By Lucy Bradley
Last week it was reported that ASOS’ pre-tax profits fell 87% to £4m for the six months to 28 February against the same period in 2018. A major loss for such a well-known company within the fashion industry! But what caused this considerable drop in profits? Competitor activity? Drop-in demand? ASOS said that changes to their marketing strategy resulted in a fall in visits to its websites and a drop in its search engine rankings. But what went wrong at ASOS, and what caused such a significant drop in search engine rankings to result in considerably lower profits?
The chief exec of ASOS, Nick Beighton, has said that the company now have a number of things it “can do better” and their investments in various platforms meant that they were much more confident in their upcoming performance for the second half of the year. But what went so drastically wrong the first time around? With the global fashion industry growing rapidly and is now worth $1.34 trillion a year. Other fashion brands out there are not only competing on price, style and quality but also their online presence. Brands are utilising various advertising platforms; display ads, text ads, google shopping, remarketing, email marketing and the list goes on… A quick Google search returns these different types of results:
To stay competitive, and try and position themselves against others in the market ASOS launched 200 versions of its website depending on which country the customer is in, which had a negative effect on ASOS’ search engine rankings. As part of this, they made various changes to the way users navigate around the website and also made a change to how new products were displayed. It turns out that these changes didn’t have the effect ASOS intended, resulting in disastrous consequences for SEO and business performance.
So why did these website changes have such a drastic impact on ASOS in terms of SEO? Making changes to a website has a direct impact on the way users interact with and navigate with a website. In short, poor user experience on a website leads to a negative impact on rankings. So not only were existing website users not enjoying their time on-site, resulting in a decrease in sales, rankings had dropped meaning that ASOS were receiving fewer customers coming through from the search engines. Having a strong online presence in fashion is imperative; imagine how many times you’ve searched for a particular outfit for an occasion, relying on Google to provide you with the best options. The websites ranking bottom of page 1 and page 2 don’t have a chance! ASOS found this out the hard way…
We don’t know how ASOS came to their decision to make the website changes that they did, however, it would indicate they didn’t use thorough testing. Many businesses will use A/B testing for website changes to find out what effect this will have on user behaviour. If you fail to do extensive testing, especially with such a widely used website as ASOS, you can’t possibly predict the results of the change. Businesses are quick to underestimate the sheer power of SEO, but especially for these fast fashion brands trading solely online, if you lose your number 1 spot you’ll lose custom to your competition.
In order to combat their SEO errors, ASOS has had to completely revamp their digital marketing strategy to regain rankings and get lost visitors back to increase sales once again.
What lessons can we learn from this? If you fail to properly research and test the effect of website changes, you’ll risk the impact this will have on your SEO and ultimately your sales. What’s more, if you fail to keep up with the everchanging Google guidelines and algorithms as well as your competitors’ activities you’ll risk losing rankings. Don’t make ill-informed choices thinking you know your customer base and how they’ll interact with your site – test first to be sure. Follow an SEO strategy based on research and industry advice, you won’t just avoid losing sales, you’ll be putting yourself in a better position to increase them! Have an online presence that’s stronger than your competition. Need some help getting started with your marketing efforts? Our digital team are here to help, send us a message to get started!