How to Win Customers at the Zero Moment of TruthSelling is easy, right? It’s all about being in the right place, at the right time with the right product. Of course, that used to be an easier task than it is today with a TV or display ad in a newspaper pretty much guaranteed to bring shoppers to your bricks and mortar location. Once there, you had kind of a captive audience and definitely an opportunity to convert them, and convince them to buy.

Today, though, things are different. Your audience is fragmented, distracted, dynamic and always changing, and definitely on the go. And they are most definitely in charge when it comes to the buying process. Pinning these consumers down and figuring out when they’re ready to buy is trickier than ever.

Google calls this the “Zero Moment of Truth.” Today’s shoppers not only look at ads and walk into stores, they also search online for the information they need to help them decide to make a purchase – including price comparisons, reviews and ratings. They bounce between devices in a multi-channel marketplace and talk to friends and family, both face-to-face and on social networking sites to seek feedback and opinions before they buy. An unpredictable beast has replaced the predictable shopper of yesteryear and every one of them has a unique approach to their shopping habits. The challenge for marketers is to be ready to meet them on their terms, in their way and at their preferred time.

That’s the theory but how do you translate it into practical actions? Google Insights pulls tips from their digital experts and it’s probably an understatement to say I love this stuff. You should, too. But only if you want to sell more stuff. I’m annoying, I know. Here are some of the best from the ZMOT Handbook: Ways to Win Shoppers at the Zero Moment of Truth.

The right place – be there

Google’s research has shown that 90% of all media interactions are now screen based and that multi-screen, cross-device behavior among shoppers is common. For example while nearly half (46%) of shoppers in their study researched on a smartphone and then went to a store to purchase, one in five (19%) researched on a smartphone, visited the store to check out products, then purchased online on a computer. Savvy marketers are adapting their marketing plans to take advantage of this customer behavior by running integrated digital campaigns. Multi-screen campaigns should:

  • Make sure the brand message is consistent across PC, tablet, mobile and, if appropriate TV.
  • Be optimized for mobile and tablet and make darn sure your sites are super quick to load in all formats.
  • Make it easy for consumers to contact you by adding click-to-call. Never forget that mobile surfers are ready to buy –make sure you are there when they want you. They probably won’t wait.
  • Use mobile video ads for maximum effect.
  • Use reminders and alerts to reduce cart abandonment.

With some 95% of smartphone users using their phones to search for local information, mobile marketers also need to make sure that they don’t miss out by:

  • Creating targeted campaigns to reach local customers.
  • Adding store locations, opening times and parking information to locally targeted ads.
  • Using local offers to bring local shoppers to you.

The right time

Being there at the right time means showing up more often when the shopper is looking for something that you offer. Here are some thoughts on that:

  • Going non-brand when it comes to search traffic can really help you to grow your marketshare. Brands are increasingly using generic keywords to make an impact, so take a look at what works in your industry, test and measure the outcome to see what will work for you.
  • Manage your marketing with bids and not budget. Figure out how often a click turns into a sale, what the average cost of a click is and what your ROI is. Forget about seasonal peaks and aim to be there all the time, running with bids that you know will produce results.
  • Use product feeds to help shoppers to reach their decision point faster. A feed can produce better results for shoppers, creating high quality traffic for the retailer without the need to create each ad manually.
  • Remarketing, remarketing, remarketing. Did I mention we love remarketing?

The right ad content

Being in the right place at the right time will count for nothing if you’re not offering the consumer content that will interest and engage them. Prices are transparent and the competition is fierce; competing on price alone is not enough anymore if you want to capture the shopper at the zero moment of truth. You need to stand out from the crowd and show them that you can offer more than the lowest price. Here are something things you should consider:

  • Google research shows that more than two-thirds of consumers report using video to browse and research retailers. Pay attention to this and incorporate video and images into your content mix so you can capture the consumer’s interest and show your expertise with demonstrations and how-tos.
  • Provide great customer service (before the purchase) by offering online services like live chat, click-to-call, social media customer service or email to help to answer questions quickly and efficiently.
  • Build trust by adding social signals to ads such as rating, review and +1 stats. On this front, H&M reports they achieved a 22% uplift to their CTR by adding social extensions to all of their Adwords campaigns. That’s definitely worth paying attention to!
  • This was mentioned above, but seriously, be available to interact and engage on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t use these platforms just to broadcast your marketing messages, actually be there to engage with and serve your customers and prospects.

Most importantly, remember that whatever strategy you employ, you have to be constantly testing and measuring, so that you know what works for you, how much it costs and what your returns are. Also, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention the importance of cross-channel attribution and how important it is that you factor that into your analyses. The more you know, the better you can target and serve your customers and prospects. It’s not really all that hard, you’ve just got to be committed to making it happen, and fight for the budget to ensure it does.

The multi-channel, cross-device world is here to stay. The sooner you adapt your marketing approach to capture the shopper at that zero moment of truth, the more successful your efforts will be. Want to know more, go dive into Google Insights.

photo credit: Rubber Dragon via photopin cc

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