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Digital Marketing

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Customer Value Journey

Digital marketing strategy is understanding how your business gets customers and aligning your online campaign to a proven sales process that will amplify your revenue.

If you want to develop an online marketing strategy that will capture leads, convert buyers, and nurture raving fans and lifelong customers, first map your Customer Value Journey.

As we dive deep into digital strategy on this page, you may want to start by viewing the following video, where Social Lite’s Founder, Scott Cunningham, provides an insightful overview of the Customer Value Journey.

 Customer acquisition strategy first, marketing execution second

Companies ask us these questions everyday: can you help us with SEO? Can you manage our social media pages? Can you build us a website? Sure, we can do all of those things, but before you waste precious marketing dollars on a standalone digital strategy that doesn’t align with your sales objectives, you need to first map out how you will drive website traffic, convert leads, acquire customers, and maximize profits. This requires an integrated approach to digital marketing that utilizes multiple online strategies at specific stages of your customer’s journey. The key factor to consider is, how, through which digital strategy, can you add undeniable value to your customer at each stage of the journey? To create a successful, integrated digital marketing campaign, you need to first map your Customer Value Journey.

The Customer Value Journey is the blueprint for every digital marketing strategy we deploy here at Social Lite. We won’t start your campaign, or any project for that matter, until we map out your sales stages and understand how you get and retain customers. We need to understand your sales process, and think about how we can provide your customers with immense value at every interaction they have with your company. They need to receive undeniable value from you at every stage of the customer journey — from when they first find and research you, all the way until they first buy from you, and later when they become your lifelong customer and advocate.

If you have a customer, you already have a Customer Value Journey

The best part for us marketers is that every single business that currently has a customer has an existing customer value journey in place. We don’t need to invent a new roadmap for every project we execute, but we need to map your unique customer journey by understanding your sales process and how you attract, engage, convert and retain customers. By understanding the various stages of your customer’s journey, we can parallel your marketing campaign to mirror and amplify your sales process.

Mapping your Customer Value Journey requires you to strategize how you will add value to your customer at 8 specific stages of your customer’s journey, as outlined in the graphic below. 

CVJ - two parts-1

Keep reading for further detail on the purpose of each stage, and the strategies you are likely to deploy at each stage.


The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey

Let's pretend for a second that the relationship you have with your customer is similar to an intimate, romantic relationship between two humans. The reason we will use this analogy is because the Customer Value Journey is an established marketing methodology inspired by the 12 stages of Human Intimacy, which are outlined in Desmond Morris’s influential book, Intimate Behaviour: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy. The book outlines how humans transition through 12 stages when developing intimate relationships. Similarly, to develop deeper relationships with your customer, your marketing and sales strategy needs to focus on how to intentionally provide value at each stage of the customer relationship in order to build likability and trust, and ultimately advance buyers through each subsequent stage of the customer journey.  

For each stage listed below, we will provide context for 1) how it fits with the relationship analogy, 2) how it fits with your online campaign and customer, and 3) which digital marketing strategies to deploy.

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-01

Stage 1: Aware


Relationship analogy.

Imagine your relationship with your customer is similar to a human intimate relationship that starts with two strangers. Let’s pretend, for example, that you and your customer are a man and a woman who meet for the first time in a coffee shop. At the aware stage, this is the first glance you share with one another, when you see each other for the first time. Is there chemistry? Can you picture yourself with one another? If there is perceived value in your first glance, only then would you consider engaging in a conversation with one another.

Stage of your campaign.

At the aware stage of your campaign, this is the first time potential customers discovers that you have a solution that speaks to their pain or passion points. They may hear about you through a referral, they may see you at a trade show, or, in the case of digital marketing, they may see your advertisement on Google or Facebook. If what they learn about you speaks deeply to their pain and passion points, only then will they engage further with you. For our marketing campaigns, it is essential that the content we advertise or promote at the aware stage speaks directly to a specific customer segment’s specific needs and provides solutions.

Which strategies to deploy.

  1. Social media marketing and everything it encompasses, such as social media advertising, contests and other social strategies. Click here for a deeper dive into social media marketing.

  2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

  3. Pay-per-click advertising

  4. Google AdWords

  5. Affiliate website, newsletter and social page features

  6. Blogging

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-02

Stage 2: Engage


Relationship analogy.

Back to the example of the man and woman who just saw each other at a coffee shop for the first time. Let’s presume there was chemistry, or “love at first sight.” They recognized potential in one another, which means they received value and decide to explore the opportunity further. The woman approaches the man to engage in a conversation, to see if there may be a fit. The woman compliments the man on the book he is reading. He asks her what type of coffee she likes. It’s at this stage that they are learning more about one another to see if there’s potentially long-term compatibility. Do we like each other? Do I trust this person? If the conversation goes well, only then will the relationship advance further.

Stage of your campaign.

At the awareness stage, your objective was to reach as many target buyers as possible to let them know you have a solution to their pain or passion points  — you have what they need or desire. Once they see your advertisement on Facebook or Google and you’ve captured their attention, your next objective is to drive engagement and website traffic through value. Lead your customers to your content that further demonstrates your expertise and credibility. Show them videos, infographics, case studies and other content on your website that heightens your likability and authority.  At the engage stage, you are priming customers to buy. Do they like you? Do they trust you? Do they believe your product or service can transform them to a new aspirational state?

