Remapping The Customer Purchase Journey

For over a century, the conventional wisdom within marketing has been that, when it comes to mapping the customer purchase journey, there’s nothing better than a figurative funnel. However, like with every other aspect of our lives, the internet has fundamentally changed the way we shop – so much so that it’s time to plot a new path.

The customer purchase funnel is often segmented into four stages: at the lip is ‘awareness’; creating and increasing visibility to secure a share of voice and a position within purchase considerations. ‘Interest’ is the next landmark on what is now a narrowing course, where potential customers begin analysing the options available to them. Further down resides the all-important ‘desire’, and finally ‘action’, where users opt for the brand that most appeals.

The problem with the customer purchase funnel is that, quite simply, times have changed. The route once taken is now punctuated with new junctions that allow connected consumers to access and engage with a brand at different touchpoints, and in different ways. Here is where the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ enters the equation.

What’s Behind the Zero Moment of Truth?

Before we go into what exactly the Zero Moment of Truth is, it’s important that we understand why change is afoot. The chief protagonist here is mobile technology, and the impact it’s had on both online and offline shopping experiences. According to the Office of National Statistics, 76% of British adults now purchase goods online, with a huge 96% claiming to use the internet while on the go via a mobile device. Additionally, 88% of consumers who do their shopping offline claim to search for a product online before purchasing in-store, with 42% conducting their research on a smartphone, 26% on a tablet and 67% on a desktop.

What this clearly demonstrates is the importance that digital technology now wields in the purchase journey – regardless of whether said purchase occurs online or offline – and the power it has bestowed upon the consumer.

It’s this shift in the power dynamic that has driven the customer purchase funnel to the brink of extinction, and the ’Zero Moment of Truth’ to the fore. Ultimately, the internet has revolutionised how we choose to spend our money; in an always-connected mobile world, it’s imperative that brands evolve to deeply understand and meet the needs/wants of the digital consumer.

What is the ZMOT?

The ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ refers to the exact moment when an individual decides they need or want to find a piece of information about products and services. With search the main vehicle for achieving this, it’s vital for brands to be present and active at these pivotal times of exploration and discovery. Client testimonials, case studies and buyer’s guides should all be readily available and visible, with both organic and paid search important as conduits for this information. If you’re a business with regional interests, it’s equally critical to have a presence in local search listings around the main keywords central to your proposition.

With initial exploration complete and options examined, we arrive at the ‘First Moment of Truth’. This is where a potential customer narrows their shortlist and investigates the remaining candidates in further detail; either by going in-store and physically assessing a product, talking to sales representatives, trialling a service, or reading reviews. If your brand passes this test, the likelihood is that the next phase of the journey – the all-important purchasing decision – will fall in your favour.

How does this all differ to the funnel? Fundamentally, with the internet endowing us with more options than ever before, the ZMOT purchase journey is defined by greater customer autonomy. Instead of having purchase decisions driven by brand marketing, consumers are now demonstrating a higher level of independence when considering and researching their options; what was once a linear path from awareness to purchase has now become non-linear and complex. Consequently, customer data has become more vital than ever before; measuring and understanding the behaviours of your target customer-base is crucial to making this new purchase journey work for you.

TV Advertising’s Role in the Cycle

So, where does TV advertising fit into the model? Well, in order for the Zero Moment of Truth to materialise, there typically needs to be a ‘stimulus’ and ‘initial consideration’: a proposition that plants seeds in the minds of potential customers, and weaves a brand into the formulation of pre-conceived ideas about their wants and needs.

Buoyed by the ever-increasing prevalence of multiscreening, driving people online via a targeted TV advertising campaign is a tactic growing in popularity among marketers. With 77% of UK adults citing TV as the medium most likely to make them laugh, cry or feel emotional, television is indomitable when it comes to sculpting brand bias, whilst its status as the most responsive marketing tool distinguishes it as the perfect companion for online activity. TV is also unmatched in its ability to create trust, prestige and fame: all of which are key components in ensuring that, when it comes to the ZMOT, your brand wades into battle with an advantage over the competition.

And guess what: as a result of greater channel choice and increased competition between the likes of ITV, Sky and Channel 4, it’s never been so affordable to launch your business on TV, with 61% of all brands who advertised in 2015 parting with less than £250,000 across the entire year.