Transforming H&M’s business by placing search at the heart of the customer experience

In the spotlight:

How Digitas transformed H&M’s business by placing search at the heart of the customer experience

2023 Silver Effie

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Transforming H&M’s business by placing search at the heart of the customer experience


2023 Multimarket: Sustained Success




Digitas UK


Digitas faced the monumental challenge of revolutionizing H&M's online presence, recognising its vulnerability in a surging e-commerce landscape. With a keen insight into the necessity for data-driven decision-making, Digitas embarked on a mission to overhaul H&M's digital strategy from the ground up.  Digitas's visionary approach ensured that H&M not only survived but thrived in the digital marketplace, safeguarding its market share and future growth prospects.


In 2018, H&M, a global retail giant, faced the urgent need to adapt to the rapidly expanding online fashion market dominated by digital-native competitors like ASOS and Boohoo. Despite its historical success in high street retail, H&M's digital presence lagged, threatening its market share. With online sales burgeoning, H&M's reliance on traditional storefronts posed a significant risk. To thrive in this new landscape, H&M had to prioritize digital transformation, particularly in search engine optimization (SEO). However, entrenched legacy systems, siloed teams, and a lack of digital agility hindered progress. Digitas recognized the imperative for sweeping changes, driving a comprehensive overhaul of H&M's digital strategy, culture, and processes to secure its future in the digital marketplace.


The strategy for transforming H&M's digital presence centered on harnessing SEO to meet the diverse needs of its broad audience across fashion, homewares, sportswear, and beauty products. Rather than traditional demographic targeting, the focus was on understanding and responding to specific search queries in real-time, delivering relevant products directly to consumers. Digitas delved deep into H&M's organizational structure and identified bottlenecks, streamlining processes and embedding SEO specialists across teams. This overhaul enabled the creation of thousands of new landing pages tailored to consumer searches, driving increased traffic and sales. Leveraging innovative data-to-text solutions, the strategy achieved both scale and quality in content creation. Throughout, the approach remained agile, pivoting rapidly to capture emerging trends, such as the shift to loungewear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuous optimisation ensured sustained performance in a dynamic digital landscape.


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Generated £408M incremental SEO revenue

The result speak for themselves:

1. Exceeding Revenue Targets:
The initiative aimed to drive £204M incremental revenue from organic search over 4¼ years. Impressively, it surpassed expectations, generating £408M incremental SEO revenue, doubling the initial target.

2. Google Recognition and Increased Visibility:
Google acknowledged the efforts by elevating H&M to the first page for relevant customer searches, resulting in a staggering 1,232% increase in the number of target non-brand terms ranking on page 1 since 2019. H&M's visibility surged ahead of key competitors across various European markets.

3. Exceptional Business Returns:
The European segment of the global program achieved a remarkable 30:1 ROI, with the ROI for the European portion estimated to surpass this figure.

In summary, this initiative epitomises effectiveness in the modern age, delivering tangible results, and positioning H&M for continued success in the digital realm.

WHY A SILVER EFFIE? Here's what the jurors said.

''It's a strong case that goes beyond mere campaign effectiveness. This is a case study in business transformation. It also clearly has huge effects on business performance that are even more impressive in the short time scale of only 4 years since start of the project.''

''This is a unique showcase of business transformation from old to new. The contextual targeting in the right moment and using search data to choose the right products are my favourite part. Results are outstanding.''

''This is a masterclass example of a digital business transformation done effectively. H&M was facing an actual business defining challenge, and the agency successfully brought H&M into the digital world of retail. It shows the power of implementing an customer-centric business approach.''

''It's throughout smart and ambitious and you're truly proving that creative effectiveness isn't just about advertising but really questioning the core of the problem – and then start solving it.''