Winning the Second Moment of Truth

Our traditional purchase funnel has splintered, often feeling more web-like than like a straight pathway where one touchpoint leads to the next. As marketers, this can make it a challenge for us to decide where to focus first. But regardless of the path your consumers may take, my advice: start at the end.

Last year, Google released an e-book, Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, which created a framework and language around today's purchase funnel. The basic premise being that today, regardless of the goods or services you're purchasing, there comes a critical moment early in the decision-making process where you head to the Web to learn about it. The various forms of digital content you find all affect your final decision. And so, making sure your brand message appears at that moment of relevance (winning ZMOT) is mission-critical.

I was lucky enough to work closely with the author, Google VP Jim Lecinski, on the e-book's development. What surprises me now is how little has been mentioned of another concept we bring up in the e-book: the Second Moment of Truth. SMOT occurs when you make your purchase, use the product or service and then share your feedback online.

In today's digitally-connected world, that feedback is shared through user reviews, social network posts, blogs, even video. We write this feedback to inform future potential purchasers and influence their decisions. In essence, we turn our opinions into their brand introduction (or ZMOT).

This SMOT-to-ZMOT loop happens all day, every day. In fact, 32 percent of consumers report writing product reviews or comments online. Search for any of the world's largest brands and one in four of the search results you see will be user-generated content.

One personal example of SMOT in action: During a recent trip to Australia, I literally took the plunge and tried scuba diving. It was my first time, and I ended up doing all three dives offered that day thanks to an awesome instructor, who also happened to be a solid marketer. He offered to take some great underwater photos for me in exchange for a simple promise: that I would write an online review. Granted, I didn't even need to keep my promise. But I had a great experience and when the photos arrived, I was happy to write that review. Just a few months later, a friend of mine ended up using the same dive company based on my online recommendation.

A little closer to home, one brand that's done a great job of winning SMOT is Pepsi. In a recent campaign (with SessionM) they created an opt-in social poll that invited consumers to vote for their favorite flavor. After voting, users could see the results among the total audience and were given the option to click through and post their favorite flavor on Facebook. Participants also received mPOINTS as a thank-you for participation in the poll, creating two-way value between the user and the brand.

With all the digital tools we now have at our disposal, it's never been easier for consumers to find and share information about your brand. But it's also never been easier for your brand to participate in the process.

First impressions are always important, and in today's purchase funnel they're very likely to come from your current customers and their SMOT opinions. It's time to consider that Second Moment as a first step in our marketing plans.