The 4 essentials for mobile marketing in UAE

Are you ready to buy? Image from Upstream.

Are you ready to buy? Image from Upstream.

Despite mobile use in the Middle East expanding rapidly, mobile ad spending is still lagging behind the rest of the world. So for companies in Dubai a fast entry into mobile marketing is the key to surging ahead of competitors.

Have a mobile site

It may seem obvious, but many businesses still don’t have a site that is optimised for mobile visitors. Because of the difference in screen size, a mobile website is configured differently and allows people to move around (and make purchases) with ease.

There are two different routes for creating a mobile site. Either you have a completely different site that is purely for mobile, or have a responsive website built. Many believe a responsive website is the only way forward; however this is for those who are building a new business website, or are having their old website re-designed. This is because a responsive website is a single site that responds to be seen at its best on multiple devices. If you already have a well-established site, a purely mobile site could be a less expensive way forward.

Another positive for building a mobile site is that it can be changed quickly on a standalone basis, whereas changes to a website will be seen by anyone coming to your site, not just the mobile visitors.

Just ensure that your mobile site (or responsive website) looks good on lots of devices, not just on your own or your designer’s mobile phone.

Use Facebook

Facebook is the dominant website in mobile for the majority of MENA countries, so should be integral to your mobile marketing campaign in UAE.

Firstly you need to set up a business page on Facebook and begin populating it with relevant content. That can be updates on campaigns, competitions, videos and product pictures. Give as much information as you can, such as your location and opening hours, as this helps when people do a local search on Facebook for businesses similar to yours.

Use Ads

Mobile ads do work, so it’s worth researching your market and getting some out there. And since so many people use Facebook, that is a reasonable place to start. Outside of that, use traditional marketing insight to target those online websites you know your customers use.

Also, using a mobile site means you can track where your customers are coming from and therefore plan future campaigns around the most successful traffic routes.


SMS is still an effective marketing scheme in the Middle East, and if you can give people a mobile site to visit you’re upping your chances of converting a visitor into a sale.






It’s a universal truth that retaining a customer is less expensive than acquiring new ones. But it’s an easy truth to forget and once you let your attention slip, customer loyalty begins to slip as well. So whether you’re selling expensive jewellery in the Dubai Souk, or ice-cream on Jumeirah Beach, keep your customers at the forefront of your mind.

Why are they loyal?

Dan Brown

It may be the same formula but that’s what Dan Brown’s fans want.

It’s really important to know what it is about your business that keeps customers coming back for more. One of the world’s best selling novelists, Dan Brown, keeps his readers buying his books by using a similar formula and the same hero in most of his books. He knows what his audience wants and gives it to them book after book.

Ask yourself, your colleagues, and most particularly your customers, what it is that keeps them returning to you. It could be you have the best delivery in the city, or the nicest staff, or the best food. And you could also find out what is turning people away – as important to know when building a profile of a loyal customer.

The positive experience

One bad experience is all it takes to lose a customer. You may feel that’s a bit harsh, but unless you have the complete monopoly on a product or service, there is always a choice for the customer to go somewhere else. If your customer feels they can get a better experience elsewhere, they will at least give it a try, and once tried, they may stay with your competition.

The old maxim that you should under-promise and over-deliver has never been so true. In the age of Trip Advisor and reviews on Amazon, customers can tell the world of their experience in minutes. With this type of instant feedback, one bad experience (or several in a row) posted online could lose your sales straight away.

Which is why consistency is important. If you run a hotel, you know that people will keep coming back if the rooms are consistently clean and comfortable, and if your staff are always courteous and helpful. However, if you price yourself too high, long standing customers will expect an even higher level of service from you – such as expensive toiletries, specialist free teas and coffee, and if you fail to live up to that, you’ll lose customers.

Loyalty Schemes

Lots of consumer businesses have loyalty schemes (where customers get points for every purchase over a certain amount) in a bid to encourage people to return to their store for repeat goods. They can be incredibly good for business, but if you don’t give people sufficient rewards (in the shape of special events, money off coupons, etc), they’ll stop using the loyalty card and drift towards other businesses.

But when a loyalty scheme is working well you not only get repeat custom, you can track what works and what doesn’t work with your customers. It’s a fantastic tool to help you tweak your reward program to make individuals feel really wanted in your stores.

Loyalty in b2b

The business world is no different from the consumer world. You are still dealing with people and they want the same levels of customer support a consumer demands. So it’s important to identify loyal business customers a reward them for their business. Whether that’s taking them out for dinner, sending them flowers, inviting them to an inclusive event or giving them a discount on their next order. Remember them and they’ll remember you next time around.




