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Customer loyalty · 

4 minutes

Cormac O'SullivanPiggy

Optimizing Customer Relations with the Loyalty Ladder Model

In the dynamic world of customer relations, understanding the different levels of consumer commitment is key. Just as there are stages to building a solid structure, there's also a strategic process for cultivating loyal customers — meet the concept of the 'Customer Loyalty Ladder'.

What is Customer Loyalty?

Customer loyalty refers to the willingness of a customer to repeatedly purchase or interact with a brand or company. This loyalty stems from positive experiences, satisfaction, and the perceived value customers obtain from transactions. Loyal customers are likely to spend up to 67% more on products and services than new customers.

Customer loyalty isn't just a high-minded business ideal; it is the bedrock of long-term business success. Let's delve into the statistics and facts that underscore its significance.

Cost Efficiency of Retention Over Acquisition

Maintaining an existing customer relationship is far more cost-efficient than starting from scratch with a new one. According to Forbes, retaining an existing customer is five times less costly than acquiring a new one. This makes investing in customer loyalty a financially savvy strategy.

The Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Loyal customers are not just purchasers; they are potential promoters of your brand. They engage in invaluable word-of-mouth marketing, which can significantly amplify your brand's reach. A Nielsen report supports this, showing that 92% of consumers trust personal recommendations over other forms of advertising. This illustrates the weight a loyal customer's voice carries in the marketplace.

Increasing Customer Lifetime Value

Loyal customers lead to a higher customer lifetime value (CLV), which is the total revenue you can expect from a customer over the lifetime of their relationship with your business. A study by Adobe found that repeat customers, who are more likely to be loyal, spend almost three times more per visit than one-time buyers.

Revenue Growth through Repeat Business

Higher customer loyalty translates directly to higher profits. As loyal customers make repeat purchases, they contribute to steady and reliable revenue growth. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95%.

Now that you're convinced, here's a video to help you navigate your way through the rungs of the customer loyalty ladder.

The Stages in the Customer Loyalty Ladder

The Customer Loyalty Ladder, a model born from relationship marketing, depicts the different stages a customer can move through in their relationship with a company. This symbolic ladder starts from a prospect and moves up to a partner.


These are potential customers who have expressed interest in your product or service but haven't made a purchase yet.


Customers are individuals who have made at least one purchase. They're yet to show brand loyalty and may switch to a competitor if enticed.


Clients repeatedly purchase from your business. They're familiar with your products or services, have had consistent positive experiences, and see the value in sticking with your brand.


Supporters are clients who are not only making repeat purchases but are also positive about your brand. They may recommend your brand to others based on their satisfaction.


Advocates actively and frequently recommend your products or services to others. They are highly loyal and their word-of-mouth marketing can be incredibly valuable.


The pinnacle of the ladder, partners work with your business for mutual benefit. These extremely loyal customers collaborate with your business, for example, through product development or joint marketing efforts.

Strategies to Move Customers Up the Loyalty Ladder

Propelling customers up the loyalty ladder is not an overnight endeavor. It requires a deep understanding of customer needs, effective communication, and strategic incentives. Here are some tactics to guide this journey, with emphasis on aligning strategies with the respective stages of the ladder.

Exceptional Customer Service for Prospects and Customers

At the initial stages of the ladder, the quality of customer service can make or break the relationship. The first few interactions are crucial, and providing exceptional customer service can turn a prospect into a customer, and a customer into a client. As per a Microsoft report, 96% of customers state that customer service is a significant factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.

Personalized Marketing for Clients

Clients, having already engaged in repeat purchases, respond well to personalized marketing. Tailoring your marketing messages based on their buying behavior can show that you understand and value their unique needs. A SmarterHQ survey found that 72% of consumers only engage with marketing messages that are customized to their interests.

Engagement and Community Building for Supporters

As customers move up to become supporters, businesses should focus on engagement and community building. Creating engaging content and fostering an online community can make supporters feel valued and appreciated. According to Yotpo, 77% of consumers feel more positively about a brand that seeks and incorporates customer feedback.

Loyalty Programs for Advocates

Advocates are already passionate about your brand, and a robust loyalty program can encourage them to spread the word even more. Offering incentives for referrals, for example, can motivate advocates to promote your business in their network. Invesp found that 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards.

Collaborative Opportunities for Partners

For partners, the highest rung of the ladder, providing opportunities for collaboration can further strengthen the relationship. Inviting partners to participate in product development or joint marketing efforts can make them feel like an integral part of your business, deepening their loyalty.


The customer loyalty ladder model provides a strategic framework for understanding and managing customer relationships. By understanding and leveraging this model, businesses can improve their customer retention strategies, ultimately bolstering their bottom line. Just as ascending an actual ladder requires careful steps, so does guiding a customer up the loyalty ladder. But with a thoughtful strategy, businesses can ensure they're moving customers up this ladder, building a base of loyal advocates and partners in the process.

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