7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Although it decreased drastically in 2020, the overall spending on advertising is expected to recover in 2021 and reach a staggering US$630 billion by 2024. In the Middle East, the digital advertising potential is huge because local consumers, who used to prefer traditional advertising channels, turned en masse to the internet in 2020, with digital advertising taking 44.2% of the total ad expenditure, while TV ads dropped to 30%.
In the UAE, the need for digital marketing is also on the rise. As the Media Lab research reports, with a population of approximately 9.6 million, the country has about 9.52 million internet users. This figures increase the role of digital marketing in the sales process of UAE companies that want to communicate directly with their paying customers. Among the industries that choose digital instruments for promoting their products, the real estate, food and beverage, retail, e-commerce, and automotive sectors are most involved in digital marketing.
Generally, the UAE market is quite complex as there is a blend of different nationalities and cultures. In addition, it has its own unique environment, climate, and demographics. Also, the UAE is quite receptive to innovations, which allows for the use of a wide range of digital instruments, as trends expand very quickly. So, when launching an advertising campaign in the country, you should reckon with all this.
If you are a small-to-midsize business, here are four steps that will help you successfully launch a digital marketing campaign in UAE:
1. Decide between doing it in-house or outsourcing When starting a digital marketing campaign, you should primarily choose how you would like to do it, i.e. either with the help of internal marketing expertise, or by using a professional contractor. I usually recommend my clients to engage internet marketing agencies, as it is cheaper by at least 30% and more effective than having your own marketing department. Moreover, they save your time and give you a better result, while working out a digital campaign by yourself implies setting up everything –from launching to managing– on your own. Some companies think that if they outsource digital marketing, they won’t be able to control it. But it is a delusion, as you can request a detailed report from the agency any time you want.
2. Settle on a digital marketing budget When you have decided on the way you want to do your campaign, you need to settle on a budget you can allocate for it. This year, the average cost of digital marketing for a small to medium sized business in UAE ranges from US$2,500 to $12,000 per month, and from $30,000 to $145,000 per year, with monthly payments of about the following amounts:
$300 – $5,000 for email marketing
$250 – $10,000 for SMM
$3,000 for content marketing
Prices for website design services start from several thousand dollars
The main factors that affect the budget for digital marketing are the size of your company, the category of your audience, the scope, and the duration of your campaign. At the same time, you should remember that usually digital marketing is a long-term process, so your budget can change due to new inputs, product line developments, or your company’s growth.
3. Choose the right digital instruments Together with budget determination, you need to choose instruments that will suit your budget and target audience. The most common digital marketing instruments for small business in the UAE are search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), email marketing, content marketing, and affiliate marketing. SEO is the most popular instrument among UAE companies. According to Statcounter GlobalStats, more than 90% of UAE internet visitors use Google as the main search engine. Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo are less common, which makes Google the best possible choice. Another advantage of making use of SEO is that it is easily combined with many other digital instruments, helping you save on the marketing budget.
Email marketing is also widespread in UAE. This instrument is quite simple to use, easy to implement and always relevant for the customers. However, affiliate marketing is a bit more complicated instrument to use, as firstly, you need to establish partnerships with relevant companies and platforms, and set all the necessary conditions of potential collaborations. Later, these partners will help you to sell your product through their networks and will take an interest rate as the commission. Its privilege is that it doesn’t require a lot of investment, and the affiliate culture is now flourishing in UAE.
Content marketing helps companies to convey the philosophy of their businesses and tell interesting stories about it, as well as present the product idea and the product development as it is. It makes business reliable and strikes a perfect match with social media marketing as all the stories can be distributed between potential customers via social media. Social media marketing also provides you with an opportunity to communicate directly with your customers on the basis of their preferences and feedback. It helps your company to strengthen its reputation and spread by word of mouth. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn, are widely used in the UAE to search for product feedback, offers, and other contact details. Moreover, the latest statistics related to social media presence in UAE has revealed that more than 79% of the UAE’s citizens use Facebook on a regular basis, and most of them rely on it to make their purchase decision.
4. Track results After the campaign has been launched, you need to organize its tracking process from intermediate to final results. I suggest paying attention to the following metrics: traffic, clicks, dwell time, conversion and return on investment (ROI).
Number of clicks is a metric that describes the percentage ratio for users that clicked on your ad and users that saw your ad.
Dwell time is the average time that users spend on a page.
Conversion shows how many people follow through on your call to action.
All these metrics provide you with a detailed overview of your campaign, and help you to calculate its ROI, which is a key metric. ROI compares the amount of money you have spent on digital marketing, with the amount of money you have finally earned. It helps to estimate the results of your digital marketing campaign and to understand its business effect.
To summarize, I recommend using a combination of two to three digital instruments in order to understand which ones are the best fitted to your budget and audience. It is also quite useful to make iterations during the campaign so that you can make prompt changes. And, of course, always take a look at the intermediate and final results in order to grasp what methods bring you the maximum ROI, and show the highest level of efficiency for your client base.