UK High Street Fashion Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q2 2023

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

The Q2 2023 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 Q2 2023 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 Brands

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 Q2 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.

Digital Benchmark Report - High Street Fashion - Q2 2023 - COVER

What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each retailer 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.

Throughout all our reports on the high street fashion sector, we have found many brands to be struggling with maintaining their technical performance. In our last report, we flagged that we’d found 2,656 4xx errors on Joules’ site, indicating customers being sent to a lot of dead ends. This followed on from a large amount of errors in our previous reports too. In Q2, we found that Joules are still delivering 2,544 4xx errors, showing only minimal improvements. With the next highest figure coming from Zara, who only have 175 errors, Joules are now the only high street fashion brand struggling to maintain technical compliance.

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.

Last quarter, we noted that three high street fashion brands had achieved the benchmark ‘okay’ mobile page speed score of 50. In Q2, no brands were achieving this figure. The biggest drop came from Matalan, who fell from a score of 53 to 30. Matalan should review any changes to their site from the last four months and identify which elements would have caused this fall in performance.

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. Domain authority has been exceptionally high throughout this sector, with DAs ranging from 87 to 61 in Q2. While there’s no immediate cause for concern for any of the brands in our report, digital PR should remain a strong pillar of organic strategy for each company within the sector, to maintain performance and build a social buzz.

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.

As expected, all brands have seen a drop in year-on-year traffic. In our last report, we noted that Joules had seen the biggest loss in traffic, with a drop of 44%. Though Joules are still losing more traffic than most brands in the report (seeing a reduction of 36% YoY), this is on par with Matalan and River Island. Next are now seeing the biggest reduction in traffic, losing 42% year-on-year.

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 retailer 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.

In our last report, Next were seeing the most ‘Image Pack’ results with a total of 144,200. In Q2, they have maintained their first-place position with 8,700. Though there is a reduction in the total results, this could be down to Google’s SERP prioritising other universal search elements. ‘Reviews’ are another great way to build visibility here, on which H&M are leading the way with 42,200 results.

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 retailer 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.

In our past reports, we’ve noted that Oasis are ranking for fewer longtail keywords in the top three positions than any other high street fashion brand. Despite this, they are still outperforming The White Stuff and Superdry when assessing overall rankings in the top 100. Oasis should be looking to their 7,529 longtail keywords in positions 4-10 as an opportunity to improve and jump up the leader board.

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.

Below, we can see examples of Joules’ Facebook ads from the last quarter. Joules have used a range of creatives, including both product images and product videos. They have also used a lifestyle-focussed image, featuring a horse. This sends a message to anyone who sees themselves as having, or even wanting, this lifestyle that Joules is the perfect brand for them and will fit seamlessly into their hobbies.

Joules Facebook Ad Images - May 2023

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 retailer 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.

Facebook is the favoured platform for all brands aside from Next, who are seeing their best performance on Pinterest. This is likely down to their prominent homeware range, but other brands could also increase focus on Pinterest to access an affluent audience looking for style inspiration.

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, retailers 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.

Last quarter, we noted that Joules were seeing the highest number of alerts, with 946, which they have now reduced to 762. Though improvements have been made, this is still an abnormally high level from any sector, and well ahead of River Island, who have the next highest amount with 147. Joules should be taking steps to improve accessibility for their site visitors, in addition to reducing the technical compliance errors we noted earlier in our report.

Q2 2023 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;


Get the full 80-page Q2 2023 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 charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Request Your Report