UK Convenience Stores - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK convenience stores has just been published. Learn how the top 8 UK convenience stores perform across the digital space.

The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK convenience stores has just been published. It covers the largest 8 national convenience stores, including Premier, Spar, Budgens, One Stop, Nisa, McColl’s, Londis, and Costcutter - it highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons in 20+ online performance metrics.

Convenience Stores - Logos Q3 2023

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 convenience stores to win brand exposure locally, increase in-store footfall, and drive traffic online. 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.Convenience Stores - COVER

Q1 2024 Winners and Losers Summary

For a glance into just 6 of the metrics we evaluated these top 8 convenience stores on, check out our quick-look table below; 

Convenience Stores W&L Feb24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing UK convenience stores 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 convenience stores, they'll want to take particular care that key pages, such as store locators, are clearly sign-posted.

In the last report, Nisa returned 66 4xx errors, and this convenience store has increased this figure to 68 in this quarter. Nisa must assess its internal linking structure to address any broken links that could cause customers to become frustrated.

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. Convenience store customers will often be visiting sites on the go, looking for nearby branches that they can immediately visit. Therefore an optimal mobile page experience is essential for giving a good impression of the brand.

The site speed score for this quarter ranged between 69 and 21, with only McColl’s scoring above the recommended 50% benchmark. Londis has the slowest site speed of all brands and should include smaller images on its homepage rather than one giant image to help increase its site speed.

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, ie. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. With a range of products on offer, convenience stores should be able to create digital PR campaigns spanning multiple content themes, giving them a range of opportunities to build authority.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it is generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA rating for this quarter was between 62 and 46, with all convenience stores scoring above the 40 rating. Premier is at the bottom of the leaderboard, and it could incorporate a blog on its website to help increase its domain rating by 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. Due to the cost-of-living crisis, we're seeing that many potential customers across a number of sectors are either cutting back on expendable items, or opting for cheaper alternatives. Convenience stores may be feeling the impact of this, as their potential customers may be taking greater care to do larger shops at cheaper supermarkets, as opposed to picking up items as needed.

All 8 stores saw a loss in organic mobile traffic compared to the previous year, which is to be expected given the cost-of-living crisis. McColl’s reported the biggest fall in digital footfall — only 3 times the amount compared to our previous audit.

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 convenience stores, they'll want to ensure they're appearing for 'Local Pack' results, ensuring they are prominent when potential customers are looking for a nearby shop.

Spar continues to see the most appearances for overall Universal Search results, ranking the highest for the ‘image’ sector. Spar also reported 996 appearances for ‘local pack’ results — a category that’s important for brands target customers locally.

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 convenience stores, long-tail keywords could be focused on specific products that potential customers are looking for, and a strong performance here could see quick visits from local customers needing a last-minute ingredient or essential item.

Spar holds the top spot for the most longtail keyword appearances in all positions, with 1,470 results in the top 3 positions. One Stop is a close runner-up with 1,010 results in the top 3 positions. Though, given that Spar has more than double One Stop’s results in positions 4–10, there’s no indication that Spar will lose the top spot any time soon.

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 convenience stores, they can use Facebook adverts to drive awareness of deals or sales events, or use local targeting to improve brand awareness in areas that footfall is low.

We’ve included 3 examples of Budgens’ sponsored Facebook posts. It includes 3 vertical videos to tailor to mobile users. Budgens incorporates national holidays to make its content timely and includes internal links across the 3 sponsored posts to help increase customers and traffic.

Convenience Stores - Facebook Budgens 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 we've mentioned previously, convenience stores can create content supporting any of their product lines, whether that's through recipe content, household cleaning items, or seasonal ranges.

Four of the 8 convenience stores prefer Facebook, and Nisa has the highest total engagement (18,151) — a factor that’s important to check if your marketing strategy is working. All brands should focus on implementing a social media strategy to create brand awareness and help increase organic traffic.

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. Convenience stores will want to ensure a 'convenient' brand experience for all potential customers, at any digital (or in-store) touchpoint.

In our last report, we noted that Nisa flagged 95 accessibility alerts, which it’s dropped slightly to 81. Seeing any decrease in this area is positive, though this convenience store will has the highest alerts overall. Upon taking a closer look, most of these alerts are due to orphaned form labels, which is page markups not appropriately associated with a corresponding field and must be addressed to improve accessibility.


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.

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