Successful business-to-business (b2b) marketing communications in the Middle East ’ part 4

Rich Media

For many years the TV/cinema ad was the pinnacle of engaging media. How do we introduce this level of media into B2B? The fundamental difference is the channels used. With the advent of YouTube/Vimeo and the client’s own web content there are plenty of opportunities to place them. But, this practice is still in its infancy in the region and seen by many B2B organisations as limited to consumers only. However, as global marketers, we know it works in other regions and therefore, in time, will become a driver in the Middle East.

Digital Public Relations

The use of digital PR is definitely on a sharp increase in the Middle East. There are more than 30 million social media users in the Middle East. 15 million of them are on Facebook. There are 5.5 million Twitter users in the region and 40 percent of them are from the UAE.

Surveys conducted in the region have revealed a considerable increase in digital PR budgets in 2011 with more than half increasing their budgets by 20-50%. The increased budget is primarily being spent on email marketing (28%), social media marketing (27%), Google adwords (20%), SMS marketing (10%), smartphone application creation (5%), and others (10%).

However, a considerable number of B2B communicators in the region are still finding it difficult to get buy-in from management to spend budget on digital PR with the primary reasons cited as: ‘Can’t track ROI or impact’, ‘no budget’, ‘we feel our audience won’t respond’, a fundamental ‘lack of understanding’ or ‘no need because we are happy with traditional marketing.’ This is reflected in the three biggest challenges in digital PR for the client in the Middle East: budget, monitoring (tools and expertise) and bandwidth.

Research reveals the UAE is the market with the most digital PR potential. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain also show increased engagement. In terms of channels, the ones with the biggest opportunity for Middle East digital PR are social media, followed by email marketing, mobile marketing and lastly SEO.

LinkedIn Growing in Middle East

LinkedIn announced in late 2012 that it would be following Facebook and opening an office in the Middle East region citing the rapid proliferation of social media in the region.

More than one million Emiratis have joined the site, which places the UAE well ahead of other Arab countries with much larger populations. Saudi Arabia is second with 600,000 members, while Egypt is third with more than 500,000.

The top three LinkedIn Middle East industries

  • Oil and energy
  • Construction
  • Information technology and services

The top three Middle East countries by LinkedIn membership:

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt

The three Middle East companies with the most employees on LinkedIn:

  • Saudi Aramco
  • Emirates
  • Etisalat