When it comes to marketing your business, it’s important to understand how consumers make buying decisions. For many businesses, information was only available when a customer chose a product off the shelf, and became known as the First Moment of Truth, or FMOT. However, today’s consumers make purchase decisions long before they ever visit a store or contact a business. With smartphones in the pockets of more than 50% of Americans, and tablet use growing faster than ever, the Internet has become the primary source of discovery and research for many consumers. Because of this, there is a different type of “Moment of Truth” happening. Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT.

Defining the Zero Moment of Truth

Today, there is a process that happens between the decision to buy and the First Moment of Truth in which the consumer conducts research that’s imperative to making a purchase. According to Jim Lecinski, Chief ZMOT Evangelist at Google, once consumers decide to purchase, their next step is to research their future purchase. So they check out brands’ reputations and reviews online, comparison shop for the best prices and features, look for coupons and specials, and ask for recommendations. This moment begins as soon as consumers open their smartphones, tablets, or computers and start searching across the Web to see which businesses or products are able to meet their needs, whether they are looking for an emergency plumber or a new car.

Why Traditional Advertising Isn’t Enough

There are many ways your business can capitalize on a consumer’s ZMOT. It’s no longer enough to simply place your brand in front of consumers through TV and magazine ads and hope they remember your product or service when they are ready to buy.

Today, your brand needs to be in front of consumers when they already in the process of making a purchasing decision – and it starts with an optimized Web presence. No matter where consumers turn to learn about your brand or the products or services you offer, from search engines and local directories to review sites and social media, winning over consumers takes a fresh, active, and compelling presence across all the places consumers look.

How to Evaluate and Optimize Your Web Presence

To evaluate your Web presence, start by conducting searches for your brand name, your brand name + reviews, and your top products or services in your local area. For instance, if you’re a local plumber in Dallas, TX, your search terms could look like this:

  • Reliable Plumbing
  • Reliable Plumbing Reviews
  • Emergency Plumbing Dallas

Once you see what pages that show up in the search results, as well as the content that appears on those pages, you can see where your Web presence needs work so you can begin to improve it. Some of the key places you should focus on (depending on your industry) include:

Because your potential customers are influenced by potentially hundreds of pieces of content across dozens of sites, you need to identify your target consumer so you can determine the best ways to market to them online. To learn more about consumer buying behavior and the Zero Moment of Truth, download our ebook How Consumers Buy Today.

What do you think the Zero Moment of Truth means for your business? How are you winning customers online?