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How challenger brands disrupt with referral marketing

Sophia King
By Sophia King — November 18, 2019 -

Remember the first time you heard of Uber? 

You probably had no idea what it was. But before long it seemed to come up in almost every conversation.

Next thing you know, you’re talking about Uber-ing places and can’t remember how you ever got anywhere without it.

That’s how powerful word of mouth is. 

Tell your story

Every good challenger brand has a story.

Nutmeg is on a mission to democratise wealth management. Zipcar is redefining how the world thinks about alternative transport. Bloom & Wild makes sending flowers easier and even more delightful.

What’s your story?

Whatever it is, tell it to as many people as possible. 

There are a number of ways to do this.  

You can spend lots of money on advertising. 

But, at risk of sounding like Debbie Downer, there’s no guarantee it’ll work. Even if it does, you’ll never know with absolute certainty that those new customers came as a result of your clever TV ad or billboard poster. 

You can speak at events, send emails, have a snazzy website.

All great options, but you’re just one person. 

Imagine how much easier it’d be if you had hundreds thousands of people telling your story.

That’s what a referral programme can do. 

Encourage your customers to share their stories and experiences of your brand

33% of consumers trust their friends’ recommendations more than any other source.

Picture this. You’re on a health kick, desperate to eat well without endless meal prep or compromising your vegan lifestyle. 

What’s more likely to get your attention: a crackly radio ad as you navigate the M4 on a rainy Monday morning, or your cousin John shaking his Huel drink as he describes how he’s never felt better?

Our bets are on John. 

Even better, recommendations from people we trust can change our perspectives. 

You might think investing isn’t for you, but a friend telling you how an investment app helped them finally get on the property ladder might just change your mind.

That’s because referral taps into every marketers’ favourite buzzword: authenticity.

Track word of mouth (& ROI)

Most challenger brands are already aware of the power of word of mouth. 

Founders often know their brand is frequently referred, but they don’t know exactly when, why and how.

So what? you might be thinking. They’re still getting new customers.


But if you can’t track it, you can’t optimise it.

Put concrete metrics around word of mouth recommendations for your brand, and you can gather valuable data.  

And you know how you do that? You guessed it: with a referral programme.

Better yet, you can experiment.

Forget those torturous school science lessons – we’re talking real, exciting experimentation. 

You can learn all sorts of things about your audience. 

Whether they prefer 10% or £10 off; if they like to share brands via Whatsapp or in person; if they’re more likely to notice a picture of a model or a product.

We often take guesses on what will perform best, but the truth is, it’s impossible to know. You have to test, measure and crunch those numbers. 

Then you have shiny new insight that can optimise your programme and drive seriously good results. And you’ll know exactly how much referral is contributing to your business growth.

The big question: will referral work for you?

We’re big advocates of referral. 

We’ve seen it deliver brilliant results for brands of all sizes, sectors and demographics. 

Sure, things like clothes and holidays are more likely to come up in conversation than banking apps or energy suppliers. But connect with your audience in the right way and you can achieve big things.

Here’s the thing, though. Referral isn’t for every business.

In general, we recommend implementing referral if your brand:

  • Has an NPS score of 7 or higher
  • Averages 4-star reviews (at least)
  • Has enough customers to achieve significantly significant results when A/B testing.

A great product and service are the foundations of a successful referral programme.

In the words of Ellis, one of our Sales Directors and long-time Mentionner: 

“Be remarkable; get people talking. If you can do that, there’s no limit to what referral can do for your brand.” 

So if you’re a remarkable challenger brand, get in touch. This could be the start of something exciting.

Get in touch

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