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Traditionally, a customer’s journey would follow three common stages: Stimulus (when the customer is exposed to a product and service through marketing), First Moment of Truth (FMOT) (the purchase process of the product and service) and Second moment of Truth (SMOT) (after-purchase experience of the customer about the product and service).

However, the internet, advancements in technology and the increase of smart devices have changed the shopping journey. In 2011, Google introduced us to new important terminology: Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) – referring to the time a customer reaches the product exposure stage, but is still prior to the purchasing decision moment.

ZMOT shapes customers’ journey and experiences

Marketing experts have identified ZMOT as the moment after a customer has been exposed to the brand, but before a purchase is actually made. To be specific, this is a purchase where customers research the product and go through a decision-making process. The creation of ZMOT has changed the traditional ideology of consumer decision making from three moments (Stimulus - FMOT - SMOT) to four (Stimulus - ZMOT - FMOT - SMOT). This is an important moment in shaping a customer’s journey, in fact, a seamless shopping experience throughout the customer journey is key to motivating customers to move to the next stage of purchasing a product or service. 

Two key points for ZMOT analysis and planning

•          Omnichannel transformation

A brand can start transforming traditional multichannel methods to omnichannel. Traditional multichannel retailers usually have separate selling websites and physical stores with little interaction with one another. Meanwhile, omnichannel means better demonstrate the links between multi-channel approaches in serving customers.

In other words, multiple-channel marketing tends to put the tactics of reaching customers on multiple channels at the centre, whereas omni-channel is geared towards ‘creating experiences’, with an emphasis on delivering customers an option to interact with the brand. Therefore, by linking and threading all multiple-channels, omni-channel is effective for a brand wishing to create a consistent brand face. No matter what channels or devices customers use to make their purchase, they are still assured to be provided with a strong customer journey. 

•          Identify correct interaction sources

In general, omni-channel efforts allow brands to understand the full context of customer interactions, allowing them to maximise other touch-points. By maximising the touch-points the brand not only gains higher brand awareness, but also provides a convenient means of interaction between themselves and their customers. A brand should prioritise investments in channels which directly relate to the most purchase journeys; these traffic sources can come from mobile apps, emails, website analytics or social media. 

By identifying correctly traffic and interaction sources, a brand can identify which marketing channels to allocate budget to, often resulting in more personalised advertisements and journeys.

Real-life illustration: How has John Lewis shaped their customers’ journeys? 


 Source: Retail Week

Aware of the transforming retail landscape, in 2011, John Lewis started an omni-channel campaign to ensure offline and online channels act in perfect harmony. The aim of the transformation was to make sure the customer journey was smooth at every touchpoint; allowing customers to enjoy a seamless shopping experience. The company has set out strategic business objectives: 1. Track – ‘track’ every item from the warehouse to refund process. 2. Know – ‘know’ customers’ history and potential purchases in the future. 3. Manage – ‘manage’ across multiple channels, as well as paying attention to more-visited traffic sources.  

As a result of their efforts, John Lewis has provided a personalised overall customer experience; enabling them to understand the full context of customer interactions. John Lewis is considered a leader in providing seamless customer experiences in the UK market.

By understanding the importance of ZMOT, along with the other factors which effect the moment such as omni-channel transformation, traffic sources, online and offline interaction sources, a company can confidently enable seamless shopping experiences throughout all stages of the customer journey. Unlimited to understanding the customers, with accurate marketing campaign design, the brand can strengthen its brand awareness at all touchpoints.

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