Social Media and Digital Marketing in the UAE
One of the most difficult challenges any business has to face is identifying new customers and encouraging them to engage with their brand – with the end goal of converting these leads into sales.
Before the Digital Age, word of mouth and traditional media exposure (such as TV and Radio reports or newspaper articles) was the best way to generate interest – but that has and continues to change, with a greater audience focus on gathering their information online.
Of the 246 million people living in the Middle East, 60% (147 million) now use the interne, 93 million are active on social media, and the UAE has the highest social media penetration of any country in the world at 99%
This is a huge potential audience who can now be directly connected and engaged with via Social Media channels. Meaning that the battle to gain their custom starts before they ever step foot in your venue.
It makes sense to connect with as many of your potential customers as possible, yet many UAE businesses are not taking advantage of having an engaging online presence that showcases their venue, and are falling behind their competition – or having to rely on 3rd parties (such as Influencers, Bloggers and Review Sites) to generate interest, which risks the Brand Image being perceived in a different way than those companies intended.
Why Use Social Media and Digital Marketing?
In areas like Dubai, where the transitory audience hugely outnumbers the residents (over 5 to 1), being seen and heard is vital. You need to have a core customer base of dedicated regular patrons, but without harnessing the tourist opportunities – your business could be missing out on a huge revenue stream.
To connect with these individuals, you need to be marketing your business in areas where they will see and engage with you; and by and large – that is through the use of Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Your regulars are also going to be influenced by Online marketing through Social Media – Facebook, for example, has the largest Social Media usage penetration in the UAE at over 40%.
When they are looking to find more about your location, or discover a new place to visit – you will be overlooked if your information isn’t readily available.
Your customers want an experience – using Social Media channels to promote your business will let them find and connect with you.
Business Cost or Investment?
Marketing does not have the clear cut results that sales does – with sales you can see at a glance how well it has worked, and what is popular. But Marketing requires a more in depth approach and needs time to establish before tangible results can be gathered and assessed.
Unlike your sales team who will be tabulating ‘one off’ figures, your Marketing team will be constantly working on building your reputation, brand image and identity – tailoring your content and interactions to fit with the needs of the consumer as they change.
With a proper Social Media channel strategy and optimized content, your brand is now capable of connecting with a global audience – allowing you to showcase your venue to those that are thinking of journeying to the UAE, appeal to those that are already there – and offer a better more polished repeat service with regular updates and promotions.
Digital Marketing and Social Media strategies are a long term investment that builds the foundation of your brand, and generates focused leads that may then convert into sales. By spending a portion of your budget on ensuring that your business is on its best possible footing, it will allow for stronger future growth and expansion.
What Do You Need to Know?
There are a number of questions you should be asking of your company to really establish where it stands in the current market and what you need from a Marketing plan:
- How long is your sales cycle?
- How visible are you to potential customers during this cycle?
- How many leads do you normally need to generate to gain a sale?
- What is it currently costing you to create a lead?
- How much is your average customer worth to your business over an extended period of time?
‘Money is like water, block its flow and it will stagnate.’
– His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
The same can be said for your company – if the flow between your brand and your consumer is blocked, your business will stagnate and fail.
In-House or 3rd Party Professional?
Social Media does not have one-size fits all approach – each platform requires its own unique method of engagement to make the best use of its services. Training in-house teams to deal with this may seem like a more cost effective route – you will have developed your own training menu, you have staff who will become capable of Marketing and you can make changes to the plan very quickly.
But it does come with its own risks – staff turnover may mean that you lose that knowledge base if that employee leaves the company and will have to reinvest your finance to train their replacement, you will need to invest in the specialist resources to do the job properly, and once your staff are set up and dealing with the Social Media channels, they will need to be consistent in both content and scheduling – this means that they will have to be focused entirely on Marketing, and will be unable to perform their other ‘normal’ duties.
Hiring a Professional company to manage your Social Media channels means that your staff can focus on their core duties, the posting schedules and content will be optimized for maximum impact in your industry, you have access to experts who can advise you on strategies, promotions and campaigns, and give you data driven actionable advice to grow your business; as well as introduce you to their circle of Influencers and connections to enhance your brand.
You need to make sure you chose the right professional who can deliver what your company needs – it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but this is not always the best. Spending smart will save you more money than cutting corners.
Marketing is an investment and one that your company cannot do without. You must be seen and heard to gain traction in an ever more saturated market. Your business needs to provide an outstanding service online and off and give your customers an experience that will see them championing you to others.