Four takeaways any company can learn from Monzo about Customer Advocacy

Monzo takes 2nd place as the most recommended brand by its customers, so what can we learn from them about building customer advocacy?

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This year, YouGov revealed that 89.6% of Monzo customers “would recommend the brand to a friend or colleague”. Why is this newsworthy and why is it such an achievement for a disruptive fintech brand in particular?

Almost two years ago to the date, I departed on what was to be my first big adventure to Australia. I’d never done a long-haul flight, been on holiday for more than two weeks or travelled alone. So I did what every human being does in these situations, I chose to phone a friend.

This is how I found out about Monzo, a challenger bank that offered no fees when using your card abroad so I wouldn’t have to travel alone with a suitcase of cash. The rest was history, I was converted and I know how ridiculous it sounds to say it actually changed my day-to-day life. Through the recommendation of my trusted friend, I became a Monzo advocate.

(I mean, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post if I wasn’t an advocate.)

Blown away by this innovation, I was always happy to tell someone about it – sad, I know. I never received any reward for this, but slowly, one by one, people around me began to get Monzo cards. Even my mother-in-law has one now and the best part is Monzo hasn’t had to spend a dime on customer acquisition, which is historically very expensive.

So why is this customer advocacy so important to Monzo in particular? In academia, there is such a thing called the Diffusion of Innovation curve, coined by Everett Rogers. The curve shows that for an innovation, such as Monzo, to be successful and sustainable in the long term, they must “span the chasm”. Oh, so Indianna Jones.

via wikipedia

In other words, convert 16% of your prospective customers, the innovators and the early adopters, and it’s more than likely your brand is going to stick around because of their social influence, aka advocacy.  Being a top recommended brand means Monzo have jumped the chasm and are here to stay.

What is customer advocacy?

Wikipedia defines Customer advocacy as creating a customer-focused culture, where focus is placed on what is best for the customer. This is mirrored in all touch-points, whether that be through marketing or elsewhere.

The outcome is having highly-satisfied customers who share product/service information without being incentivised. This in turn influences the purchasing decision of those within their social network. They are, in fact, the ultimate sales rep.

In the history of marketing, this is actually a relatively new concept, and 80% of brands are yet to leverage it. If you’ve ever come into contact with a marketing professional, you’ll probably be aware of something known as the marketing funnel, or AIDA model. In a nutshell, this concept states that prospective customers go through a process of Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action when deciding to purchase a product or service.

In the old funnel, that’s where the relationship with the customer ends, very transactional. Modern marketers work to build relationships by adding Loyalty and Advocacy to extend the funnel to nurture profitable customers and build effectively a look-alike audience.

via AWeber

The power of WOM

Customer advocacy hinges on the power of Word of Mouth (WOM). WOM is simply the communication of information between peers, such as storytelling. 90% of consumers say their purchase decisions are influenced by WOM, that’s a lot of purchases just by leaving customers satisfied.

Simply put, we listen to and believe in what our friends and family have to say even more so than Google or any other brand. Brands themselves cannot be part of WOM, which may be why it’s the holy grail of the marketing world. All we can do is try and trigger WOM by making ourselves worthy of conversation.

So now you know a little bit about customer advocacy, you want to know, with the odds stacked against them, how on earth Monzo managed to do it so well. Here are four reasons why:

#1 Keep your target audience top-of-mind

Let’s start with the basics, the definition of customer advocacy means a customer-focused approach needs to be ingrained in your culture as well as your digital marketing strategy. This is the key difference between marketing and sales, start with your target audience and work backwards rather than pushing a product on them.

A good understanding of your customer base is the best way to start, ask yourself, who actually are they? Research your customer, understand their needs and wants, then fulfil them. Delighted customers are a lot more likely to recommend a brand they like to friends than those who are adequately satisfied.


How Monzo is built specifically for Millenials

Monzo’s main target is millennials, and this is pretty clear from their homepage alone. If they can satisfy their millennial customers, get them talking about Monzo then they know their onto a winner. So how do they solve problems for specifically millenials who want to “spend, save and manage their money”? Here’s three quick examples of how:

1. The majority of Millennials see themselves as global citizens, so why should they have to pay commission to spend their money abroad or a marked up exchange rate? You don’t with Monzo.

