UK Childcare providers - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q2 2022 Published Today

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The Q2 2022 benchmarking report for child care providers has just been published. Learn how the top 10 UK childcare brands perform across the digital space.

28th June 2022


The latest Q2 2022 benchmarking report for UK Childcare providers has just been published.  It covers the largest 10 national childcare providers, including Bright Horizons, Childbase, ICP Nurseries, Thrive Childcare and Education, Kids Planet, Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries, Little Pioneers, Busy Bees, Just Childcare, and All About Children - it highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons in 20+ online performance metrics.

Childcare logos

The research gives an inside track on who is winning share online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other childcare providers to win digital brand exposure, and secure online orders.  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 take-aways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.

Childcare cover - press release blog

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

Many 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.

Many of the UK childcare providers have varying degrees of technical errors that will be hindering organic traffic and conversion performance. An example here is Just Childcare’s 116 4XX errors. These will be making their site difficult to navigate and frustrating to use. This is likely to also give a negative impression of Just Childcare to the user, who need to trust them to provide an excellent level of service.

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 our research, we discovered that the none of the UK’s childcare providers are achieving even an ‘ok’ mobile page speed score, of between 50-89. Bright Horizons are the closest brand to hitting this mark while, with a huge load speed of 35 seconds for largest contentful paint, Kids Planet are the furthest from delivering on this important metric.

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 gage of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, ie. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads.

Domain authority is generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. However, a ‘Good’ DA score really depends on the competition level of your industry. In our research, UK childcare domain authorities range from just 17 to 61. All About Childcare sit at the bottom of this scale, with Thrive only slightly above them – both of these brands must seriously consider building this metric in order to improve visibility (and authority).

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.

Continuous improvement and optimisation is also needed to secure traffic year on year. While the vast majority of sectors we are looking at are seeing plummeting organic traffic year-on-year, all of our childcare brands have increased their organic traffic on mobile. This could be a reflection of parents returning to more fixed working structures that don’t accommodate for childcare quite as easily as pandemic hybrid working models do. All About Children have seen the biggest increase here, with 415% more traffic than in 2021.

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.

When marketing essential services such as childcare, reviews are important as they help parents feel they’re making a safe, solid choice for their child. By gaining reviews, brands will also appear stronger on a Google SERP, where these will be visible. Busy Bees are doing extraordinarily well on this front, showing 3,600 reviews. Though Busy Bees have the benefit of a large national network of nurseries, competitors should look to secure more reviews to strengthen their position.

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.

As well as achieving an astonishing amount of reviews compare to competitors, Busy Bees also rank in positions 1-4 for 1,041 long-tailed keywords. With these queries having strong conversion-potential, other childcare providers must pay attention and include them in their SEO 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.

Below, we can see that Kids Planet have used videos and images showing the day-to-day lives of children at their nurseries to advertise their open days. Showing these ‘organic’ style creatives, rather than heavily branded assets, helps parents picture their children at a Kids Planet nursery.

Kids Planet Facebook Ads

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.

Bright Horizons have low levels of engagement with content, when compared to how many articles they are producing. On the other end of the scale, Little Pioneers have achieved the highest engagement for very few articles. Though an ongoing content production strategy is essential to indicate a well-maintained website, content pieces should be well-planned and optimised for engagements, rather than focussed on quantity.

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.

Many of the childcare providers we examined have accessibility issues that must be addressed. Of these, Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries have recorded 75 contrast errors – indicating that their site may be difficult to read for anyone with a visual impairment. When it comes to readability, all nurseries have a slightly higher reading complexity level than is ideal for the general public and should focus on using more direct, simplified language for ease of understanding.

User Journeys & Conversion Rate Performance

3.42 seconds are all it takes for a user to judge a site solely on its appearance. For sites with a low clarity score, this means users are getting a poor impression of your brand and aren’t seeing your vital cues to convert.

Childbase achieved the highest clarity score of 83%, while ICP Nurseries scored the lowest with 63%. With four of our nurseries recording scores of 80% or higher, ICP Nurseries must ensure their website is as easy to use, or risk not capturing users’ attention or confidence.

Additionally, we use attention maps to judge user behaviour and assess how customers are interacting with a site. You can see from these examples just how wildly different site designs can impact user attention;

Childcare attention maps

Q2 2022 Winners and Losers Summary

You can see all these brands performance at a glance in our quick-look table below;

Childcare Winners and Losers

If you want to explore how you can improve your performance relative to your competitors, reduce media spend wastage and drive more performance from less, read the 10 Week Performance Accelerator Programme for CMO’s & Marketing Leaders.


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 Phil Robinson.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

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