UK Outdoor Clothing Brands - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q3 2023

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The Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK outdoor clothing brands has just been published. Learn how the top 11 UK outdoor clothing brands perform across the digital space.

The latest Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK outdoor clothing brands has just been published. It covers the largest 11 national outdoor clothing brands, including Mountain Warehouse, Snow + Rock, Cotswold Outdoor, Tog 24, Trespass, Ellis Brigham, Blacks, Mammut, Go Outdoors, Patagonia, and Millets. 

Outdoor Clothing Logos Sept 23 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 outdoor clothing brands to win brand exposure, generate online orders, and even improve 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. Digital Benchmark Report - Outdoor Clothing - 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. Large e-commerce sites, such as our outdoor clothing brands, can often fall victim to high levels of 4xx errors, due to ever-changing lines of stock.

In our last report, we noted that Blacks had recorded a concerningly high level of 4xx errors, with 6,696 4xx errors being flagged in our crawls - the most we had seen in any sector report to date. In Q3, Blacks has more than halved this figure to 3,126 4xx errors. Though this is still a significant volume, this figure is slightly less than Go Outdoors' total of 3,190, and only slightly more than Millet's 2,915. All three of these brands must ensure that the removal of old stock lines is not impacting their technical site compliance, and the users' ability to navigate through to key pages.

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. Customers will want to have a positive brand experience from the moment they set virtual foot on a brand's page, so outdoor clothing brands will want to convey an image of being high-performing and fast.

In our last report, three outdoor clothing brands had reached the 'okay' benchmark score of 50 for mobile page speed. Due to cross-industry falls in mobile page speed performance, we are unsurprised to now see that no brands are sitting within this benchmark. Millets is the best-performing site, with a mobile page speed score of 33. At the rear end of the scale, Cotswold Outdoor are now recording a score of only 5, indicating potential frustration for users when trying to engage with the site.

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. Outdoor clothing brands can look to collaborate with outdoor pursuits influencers, along with any publications within their niche, to gain high-authority backlinks that will improve their DA.

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. DA for outdoor clothing brands remains steady from Q2, ranging from 86, for Patagonia, to 41, for Tog24. Even brands at the lower end of the scale have a great platform to start with, and improving on these numbers is absolutely achievable.

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. As with all retail sectors, we're seeing a shrinking pool of customers for outdoor clothing brands, whose usual audience may be cutting back on 'treat' purchases and relying on older, or second-hand items as opposed to buying new products.

In our last report, we noted that all eleven brands had seen a reduction in traffic year on year. The biggest drop had been seen by Mammut, having lost 43% of organic traffic. In Q3, Mammut is one of four brands to have gained organic traffic year on year, having seen a 31% increase in digital footfall, compared to 2022. The biggest loss, of -26%, is now being seen by Trespass however, with Snow and Rock and Cotswold Outdoor achieving 25% less traffic than last year, this is a tight race.

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. For outdoor clothing brands, universal search results are an opportunity to show images and reviews of their products, using the 'image pack' and 'reviews' search results.

'Image' results are now the most-appeared for Universal Search result for outdoor clothing brands, followed closely by 'reviews'. Go Outdoors remains the winning brand when it comes to securing Universal Search results in total, with 65,200 of their appearances being for 'image' 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. Longtail keywords for outdoor clothing companies would show high-purchase intent, and key buying signals. These could be terms such as 'ladies walking shoes size 4 next day delivery' - a phrase looking for a specific size that has immediate availability.

Go Outdoors remain ahead of their competition, ranking for, by far, the highest volume of longtail keywords, with 8% of these appearing in positions 1-3. Mammut remain at the lower end of the scale, having fallen from 212 appearances in the top three positions in Q2, down to 154.

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.

Ellis Brigham has used carousels and videos to create engaging ads that will capture social media browsers' attention more so than static images. The use of different copy with the same vertical video in two different ads, gives Ellis Brigham the opportunity to A/B test different tones or calls to action within the ad copy, helping guide future ad campaigns.

Ellis Brigham Facebook Ads September 2023 

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. In addition to 'evergreen' content, outdoor clothing brands can use content and social media to appear for any relevant seasonal events, such as holidays and festival season.

Meta remains the preferred platform for all outdoor clothing brands, with the exception of Millets, which has seen more engagement on Pinterest. Looking at Instagram and Facebook engagement, not only do Mammut still have the highest volume of Instagram followers, with 484,100, but are also showing a growing Facebook audience, with 957,400 likes. Harnessed right, this large following will lead to loyal, repeat customers for the brand.

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. For any brand within the fashion and clothing space, such as outdoor clothing, they'll want to ensure they are not favouring form over function, and that their sites are as simple to use as they are impressive.

In our last report, we commented on Ellis Brigham's 720 accessibility alerts, pointing to navigational difficulties for users needing better accessibility. In Q3, there has been only a modest improvement, with 696 alerts now showing on the Ellis Brigham site. Looking in greater detail these are due to a variety of issues, such as underlined text (which may reduce ease of reading), redundant title tags, and redundant links, which will all cause challenges for users using screen readers to access the site.


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 11 outdoor clothing brands on, check out our quick-look table below; Outdoor Clothing 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 Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Julian Bialowas on Unsplash

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