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David Perry

Marketing moment of truth now occurs online

CHANDLER, Ariz. - There's a new moment of truth in mattress marketing. It's the moment that occurs online, and it's gaining importance.
     Search engine provider Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT. And a Google executive helped Bedding Conference attendees understand this moment with his talk on "Winning the Zero Moment of Truth," part of a panel discussion on the Changing Face of Mattress Consumers.
     Zafar Razzacki, a Google account executive in the branded apparel and durables markets, said Google has taken the traditional three-moment mental mode of marketing - stimulus, first moment of truth (the shelf), and second moment of truth (the experience) - and introduced ZMOT to the model, right after the stimulus. And he said ZMOT influences the other moments.
     Google looked at the sources of information that consumers sought out to help with purchase decisions and found that 50% searched online and used a search engine. The consumers did a variety of things online, including talking with friends and family about the product (49%), comparison shopping (38%), seeking information from a product brand or manufacturer website (36%), reading product reviews or endorsements (31%), and seeking information from a retailer or store website (22%).
     Razzacki said consumers use multiple screens. Three in four TV viewers use another device at the same time, and two in three consumers start shopping on one device and continue on another.
     Once in the market, over half of shoppers consider three or more brands, and 60% visit two or more retailers (online and offline), he said.
     He noted that without brand loyalty, shoppers use digital research and trust online reviews; 35% of consumers said online reviews are the resource they trust most when shopping for a mattress, compared with 29% who most trust recommendations from friends or family, and 19% who most trust the salesperson at the store. The brand or retailer website is most trusted by 16% of consumers.

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     Kristi Griggs, president of Greensboro, N.C.-based G-Force Marketing Solutions, presented an overview of the digital world today, noting that 90% of all media interactions are screen-based and that on average, Americans spend 4.4 hours of their leisure time in front of screens each day.
     She said a vibrant website should be the foundation of online efforts, with social media channels building on that. Additional steps to build on those bases include email marketing and reviews and blogs, she said.
     Griggs said digital video consumption has grown dramatically over the past two years. Data recorded by Adobe Marketing Cloud customers shows 50% growth in video streams since the first quarter of 2011, and an increase of 13% alone from the third to the fourth quarters last year. And video starts on smartphones tripled from 2011 to 2012. Social media-referred video starts are more likely to be completed than other video starts, Griggs said.
     She outlined a comprehensive media strategy that includes TV and search engine marketing, two mediums that are "always on." Marketers should support their brands and stores with search engine marketing, Griggs said.
     Targeted display advertising is a good way to expose potential customers to the brand and to target them by geography and behavior, while pre-roll video can be used to target customers by ZIP codes and demographics. Tweets can support holiday-specific events. Each of those steps gives companies the opportunity to engage new customers, she said.
     Julia Rosien, founder of SocialNorth, a social marketing company, wrapped up the panel by talking about social media opportunities - and challenges.
     "Social media is like a cocktail party online," she said. "A million things can go right - and can go wrong."
     She reviewed some examples of social media campaigns that went wrong, and said companies need to be proactive on this front. If they don't have a crisis management plan, they need to create one, complete with a detailed decision flow chart that includes key steps to be taken in the process. A spokesperson should be designated and fire drills should be conducted to make sure the process works.
     In addition, the company needs to "respect the clock" - realize that time is of the essence in dealing with a crisis, Rosien said.
     When consumers complain about something online, she said, companies should thank them, apologize (whether they are right or wrong) and then take the conversation offline with phone or face-to-face conversations.

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