August 6, 2018

1.5 : The Consumer Journey to Online Purchase

1.5 : The Consumer Journey to Online Purchase

Dr. Tahir Rashid, Senior Lecturer, Salford Business School, UK

In this unit, we’re going to look at how consumers go through buying things online, what is knows as an Online Consumer Journey.

If we think typically, traditionally when consumers purchase products or services offline, they first of all recognize that they have a problem, and they want to solve that problem. They seek information from various different sources – from family, from friends, from perhaps the media – to understand about that product or service that they want to actually buy to solve that problem. They then look at alternatives that they could possibly purchase. Fourthly, they go out and purchase something. And fifthly they carry out a post-purchase evaluation of the product or service.

As you can see, this is a very step-wise process, hierarchical. In a digital environment, it is said that the process is actually cyclical. According to Google, there is a Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). In this Zero Moment of Truth, in the initial stage where consumers are trying to seek out information from Google or from other digital mediums or from family and friends, and then they look at different alternatives.

ZMOT = Zero Moment of Truth

The point of research for a product or a service where a seller is unaware that the prospective buyer exists
Sometimes it is said let’s just find information by simply Googling it. Once that information is found, the customer may look at alternatives of the products and then purchase it.

FMOT = First Moment of Truth

The propsect identifies a product or a service
But in that post-purchase and purchase relationship, there is a relationship of loyalty, and this arrives at what is known as the Second Moment of Truth (SMOT).

SMOT = Second Moment of Truth

The Prospect becomes a Customer by purchasing the product or service and then a Consumer by using it Sharing of experience begins.

In this Second Moment of Truth, if a consumer in a digital environment likes what they have bought, or dislikes what they have bought, they then try to go and put information about that experience on the Internet or through social media – perhaps because they are interested in making sure that what they have experienced can also be experienced by other consumers, or they are trying to warn off other consumers through a negative experience they may have.

Colin Telford, Managing Partner, The Candidate Ltd, UK

So the customer’s journey in terms of trying to locate our business and locate our services comes in two different forms. First of all, we have our client base who is searching for our agency and searching for our company online. We produce content and copy that is relevant to keywords that they will be searching for in search optimization related areas, and we’re also live and active within content areas of forums, etc., where clients may be looking to use recruitment agencies to be able to recruit for their particular buiness.
ZMOT = Zero Moment of Truth

Actively influencing the ZMOT by anticipating what the potential clients might be searching for and offering content that is relevant to them
In terms of candidates and the other side of the coin, then we make sure that we are offering advice, offering jobs, and offering information for candidates that’s live across our digital channels and platforms.
SMOT = Second Moment of Truth

Actively influencing the SMOT by collecting positive feedback and offering great customer service to keep existing clients delighted

Alex Charalambidis, Digital Marketing Strategist, MONKS, Greece

Actually, this is one of the main benefits of digital media – it’s a funel where you can see everything. I remember a case with analytic software tools, you can track every path of a customer in your online shop, and we remember that we have a conversion after 20 days, and we can see that this specific consumer came from one advertising on social media. After that, she remembered the domain, the URL, so she came direct. After that came remarketing, and she made the purchase after 20 days.
ZMOT = Zero Moment of Truth

Consumers are often unaware at this stage that they are being targeted by marketing communications – they are only browsing – but the memorable messages are registered and recalled when the purchase decision is made
So when we asked her, in the after-sale service department, she said “I think I saw you on TV” but we don’t have a TV spot. So it is really important for you to measure everything and know which channel is working for you. But again, the consumer doesn’t remember if he saw you on TV, or radio, or offline or online – only your brand name.

Additional material

The fourth step of marketing model – ZMOT

Watch the following two videos from Google and consider whether you follow the pattern outlined in the ZMOT stage.


Google: Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

Resources around the issue of Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) by Google…

ZMOT Handbook – free download

Lecinski, J. (2011). ZMOT Handbook—Ways to Win Shoppers at the Zero Moment of Truth.…

Bonchek. M (2012) How to Thrive in Social Media’s Gift Economy, HBR,…

Bonchek. M., France, K. (2014) Marketing Can No Longer Rely on the Funnel, HBR,…

Please follow these chapter 1 related links:

Why is Digital and Social Media Marketing important today and in the future?
1.1. Introduction to strategic planning
1.2 SWOT analysis
1.3. Developing SMART objectives for strategy and campaigns
1.4. Digital Business Maturity Model
1.6. Introduction to core concepts and technologies of digital and social media marketing
1.7. Introduction to online branding