Which strategies to deploy.

Website redesign. Your website is your online sales centre. You need to engage visitors with content that speaks to their aspirational states, including,

    1. Blogs

    2. Infographics

    3. Videos and photography

    4. Landing pages (sales, service and product pages)

    5. Interactive/innovative content, and so forth

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-03

Stage 3: Subscribe


Relationship analogy.

At the last stage (engage), the guy and gal who met at the coffee shop engaged in conversation to see if they have anything in common. If the interaction went well, and neither was creeped out in the process, they would be more inclined to exchange phone numbers once it was time to leave.  The conversation may go something like, “hey, I really enjoyed our conversation, but I have to get running. Can I call you again sometime?” As long as they developed likeability for one another, and they received value in the conversation, it’s likely that a phone number will be given.

Your campaign stage.

The subscribe stage of your campaign is about capturing contact information from website visitors who are ready for that level of committal. They saw what they liked, and they are willing to provide contact information in exchange for something of value, which we call a lead magnet. They may, for example, provide their contact details in exchange for your service and pricing guide. They are willing to explore the relationship with you further, which is why they download your lead magnet and provide their contact information.

Which strategies to deploy.

  1. Integrate lead magnet strategies that offer visitors value in exchange for their contact details:

    • For example, a price guide, catalog, offer, ebook, checklist, event, webinar or any other lead magnet that provides undeniable value.

  2. Integrate other marketing funnel entry points throughout your site:

    • CTAs, forms, chat bots , email list signups, and blog subscriptions

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-04

Stage 4: Convert


Relationship analogy.

Once the relationship moves past aware, engage, and subscribe, the relationship is no longer simply exploratory, where you thought the idea was nice but didn’t yet commit. At the convert stage, this is when the guy and gal commit to spending one-on-one time with each other. They decide to go an a date. The setting is more intimate, and if they are having fun and enjoying each other’s company, the relationship will deepen, perhaps to additional dates. But more on that later.

Your campaign stage.

At the subscribe stage, your website visitor converted to a lead by providing contact information in exchange for a lead magnet. At the convert stage, your lead becomes a qualified prospect or first-time customer the moment any amount of time or money is spent on on

you. A conversion takes place the moment a lead switches from someone who is researching you and getting to know you, to someone who is invested you. This is the most important stage of your Customer Value Journey if your aim is to convert as many leads and customers as possible.

In a B2B marketing scenario, most often the convert metric is some type of sales meeting, demo, consultation, facility tour or lunch and learn. Thinking about the relationship analogy, it’s the first time a lead accepts an invite from your company to go on a date.

On the other side of the spectrum, in B2C industries, often a conversion metric is a small purchase (for example a coupon or tripwire offer. If you are marketing an ecommerce website, SAAS or subscription service, it’s absolutely essential that you integrate a strategic conversion offer before you invest in advertising dollars, in order to offset your advertising spend. For a deeper dive into conversion offer strategy, watch this presentation.

Of course, there are exceptions to every business, and no two campaigns are alike. Read more about the difference between B2B lead generation and B2C customer acquisition here.

Which strategies to deploy.

At the convert stage, your prospect commits time or money to you. A financial transaction could include,

  • Tripwire offer. For example,

    • Low cost single item with high perceived value. Often a splinter of your core offer.
    • Free trial

    • Free product, you just pay shipping

  • Coupon offer

  • Premium offer (free gift with purchase)

A time commitment could include,

  • Webinar

  • Lunch and Learn

  • Demo

  • Site Tour

  • Sales meeting

  • And so forth...

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-05

Stage 5: Excite


Relationship analogy.

If the first date went well at the convert stage, the excite stage of a relationship will include more dates — more getting to know one another and testing compatibility before making a deeper commitment. The key here is that each subsequent date needs to add value to each individual and heighten the excitement , if there’s going to be any long-term potential.

Your campaign stage.

The convert stage of your campaign isn’t when a customer purchases your core offer. At the convert stage, your lead makes a small financial transaction, or commits some time to you, which won’t necessarily be profitable. It’s at the ascend stage (the next stage after excite) where you start selling your core offer and making profit. Therefore, the excite stage  is the bridge between the initial conversion and the commitment to your core offer.

Ultimately, the fate of your customer may depend on whether or not they received value at the convert stage. If they did, and they are excited, perhaps they will voluntarily advance to the ascend stage. If they don’t advance voluntarily, our focus at the excite stage is to heighten your customer’s interest in you. How else can you add additional value that will advance the customer to your core offer?  

Which strategies to deploy.

Offer your customer “white glove” treatment by nurturing the relationship with undeniable value.

  • Send a small gift or sample in the mail

  • Create a custom video for your lead offering additional insight

  • Initiate an email workflow featuring high-value, problem-solving content

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-06

Stage 6: Ascend


Relationship analogy.

