UK Footwear Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q2 2023

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The Q2 2023 benchmarking report for UK footwear brands has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK footwear brands perform across the digital space.

The latest Q2 2023 benchmarking report for UK Footwear brands has just been published.  It covers the largest 12 footwear brands trading in the UK, including Schuh, Kurt Geiger, Pavers, Clarks, Foot Locker, Dune, Office, Foot Asylum, Shoe Zone, Size?, Timberland and Sports Shoes.

Footwear Q4 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 footwear brands to win brand exposure, drive online orders, and even encourage 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 - Footwear - 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 in e-commerce sectors, like shoes and footwear, they'll need to ensure they're staying ontop of ever-changing product lines and properly maintaining their internal linking structure when pages are removed.

Most footwear brands are showing very minimal levels of technical errors, compared to most retail sectors we work in. However, Foot Locker are an exception to this rule, showing 8,560 4xx error codes in our crawl. This has quadrupled since our last report, where we found 1,982 errors. Foot Locker must ensure they are putting redirects in place when product lines are removed and be mindful that their internal linking structure is not sending users down dead ends.

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. For retail sites, they'll want to ensure they're providing a quick and simple shopping experience that encourages purchases.

Though many sectors we work in are starting to see more and more brands reach an 'okay' mobile page speed score between 50-89, we're still not seeing any footwear reach this benchmark. Foot Locker are recording the slowest score of all, with just 7. A glance at their site shows high-resolution images, multiple popups, and a large amount of homepage content. Foot Locker (and all other footwear brands) should be reviewing all these elements to ensure they're striking a balance between form and function.

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. Footwear brands can collaborate with bloggers and online publications within the fashion sector to grow their backlink profile and boost their authority

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. Our footwear brands are all scoring well for domain authority, with scores ranging from 57 to 72. Timberland and Shoe Zone have the lowest DAs overall - though they remain strong by general standards, they should be reviewing their Digital PR strategy to identify further growth opportunities.

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. We've found that many sectors are seeing overall reductions in traffic, with potential customers feeling the squeeze of the cost of living crisis. This is particularly true in sectors considered 'treats', such as footwear.

We saw a near-universal drop in year-on-year traffic for footwear brands, with the exception being Pavers who secured 9% more traffic. Size? saw the biggest loss, generating 58% less traffic compared to 2022. With industry-wide traffic losses, brands should take particular notice of how their competitors are performing in order to benchmark their own activity.

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. 'Image Pack' is a great way for footwear brands to secure interest in their products directly from the SERP, without needing to tempt users to their site through copy alone.

In our last report, we saw that 'Image Pack' was the most used universal search feature, with Office coming out on top with 19,800 results. Though Office still have the most 'Image Pack' results, Schuh are now appearing for the most Universal Search results overall, 13,800 of these being 'Reviews'. The only brand to be making use of 'People Also Ask' results are Pavers, appearing for 2,300 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 footwear brands, high-intent terms could look like 'mens white puma trainers size 9', as this user has a clear idea of what they're looking for, and want their size to be available.

Schuh, Office, and Footasylum are not only ranking for a large amount of longtail keywords overall, but ranking for a good proportion of these in the top results. Schuh are appearing in the top 100 positions for 143,985 long tail keywords, landing in the top three for 8% of these terms, along with a further 21% in positions 4-10. This shows not only a strong existing performance, but is a great indicator of high-potential keywords they may only need minor optimisations to improve on.

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 footwear brands, Facebook ads are a great way to ensure topical content such as sales, trends, or limited edition collections, get visibility quickly, and are seen by the right audiences.

Below, we can see examples of Office's recent Facebook ads. They have used well-known brands to draw the attention of users, in addition to showing their own brand name in tandem. The bright creative is topical and ties into the upcoming festival season - a great way of enticing shoppers looking for fresh outfits for big events!

Office - Facebook Ads - May 2023

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 site speed, brands within the footwear and wider fashion sector can often favour style over function, leading to errors. In the case of accessibility, they risk not just inconveniencing users, but alienating one demographic altogether. 

Accessibility is something we have seen footwear brands consistently struggle with, though many brands are showing improvements, with six brands keeping all alerts and errors under fifty. Schuh, Footlocker, and Kurt Geiger are each setting the best example, with absolutely no accessibility barriers found on any of their sites.


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 12 footwear brands on, check out our quick-look table below;

Shoes W&L May23


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 Michael Movassaghi.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

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