UK High End Cosmetic Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q3 2022 Published Today

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The Q3 2022 benchmarking report for UK high end cosmetic brands has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK high end cosmetic brands perform across the digital space. 

The latest Q3 2022 benchmarking report for UK High end cosmetic has just been published.  It covers the largest 12 national high end cosmetic, including Clinique, Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Elizabeth Arden, NARS, Fenty Beauty, Estée Lauder, Charlotte Tilbury, Urban Decay, MAC, Lancôme and Bare Minerals, - it highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons in 20+ online performance metrics.High End Cosmetics 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 high-end cosmetic brands to win brand exposure locally, online orders and in-store footfall. The report highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons across 20+ online performance metrics and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for high-end cosmetic brands to win brand exposure, online growth and sales.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q3 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. Sector Reports Ipad cover - high end cosmetics

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.

Whilst most of the high end cosmetic brands had fairly low website errors, almost all the brands had some 4xx errors, although most were under 50. MAC saw the most error codes on their sites, hitting 114 4xx error codes. MAC must ensure their sites don’t lead their users to dead ends, this could lead potential customers to using other sites out of frustration.

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.

The results we found in our research were especially disappointing. For such huge companies, we would expect most to achieve at least an ‘okay’ score of 50-89, whereas none of the twelve high end cosmetic brands did. The mobile page speed scores are currently between 3 and 40, with even the higher end of the scale being much less than we would expect to see. All twelve brands have some serious work to do on improving their mobile page 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 gage of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads.

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 high end cosmetic brands achieved good and above. Ten of the brands achieved an excellent score, with Elizabeth Arden and Bare Minerals lagging behind on a score of 53 each, which in itself is still an above average score. Those at the lower end of the scale need to be focusing on building a stronger backlink profile to compete with the higher scoring brands.

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 looked at how all twelve high end cosmetic brands have performed compared to last year. Continuous improvement and optimisation is also needed to secure traffic year on year. We found that over half of the high end cosmetic companies have failed to achieve year on year growth in mobile traffic. Only five of the brands saw a year on year growth, with NARS leading the way with a 51% increase. Whilst the other seven brands saw loses of up to 40%, Urban Decay seeing the biggest loss of all the brands. All seven brands need to be looking into the reasons behind these dramatic drops in mobile traffic, and those that did see a YOY improvement can look at how to continue this rise.

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.

We could see that reviews were the highest used universal search feature, with MAC reaching 3,500 results. However, with all the universal search feature options, all twelve are underusing them, with some companies only seeing a handful of results. With such large brands we would expect to see much higher 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 brand new search terms as they enter Google’s index.

Although some of the brands are using a high number of longtail keywords, most of these aren’t within the top 20 ranking longtail keywords. Some brands, such as Urban Decay and Bobbi Brown aren’t using anywhere near as many longtail keywords as their competitors. To compete with those top companies, most of the high street brands need to expand their strategy to include new specific search terms along with improving their existing longtail keywords.

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 examples of Clinique's Facebook ads. The use of real customer videos and images are extremely popular at the moment, as most people enjoy seeing how it could really look on them rather than in studio lighting with a makeup artist. With platforms such as TikTok and Instagram Reels becoming rapidly more popular, Clinique are utilising the popular video format.

High End Cosmetics Facebook Ad

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.

With high end cosmetic brands offering a huge range of products, there is a massive opportunity for content creation. From jumping on social media crazes, sharing how to’s and special offers, there is a huge range of content these brands can be sharing. Many of the twelve brands are falling behind in content creation, there is an enormous room for improvement from all twelve high end cosmetic brands.

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.

Most of the high end cosmetic brands appear to be struggling with accessibility within their sites, with higher errors across the board than we typically see. Bobbi Brown are seeing a huge 355 alerts and 306 errors on their websites, which is a lot higher than we would usually see. All twelve high end cosmetic brands should always be reviewing and optimising their accessibility, however those seeing high numbers of errors and alerts need to investigate what the issues within their websites are.


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.

NARS achieved the best clarity score of 90, with Bobbi Brown taking the second spot with a score of 83. Although they have achieved the best score, NARS have the opportunity to widen that gap. All twelve high end cosmetic brands achieved a fairly high clarity score with the lowest score still hitting 65. This is great to see from all twelve brands, however there is still plenty of room for improvement.

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; High End Cosmetics Attention Maps


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics we evaluated these top 12 high end cosmetic brands on, check out our quick-look table below;  HighEndCostmetics_W&L_Sept22


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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