It took a lot of getting to know one another and building trust, but at the ascend stage, commitment finally takes place! You’ve dated enough, and now you are getting engaged. Then you are ascending to marriage, then you are together forever!

Your campaign stage.

The ascend stage of your campaign is an ascension path that we call an ascension ladder. At the bottom of the ascension ladder is the first time your customer purchases a core offer from you where the purchase is profitable for you. The higher you go up the ladder, the higher the value for the customer, and the higher the margins for you. After your customer purchases your core offer for the first time, what purchases can you repeat, upsell or cross promote to increase the lifetime value of your customer? At the top of the ladder is your dream customer. What services, products, and upsells would your dream customer purchase from you?

Remember, the reason the customer value journey is so vital is that marketing’s biggest expense is getting new leads. It takes a lot of effort and ad spend to continually focus on getting new leads and customers. For this reason, it’s essential to add undeniable value to every lead you come in contact with, at every interaction, from the time they first find you, until they become a lifelong customer.

If your customer makes it to the ascend stage, this is your opportunity to get the most return per customer, instead of focusing on only getting new customers. The ascend stage is a profit maximizer. It’s about increasing lifetime spend from each customer you generate (which was expensive to do!).

Which strategies to deploy.

  • Lead nurturing through marketing/email automation

  • Sales strategies to re-engage customers with new services, products and offers

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-07

Stage 7: Advocate


Relationship analogy.

Now, we must point out that for a real customer value journey campaign, the advocate stage is about showing off your best relationships to start new relationships with others. In a business scenario, you demonstrate to new leads that they are in safe hands, since it’s proven that you already have have existing, happy, long-term customers.

In the relationship analogy, you aren’t showing off your awesome marriage to help you meet new potential spouses. But, you are building advocacy in the relationship. You celebrate each other. Once you get married at the ascend stage, the relationship isn’t over. How can you build your marriage to be successful over a lifetime?

Your campaign stage.

At the advocate stage of your campaign, your customer will readily vouch for your product or service. This customer is your biggest believer. It’s essential to know who your best customers and clients are and actively pursue them for a testimonial or case study. In marketing, “social proof” occurs when new potential customers see other happy customers, brands, companies and affiliates vouching for you. Actively collect testimonials from your loyal customers to publish on your website and social pages. And most certainly ask for a Google review.  

Beyond only social proof, case studies can educate new customers on how you will transform them through your products or services. Case studies are a transparent way to demonstrate your knowledge and authority while building trust. As an added bonus, when you feature your customers in your content, those relationships will strengthen.

Which strategies to deploy.

  • Case Studies

  • Testimonials

  • Review Sites

  • Social Media

  • Blogging

The 8 Stages of the Customer Value Journey-08

Stage 8: Promote


Relationship analogy.

Like with the advocate stage, the relationship analogy at the promote stage isn’t directly comparable. It would be comparable to a person in a happy relationship actively finding more partners for their current spouse. They would be sending their spouse new promising spouses.

But, at the promote stage, it would be like you actively seeking new successes that are only possible because of your marriage. Do you have kids? Do you get a bigger house? Your relationship’s success leads to other opportunities.

Your campaign stage.

This is when your raving customers actively send you new referrals. As a marketer, it’s our job to intentionally provide a structure and path to encourage our best customers to refer us new business. One popular example is the friends and family incentive program by food delivery companies like Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes. Using their services, you are provided a loyalty code, and every time someone new to the service uses your code, they receive purchase credit, and you do as well. So the more new customers you recruit to their service, you are rewarded.

This is a brilliant example of how you can incentivize and reward your best customers who promote you and send you referrals.

Which digital strategies to deploy.

  • “Friends & family” and other incentive programs


Crucial to Note

Crucial to note.

Customers in some case may be able to skip one to three stages of the journey if they are ready to buy, but in most cases, leads won’t skip steps, so don’t try to either.

Don’t expect, for example, to sell your highest-priced core offer through a Facebook post. New contacts may not know you or trust you yet, so don’t propose marriage when you’re only at the engage stage of the relationship. You will creep people out and they won’t buy from you. You need to first show them you understand their pain and passion points, and build trust, before you ever pitch a sale. Be intentional and sequential with every stage of the journey, adding undeniable value at every interaction.


Schedule Your

Strategy Session

The Customer Value Journey drives the strategy for every digital marketing campaign we launch here at Social Lite. Before we do any online marketing for a company, we need to first identify your sales stages and understand how you get and retain customers. Once we understand your sales process, we need to plan how we will provide your customer with immense value at every interaction they have with your company — from when they first find and research you, all the way until they first buy from you, and later when they become your lifelong customer and advocate.

Mapping your customer acquisition strategy is a productive first step if you want to achieve long term digital marketing success. The Accelerated Growth Strategy Session is focused on mapping out an online campaign that markets one of your core offerings to one target buyer persona.

The fee for the 3-hour strategy session is $1500 + GST, and your team will meet with one of our strategists (either in person or through video conferencing) to physically map out how to advance your target customer through the eight stages of the customer journey:

Aware -> Engage -> Subscribe -> Convert -> Excite -> Ascend -> Advocate -> Promote

 accelerated growth strategy session