How easy do you think it is for your customers to discover your business? If you’re an accountancy firm in Dubai, can people find you when they search online for an accountant in Dubai? If a person is walking down a street, will they easily see where your business is based? If they can’t, your business is missing out on potential customers and increased sales, and it’s time for some location marketing.

Search engines

Have you tried to search for your business online? If you are a clothes boutique, search for boutiques in your area and see if your own business details come up. Part of this will be based on your company’s website, but also on the other websites your company is listed on. For example, if you are a restaurant, any reviews on Tripadvisor will pop up in a search. At least, you’d hope so. Many people check online reviews now before making a decision on anything from where to eat, to what car sales company to use for their next big purchase.

Local / International Directories

People turn to the internet now as a first point of call to find goods and services.

So it makes sense that your company is listed in local online directories and portals. Using our boutique example, you might make a point of selling some goods on Dubizzle to gain extra exposure. If you are marketing a financial services company, you would ensure you have a listing on Yellow Pages AE, and if yours is an engineering company, industry specific websites such as Dubai Business Directory would be a good place to start.

Social media

Using the city name in all social media is a must. If someone is searching for art in Dubai, if you have a YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram account to show off your business, putting your location in the title will make it easier for search engines to pick you – and so, easier for potential customers to find you.

On Twitter, hashtags are a great way of using location to market your business. A shop with a summer sale would use #sale #dubai hashtags, an exhibiting artist could use #dubai and the gallery name hashtag along with a link to their pictures.


Using the data from mobile phone searches, search engines are able to target advertising in a more personalised way. This helps you expose your business name to people who are in your area. For example, if someone is searching for a restaurant in your area, you could set up an ad on the search engine that appears only for your area. This is becoming a common, and useful way of attracting new business.

On the Street

Can customers find your business easily ?

Can customers find your business easily ?

It may seem like common sense, but just how easy is it for people to find your business on the street? Is your business name easy to find from street level? Whether you are twenty stories up, or hidden in the depths of a mall, it’s your job to make it easy for customers to find your office.

Ensure the name plate on the side of your high rise office is clean and easy to read, put banners, flyers, even chalk marks on the pavement (if local by-laws allow) – anything and everything that gets you noticed in the right way.


Remember: If customers can’t find you, your competitors will reap the benefit.

burj khalifa

Dubai certainly had reason to celebrate with the EXPO 2020 win last night….great PR opportunities await…

Not all businesses have the budget of Emirates airlines to spend on their public relations. But having a little or no PR budget shouldn’t stop you from doing it yourself. PR is a key part of building awareness of your business brand and to show people how it is relevant to their personal or business life.

Get to know the press

The most important part of PR is getting to know the press very well – and letting them get to know you. PR is a people business. Creating relationships and building trust is essential to getting your story out into the world. Don’t just write up a press release, find a list of names and send the email blind. At best your story will be stacked up for a slow news day, at worst it will be dumped in the bin. This is because the reporters need to know the source is good, and the only way they’ll know it is if you take the time to talk to them personally.

So before you even write the press release, construct the survey, or begin your social media campaign, take the time to talk to the people you want to work with. Either ring them, or even better, try and meet them at a conference or industry event. Making a personal connection with people working in the media will give you a much greater chance of your story getting into the press when you want it to.

The press release

One of the biggest sources of company stories is the press release. Most of the time journalists and bloggers are very busy and if the press release has everything in it that is required for print, it will have a better chance of being printed. The press release is very traditional and it can work really well if done properly. If you have never written one before, take the time to study how a good one is written. The best press releases are often printed almost exactly as they are sent out. That’s because the writer has found out the average word count (the number of words in the article) the media outlet usually prints, has identified the news angle most likely to draw attention straight away (e.g. patients are seen quicker with a new patient logging system), and written the press release as though it were a news article, including quotes from customers or an industry spokesperson to back up any claims made.

The survey

Crime figures lowered by using a certain security business, aging lines significantly reduced by using a certain lotion, drinking this, eating that wont/will pile on the pounds: we’ve all seen the headlines in newspapers and magazines. But behind the stats and stories lies a well honed PR machine paid by big business to keep their brand profile in the public eye, or launching new products or services into the world.

Being on a tight budget means you have to cut out the expensive PR firm and learn how to do it yourself.

