Content Marketing is all about personalising your message to your market. Have marketers in the Middle East mastered this skill?
Content is now at the heart of any marketing strategy. A marketer must build a relationship with the target audience and prospective buyers to achieve the long-term goal of reduced marketing cost and increased customer loyalty. For this, the very first step is ‘knowing your customer, their likes and dislikes, market sentiment, region sensitivities, and behaviours.
When it comes to the Middle East, we tend to look at the entire region through one lens. By doing so, we may have missed out on some delicate details, the beauty of diversity, and the adaptability of technology that the Middle East is known for. In the past, brands have tried generic forms of communication for the whole region, and thus, their campaigns may have missed reaching full potential. To fully understand the regional exclusivities, one must deeply study the Middle Eastern consumers.
To successfully use content marketing in the Middle East region, one must first look at what are the hurdles en-route. So in this article, we will look at some of the limitations of creating a good content marketing plan, and then chalk out a plan to overcome them.
Content Marketing Challenges and Opportunities in the Middle East
1. Huge opportunity. Little consistency.
The Middle East presents huge opportunities. With high spending power, advanced digital penetration, and technology that supports this growth. However, despite such progressive tools, marketer, lack the right consumer data. The reason being that the Nationals are quite frugal in giving out personal information and the expat population is transient. Today over 42% of the GCC population is expats. This can make it difficult for companies to devise a long-term marketing approach, such as content marketing, which relies on consistency in both strategy and delivery.
Solution: Develop a concise and straightforward strategy that has definite and measurable goals. It will help you get your team on-board with the strategy easily. Next step would be to get a local expert on-board to execute your strategy. An agency or consultant who understands the regional markets well and also understands how to translate your strategy into design, content or social media.
2. Content marketing is still evolving
Compared to the US and European markets, content marketing in the Middle Eastern countries is still at a nascent stage. In advanced markets, traditional forms of advertising are not in sync with the evolving needs of a consumer. This is apparent through intensive consumer research and consumer data study. Traditional forms like customer care calls, pop-up ads, and push-ads are facing cold responses in these markets. However, the Middle East markets are still experimenting with these and in time will realise that the way forward is with content marketing. But they will need to develop a better understanding of the market until then traditional advertising will have to work.
Solution: Study! Gather as much information as you can so that when you do plan hard-core content marketing, so you are equipped with the right information to launch successfully. For this, follow blogs by locals, influencers in the region, or read books by industry experts and even actively participate in regional events to learn about the local nuance.
3. Cultural sensibilities need to be adhered to
Cultural sensibilities are a big concern for brands in the Middle East. The fear of upsetting sentiments may lead to underplaying while planning a content strategy. However, just living in fear isn’t enough. Once again learning and understanding the Middle East’s cultural diversity can help you use them to your advantage to help augment your content marketing strategy.
Solution: Study the cultural and consumer landscape and create a campaign strategy that can perfectly blend into the market. A great example of this is how marketers use the month of Ramadan to plan a marketing campaign to their advantage with creative and appealing campaigns that embrace and respect the importance of religion in the daily lives of their consumers.
4. Language Can be a Barrier
Arabic is a thread that binds people across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other GCC countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. However, English is still considered the common language in the region, especially the UAE. At one of the Content Marketing roundtables in the region, one of the participants stated, “There is too much cultural diversity across the GCC, and the language barriers can be too much, English caters to the masses.”
Solution: A one-size-fits-all approach might not work in the Middle East. Here your strategy needs to be both niche as well as local. As a marketer, it means you must understand the best-fit languages for your site and tailoring content to suit different cultures in different languages.
Despite these challenges, a survey done in the Middle East revealed that the region’s marketers are rapidly turning towards content marketing as a key focus of their digital marketing efforts. This comes as no surprise when other statistics in the Middle East show 60 million Facebook users, 7 million Twitter users and some of the highest YouTube views in the world. Although it is taking time for content marketing to become a recognised tool amongst marketers in the Middle East, we all know that that situation is about to change soon.
If you’re planning to remain in the advertising game and want to leave your competition behind in the race to achieve your content marketing goals, then now might be a good time to invest in a well-planned website which is SEO-enabled and offers high-quality content.