategy. A company would send a bunch of emails to everyone they could reach, hence the vast majority of them were ending up in the junk folder without being opened. Today, email marketing has taken a different turn and has become one of the best tools to keep customers loyal. Instead of sending emails every other day, companies send monthly newsletters that showcase their new products, special discounts for subscribers and upcoming sales. However, what most companies miss is the “Unsubscribe” button. By providing this button a company send the message to their customers, that they are pursuing value, rather than sales.
Another way to use email marketing is to use it for personalization. Companies track, how often a specific customer places an order. Therefore they can identify loyal ones from one-time buyers. After the identification process, they craft personalized emails and provide discounts and early access to new products that this customer might have purchased in the past. Companies also include the date of birth option on their registration form to provide birthday gifts such as gift cards and additional products for the next purchase. The sense of exclusivity garners fanatical devotion to a brand from customers, which then are extremely hard to lose.
Solve the problem
Try to think of the product that nobody really needs or desires, that does not respond to the wishes of a customer. How successful would this product be? Probably not so much. The product should solve a problem, entertain, make lives easier or more pleasant. This is the same when it’s about the content. Having content that carries value and is more likely to have more organic reach. If a company is active on social media, it’s relevant to have a strong blog, distributed positive reviews and email marketing. Once the company reaches the plateau of organic reach they use the advertisements that also elevates their brand when the zero moment of truth comes.