Firstly, take a look through the papers, magazines, blogs and websites most likely to be read by your target audience. Then identify how your business can help customers. Sometimes this is simply showing how using your products has saved people money, improved efficiency, or helped people make time for their families. And then create a survey to back up what you believe is true. You may think your new office chair will reduce back pain, but without the empirical evidence of your customers, no-one will truly believe you. It’s very easy to do online now with sites such as Survey Monkey. Load up your questions and send out an invitation (possibly with a prize attached of 10 percent off their next purchase to encourage people to take part) via email to your current mailing list. When people fill in the survey, the site allows you to view the results in a series of graphs, breaking down the demographics for you, so you can compile a story based on the results.

Surveys are a great way to gauge how your customers really feel about your company. If the results aren’t what you expected, that’s perfect for honing your products to give your customers what they really want.

Social media

Social media can be an incredibly powerful PR tool. Get it right and your business will grow as a result. But get it wrong and you’ll end up spending a lot of time and possibly money repairing the damage. Which is why, if you are trying to do your own PR, it’s really important to spend time understanding the different social media vehicles and choosing the right one for your business. If you are selling make-up and you spend all your time on LinkedIn, you aren’t going to reach your target market. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube are much better avenues for you to pursue.


PR can be done on a small budget, but like all tightly controlled financial endeavours, if you move too early without thinking it through properly, you could end up wasting a lot of time with nothing to show for it. Better to plan thoroughly, and research carefully, before dipping your toe into the public relations arena.



Think Coca Cola and you’ll probably be thinking red and white. Starbucks and you’ll have a bit of green, whiff of coffee and young people serving you with a smile. These two are great examples of how a brand can impose itself into your psyche without you even realising it. And that’s the holy grail of branding for even the smallest of companies.

Whether you own a small boutique in the Dubai Mall, or are an accountancy practice serving the whole of EMEA, do you know what your brand stands for in the minds of your customers? Do they instantly think of your logo? Or something more intangible, like your great/poor customer service?

Getting your branding right is a key part of your marketing efforts. So the first step is to find out what your brand should stand for, and then discovering what it actually means right now to your customers. The two points could be further apart than you imagine.

A brand isn’t just your logo (although with Coca Cola that’s often the first thing people think about). It is how people perceive your business, how they feel when your business name is mentioned. If you’re a restaurant it will be the food you serve, but also the experience they have while eating in your restaurant.

Understanding how people feel about your business gives you the ability to change aspects of your customer facing business. You can enhance the positives and make necessary changes to the negatives. A little market research should bring back the answers to how your customers feel about your company. And its how they experience your business, not what you think you are doing, that matters to a customer.

The main questions you need to ask customers are:

Do you deliver on your promises?

The online society allows customers easy access to other companies who offer the same products and services that you do. This is why it’s essential a customer feels their demands are satisfied when they choose you over another provider.

Are you offering the right product/service?

Harley Perfume

Brand over extension …never really caught on. What do you think of this, would you buy it?

No industry exists in a vacuum. What was desired and needed ten years ago could be outmoded now. Do your customers feel your products and services are still relevant to their lifestyles or business needs?

Is your brand easy to understand?

Do your customers know what you stand for? You may feel saying that “accountancy services” should cover it, but do you specialise in certain areas? As a boutique do customers immediately think of you when they want a new dress, or do you offer a confusing range of clothes, jewellery, home wares and knick knacks that make them likely to visit another store instead? Understanding how your customers make decisions will help you position your company more easily in their minds.

Is your business easy to recall?

Unless you are the only company in the world selling one particular item, you have to distinguish yourself from the competition. It’s very difficult, and expensive, to become the market leader, the Coca Cola of your industry, but having a well-designed brand and a reputation for being good at what you do, will help keep your company’s name at the forefront of people’s minds when they need the product/service you sell.

Do your customer’s feel emotionally engaged?

Do they love your product/service? Is there a particular salesperson who makes their day when they get in touch, or serves them over the counter? Is your presence on social media making them happy, or annoying them? Emotional engagement can take many forms, so ask your customers what it is about your business that makes them happy. And, of course, what doesn’t!

Discovering what your customers feel about your business will help you understand what your brand stands for in the world outside. But don’t forget your employees. Ask them the same questions – their experience of working for you will help you gain a more rounded understanding of your brand.

Despite what many believe, a website is more than just a brochure site for you business. It’s the first thing people will look at when finding out more about your business. So whether you’re a swanky Deira restaurant or are just setting up shop in the Dubai Mall, avoid the following to boost your online presence.

Poor design



Crazy colours on your website can be a huge turn off...

