UK Sofa Specialists - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q3 2023

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The Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK sofa specialists has just been published. Learn how the top 7 UK sofa specialists perform across the digital space.

The latest Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK sofa specialists has just been published. It covers the 11 largest sofa specialists in the UK, including DFS, ScS, The Sofa & Chair Company, Sofa Club, Sofas & Stuff, SofaSofa, Swyft, Sofology,, Darlings of Chelsea, and Snug.

Sofa Specialist Retailers Brand 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 sofa specialists to win brand exposure, drive online views, and generate in-store footfall (where relevant). 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 - Sofa Specialists - Q3 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 and 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. For sofa specialists, they'll want to ensure key informational pages, such as branch locations, payment options, and delivery estimates, are clearly signposted and not blocked off by 4xx errors.

Our crawls have returned a mixed performance for sofa specialist retailers. Though four brands have returned very few errors, most brands are typically showing fewer than 1,000, as a rule. The exception here is Swyft, which has flagged an extraordinary 8,396 4xx errors. This is a concerningly high amount of 4xx errors, indicating many Swyft shoppers are being led down dead ends while on the site. Swyft must review these errors as a matter of urgency, as should any sofa specialist flagging with more than 100 4xx codes.

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 will see a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. Sofa specialists may be tempted to include large, high-quality images on their sites to show products at their best. However, when also needing to juggle large quantities of products, sofa specialists must ensure they are striking a happy medium between form and function.

Mobile page speed scores for sofa specialists range from 57 for The Sofa & Chair Company, down to just 3 for Snug. Snug's homepage features high-quality images, an impressive stop-motion video, and fabric sample request pop-up, along with a social widget. Though all these features make for a great-looking homepage, they are causing slow page load speeds. We'd recommend Snug ensure images and videos are appropriately sized for mobile, to ensure a quick user experience.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA) 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. By working with a digital PR specialist, sofa specialists will be able to reclaim existing link opportunities, along with strategising on engaging, eye-catching PR campaigns that will gain backlinks and, even more crucially, referral traffic and brand awareness.

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. DAs for sofa specialists range from 62, for DFS, to 34 for SofaSofa. Retailers at the lower end of this scale may have a mammoth task ahead to catch up with household name brands, but a strong digital PR strategy will enable them to make incremental gains and remain competitive.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for core, 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. During lockdown and Covid, we saw consumers invest in their home environments, making them more comfortable and stylish. However, following this boom, we are witnessing near-universal falls in traffic across the homeware sector.

As is to be expected, almost all of our sofa specialist brands have seen falls in organic traffic. The largest fall, of 36%, has come from The Sofa and Chair Company. However, three retailers have achieved an increase in traffic year on year, with Darlings of Chelsea seeing an impressive 61% rise in digital footfall.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results are 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. 'Reviews' and 'images' are both great options for sofa specialists, who can demonstrate customer satisfaction and product styles directly from the SERP.

As expected, 'images' is the widest-used Universal Search result for sofa specialists, with DFS securing 33,900 appearances for this result - far more than competitors. ScS appears to be the only retailer taking advantage of the opportunity to appear for 'reviews' content, a trick many brands are missing out on when it comes to building customer trust.

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 new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Sofa specialists will want to ensure they're including phrases which show a high purchase intent in their strategy, such as terms including 'quick delivery', 'no interest finance', or 'matching three piece suite'.

DFS, ScS, and Sofology are the pack leaders when it comes to longtail keyword appearances, with each brand making far more appearances in the top three than any other brands in our report. All sofa specialists are ranking for at least 7,000 longtail keywords in total, indicating a strong opportunity for brands securing fewer top three positions to optimise current content and improve these figures.

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 in 2019. Facebook ads are an opportunity to show key styles and ranges within lifestyle settings, engaging potential customers through social media with beautiful images of their products.

We've included examples from Swyft below. Swyft has utilised vertical video to sit natively within Reels content, in addition to using the same orientation for static images - allowing them to fully occupy any mobile user's screen. These images are highly appealing and aesthetically pleasing, making them likely to feel engaging and inspirational with their target audience.

Swyft Facebook Ads August 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 a long period of time. It's great for your engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content that achieves traffic over a long period. Pinterest is a useful platform for any brand within the homeware space, such as sofa specialists, as it boasts a comparatively more affluent audience than other platforms, who are immersed in the decision-making stage of purchasing.

Three sofa specialists are favouring Pinterest, with a further four showing a preference for Meta's platforms. Sofology has secured the largest audience on Facebook, with 153,400 likes, while Sofa Club lead on the more visual Instagram, with 222,000 followers. For both these brands, this represents a large, pre-engaged audience that is more likely to see organic social activity, reducing the need to rely on paid ads.

Website Readability & Accessibility

About 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. Sofa specialists should ensure they are not excluding visually impaired customers on the basis of having a non-accessible site and must ensure that all potential sofa customers are able to browse products with ease.

Snug is flagging an alarming level of accessibility alerts, with 1,019 appearing in our audit. However, many of these appear to be caused by redundant title text. Though this causes problems for shoppers using screen readers to access the site, it will be a relatively easy fix for Snug to address.


For a glance into just six of the metrics we evaluated these top 11 sofa specialists on, check out our quick-look table below; Sofa Specialists W&L Aug23


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 Paul Weaver on Unsplash

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