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Lead generation: zero moment of truth in inbound marketing

According to a LinkedIn survey, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 70% of their purchase process is complete. Yet the decision process to buy a product or service takes place much earlier. This buyer purchase journey starts with a so-called Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).

What is ZMOT and why is it so important? How is this term related to lead generation and inbound marketing? That is what is explained in this article. Time to learn how decision-making takes place for business customers.

What is the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)?

The Internet has radically changed how customers decide what and where to buy a product or service. Google calls this online decision-making moment in the customer journey, the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).

Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) is

The moment in the buying process, when a consumer researches a product or service online before buying it.” (Google, 2011).

ZMOT is the most important moment in a customer’s journey to purchase for marketers and brands. It is the precise moment in which prospects search for information online and make decisions about brands.

Business companies that fail to be present at this phase risk losing buyer awareness and sales opportunities. On the other hand, B2B companies that optimize and build their marketing strategies around ZMOT research have a competitive advantage in their market.

Four moments of truth: a customer purchase journey

Business customers increasingly make their decisions at the precise moment when they have a question, intent or need they want to be answered online.

A business that answers these questions at the right time has a double advantage: it helps improve a consumer’s life. It gains a competitive advantage over business brands that don’t offer it.

ZMOT is the most important moment in the customer purchase journey because it determines the purchase decision. Yet, it is not the only decision-making moment. There are four moments of truth for buying a product or service in the customer purchase journey:

Customer Purchase Journey

The four moments of truth: Stimulus - ZMOT- FMOT- SMOT

1) Stimulus:

Stimulus is the moment in which a prospect is first exposed to a brand’s product or service via an online advertisement or piece of content. This is seen as the first buying signal a prospect receives about any product or service of a specific brand.

All first-interaction marketing channels are sources of stimulus. It can include:

  • Organic Search

  • Direct traffic

  • Paid Search

  • Referral

  • Email marketing

  • Display

  • Other advertising

  • Social Network

This part is particularly interesting for the latest brands and business that wants to build brand awareness.

2) ZMOT: the zero moment of truth

The zero moment of truth (ZMOT) is, as said, the most important moment in the customer purchase journey. This is the moment in which a prospect searches online for an answer to a specific question, search intent or customer need. This is the moment after a prospect has been exposed to a brand, but before purchasing a product or service.

It is the moment when the customer research online and decides whether to buy a product or service.

A prospect does not buy a product after the first interaction with a brand. Instead, it takes several interactions on different acquisition channels before a prospect becomes a buyer. A customer journey consists of:

  • Content: a prospect reads a blog post or video

  • Online Advertisement: a prospect sees an online advertisement.

  • Product review: a prospect read a product review

  • Product comparison: a prospect visits a product comparison website.

  • Search result: a prospect clicks on an organic search result.

  • Online Advertisement: a prospect clicks on an online advertisement.

  • Website: a prospect purchases the product and turns into a customer.

The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) takes place between the product review and product comparison website. This is where a prospect decides to make a purchase for a specific brand, after considering the product reviews and the product or service pricing.

All below channels are ZMOT sources:

  • Online search

  • Comparison websites

  • Word-of-mouth

  • Coupon websites

  • Deals and offers websites

  • Social shopping websites

  • Loyalty websites

  • Affiliate website

  • Offline marketing channels

What ZMOT sources a prospect uses depend on several factors:

  1. What is the prospect planning to buy? (Product or service).

  2. What stage is the prospect at the consideration phase? (Compare, coupon).

  3. Where is the prospect located? (Country, location, home, office, on-to-go?)

  4. From which online device does the prospect make the purchase? (Mobile, desktop, laptop, smart tv, or tablet).

  5. What is their preferred way of buying? (Online or offline)?

3) FMOT: the first moment of truth

The first moment of truth (FMOT) is the purchase decision. This is where a prospect turns into a customer for a specific brand. After online and offline research, the prospect has decided to buy a specific product or service from a specific brand.

The first moment of truth is another essential moment in the sales process.

4) SMOT: the second moment of truth

The second moment of truth (SMOT) is the moment when the customer starts to interact with the brand’s product or service, after the purchase. This is when the customer decides whether the expectations of the product are fulfilled and whether the product or service is worth buying again in the future or not.

At this point, the consumer wants to know more information about how the product or service works, contact the customer service department to solve the issue they experience with the product or service, subscribe to a newsletter, or leave a customer review on the brand’s website, when they are happy with a product or service.

If at this stage the customer is satisfied with the brand, the customer will stay loyal. If not, he or she will decide to try a competing brand in the future.

How to create a ZMOT for your business?

There are four major steps B2B organizations must take to create an optimal Zero Moment of Truth experience for their prospects and potential customers:

  1. Understand what the ZMOTs are for a business.

  2. Answer questions from business prospects.

  3. Make search engine optimization (SEO) a top priority.

  4. Encourage customers and employees to engage with the brand.

How to create an inbound marketing strategy?

The goal of content marketing is to create content. Not just any content, but valuable content for a business's target audience. Creating clear and relevant content is just one step in creating an inbound marketing strategy.

There are many more lead generation strategies that will help to create an optimal working inbound marketing strategy to improve your landing pages, sales funnel, and conversion rate. The following tips will help business to create a good inbound marketing strategy:

  • Provide an excellent user experience on all devices

  • Diversify traffic acquisition strategy to get traffic from various sources (organic search, paid search, display, online advertisement, email, affiliate marketing, referral).

  • Get a business product or service listed on product comparison websites.

  • Product reviews and product ratings are particularly important for ZMOT. Therefore, reputation management and brand monitoring on social media and online search results are important.

  • Provide coupons, offers and exclusive deals.

  • Use affiliate marketing to increase reach for a business product or service.

Need help with your business ZMOT strategy?

Positioning well on the search result pages of Google and other search engines can determine the survival of a business.

Need help with your business inbound strategies? Curious about your ZMOT? Contact us. Our expert marketing team is there to help you succeed.


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