2. Millennials have been coined as the most impatient generation of them all, so what? Well, if you bank with Monzo, they’ll give you your salary a day before it arrives from your employer. No need to wait!

3. Having grown into a world full of technology, Millenials love data and they’re okay with sharing it as long as something’s in it for them. Like Spotify, each year Monzo creates your #YEARINMONZO using the data collected from your card to give interesting insights and tips personalised to each individual user.

What’s more, Monzo have included this campaign in their digital marketing strategy by making your data into simple shareable graphics. So, millennials can share their data with their friends on their beloved Twitter or Instagram accounts!!  I’ve shared mine below…

(Please don’t judge me for where I eat out, I’ve spent the last three years studying in Newcastle.)

#2 WOM: Be conversation-worthy

If you’ve heard of a marketing keynote speaker called Jay Baer, then you probably know what’s coming next. He believes you can turn your customers into volunteer marketers and advocates, through talk triggers. It’s a deliberate WOM strategy that makes it easy and irresistible for advocates to pass on information about your product or service.

Talk triggers are created through making a customers experience of your brand to be unexpected yet believable. Take one look at Monzo card, and you’ll get what I mean. As a quick experiment, I took all the cards out of my purse and this is the colour palette you get:

Which colour jumps out at you the most? It’s the coral pink, the Monzo card. You couldn’t believe the number of times someone has struck up a conversation about the colour of my card when I’m standing at the till and guess what? Off I go with my Monzo sales pitch!


It’s so simple, yet so so so effective. Traditional bank cards are pretty safe colours because that’s how they want their brand to be perceived, as safe. Why can’t a card be neon? It’s believable, yet unexpected and also a lot more difficult to lose!

#3 Get on social

As we progress further into a digital era, more and more conversations are taking place online, thus paving the way for electronic WOM (eWOM). It’s pretty much digital marketing’s answer to word of mouth, but it’s also a lot more accessible to brands in terms of getting involved and provides greater depth in terms of metrics.

Top social media professionals will be able to start these conversations, the best will be able to stay involved with two-way conversations to create user-generated content. These conversations are then automatically spread by clever algorithms to the individual’s social network. Although they may not be direct recommendations, that person’s network will still see them interacting with your brand and make them curious as to why.

Ask yourself, what social media channels do my customers use and how do they use them? Then start to build a strategy. Monzo is great at both joining in and starting conversations with the witty Millenials that inhabit Twitter. Enjoy this thread involving hamsters to see what I mean:

What’s more, like all digital marketing, it’s a lot easier to track your reach and engagement, something that is near impossible for traditional word of mouth. An easy way to do this is by adding a hashtag to help with tracking. Fashion retailer, Boohoo, are always trending on Twitter because they’re really good at doing this whenever they hold competitions.

#4 Reward your advocates

If all else fails in creating customer advocates, then there’s no harm in giving them a little nudge using a marketing referral scheme. It’s important to consider who you’re rewarding though, the advocate, the referred, or maybe both!

Monzo used to give £5 to each user as part of their referral scheme, but this ended up costing the company £500,000 in just two months. Going back to the drawing board, Monzo customers can now invite friends by sending them a “Golden Ticket”, there’s no physical benefit of doing this, but it does sound kind of special. They also make sure to say thank you – remember, a simple thank you goes a long way.

So when it comes to creating a referral scheme, it’s probably a good idea to do your maths before and work out the cost-per-acquisition of each customer in relation to their life-time-value. Don’t forget; what something is worth and what your customers value are two completely different things.

Give relevant rewards, money is relevant to Monzo as a bank, but it might not be relevant to your brand. Customer advocacy is rooted in customer experience, so maybe look further afield and think about what experience you and your advocates can share and maybe they could even bring a friend?


By building customer advocacy and becoming masters of WOM, Monzo has successfully secured its place within the Fintech industry. Here are four takeaways any business can use to nurture their own customer advocacy:

1. Always keep your target audience top-of-mind

2. Be conversation-worthy to trigger word-of-mouth

3. Get on social and become a part of your advocates conversations

4. Reward your advocates

Best of luck!

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