Office Products Resellers, Buyer Personas and the Buyer's Journey

If you've followed the first two blogs in this series, you'll know it may be possible to earn a 3,800% return on funds invested when operating amongst the elite email marketers. However, to get up among the elite requires a whole bunch of email marketing parameters to be optimized. We've previously blogged about the first of those - a clean, accurate, opted-in email contact list that utilizes levels of automation to enable accurate segmentation and progression of leads through the sales funnel.

In this second blog of the series, I will explain the concept of, and the need for, developing Buyer Personas and mapping contacts to the different stages of the Buyer's Journey.

The Buyer Persona:

Marketers not actively involved in digital marketing have probably not carefully considered the personas of their typical buyers. Briefly stated, and according to Inbound Digital Marketing pioneers HubSpot, "a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about existing customers."

At their basic level, personas allow marketers to personalize and target marketing efforts to different audience segments. This means instead of sending the same email content to each member of a contact database; they can be customized according to the buyer persona, with the message explicitly tailored to what is known about each different persona.

When combined with the "Lifecycle" stage or the "Buyer's Journey" (which we'll explain in a moment) then, in addition to being able to craft content according to the specific persona, it is also possible to prepare content according to where the particular member of your audience is at within the buyer's journey. Think, for a moment, about the futility of sending a special offer email to a buyer that;

  1. Has no need for the particular product or service being promoted or;
  2. It may have a future need but is not at the decision-making stage for purchasing the product or service.

Marketing emails that fail to incorporate these elements of sophistication will perform poorly in terms of open and click rates and lead to higher contact degradation rates through opt-outs. Furthermore, in performing poorly, the marketer will fail to establish themselves amongst the elite and earn the highest returns on their marketing investment.

The Buyer's Journey:

The buyer's journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a product or service. The journey is a three-step process:

  1. Awareness Stage - buyer realizes they need a product or service
  2. Consideration Stage - buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it
  3. Decision Stage - buyer selects their solution
    • Purchase - buyer makes a purchase
    • Repurchase - buyer makes a repeat purchase

Having explained the breakdown of the process, you should start to see it has the potential to be taken advantage of with content crafted to be relevant to each stage. Of course, to do so, you must know how to determine where a buyer is in the purchasing cycle and how other search queries can be used to help uncover this information.


Check out this example:

  • "Office printer" is a generic term most likely used by customers in the awareness or consideration stage.
  • "Compare laser printers" - the intent to compare indicates the customer is further along in the buying cycle, such as the consideration stage.
  • "Hewlett Packard LaserJet Pro M426FDW" - a particular product search indicating the buyer is much further into the buying cycle and is evaluating prices right before a purchase decision.

For search queries related to the awareness stage, content along the guidelines of the following examples should be created:

  • White papers - comparing the total cost of ownership of different types of office printers
  • Guide to selecting optimal office printer according to printing needs (volume, color, duplex, collating, etc.)
  • e-Book - aftermarket Versus OEM brand cartridges
  • Guide to running costs - replacement ink and toner cartridge options and costs

For search queries related to the consideration stage, content along the guidelines of the following examples is required to build confidence in the buyer's mind that you can be trusted to handle his business reliably:

  • Customer testimonials
  • Specification sheets
  • Your brand story, expertise, etc.

For search queries related to the decision and purchase stages, content along the lines of the following example may be used:

  • Coupon, discount, or special offer

For the repurchase stage of the buyer's journey, content along the lines of the following examples may be most effectively utilized:

  • Weekly/monthly newsletter
  • Timed offers for known needs based on replenishment cycle - i.e., laser cartridge typically last three months

It should be clear the action to send a company newsletter or special offer to a buyer in the awareness stage, or sending a white paper explaining the total cost of ownership for a printing device to a buyer that does not need a new printer and may already be purchasing from you, are not intelligent email marketing tactics. Failures of this nature will ensure that not only will you fail to earn a spot among the elite group of marketers, but you will also fail to earn the highest returns on your digital marketing efforts.

Furthermore, because your performance will be sub-par, you will not be motivated to invest your time and resources into developing one of the most valuable assets you can build in the modern digital age - your email contact database!

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