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Guide to Referral Success for the Finance Sector

Money may be a sensitive subject, but it’s not off-limits. Is your brand tapping into consumers’ everyday conversations about cash?

Guide to Referral Success for the Finance Sector

Guide to Referral Success for the Finance Sector

Based on the insights of working with 450+ brands, this guide by Mention Me explores:

  • Key trends shaping the financial sector
  • The business case for adding referral to your marketing mix
  • When and where to promote referral for the best results
  • How finding the right incentive can boost performance by 100%
  • Case studies featuring Nutmeg and Animal Friends Pet Insurance.

To discover how referral can help your brand connect with the customers who count, read on this article now.

Content Summary

Part 1: Develop a strong case for referral
Part 2: Encourage referral at the point of opportunity
Part 3: Make it easy for customers to share
Part 4: Find the right incentives
Part 5: Driving performance
Part 6: Great referral examples


Money may be a sensitive subject, but it’s not off-limits. Is your brand tapping into consumers’ everyday conversations about cash?

Whether we have a little or a lot, we’re fixated on our finances. The evidence is everywhere: in the countless columns dedicated to money matters; the 30% of Britons who name money as their top source of anxiety; even the endless Googling of Martin Lewis, the money-saving expert and UK’s most searched-for a British man.

The prospect of talking salaries may make us shudder with discomfort, but money is threaded throughout our daily conversations. From climbing the property ladder to making ethical investments or solving a financial dilemma, it’s near impossible to avoid.

We trust recommendations from friends more than any other source, including spouses, online reviews and advertising. Indeed, we talk less about money than, say, clothes. But, crucially, when we do talk about finances, our conversations have real influence. Though consumers are less likely to recommend finance brands, the recommendations that do take place are much more likely to convert to customers than in other sectors.

From a referral marketing funnel perspective, finance brands consistently perform better than retail.

Take a look at Nutmeg. We started working with the UK’s fastest-growing wealth management platform in 2018 and have since helped grow its share rate by an incredible 240%. (We’ll talk about this in more detail later in the guide.)

Referral marketing presents an effective way to capitalize on your consumers’ conversations to boost new customer acquisition, extend their lifetime value and cut through the noise of a competitive landscape.

We hope this guide provides valuable insight into the benefits of referral marketing, how it’s worked for other brands, and how it could work for yours in the times ahead.

The financial services sector is in the midst of a digital transformation.
The days of being impressed by banks with grand entrances, suited employees and daunting jargon are gone. In their place are slick apps ruled by simplicity, accessibility, and transparency.

Financial institutions continue to recover from the 2008 global financial crisis and the challenges that followed. 11 years later, 66% of adults still don’t trust banks to work in the best interests of society1, and 56% of consumers consider reputation to be the most important quality when choosing a finance company. This has created an environment ripe for disruption, as evidenced by the abundance of finance apps with rapidly growing customer bases.

And it’s not just our perception of banks changing; how we manage our finances is rapidly evolving. Consumers now expect 24/7 access, real-time updates and straight-forward communication as standard, with many banking apps making it possible to set up an account in the time it takes you to read this page.

The financial sector’s demographic is also changing. 93% of millennials are now financially independent household-earners2 and take a very different approach to money than their previous generations. Less than ten percent make investment decisions alone3, choosing to consult their peers and the media when making money-related decisions and, in turn, challenging the long-held taboo around discussing money.

But this digital transformation shouldn’t lead us to overlook the importance of personal interactions; 82% of millennials would like more personal meetings with their investment advisers. Instead, we should see technology as an additional, complementing layer.

Financial services marketers consider optimizing their marketing mix for best return as their second-highest priority. Given that half of millennials’ buying decisions are significantly influenced by word-of-mouth and personal recommendations, and the vast majority of these conversations happen offline, there’s a strong business case for optimizing your referral channel.

Incentivize, measure and optimize your consumers’ everyday conversations about money, and you can unlock the power of referral marketing to achieve outstanding results.

Optimising the marketing mix for best return is the second highest priority for financial services marketers – Source: Salesforce

Part 1: Develop a strong case for referral

There’s plenty of reasons referral should be part of your brand’s marketing mix. For now, we’ll focus on new customer acquisition.

On average, we help businesses acquire between 10 and 30% more customers through their referral channel. If you already have an established model and marketing mix, a referral is likely to be one of the best ways to increase new customer acquisition. If it doesn’t, it’s a good place to start.

So, what about the other reasons? Here’s where it gets even better. New customers acquired through referrals are likely to be a strong match for your target market, and their positive perception of your brand means they’re much more likely to complete the onboarding process without slipping out the funnel.

Plus there’s a high chance referred customers will have greater lifetime value and make more referrals to your brand than customers acquired through other means.

Half of millennial buying decisions are significantly influenced by word-of-mouth and personal recommendations. Source: Medallia

Part 2: Encourage referral at the point of opportunity

Finance brands often have an array of touchpoints with customers, from in-store, over the phone and physical mail to online, customer portals and email. But choosing the right moment to encourage referral is crucial.

For financial sector customers, the best time to promote referral is on confirmation of successful applications; the moment customers receive their new debit card approved mortgage application or online investment manager. Another good time is when customers are using the product or service, whether that’s tapping away on an app or speaking over the phone. It makes sense – we’re far more likely to recommend something when feeling excited and engaged.

