UK Footwear Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q3 2023

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The Q3 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 Q3 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 - Q3 2023 - 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 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. Footwear - Q3 2023 - Cover

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 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.

In Q2, we noted that Foot Locker was the only footwear brand flagging a high level of technical errors, with 8,560 4xx errors being returned in our crawl. In Q3, Foot Locker has reduced this figure to 5,106 4xx errors. Though this remains higher than most other footwear brands, this is still an improvement for Foot Locker's site. However, Office is now the poorest-performing site for technical compliance, with a concerningly high 11,692 4xx errors present on the 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. For retail sites, they'll want to ensure they're providing a quick and simple shopping experience that encourages purchases.

We have seen universal falls in mobile page speed across all sectors we specialise in, so would expect similar falls in traffic for footwear brands. In Q2, Foot Locker was recording the slowest score of 7, which we chalked up to high-resolution images and multiple pop ups present on the homepage. In Q3, despite universal falls in performance, Foot Locker has improved mobile page speed to 13 - now out performing both Shoe Zone and Sports Shoes. 

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. All twelve footwear brands are still scoring well for domain authority, with scores remaining in the range of 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.

In Q2, we saw a near-universal drop in year-on-year traffic for footwear brands, with the exception of Pavers. This remains true in Q3, with Pavers remaining the only footwear brand to see any improvement in year on year traffic, securing a 3% increase. Size?, which saw the biggest loss of 58% in Q2, has reduced this fall to 18% in Q3. The brand seeing the biggest decrease in traffic now is Dune, having lost 53% of digital footfall

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. '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.

Office is still securing the most 'image pack' results, with a total of 88,500, while Schuh has achieved the most Universal Search appearances overall. 35,400 of Schuh's Universal Search results are for 'reviews' content, building trust with potential shoppers directly from the SERP. 'People also ask' results are now being optimised for more widely, with most footwear brands starting to make appearances for this result-type. Shoe Zone has secured the most 'people also ask' results, with 2,400.

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 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.

While Schuh is ranking for the most longtail keywords overall, Office has achieved the most appearances within the top three positions, with 10% of all its ranked keywords fitting within this bracket. In addition, Office is also securing the most appearances in both positions 4-10, and 11-20, indicating the strongest potential for immediate improvement. While Office is seeing improvements in longtail keyword rankings, Schuh must ensure it is not losing ground to this close competitor.

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 Facebook ads from both Q2 and Q3. In Q2, Office used well-known brands to draw the attention of users, in addition to showing their own brand name in tandem. The bright creative was summery and tied into the festival season that had been impending at the time, catching the eyes of shoppers looking for fresh outfits for big events!

In Q3, you can see how Office has transitioned into a more autumnal-focused creative set, using muted, earthy colours and cosy products to appeal to social media users getting 'autumn ready'. The vertical format of the creatives, both in static images and video, captures as much screen real-estate as possible, maximising the attention from users.

Office Shoes Facebook Ads Q2 2023

Office - Facebook Ads - May 2023

Office Shoes Facebook Ads Q3 2023

Office Facebook Ads September 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, brands 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 we have seen steady improvements throughout all of our industry reports. Shoe Zone currently has the least-accessible site, with 407 alerts flagging in our audit. These are mainly made up of device dependant event handlers - meaning users must use a particular piece of equipment (such as a mouse click, or keyword stroke) to activate the content. Though most users accessing the site will not have issues with this, it does mean shoppers using devices such as screen readers to access the site may not be able to fully interract.


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

Footwear W&L Sept23


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 Artiom Vallat on Unsplash

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