Performance and Participation Marketing at the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

Posted by Heather Cohen, Account Director & Samridhi Chawla, Account Manager

If you haven’t read Google’s recent Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) e-book, you should—especially if you’re a brand marketer.  ZMOT is a new way of thinking about how people decide to purchase your products.  The Zero Moment of Truth comes before the First Moment of Truth (FMOT), which is the moment when a person is standing in front of a store shelf, looking at the options and deciding which brand to purchase.  ZMOT is the “critical moment of decision” that happens before your potential customer walks into a store—i.e. using a search engine or seeking peer recommendations.  It’s the moment where your potential customer grab his or her laptop, mobile phone or other device to research a product/service they’re thinking of buying.  By the time the shopper walks into a store, they know exactly what brand they want to buy.  The e-book, which includes insights from VivaKi’s Rishad Tobaccowala, notes that marketers dedicate tremendous effort to influencing the First Moment of Truth but asks, “Are you winning the Zero Moment of Truth?”

As a brand marketer, understanding and dedicating energy to ZMOT helps you engage shoppers before the store aisle, fostering more-informed purchase decisions.  At Performics, we think of ZMOT as a two-way conversation between the brand and its consumers (more aptly called participants).  Shoppers no longer just buy brands; they join brands by participating with them.  For example, today’s shoppers create consumer guides by tweeting, blogging, posting on Facebook and creating videos about brands.  Therefore, a successful ZMOT—one that captivates a shopper to purchase your brand—requires a mutual investment between your brand and your participants.  If your participants are not supporting you at ZMOT, you won’t win at ZMOT.


And winning at ZMOT could mean winning for a long time.  It opens the opportunity for shoppers to fall in love with your product at the Second Moment of Truth (SMOT), the moment when your customer uses your product.  So how do brand marketers engage potential customers at ZMOT?  At Performics, we believe this requires a combination of (1) performance marketing and (2) participation marketing.

Performance Marketing

Let’s start with performance marketing, which includes paid and natural search.  The search engine results page (SERP) is an online shelf.  Shoppers arrive there—24 hours a day, on desktops and mobile devices—ready for their ZMOT.  ZMOT typically starts with a search.  It progresses to an evaluation of options that the shopper discovers through paid and natural search listings.  It moves to a landing page, where the shopper participates with a brand. 

Brands must ensure that search strategies are in place to captivate shoppers are this phase.  Searchers are “calling” you, and if you’re not there to answer, your competitors will be.   Google asks, “If people search for your product and you don’t answer that search, who do you think will answer?”  Ad ranking, messaging, keyword phrases and landing pages all impact ZMOT.  Answer the searcher’s question at the right time; for example, online coupons can be a powerful way to engage searchers, but not when they’re asking you for something else entirely.  Ensure that your message appears on the top of the search engine results page (SERP).  Paid search visibility is important—Google found that advertisers who turn their paid search ads off couldn’t make up for the lost paid clicks with organic clicks.  Prominent visibility is particularly important on the small screen—mobile devices—which are now a vital part of ZMOT.

Participation Marketing

ZMOT then spirals to review sites and social networks where multi-way conversations between brands, friends and experts occur in real-time.  That’s when participation marketing comes in.  The conversation about your brand is already happening online; you must embrace it, cultivate it and encourage it.  Brands must listen to questions, comments and concerns via conversation analysis and social listening tools.  They must inspire advocates to spread positive conversations.  The content of these conversations may very well make or break a brand at ZMOT. 

Today, brands that ignore ZMOT will not be top-of-mind when a shopper walks into a store.  You must ensure that you have performance and participation marketing strategies in place to influence the Zero Moment of Truth, thus greatly increasing your chances at the First Moment of Truth.

Bookmark and Share

Speak Your Mind