UK High Street Fashion Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK high street fashion brands has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK high street fashion brands perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK high street fashion brands has just been published. It covers the largest 12 national high street fashion brands, including Monsoon, River Island, Superdry, Oasis, White Stuff, H&M, New Look, Matalan, Next, Zara, Fat Face, and Joules.  

High Street Fashion - LOGOS

The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other high street fashion brands to win brand exposure, drive traffic online, and even increase in-store footfall. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.High Street Fashion - COVER

Q1 2024 winners leader board

For a glance into just 6 of the metrics we evaluated these top 12 high street fashion brands on, check out our quick-look table below;

High Street Fashion W&L Feb24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing UK high street brands or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each brand based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will under-perform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. For brands within the high street fashion space, they’ll be handling large amounts of seasonally changing products and stock levels. High street fashion brands will want to ensure that removing products does not have a knock-on effect for site usability, and that redirects and their internal links are regularly updated in line with product removals.

In our last couple of audits, Joules was the brand to watch due to its number of 4xx errors. In this quarter, Fat Face has the largest number of 4xx errors (160), and it must update any links to prevent the brand looking unprofessional.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. In sectors such as high street fashion (where the temptation is to ensure products are being seen at their best, with high resolution images and videos) brands must ensure that form is not taking priority over function.

In our previous report, Matalan scored 24 for site speed, which it’s slightly increased to 26 for Q1 2024. For this quarter, the site speed ranges between 52 and 9, with only River Island surpassing 50 (a benchmark for ‘okay’). All high street fashion brands should adopt strategies to increase their site speed to help increase conversions.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. For brands within the fashion sector, there’s a golden opportunity to be creative with digital PR and outreach, to help build their domain authority. Collaborations with online publications and high authority bloggers to promote specific lines serve the dual purpose of driving conversions for seasonal stock and securing high authority backlinks.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA range for this quarter ranged between 87 and 55, with all brands scoring above 50 and Oasis at the bottom of the leaderboard. This is also the brand with the lowest number of backlinks, which it should look to increase to enhance its DA rating for the next quarter.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. For high street fashion brands, they may see a reduction in traffic, due to the cost-of-living crisis and the need for customers to cut back on expendables. Therefore, when assessing organic traffic, it’s important to benchmark against others in the sector, in addition to your own performance in the previous year.

Three of the 12 brands encountered an increase in organic mobile traffic compared to last year, with New Look seeing a 57% rise. Alternatively, Oasis reported a 75% decrease in traffic.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a brand can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. For high street fashion brands, the ‘Image Pack’ universal search result provides an opportunity to show products directly from the SERP, as opposed to needing to tempt users to their site through text alone.

Next saw the most appearances for overall Universal Searches, with most of these impressions coming from the ‘Image’ category. In fact, all brands scored the highest in this section. ‘Reviews’ are also a great way for brands to increase their Universal Search appearances, and Oasis, River Island, and Zara had zero appearances for ‘Reviews’, which they should look to improve.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for brand new search terms as they enter Google’s index. For high street fashion brands, they can capitalise on highly descriptive longtail keywords coming from shoppers looking for specific items. For example, a seasonal phrase showing high purchase intent for summer could be ‘scoop neck leopard print bikini top size 14’. This would be a user who has a clear image in their head of what they would like to buy and is looking for availability in their size.

Next landed the most appearances in the top 3 search engine results, with almost 3x as many as the leader up. H&M is in third place for the top 3 search engine results and is out-performing New Look for the top 4–10 search positions, demonstrating that it has a strong keyword strategy.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019. For high street fashion brands, Facebook ads are an opportunity to ensure customers are seeing offers, seasonal stock, and style inspiration.

We’ve included 3 examples of River Island’s sponsored Facebook posts. Across all posts, this brand included 2 lines of the same text with a mixture of different placement of emojis, suggesting that the brand is testing results. It also included a mixture of CTAs, including “Visit Instagram” and “Shop Now” in an effort to expand its online audience and increase conversions.

High Street Fashion - Facebook River Island Advert

Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. As with Facebook advertising, social content is an opportunity to share seasonal information, and can also be used to inspire different fashion looks and outfits.

Nine brands favour Facebook, and three favour Pinterest (a wise choice, as Pinterest users are more affluent shoppers than on other platforms). All brands should regularly post content relating to their newest launches, deals, and any material that’s an extension to their brand. H&M has 40,000,000 Facebook Likes, putting it in the top spot.

Website Readability & Accessibility

20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, brands lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. As with mobile page speed performance, high street fashion brands should take care to avoid favouring form over function, and ensure that their sites are accessible, as well as looking good.

In our last audit, Joules reported 316 alerts, which it’s decreased to 30 in this quarter. River Island flagged 227 alerts, which, under closer inspection, are predominantly caused by redundant links and redundant title text. This brand also reported 206 errors, which are mainly due to empty buttons, and it should address these alerts and errors to improve accessibility for those using a screen reader.

Get the full 70-page Q1 2024 report

To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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