As search engines continue on the path of rapid evolution, marketing is evolving in tandem as people search in different places at various times across different screens. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift where push messaging and mass consumption are evolving into a new paradigm of Relevance, Findability and Trust.
It is an amazing time to be in search marketing as our ability to leverage the channel continues to advance, and our opportunities expand to become better marketers to the modern customer.
Fine Tuning The Optics Of Search
As search marketers, shifting dimensions of complexity are a reality we are all too familiar with in the form of long sales cycles and diffuse buyer journeys. While we are acclimated to this complexity, changes in human behavior are only growing more complex, especially when we try to view it through the lens of traditional marketing frameworks.
One interesting exploration of the evolving buyer mindscape was covered by Jim Lecinski on the subject of ZMOT. In a nutshell, ZMOT is the moment when a person first begins to ruminate on a topic that will inevitably lead to a purchase.
At this moment the buyer tends to go to the Internet, predominantly a search engine, to begin to understand research the variables of the topic. It’s for this reason that being Findable, Relevant and Trustworthy at all times is so vital to your success as a marketer.
The ZMOT construct illuminates for us as marketers is that the moment of initial topical discovery is of paramount importance in informing a buying decision. This is especially true in the realm of B2B where there may be multiple ZMOT moments that will inform a B2B purchase.
The question then becomes how can your search marketing program be ready to capture at this stage of the buying journey?
Three Ways To Leverage ZMOT
Since identifying those exact moments can be a challenge given our diffuse buying population, there are a few ways that we might be able to leverage this evolution in our search lives to our advantage.
The first is to clearly understand the current paradigm and where we might want to fine tune it to better serve our interests in the current marketing ecology.
In most current search marketing programs, the approach is to map the current business needs to various marketing strategies and tactics to support the interests of the business. This is rational, and historically has always served as the backdrop of everything that we do in our marketing.
As we consider ZMOT in our thinking, one quick way that we can spotlight opportunities is to invert this thinking from the buying journey to inform our methodology in our practice.
The principle idea is to invert the cycle and think through those initial pains and aspirations to identify the well source topics. From here, you can target your research and tests around identifying the categorical imperatives that inform a query chain.
In this pursuit, no channel will prove as valuable as search, and the keyword proxies that prove valuable will help us to isolate the ZMOT moments in our campaigns. We could stop there, and this might serve our needs near term, but what about long term improvements?
In order to keep up, we will need to create ever more advanced optics to understand the quantum movements and shifts in buyer behavior. One idea is to shift the marketing imperative and adjust your efforts to reflect the needs of your customers and demands of the marketplace.
The first way we could do this is to use our unprecedented access to data insights and create a feedback loop to engineer this to be the first phase of any marketing formulation.
This would include identifying your customer interests, intentions, and ZMOT to inform a more ubiquitous acquisition strategy based on meeting their needs at these early research periods.
This in turn will help us improve the specificity on how we tie back to the overall business and marketing performance. As we become more and more measurable, this is certainly a step in the right direction to improving marketing performance.
If we want to think of the opportunity most aggressively, we could invert the entire cycle to create a purely demand driven marketing architecture that focuses on real time performance to enable the business to flex and scale as demand changes. This type of structure would enable business to operate in a state of constant product and service development.
In a world where demands and interests are in constant flux, using a data marketing architecture like this will enable a business to keep pace with the ever evolving buying cycles since it’s the end user who is informing the product offering.
As we continue through our marketing evolution, it is becoming increasingly clear that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible in our digital marketing practices. We have reached a new paradigm where the traditional sales funnels and marketing cycles are changing shape as buyers across the board have access to information and insights like never before.
For those marketers who are still thinking along the lines of the old paradigm, you could think of this as your own Zero Moment of Truth. The future will belong to those individuals and groups who are able to service the modern customer and be findable, relevant and trustworthy no matter the time or place your customers are in need.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.