The Middle East Entrepreneur’s Marketing Checklist
Starting a new business in the Middle East can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to begin. A lot of the resources you can find online might not be a perfect fit the Middle Eastern consumer audience and lifestyle, and while you might be able to use typical international or western marketing tactics, you’ll inevitably lose out to the competitor who puts that little bit of extra effort into truly targeting the local market.
Here’s the entrepreneur’s marketing checklist a new business in the Middle East. It’s intended to address the basics — from tapping into the best targeted traffic and directing it to your store to finding the resources you need to improve your game.
According to a We Are Social from 2016 report, Saudi Arabia has 64 percent online penetration with 20 million active online users. A full 11 million of these users are active on social media, and they own 578 million mobile devices between them.
What does this mean? You need to ace your mobile optimization and marketing game.
- Your website must look good on a variety of digital devices from computer setups to mobiles phones and tablets. The pages shouldn’t look awkward or distorted, and every button and box must be accessible and clear.
- SMS marketing campaigns should be launched straight out of the gate, depending on how much your business needs quick leads.
- A QR Code is essential in modern marketing because everyone’s got a mobile phone, and phones are the tool of choice for everything from online shopping to business transactions. Include a quick response code on every piece of marketing material, so your customers scan them and contact you right away.
Online Social Tricks
Everyone loves a good sale. The appeal of a great deal is universal, and you can squeeze a mention of that in every piece of marketing material you send out. Here are some of the little things you can aim to include every day to drive up those sales:
- Create a sense of urgency by using a limited-time discount code in your newsletters and emails, encouraging customers to shop right now.
- Include your store’s URL on every corner of the internet where you have a presence. This could be everything from your Twitter profile to forum accounts.
- Try not to spam your social media accounts with low-effort, boring posts and links back to your page. Quality will always find results.
Make the Most of Your Relationships and Local Knowledge
It comes as no surprise that personal relationships can sometimes be the key to forming business relationships. Personal connections are important everywhere but nowhere more so than in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East, which is why it’s crucial to capitalize on who you know and make the most of your networks to spread awareness of your business.
Geo-targeted SEO initiatives and mobile campaigns are also a new trend in the Middle Eastern markets. Local agencies in the area such as BeOnTop SEO Dubai — a prominent local SEO agency in the UAE — can assist campaigns with real-time analytics.
- Tap into your networks and spread awareness of your business.
- Partner with local digital agencies such as BeOnTop SEO Dubai to begin geo-targeted initiatives.
- Study the numbers and improve — the digital advertising age is in its infancy in the Middle East, so popular trends and styles are still largely undiscovered. Find what works for you.
Video Content and Social Influencers
Over the last three years, the number of YouTube channels based in the MENA region has increased by over 160 percent. The MENA region audience is becoming very responsive to video content, and over 200 YouTube channels have at least one million subscribers.
Scholar Damien Radcliffe reported in 2017 that Saudi Arabians spend the most time per capita watching YouTube (an average of 72 minutes per day for those aged 15-24), and the majority of these viewers tune into local female “vloggers” and other social influencers. Strong presences are also found in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
- Discover local social influencers and vloggers who would be interested in sponsoring your product or service.
- Partner with them and plan a strategy — anything from sponsored posts to an entire campaign featuring the influencer or vlogger.
- Apply analytics, understand feedback and audience response and improve with next campaign.
Recent statistics show that 50 percent of online users in the UAE access their email at least once per day, so email is still very much a great avenue to find new leads.
But how is an email marketing strategy different when applied to a Middle Eastern audience? The key is to understand the audience’s sensibilities. Consumers must be made to feel exclusive, and the email campaigns must be personalized and unique for every reader.
High-quality videos and materials must be included in the email to up the ante of your exclusivity. With strong social media presence and a reliable customer support behind it, you can rely your email marketing campaign to break through the walls and start new relationships.