Despite bossing youth fashion market in the US, the brand has struggled to crack the UK; where it faces stiff competition from stores like H&M and Topshop.
The company racked up losses of more than £66m in 2013/14 and is already in the process of downsizing some of its eight UK stores. Unless things improve, the brand could exit the market altogether.
Could search marketing be the key to turning around its fortunes?
Here are 3 ways Forever 21 could boost their online game:
1. Capitalising on branded search
Despite getting on average 500,000 brand searches per month, Forever 21 isn’t bidding on its brand in the UK. In fact, the brand isn’t doing a lot of paid search or display full stop.
This means they’re missing a trick when it comes to generating more awareness and boosting visibility of their brand.
2. Reaching out to the fashion community
Like a lot of US brands, Forever 21 has struggled to break into the UK market, but research shows that the brand isn’t actually doing a lot to reach out to their new audience.
A cursory search of “forever 21 UK blog” pulls in first page results from the year 2010. That’s when the company first arrived on our shores. Since then, engagement has been infrequent at best.
Take a look at the company’s backlink profile (pictured below) and compare it to their competitors. It’s clear to see that Topshop is doing more to integrate with the UK’s fashion community; and they’re benefitting from that awareness as well.
3. Improving conversion and SEO
Ok, the Forever 21 site looks pretty nice. It is a fashion site, after all. But is it doing all it can to give customers what they want and generate conversions for the bottom line? Probably not.
There are a number of ways that we would suggest the Forever 21 site could improve. It’s not all bad news, of course, and for what it’s worth the categorisation of the site is really strong -- but our first impressions include:
• What little content there is has been hidden way below the fold -- and users need to be ready to scroll to find much of what they want
• In general, navigation feels pretty confusing. There is little visual prioritisation and calls to action are often weak or non-existant
• Surprisingly, a number of simple search optimisations aren’t in place. Products don’t have unique meta descriptions; and they’re not making the most of other enhancements like rich snippets or microdata markup
• Perhaps worst of all, there seems to be some sort of half-serious attempt at responsive design in play, which actually breaks on any screen smaller than 1920x1080. This is a major issue.
Forever 21 has doubled down on bricks-and-mortar retail, at a time of economic constriction in the UK. On top of that they’ve essentially ignored the online sphere, building high profile stores at a time when high street newcomers are closing as quickly as they pop up.
If they were to take a more modern approach to their marketing mix, taking more time to join the British fashion conversation online, they could integrate more successfully into the market. They need Brit shoppers to see the Forever 21 label as an essential and not just another store that they pass on the street.