UK High Street Fashion Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q3 2023

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The Q3 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 Q3 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 Logos Sept 23

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 Q3 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

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.

We have seen many high street fashion brands struggle with technical site compliance throughout all of our reports on the sector. In our last two reports, we've seen Joules struggle to stay on top of these technical dead ends, with 2,544 4xx errors recorded in Q2. Though, with 2,390 4xx errors in Q3, Joules has started to reduce this figure, there is still a significant distance to go in improving. Zara, which had recored the next highest figure in Q2, with 175 4xx errors, has now reduced this to zero.

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 Q3, two brands are now surpassing the benchmark 'okay' mobile page speed score of 50. Joules has proven to be the quickest site, securing a score of 54. Matalan, which had seen the biggest drop in performance in Q2, falling from 53 to 30, has seen further reductions in performance, now recording a mobile page speed of 24.

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 remains exceptionally high throughout this sector, with DAs ranging from 87 to 60 in Q3. 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.

All high street fashion brands are still seeing falls in organic traffic year-on-year. Joules is no longer the brand seeing the biggest fall in traffic, with Oasis, River Island, and Matalan each seeing a bigger drop in digital footfall. Oasis has seen the largest reduction in traffic, securing 56% fewer organic sessions than in 2022.

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 has maintained its position as the leading high street fashion brand when it comes to Universal Search results, now making 691,300 appearances for 'image' results. 'Image' results are one of the most eye-catching Universal Search opportunities, and should be considered essential for all fashion brands.

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.

Since Q2, Superdry has increased visibility within the top three positions, now appearing in positions 1-3 for 3,489 keywords. This shows a concientious effort to improve on existing rankings, a strategy which should be the first port of call for any brand looking to improve visibility on keywords - either long or shorttail!

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've included examples of Matalan's recent Facebook ads. Though these may look identical at first glance, Matalan has used the same image for two ads (along with an animated version for a third) while changing ad copy. This approach means Matalan can accurately assess the performance of different ad copy, and apply learnings to future campaigns.

Matalan Facebook Ads - Sept 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 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.

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, 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.

Joules has shown a steady reduction in accessibility alerts over the past six months, going from recording 946 alerts in Q1, 762 alerts in Q2, and now 316 alerts in Q3. Many of these current alerts are due to redundant title text, an element that can cause challenges to shoppers using screen readers to access the site.

Q3 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;

High Street Fashion W&L Sept23

Get the full 79-page Q3 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 Denisse Leon on Unsplash

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