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When I was young, my brother and I would occasionally use a branch or toy hammer to bang each other on the knee, hoping to see the patellar reflex in action. We saw doctors do it on TV and, as over-confident children, naturally felt we could achieve the same results without any training. Unsurprisingly, it never really worked. To this day I’m still unconvinced I actually have the knee-jerk reflex.

There is a reflex, however, which I undeniably have and I’m sure you do, too. It’s a new digital reflex, brought on by the rise of mobile, to turn to whatever device is at hand to satisfy our need for information right in the moment. For example, recently my friend told me about a movie he enjoyed the night before, and without even thinking, I pulled out my phone to read reviews and find a theater near me where it was playing.

Google calls these instances “micro-moments,” and we have many of them each and every day. Having super-computers in our pockets has allowed us to initiate these micro-moments anywhere, at anytime, and has led to a fundamental shift in consumer behavior.

As a student at Kellogg, it’s a privilege to be able to partner with academic thought leaders and industry-leading companies to define how the next generation of marketers can adapt to the changes in consumer behavior brought about by technology. This quarter, in an experiential project sponsored by Google, I worked alongside three other Kellogg students in my Analyzing and Operating Digital Platforms course to create an approach that brands can utilize to reach consumers in their micro-moments.

Along with Google, we believe that micro-moments represent an improved opportunity for marketers to reach consumers. Micro-moments are the new battleground for customers, allowing marketers to understand the needs and motivations of their customers in the moment and deliver relevant messages, content and experiences that move people to choose their brand or product.

We recommend four key ways for the modern marketer to capitalize upon micro-moments in order to best connect with consumers.

1) Think beyond traditional segmentation and targeting

As marketers, we typically have learned to segment our consumers based on demographics, psychographics, etc. But segmenting and targeting based on micro-moments allows for greater granularity in understanding a customer’s need and context.

Instead of a yogurt brand targeting a segment of “females, 30-45, high income”, a micro-moments segment could be closer to the need. For example, the same brand could target the precise moment when a consumer is in a store and searching on her phone for healthy, at-home snacks to please her family.

Because there are needs in the moment that span across different consumer segments, a micro-moments segmentation approach can uncover blind spots where loyal consumers in de-prioritized segments are wanting greater engagement with the brand.

2) Identify moments and motivations through consumer journey mapping

Forward-thinking brands must undertake consumer journey mapping exercises, a form of exploratory research that uses interviews and observation to trace the full stories of how real customers buy, use and consume products.

These journey-mapping exercises should cover a customer’s total experience with your product, including expectations before the first encounter, key touchpoints and attitudes throughout each stage of the customer’s experience. This is a critical step for marketers to effectively target and act on the most relevant consumer micro-moments.

3) Layer data to understand when consumers are most receptive

We all go through life with varying levels of receptivity to the advertising messages around us. Today, disparate data can be structured and utilized to better identify peaks in receptivity. Inputs such as search trends, time of day, purchase patterns or proximity to a retail location can be combined to determine when consumers are interested in a product, have a time-sensitive need and are able to fulfill on that need. Identification of these high receptivity moments can increase the impact of one’s marketing efforts.

4) Experiment and utilize tightly integrated feedback loops

Finally, to ensure success in micro-moments, marketers must embrace a culture of experimentation and validated learning. Design micro-moment engagement with simple triggers, actions and test messaging, and analyze outcomes in order to optimize future moment-based marketing. Iterate until you find the messaging, content, cadence and call to action that speaks best to your target.

Ray Hwang is currently a first-year student in Kellogg’s Two-Year MBA Program. He is a leader in both the Marketing Club and High Tech Club. Prior to Kellogg, Ray worked at General Mills in a cross-functional rotational program. He will be interning on the Product Marketing team at LinkedIn this summer. Raymond’s team members included Aly Sivanich, Adam Tollefson and Ye Bai.