The “Zero Moment of Truth” and why A/B testing is so important

Over a decade ago, P&G revealed one of its core marketing concepts known as “moments of truth,” the key decision-making events that consumers make leading up to a purchase. As a consumer products company, P&G chooses to focus on the decisions made in store aisles and e-commerce sites every day – aka moments (like “which product will remove that red wine stain on my shirt?”) – as pivotal events in the buying process. P&G’s goal is to own these “moments” and be the brand that the consumer uses.  

The first moment of truth is when the purchase decision is made, and the second moment of truth is when the product is used.

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A few years later, Google adapted this concept by adding a new step: The “Zero Moment of Truth,” the time a consumer spends researching their problem before a decision is made, which frequently takes place on search engines. A massive number of searches are made every second on search, and what appears there has a huge impact on what happens next. 

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The key takeaway from Google’s contribution to this concept is the importance of knowing your customer, anticipating the questions they are likely to ask, and being there (paid or organically) when the search engine results page shows up. The more you invest in this effort, the more market share you will own. [Note: this should be the strategic direction of your SEO and SEM effort!]

No doubt, search is the primary channel for the Zero Moment of Truth for just about everyone these days. But the stimulus can come from anywhere including your website, your email newsletter, a social media post or even a text message. The question you need to ask yourself is how well does your online presence anticipate the needs of your audience? If you proactively present these questions, will your site visitors or email subscribers head over to Google to start researching? Or, will they stick around and start with what you have offer?

This is where A/B testing comes into play. What happens when you raise questions with your audience? Which questions lead to site visits or generate engagement on social media? What keeps site visitors on your site? How does the activity differ among your segments? How does the activity differ based on past interaction?

By testing email subject lines, landing page headlines, form field layouts and more, you can get a good understanding how your audience responds to a deliberate stimulus and which “moments of truth” you can own outright.

So, create a plan and start testing!

The “Moments of Truth” concept continues to develop. For a deep dive, read “How the Zero Moment of Truth Paradigm is Shifting to Micro-Moments,” by Chad Anderson, which covers more topics like Google’s “Micro moments” and Brian Solis’ “Ultimate Moment of Truth.”