I was recently asked to present marketing ideas to a conference of UK Education leaders.

You can see the talk below, but rather than share case studies, I wanted to share the impact of technology, social media and search combined have revolutionised consumer behaviour and relate that to (and dispute for our clients, at least) the popular theories of Moments of Truth and the Loyalty loop.

I wanted to expand on the points as this blog post (as well as the blog post on Video and Brand Authenticity) are more than information points, but can be seen as a manifesto for why and how Net Natives approaches marketing.


Future of Higher Education & Further Education Conference 2014 from Net Natives

This revolutionary idea is at the heart of every single one of the campaigns Net Natives has created and managed since we launched our first client campaign in 2008.

Huge variations of messages and creatives are presented to defined segmented audiences, with performance tested in real time and budgets allocated to the most successful message and platforms throughout the campaign.

This is why we are NOT a media buyer. The concept of media buying does not exist when all social media and digital platforms operate on an auction basis, determined each time a user logs in or searches.

But many “media buyers” still work off of the traditional concepts of advertising, focusing campaigns on the First and Second Moments of Truth… Traditional advertising is best summed up by Procter and Gamble’s ‘Moments of Truth’ concept, developed in 2005 to define the moments when a potential customer reaches the purchase point through brand interaction.

Treat your online marketing campaigns as if they're always in beta.

- Jim Lecinshi, Google

A stimulus (advert or marketing message) is generated, which manifests itself as brand recognition and instills the idea of purchase with the potential customer when they are in a position to buy. This is the First Moment Of Truth. The Second Moment Of Truth occurs when they experience the product after purchase and then use that knowledge to inform their buying behaviour next time around. This linear way of thinking was obviously disrupted by the advent of online and social media advertising. Enter the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and ‘The Loyalty Loop’, introduced by Google in 2011 and McKinsey & Company in 2010 respectively. Usually referenced in isolation, here at Net Natives we have been using these ideas in combination since we ran our first combined social media and search campaigns 6 years ago. It’s going to make more sense if we look at each concept individually, before we look at them together…

The Evolution of Advertising & ZMOT…

The Internet has changed the way in which we purchase or engage with products way beyond and before that stimulus. The ZMOT (as explained in the Google research book – Winning the Zero Moment Of Truth) is the point in the buying cycle when a consumer researches a product (or product type) online, often before the “seller” even knows what is happening. It can be the point when someone finds what they want and purchases immediately or a research point that reflects where that person is in the buying cycle.

Fundamentally because of this revolution in purchasing habits, it’s essential for providers of any service or products to be there at that Zero Moment of Truth. The idea is that consumers are disrupting the buying process from that which is presented to them in a linear fashion, and so are creating their own Moments Of Truth. But (and this is a BIG but), this “moment” is not as simple for our education and local government clients as it is for traditional transactional businesses that just need to sell a product or service (e.g. retail). A potential student or foster carer will go through many more (and very different) stages throughout their recruitment cycle. They will have different motivations and responses at each stage of their ‘recruitment cycle’. They will respond to different “stimulus” before they have begun their research, during that informing period and as they reach a more committed stage in their own process. What Google is (obviously) not going to point out, is that ZMOT for our clients is not always that first point of initial search; in fact, by then it may already be too late. For this reason we recommend a combination of search AND social media campaigns, that reach potential customers in what we have defined as “ordinary” and “extraordinary” ZMOTs. For example:

  • “Ordinary” ZMOT – being there when potential students are looking for the course or University at the various stages of their recruitment cycle (OZMOT)
  • “Extraordinary” ZMOT – reaching the right student before they have begun their research, to present the course or University as an option to influence decisions at the various stages of the recruitment cycle (EZMOT)

Regardless of where your target audience are in the buying stage (ZMOT) or whether questions need to be posed or answered, there is one fundamental principle that applies for all our campaigns. Always focus on the data. We even built a tool to help understand and analyze this data, which you can learn more about here – http://capture.bigtopapp.com/ Find out how ZMOT combines with McKinsey’s Loyalty Loop here.