Sometimes when you are looking for inspiration, it comes from the most unlikely sources. I have recently been reading Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, which (ironically in this case) is his thesis on why he believes that God does not exist.
Why is this relevant here? I hear you ask. Well whilst reading the bit where he is discussing morality and the atheist version of the 10 commandments, it struck me that the last five fitted perfectly with a strategy for managing a web presence. As they would say in America, ‘go figure!’
So here is the back end of his list:
6. Always seek to be learning something new. In the world of the internet the only thing that is guaranteed is change. If you’re not constantly learning you’ll fall behind your more active peers.
Whether it’s analytics, marketing, interface design, copywriting, social media or more technical disciplines, there is always plenty to learn. Pick something that interests you, that can add value and enjoy the experience.
7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
Software should be tested, everyone knows that, but do you objectively test the success of changes made to your website?
Being scientific about the changes you make is important, but more important is having the self -belief to admit failure in the face of the evidence and move on. Learn from your mistakes and try something else.
8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
The web and more specifically social media provides one of the most powerful tools for getting access to your customers’ real thoughts about your products and services.
Use real customer feedback to refine your offer, improve your customer service and to become more effective at communicating your message.
9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others. It’s often attractive to seize on the latest innovation or idea in the hope that it will be the silver bullet to solve all your problems. However, it’s my belief that your online presence should reflect the culture ethics and ideas of your offline business.
Use your instincts to be selective in the strategies you adopt on the web.
That doesn’t mean don’t try things but instead understand how they will complement and reflect on the rest of your business.
10. Question everything. This commandment holds true for every aspect of business. If you’re not already doing this then you should probably hang up your guide and take up gardening.
So there you have it, five commandments designed for moral guidance that may have some relevance to success on the web. Alternatively you could rely on divine intervention!
It was once thought a physical impossibility that a human being would ever run a mile in under four minutes. Yet following Roger Bannister’s achievement in 1954, sixteen runners went on to do the same thing in the next three years. It’s not that human evolution had suddenly taken a spring forward – it was just that there had been a change in mindset.
As there are still many dealer groups that feel they need to withhold certain information from their customers, I think it’s time that there was a similar ‘change in mindset’. I am also aware that I need to be able to evidence that there is a solid business case for doing so.
So today, I would like to ask you to do something for me. Just key the letters ZMOT (pronounced ‘Zee-mot’) into your search engine and soak up as much information as you possible can. Maybe unsurprisingly, the term has been coined by Google, and in my opinion highlights the continued impact of one of the biggest shifts in online consumer behaviour.
If you take your web strategy seriously then ZMOT is something that you cannot afford to ignore. It stands for Zero Moment of Truth, and it refers to that period of online consumer research that a customer undertakes prior to making contact with a seller.
Traditionally, there has been a three-step mental model of marketing:
First, the STIMULUS, where an advertisement for a car first attracts attention. Secondly, the FIRST MOMENT OF TRUTH, where the customer calls in to the showroom to look at the vehicle and goes on to buy the car. Finally, there is the SECOND MOMENT OF TRUTH, where the customer enjoys their new car.
The net has now added the ZMOT to this list. It slots neatly in between the Stimulus and the First Moment of Truth, and involves the customer going online to look at reviews for the car, or to find out more about customer service at your dealership. In more and more instances, the customer has actually made their buying decision BEFORE they arrive at the showroom. The cold facts are that online decision making is rocketing, yet many motor dealers are only spending a fraction of what they should be spending on online marketing.
Your online customers want to research, learn, explore, and then come to you ready to buy with confidence. By not giving them the ability to conduct this research in an effective manner then you will more than likely send them elsewhere.
And don’t forget that it is so easy for people to share how well (or badly) they have been informed by your website or business. So if you allow people to research their next purchase online, they will be more likely to tell people how helpful you were.
It is possible for you to make it easier for people to buy from you at the Zero Moment of Truth stage. You could incorporate customer ratings and testimonials for your business, or include proven functionality such as the integrated Codeweavers finance calculation and payment search services. Either way, the strategy of trying to withhold information from the web customer is looking a bit outdated and ineffective.
Designed to provide Volvo web customers with an enhanced experience, the Codeweavers supplied service highlights how affordable a used Volvo can be when purchased with dealer finance. The calculators allow customers to specify their own PCP and HP quotations based upon the Volvo Car Financial Services product rules. The customer can request as many calculations as they wish, allowing them to model different scenarios for deposit, term of agreement, and annual mileage.
Lead generation from the website is important to Volvo Cars UK, so once the ideal finance quotation has been obtained, the customer can then request that this quotation be e-mailed through to their Inbox. Again, the customer can request multiple quotations if desired, with each one being compliant with the new Consumer Credit Directive rules.
Codeweavers worked closely with both Santander Consumer Finance (the supplier of the Volvo Car Financial Services products) and Autotorq (the supplier of the Volvo Cars UK website) to deliver this project. Martin Hill, Commercial Director of Codeweavers, said: “We are proud to be working with Volvo Cars UK and the rest of the project team on this exciting initiative. We are extremely confident that the new functionality will reinforce Volvo Car Financial Services as being the best way for the customer to fund their used Volvo”.
Easy to use, clear and compliant, the Mazda Used Car Locator can now allow a web customer to browse all UK dealer stock and then configure their own finance package to suit their needs. As well as enhancing the Mazda.co.uk user experience, the Codeweavers service ensures that vehicles are made affordable through Mazda Financial Services. Integrated finance calculators allow customers to specify their own PCP and Conditional Sale quotations based upon the Mazda Financial Services product rules. The customer can request as many calculations as they wish, allowing them to model different scenarios before making contact with the dealer.
Customers can also request search results by using an amazing ‘payment search‘ tool that offers customers an entirely new way of searching used car stock. This tool represents a radical departure from the traditional ‘model and derivative’ search. The monthly payment range, deposit, annual mileage and term of agreement can all be controlled by the customer, allowing them to get the most choice and value for their monthly budget.
Whether the customer searches by payment or not, the service makes it easy for the customer to take the next step and contact the dealer. The customer can request that their tailored quotation be e-mailed through to their Inbox. The customer can request multiple quotations if desired, with each one being compliant with the new Consumer Credit Directive rules – extremely useful if the customer is looking at several alternative vehicles.
Codeweavers worked closely with both Santander Consumer Finance (the supplier of the Mazda Financial Services products) and GForces (the supplier of the Mazda Motors UK website) to deliver this project. Martin Hill, Commercial Director of Codeweavers, said: “Mazda are renowned for building vehicles that exceed expectations. We are proud to have worked with Mazda Motors UK and the rest of the project team to provide a service that would reinforce this mantra, and we look forward to working with them in the future”.