For online users, we always promote referrals using an overlay on the confirmation page. We support this through other channels, such as in-pack inserts, email promotions and a referral dashboard in the ‘my account’ section. However, experimenting with your referral program is key to understanding your customer base and discovering the best moments for promoting referral.

You could also get creative with your referral program and implement a system of tiered incentives or run a referral competition for your customers. We offer the option to run an open referral program, so you can invite those beyond your customer list to recommend your brand – something well worth considering if working with influencers.

81% of consumers are most likely to refer a financial brand upon confirmation of their application. Source: Mention Me

Part 3: Make it easy for customers to share

Each demographic communicates differently. That’s why you can configure our 16 sharing methods by segment and device.

Many finance brands struggle to encourage consumers to share referral offers due to the lengthy forms and complex rules involved. Our platform overcomes these challenges, making it quick and straightforward to share an offer.

Brands often promote sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and email, but these channels fail to tap into the demographic of 25 to 34-year-olds.

This group is far more likely to use WhatsApp (in the UK) or Messenger (in the US) and link-sharing instead of Twitter and Facebook, so you can tailor your platform to promote these options to this target audience.

Given the strong likelihood of money coming up in conversation, face-to-face sharing is also a vital channel to tap into. Across the 450+ brands, we work with, 45% of successful referrals come via our unique name-sharing function.

60% of consumers are very likely to recommend their bank. Source: Market Force Information

Part 4: Find the right incentives

Incentives are powerful. They can increase your referral performance by as much as 100%.

For strong referral performance, incentives must be tailored to individual preferences and needs. Testing our 14 different incentive options is key to understanding what resonates most with your different audiences and optimizing your program accordingly. It’s also worth considering incentives beyond hard cash. While offering £100 to both customers and their referred friends, like Nationwide’s Share the Good Things campaign, is undeniably enticing, it’s not the only option.

Other possible incentives could include fast-track applications (for mortgages, loans, etc.), a free trial (if a subscription-based service) or a limited edition card (such as Revolut’s metal one).

Essentially, anything that gives the consumer exclusive access to benefits. And even better if your incentive gets people talking (such as an eye-catching and unusual card).

We work closely with our clients to test incentives across multiple geographies and customer segments. So you can understand your customers’ psychology in even more depth and power a referral program that delivers.

Part 5: Driving performance

A referral platform could boost your new customer acquisition by as much as 30%. Here’s how we can help you achieve this (and other exciting results).

We’ll develop an in-depth understanding of your target demographics to tailor your setup, incentive selection, and promotional planning for the best results.

Once you’re up and running, you can test every element of your referral program with our unique segmentation and A/B testing capabilities. Deciding to share an offer with a friend is a complex psychological process – testing will develop valuable insights into optimizing your referral performance.

Our patent-pending name-sharing function unlocks word-of-mouth conversations and drives up to 45% of all successful referrals. So that conversation about saving money can convert into a new customer for your brand.

We have 16 fraud management vectors to ensure you can be specific about who can (and cannot) be part of your program.

How we could improve your performance

How we could improve your performance

Your estimated conversion funnel

Your estimated conversion funnel

Part 6: Great referral examples


A pioneer in online digital investment management, Nutmeg is on a mission to make investing fair, transparent and inclusive.

In just six years, it’s become the largest online wealth manager in Europe, looking after more than £1.5bn in assets on behalf of 64,000 investors.

Having previously built a referral program in-house, Nutmeg partnered with Mention Me to support its plans for ambitious growth, including doubling its customer base.

Nutmeg first launched referral on its website, where it A/B tested offering £25 on account for the referrer and three months without management fees for the referee, versus £100 and six months respectively.

The latter was the clear winner, prompting a 240% increase in share rate and doubling the sign-up rate of new investors.

Nutmeg subsequently integrated referral into its mobile app (via API) to provide customers with a rich, entirely in-app user experience.



Key highlights from Nutmeg’s referral program include:

  • Acquiring more than 1,000 new customers within six months
  • 25% of referred customers coming via the app
  • Increasing the referral offer share rate by 240%

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Award-winning Animal Friends Pet Insurance covers more than 900,000 pets and works with charities to improve the lives of animals worldwide. It’s committed to providing cat, dog and horse insurance cover with a quality of service that’s remembered and recommended.

It partnered with Mention Me in late 2018 to reward customer advocacy and grow its business with a referral channel it could track and optimize.

To better understand how to engage customers and boost its referral share rate, Animal Friends ran its first A/B test just 10 days after launching.

The first six months revealed several interesting findings. It highlighted, for example, that Animal Friends customers are more incentivized by the prospect of giving to friends than getting for themselves. Indeed, the insurance provider’s most powerful incentive to date is a donation to animal charities.

To build upon this insight and delve deeper into optimizing campaigns, Animal Friends is planning further split tests within winning categories, as well as throughout its customer journey. Planned tests include creative specific to different types of pet owners (such as dogs or cats) and time-limited promotions.

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Key highlights from Animal Friends’ referral program include:

  • Acquiring more than 1,200 new customers within six months
  • Converting 29% of referred friends into customers during peak months
  • Referred customers spend on average 12% more
  • 50% of referred customers come via name-sharing, Animal Friends’ most popular method of referral

Source: mention-me

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