There are few things more likely to put off customers than a badly designed website. Remember the old sales adage “dress like you’re going to meet your ideal customer”? Well the same goes for your website. Glaring colour schemes and images that are the wrong size for the space are akin to wearing a tatty suit and ultra loud tie. Find a website design agency you can work with, and meets your budget criteria, and give your site a thorough overhaul.

Broken Links

Even if your design is passable, just one broken link will put visitors off. Go through your site and make sure every single link on the site works. You may not have the time to do this yourself, but do ensure the person given the task is up to the job.

Terrible navigation

There are two standard ways to help visitors navigate through your website – and only one that really works. Some people still use a side navigation bar, but the way forward is quick links at the top of the page to the most important pages on your site.

The most important links are your home page button, the products or services button, and the contact page button. Secondary to this are the About Us page, offers (if that is something key to business), and support/help button (if you are the type of business whose customers are support orientated).

The modern way to place the rest of your navigation buttons is at the bottom of the page. This is called the footer and, as long as it’s well laid out, can contain a huge number of links to other parts of the website.

For a generation of people who’ve grown up with the web, great navigation is essential.

Media that makes you cringe

You’ll see a lot of video on homepages these days. The reason it that is people take in visual information more quickly than words. However, if you’re video doesn’t load properly, is in the wrong language, is badly produced and sounds tinny, the result will drive people away.

If you are going to have video on your homepage make it good. One problem some companies have is their market is multi-lingual. The way around this issue is to make two videos, one in the first language of your market, and the other in the second language. Not only does this get the message across to everyone you want it to, it also shows potential customers you care enough about them to make the effort.

Dreadful content

Only an amazing website will overcome the problem of dreadful content. Content ranges from the main pages on your website, your blog, your product descriptions and your service explanations. Take the time to write carefully, or employ a copywriter who’ll help you put across your message in the right way to attract customers.

Social Media fails

Content can also mean the social media you have on your site. Some businesses have their Twitter feed on their homepage. This is a great way of interacting with customers, but only if you are committed to updating your Twitter account regularly. A rolling feed from a year ago won’t inspire confidence.

The same goes for your blog. If you have one, you need to keep it up-to-date. A blog is a great place to tell customers what you’ve been doing, upload pictures and videos from events, and can show your industry knowledge.


Your website is an incredible sales tool. Make it the best it can be to attract customers and win more business.



Are you creating enough of a buzz around your products ?

Just about every website has a couple of social media buttons, but just how effective have your social media efforts been? Are you really making the most of the opportunity to market your Dubai-based company on the internet?

Well the answer is no if you are simply Tweeting, updating Facebook occasionally or just sat there watching your LinkedIn account.

Social media isn’t a stand-alone component of your marketing plan. By integrating social media with the rest of marketing activities, your chances of success significantly improve.

More and more, marketing departments are realising that they need a cohesive strategy based around something called Content Marketing. This is where you create content on your website (and social media sites) to disseminate across social media and traditional media, to increase awareness of your product or company.

The concept of Content Marketing is fairly new, but as with all new marketing ideas, planning is the key to making it a success.

The 12 month plan

This is your master plan, with milestones plotted in. Every good marketing department should already have one of these. It gives you and your team a firm foundation of what is going on. You place each product launch, each marketing effort, industry conference and exhibition on your plan.

Example: if you are creating a TV ad you pencil in the air date, the date you are posting it on YouTube and when you are going to mention it on the company blog.

The six month plan

Here you give your marketing team a clear target to hit at the half way point. Everyone in the team should have a personalised version of the six month plan showing what they and their team are aiming to achieve during this period.

Example: The web designer will have a list of pages to be set up on the website to promote the new ad, a competition, the company podcast, or the company magazine.

The 3 month plan

This is the workhorse plan. Each day (or hour on some days) should have a detailed ‘to do’ list. Actions taken on a daily basis will build up the momentum to turn the 12 month plan into a success story.

Example: The person in charge of social media will have dates for when to tweet, update Facebook and LinkedIn to tell everyone about the new ad (competition, podcast, etc) and where they can see it.

Using Social Media to enhance content

When it comes to social media, you have to evaluate where your company will make the most impact. Think of social media almost like weaving. Use your Twitter account to link to your latest blog post, the video you uploaded to YouTube, the competition you have on Pinterest or Facebook. Then have a link from YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn back to pages specifically set up for the competition, blog, video, on your website.

The essentials of content marketing for a Dubai company is no different from that of a New York company. But it isn’t a simple thing to achieve. It is a full time job. But done properly, it will build a buzz around your products and your company on the internet.