Zero Moment of Truth? What is that you ask? It is the moment when your customer becomes interested, inspired or needs the product or service you offer. This is the moment when YOU can influence your customers purchase decision.
Where does ZMOT occur and what happens next?
In today’s mobile world, this could occur anywhere. It could be at work, or at home, at the shelf, or it could occur when the your potential customer is on her way to the park.
What your customer does next, has changed from what she did in the past. This is the new step in your consumer’s decision journey.
You customer now has access to multitude of information sources at her fingertips. An average customer uses about 10 sources to find our information about products or services before a purchase decision is made.
This point,when your customer is searching for additional information about your product (or your service), reading reviews, discussing your product with peers is the Zero Moment of Truth. This is where you can have the highest impact on her purchase decision.
According a Google/Shopper Sciences study, during ZMOT, most did one or many of the following:
Searched online with a search engines
Talked with friends/family about the product
Comparison shopped products online
Sought information from a brand website
Read product reviews online
Sought information from a retailer website
Read comments following an article online
Became a friend/follower/liked a brand
Is your product (or service) there to be found when your customer is looking for it?
Most traditional marketers have known that the consumer decision journey has changed. What’s been missing is clear understanding of the importance of integrated marketing strategies and content marketing strategies to be there when the traditional marketing stimulus creates an interest in your customer’s mind. I feel ZMOT makes that point clearly.
I wrote a guest blog post on Boys & Girls Club, Green Bay’s blog as a resource for parents. Check it out, I hope you find it helpful. I’m no expert in parenting, however, there is some good stuff there for today’s parents.
I was evaluating two website designs recently. It became quickly apparent that I needed to define a criteria to evaluate these website designs by. Usability is ever more important in website design. So I leaned heavily on the usability of each design.
Website Design Evaluation Criteria:
Design that appeals to target audience enhances your brand experience. Appealing design that enables visitors to find important information easy makes for a pleasant brand experience. Visitors associate your web experience to the actual experience of doing business with you.
Readability is related legibility. How easy is it for a user to read the text on your web property? Page appearance, choice of font and contrast becomes very important here. Designs and colors that work for print usually fail brands online. In a study a usability expert Jacob Nielsen found that users read 25% slower from a computer screen than paper. Make the text easy to read to improve user experience.
Scannability is indirectly associated with readability. J. Morkes and Jacob Nielsen, usability gurus state in their book Applying Writing Guidelines to Web state “as users find it difficult to read large volumes of information on screen they prefer to scan text and pick out keywords, sentences, and paragraph of interest while skipping others, which are not related to their interest. In other words, users always skim rather than read web documents.”
Visually identifiable hierarchy with titles, summaries, sub-titles will improve your website usability. Enable the user scan the page by short paragraphs, use of titles and introduction. Promote navigation through content so that users are able to find what they are looking for with easy and by scanning the page. Website copy should also be written to support skimming through the page. Traditional document writing styles will make for a cumbersome web experience.
Basic need of a good website design is navigability. Clearly defined consistent navigation provides your visitors a solid road map of your website. Navigation and sub navigation should always be consistently anchored throughout your website. Good navigation starts with a logical content architecture. Navigation items should include meaningful link names. Branded names as links provide a negative user experience.
Buttons and navigation links within the copy should be consistent.
Visitors to your site should be able to access your website from any device in the manner your visitors consume information. Today this means designs that are accessible from mobile devices. This also makes a case for the need of succinct but useful content that clearly accomplishes user goals.
For website users speed of accessing information is very important. According to Jacob Nielsen web users are impatient and they want their answers immediately and do not want to be slowed down by cool features, mission statements or self-promoting grandstanding.
Accommodate your user’s goals in design and guide users to accomplish their goals in content.
Design consistency is important in web site designs. A user is learning your site design, navigation and functionality when first visiting a site. Though there are standards in web sites, approaches in design differ vastly. All grocery stores have milk at the very back of the store; but they’ll all have different floor plans. Consistent design will speed up user’s learning and create a pleasant experience.
Yale Web Style Manual suggests designers to provide consistent layout for title, sub titles, page footers, background, and navigation links in terms of consistent size, fonts, and colors.
Studies have shown clever use of media such as graphics, images and video in web pages keep users attention and can enhance the user experience. However improper use of media will affect user experience negatively.
A note about content
Content that appeals and meets the need of the intended audience is a very important aspect of a website. Content is as important as screen design and navigation. Since we are looking at just website layout design, I’ve ignored this in this list. Always remember, content is king.
What other aspects of a website design is important to you?
Google recently rolled out “Search Plus Your World” – one of the most radical changes search has ever seen. Google’s results now contain public Google+ content, Google+ content that was shared with you, and Google+ content that you’ve shared.
Search Plus Your World only works when you’re signed in to Google. It aims to further personalize your search results further by incorporating what your friends have shared with you or shared publicly regarding the topic you’re searching for. For now Search Plus Your World only searches Google+ social content. I’m sure that we’ll soon see an integration of twitter results into search as well. An integration with Facebook connections seem far fetched at this point. In an ideal world, I see all social networks working together to provide a richer experience for the user.
How does it help?
When we are seeking information or considering a purchase, we ask family and friends for their opinion, read reviews by others before making our purchasing decision (I talk about this more in my previous post how purchase decisions are powered by information via connected and informed consumers). These conversations between friends and family happen online on social networks. Wouldn’t integrating that to your search results help? yes it does.
A search I did for “video compression” provided me 20 personal search results along with regular web search.
I was drawn to a personal search result by Chris Pirillo, who is in my Google+ circles.
He posts a lot of YouTube videos so I knew he’s had a lot of experience with video and I trusted his post. You see how it helps?
