Google's zero moment of truth diagram showing the buyer journey as a cycle

The buyer’s journey and search

Understanding customer-centric thinking means appreciating the dynamic framework for need recognition & product selection and practical skills on how to make use of search.

Central to understanding consumer purchase behaviour is the buyer’s journey, including Google’s concepts of the Zero and Ultimate moments of truth. Just what is a moment of truth? Let’s delve into the origins of these fancy-sounding phrases.

Google's zero moment of truth diagram showing the buyer journey as a cycle

The dynamic customer journey – adapted from Brian Solis, 2013 

  • First moment: Around 2005, Procter & Gamble coined the term “First moment of Truth” – the 3-7 seconds after a consumer sees a product on a shelf, during which they decide whether or not they will buy it.
  • Second moment: The consumer’s experience (positive or negative) in using the product after purchase.
  • Zero moment: Jump forward to 2012 and Google suggested a Zero moment to precede the first moment. This zero moment describes the process of problem recognition, search and discovery for a solution which the consumer undertakes. It’s important to note that the information accessed during this stage is largely in the control of the consumer – it will typically involve a combination of online searches and querying a network of friends & colleagues for ideas and suggestions.
  • Ultimate moment: “that moment where people who convert an experience into discoverable content” (from thought leader Brian Solis). This could be a product review, blog post, video – any shareable content which affects the perception of your product.

So what?

The upshot of this model is that consumers control the information flow – they choose when and where they learn. According to our expert video speaker Eric Shimoda, 94% of consumers research products online before purchase. If you want your product to reach the consideration set, be there to help them decide. Share or solve, don’t shill.

How can you be sure to turn up in the right places at the right time? Search is the most impactful place to start. Here’s a handy process to refer to when thinking about search campaigns:

The steps to a search campaign

  • Set structure
    • Analyse the keywords you expect your audience to be searching for. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start.
    • Organise the keywords according to your customer segments & where you expect customers to be in their purchase journey, then look at the current results for each group.  Suggested ‘buckets’ for organisation:
      • Awareness: shorter tail keywords
      • Consideration: longer tail keywords
      • Purchase: brand-related keywords <— You’d better be winning here.
  • Determine bid levels. Instead of spending blindly, calculate an allowable cost. Figure out how much each site visitor is worth to your business, then limit your bids to ensure you’re able to profit from new visitors. The Google Conversion Optimiser can help with these calculations.
  • Set up result measurementExplore attribution models and determine the most appropriate method for your customers.
  • Monitor & refine

Getting found

In addition to search ads, think about SEO – how well your pages are written and structured to make them relevant and findable for your users. Why? Because to succeed in search, you need to be:

  • Relevant – adding value to subjects of interest to your target audience, and providing regular content updates
  • Helpful – with an accessible site (to both readers and search spiders) and content which is easy to digest

What this means is that looking at your content with SEO aims is a filter which also forces you to create content that benefits your audience. Everybody wins!

Check out how search works from Google to learn all about how search engines crawl & index, and then serve up search results to searchers.

Customer Centricity

So, if I do one thing as a result of module 3, it will be to put customers at the forefront of my thinking, to breathe their oxygen. When starting any campaign, I’ll need to be asking questions like – “What information will help my customer here?”. “If I wasn’t selling a product and a friend asked me for advice about this, what would I tell them? Which sources would I send them to?”. Building content around questions like these means adding value for customers and earning trust for the future.

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