UK Building Societies - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q4 2023

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The Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK building societies has just been published. Learn how the top 10 UK building societies perform across the digital space.

The latest Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK building societies has just been published. It covers the largest 10 national Building societies, including Nationwide, Yorkshire Building Society, Leeds Building Society, The Nottingham, Coventry Building Society, Principality Building Society, The Cumberland, Skipton Building Society, The West Brom, and Newcastle Building Society.

 Building Society 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 building societies to win brand exposure, drive online enquiries, and even increase in-branch visits. 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 Q4 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 - Building Societies - Q4 2023 - Cover


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics we evaluated these top 10 building societies on, check out our quick-look table below; Building Societies W&L Oct23

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's top and poorest-performing building societies, 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 site 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 underperform. 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 any brand operating in the financial sector, building absolute trust is essential for winning new customers. Building societies will need to ensure that their websites are easy to navigate, and that key pages such as local branch information and comparison tools are clear and not blocked off by broken links.

Last quarter, we noted that Principality Building Society were seeing the highest volume of 4xx errors, returning a total of 155 in our crawls. Principality have slightly decreased on this figure for Q4, showing up with 151 4xx errors in our audit. Principality ideally need to be reducing this figure more significantly, or else risk potential customers turning away to competitors after being met with dead ends on their site.

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. As with ensuring their sites are technically compliant, building societies must be delivering a quick user experience that improves faith in the brand and encourages conversions.

Last quarter, we noted that The West Brom's mobile page speed score had fallen from 61 down to just 18. In Q4, The West Brom has regained some ground, now returning a score of 31. Skipton has returned the lowest mobile page speed score, with 4.

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. Building societies can look to creating PR content on any subject in the financial space, whether that's saving for a new home, putting money aside for children, or identifying the best building society product for your situation. Topics like these are likely to be picked up by national and local press, generating both referral traffic and new, high-quality 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. All building societies are still achieving reasonable DA scores, ranging from 77 for Nationwide, to 50 for Newcastle Building Society.

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. Though many sectors are seeing a reduction in traffic sector-wide, with building societies remaining a cost-free product that will be ever-needed, we wouldn't expect to see any negative impact directly stemming from the cost of living crisis.

After a mixed performance in our previous reports, all ten building societies are now seeing an increase in organic traffic year on year. Principality is achieving the most significant increase, with a rise of 62%.

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 site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. 'Reviews' will be a key way for building societies to gain trust from users directly from the SERP, while 'local pack' results will help increase in-branch footfall.

'People also ask' results remain the most-used Universal Search feature, with Nationwide remaining in prime position with 9,400 results (along with 1,500 'local pack', 724 'featured snippet', and 981 'knowledge panel' results). High levels of appearances for textual Universal Search results generally indicates strong longtail keyword performance, as these are pulled from effective on-site content. 

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 building societies, they'll want to look at high-conversion potential keywords, such as phrases from users looking to book in-branch meetings, 'sign up' for new accounts, or using heavily detailed key terms (or even specific products).

Though Nationwide are ranking for the highest volume of longtail keywords in total, less than half of these are appearing in the top twenty results, only appearing in the top three positions for 7% of all ranked-for keywords. Despite this, they are still outperforming all competitors across both total and top-ranked keywords. Though Principality are ranking for more longtail keywords in total than two competitors, they are appearing least often in the top three. We recommend Principality look to their current, poorly-ranking keywords as a first port of call for optimising content and improving performance.

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.

We've included examples of The Cumberland's Facebook ads below. The Cumberland have chosen a graphic-heavy approach, tying closely into their branding. These ads are eye-catching and recognisable as being from The Cumberland. Cumberland's ads are now varied, with a range of formats such as square and standard video, along with a carousel. This will help avoid ad blindness and ensure users are seeing a variety of creative.

The Cumberland Facebook Ads October 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. Building societies can look to their digital PR content used to boost DA to help increase social shares too, creating engaging, widely appealing content that is both educational and informative.

Generally speaking, Meta is the preferred platform for content sharing and creation from building societies, with Yorkshire Building Society securing the most total engagements across all platforms, with 39,247. Nationwide have the largest audience on their organic channels, with 103,400 Facebook likes and 10,200 Instagram followers. This represents a readily-available audience who are more likely to see content without the need for paid promotions and boosted posts.

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. Building societies must ensure their content is accessible by all, as users with visual impairments will be less trusting of a site they're not fully able to navigate. 

In our last report, we made note of The Nottingham's 53 contrast errors, as the stand out results across these ten building societies. While the Nottingham has now removed all contrast errors, along with reducing general errors to one and alerts to two, the biggest cause for concern now lies with Coventry Building Society, which returned 46 alerts in our crawls.


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 Eduardo Soares on Unsplash

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