Google+ for business
If you don’t have a presence on Google+, it’s time that you seriously considered this. This integration is only available for Google+ at this time. I will talk more about how to set up a Google+ page in my next post. Happy searching.
I’ve had several discussions regarding how search engines work with several marketers lately. I felt it’s time for a post that explained how search worked. Having a basic understanding of how search works will help marketers and business owners.
Search engines are in the business of providing relevant information to searchers. When search engines index and rank your content, search engines look at several factors to ensure they’re users are getting best possible results. The ranking factors search engines use are often divided in to two categories, on-page factors and off-page ranking factors. Some factors influence more than others, but one thing you should know is that all these factors work together
On-page search ranking factors
These elements are within your direct control. This is the first place you should look at. Each of the factors below need their own blog post, this is a brief overview.
Your site must contain well written quality content that is actually helpful for your visitor. Searchers find your website by entering search terms into search engines. Use commonly used keywords that your customers are using to find your product or service. Use related keywords in your page content.
Always remember, why search engines are in business. Don’t try to fool them, instead try hard to provide quality relevant information to your customer. See how users engage with your content, if visitors leave your pages back to search results quickly, that is a signal to search engines that searchers are not finding what they searched for in your site. So, keep a keen eye on web analytics, use this data to help you improve your site.
Keep your content fresh and up to date. A local news site that was last updated two weeks ago does not help the searcher, be mindful of your content and refresh accordingly.
Page Code/HTML Structure
Keep your html code clean and semantically correct. What does it mean? In laymen’s terms it means that you’re calling a page element what it really is. For example, use title tags (h1, h2, h3 etc) for titles instead of bold paragraphs text. This benefits you and your user, it makes your site more accessible to all. Are you starting to see how this all reverts back to the user?
A slow loading site is of no use to a user. So improve speed. Ensure that your visitor can easily find pages within your site. If your site contains navigation designed in flash elements, images as navigation items, consider a text based navigation so that it’s easier for users as well as search engines to index your site. Make sure your URLs contain meaningful keywords to page topics.
With exploding increase in mobile traffic, it’s time to think of providing your users a mobile experience. Mobile search will prefer sites with mobile friendly versions.
Off-page search ranking factors
These factors are influenced by readers and other websites. Though you have little control over these factors, if you’re providing quality useful content and if you have a solid search marketing plan, you can improve these over time.
This means that you have other sites linking to you. The site which links to you, quality and reputation of the site plays a very big part in your ranking. You could have a thousand sites that link to you with no effect and one site that links to you that makes the whole difference. This is a signal to search engines that your content, and your site is relevant to a specific topic.
Domain Trust and Authority
Search engines look at your domain to see if you have been around a long time and if you have been operating in similar fashion over time. Search engines also now use social signals, social shares, links from other sites to gauge if visitors consider you a trusted authority. If you aren’t encouraging content sharing and providing your user content that helps, now it’s time to start.
Social signals are important to search engines more than ever. Recent integration of Google+ in to search stream is an indicator of that. Search engines gather information about social reach of your content. How often does your content get shared in and mentioned in social networks to provide more socially relevant information to searchers.
Local and Personal Ranking Factors
Mobile revolution also made local more important. If you’re searching for “pizza” in Green Bay, WI, a highly talked about very popular pizzeria in Chicago is of no use to you. Search engines know this and they look at local relevancy as a ranking factor when location matters for the searcher. Search engines also intelligently personalize search results based on your past search history and preferences.
If nothing above makes sense to you, it’s okay. Focus on providing helpful, relevant information about your product or service to your consumer, make it easy for your website visitor to read, engage with your brand regardless of how your visitor accesses your site.
I was recently looking for a point and shoot camera. I immediately went on CNET.com read editor reviews, then to Amazon.com to read user reviews to select the camera that I wanted to purchase. Several years ago, I had done the same thing, only differently. I had gone to the local Best Buy and Circuit City, looked at the selection of camera’s they had, picked one with the features that I wanted.
In just a few years internet has transformed the way consumers behave. Consumers are connecting to one another, creating an efficient network of information that is transforming business. Whether you’re a consumer or business owner, you are now a part of this connected consumerism.
By simply sharing experiences about products, brands, and businesses, consumers are learning from each other’s experience. This vast network of information is shaping the way that we make decisions. Connected consumers have the power to define the marketplace; Yelp.com and other review sites have taken the place of Yellow Pages; Blockbuster failed with the advent of Netflix and others.
So how does this affect my business?
Factors that influenced people’s buying decisions have changed. Vehicles that businesses used to influence consumers have changed. Collective information shared and consumed by your customers influence purchasing decisions. Process of natural selection applies here. Those who adapt will win.
A billboard on the street corner that displays your store information to passing “potential” customers sure makes you feel good, but that is clearly not how your customers are obtaining their information about you or your services.
The business challenge
Social consumerism is growing and changing as you read this. Consumers and their behavior is not predictable. Consumers are unlocking group deals on living social, and using Facebook deals. How can a business successfully connect with the consumers? Adapt, try new things, at least a little at a time.
In a world where most marketers do the same thing for better results this year, those who brave uncharted waters will succeed.
Try new things, look at ways you can provide on demand information when a consumer is looking for your product or service. Do something that makes you uncomfortable with your marketing budget; try new mediums instead of the same old avenues. Measure results, see how customers respond to it.
Build relationships, both offline and online. Be social, not only with those who walk into your business, also with those who are connecting online. Listen to your consumers, engage with them. Provide customers ways to connect with each other, and share information around your product or service. Adapt before it’s too late.
How will you engage with your customer next? What have done recently to connect with your customer?