UK Pharmacies - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2023

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The Q1 2023 benchmarking report for UK Pharmacies has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK Pharmacies perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2023 benchmarking report for UK Pharmacies has just been published.  It covers the largest 12 national Pharmacies, including Boots UK, medino, LloydsPharmacy, Superdrug, PillTime, Pharmacy2U, Weldricks Pharmacy, Chemist Direct, Chemist4U, Pharmica, The Independent Pharmacy and Assured Pharmacy.

Pharamcies 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 Pharmacies to win brand exposure, drive online views, and generate orders. 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. Sector Reports Ipad cover - pharmacy

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 underperform. 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. Pharmacies should take care of the pathways to key pages, such as best selling products or FAQs.

Whilst most of the pharmacies we researched had a fairly low amount of website errors, all twelve of the brands had at least a few 4xx or 5xx errors showing. Chemist4U are seeing by far the worst level of 4xx error codes, with 3,561. Chemist4U need to be looking into the cause of these errors.

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. This is especially important for customers wanting to find their local pharmacy's contact details or to make an order online.

We would expect most to achieve at least an ‘okay’ score of 50-89, whereas only seven of the twelve pharmacies did. The mobile page speed scores are currently between 2 and 94, with Boots lagging behind. All the brands that are scoring below 50 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 gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Pharmacies should be continually pushing to 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. Only nine of the twelve brands achieved a score of average or above, with the DA ranging from 27 to 83. PillTime are the lowest scoring brand. Those at the lower end of the scale need to be focusing on building a stronger backlink profile to compete with the higher-scoring pharmacies.

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 would expect pharmacy traffic to be increasing, especially when compared to the years we were in lockdown.

We looked at how all twelve pharmacies have performed compared to last year. Continuous improvement and optimisation is also needed to secure traffic year on year. We discovered that only five of the pharmacies in our report have gained organic mobile traffic year on year. Medino saw the biggest gain with a 465% increase, whilst Superdrug saw the biggest loss of 48%.

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. Pharmacies should be utilising all universal search features as their customers will be interested to see how previous customers have found their experience via Reviews, FAQs and People Also Ask.

We could see that Reviews was the highest used universal search feature, with Boots taking the top spot reaching 76,400 results. Some brands are underusing all universal search feature options and only seeing a handful of results. Those getting a small number of results need to work towards the numbers their competitors are achieving.

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. There are many longtail keywords pharmacies can be using to ensure they rank higher.

PillTime and Chemist4U are ranking for a significantly low number of longtail keywords compared to their competitors, with very few of their longtail keywords ranking in the top 20. Both pharmacies should be looking at how to improve their rankings on existing longtail keywords, but also at how they can expand their strategy to include new specific search terms.

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 brands 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. Advertising on social media is great for pharmacies to reach a wider audience and age range.

Below, we can see examples of Pharmica’s Facebook ads. The use of images of their different products, along with clear CTAs and mixing still images and video content, make the advert eye-catching to scrolling social media users.

Pharmacy FB ads

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 retailer engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Pharmacies can be using social media to share new store locations and online offers.

We saw in our research that Pharmacy2U, Chemist4U, The Independent Pharmacy and Assured Pharmacy are falling behind their competitors when it comes to both Facebook Likes and Instagram Followers. All four pharmacies need to look into how they can compete with the other pharmacies.

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. Pharmacies need to ensure their websites are accessible to all their customers, especially as this is where most will be coming to get their medication.

All of the pharmacies appear to be struggling with accessibility within their sites and seeing an array of errors, contrast errors, and alerts. Boots are seeing the worst amount, hitting 1,348 alerts on their website. The pharmacies seeing issues should be reviewing and optimising their accessibility, and investigating to see what the issues within their websites are. 


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


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 Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash

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