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Businesses need 'targeted' digital strategies

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai Filed on February 4, 2020
Businesses need targeted digital strategies
Organisations need to utilise a customer-centric approach, experts at the event said.

(Photo by Dhes Handumon.)

For a digital strategy to be truly effective, businesses need to ensure that they are taking not only a customer-centric approach, but also one that allows them to 'target' audiences with content that is relevant to them and their needs, experts said at the Local Digital Middle East 2020 event.

Presented by BigFive Digital, the event took place at Google's Dubai offices on Tuesday, and welcomed a number of reputed experts to shed light on how businesses across the region can become more efficient and effective in their digital transformation strategies.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Thomas, managing director at Nexa, highlighted the fact that all the major disruptors across industries have been successful because they utilised a customer-centric approach. "Look at the example of Cafu and how they have created something that is entirely customer-centric."

However, having a customer-centric is simply not enough, and businesses need to also look at leveraging digital for their growth.

"There are lots of tools out there right now that allow you to have a conversation with your customers," he said. "The challenge with building your digital growth strategy is not having a proper process in place. Activation of a brand should be lead to a follow up with content that is relevant to your customers. Then look at where people are accessing the content. We know today, that it is mostly thorough mobile, but there is also an evolution going on in wearables and tech such as virtual reality (VR)."

Thomas revealed that Emirates Airline and several hotel brands are already using VR to showcase experiences to their customers.

"Take a more targeted perspective and move away from traditional marketing models," he added. "Social is a staggering industry here; just look at the number of people that have Instagram across the region. There are several fairly inexpensive tools that you can invest in to help your business. Chabots, for example, are a phenomenal tool for out of office hours, and which let you collect data. Customers can leave their contact number or an enquiry that will help you reach out to them."

The future of digital strategies, he said, will revolve around account based marketing (ABM) especially as the landscape becomes more competitive and customers continue to dictate the ways in which they would like to be contacted.

Having the right tech is key

Sohail Nawaz MBE, head of Digital at Khaleej Times, noted that digital readiness varies across industries, but that there is still a large gap between businesses operating in the region and them having an effective presence online.

"Tech can act as a great leveler and SMEs can really bridge the gap with multinationals when utilising the right tech and online presence. Ensuring your location details and company's Name Address and Phone (NAP) data is accurately registered across all the digital directories is vital as new voice search technologies are becoming a part of everyday life."

Wahid Aziz, CEO at, also spoke about the importance of having an effective digital presence.

"Sadly, there are still cases where customers go to a website and find out that it doesn't work," he said. "Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular have trouble being digitally ready in a time when consumers have the power and are driving the industry. Thankfully, the situation is changing and we are seeing a proper conversation about what makes a good website; it starts with having a relevant domain name, professional e-mail address, relevant content, and reviews about the products."

A website should have 'character'

Gone are the days when websites would act as a destination where customers had to go to get information about a business such as their operating hours, products catalogue, and location.

Today, a website has to reflect the character and personality of the business and their owners, says Jasmine de Guzman, partner marketing manager at Mono Solutions.

She added that there has been a revolution in what customers expect from a website, yet many small businesses owners lack the skill and the time to make an effective website.

"A website today should be about so much more," she said. "Are you easy to find in a google search? Are you voice search ready? Are your reviews listed on the website? All these are questions that small businesses owners are faced with. Ultimately, it is about bridging the gap between small businesses owners and technology."

In addition, she also noted that effective websites not only provide data, but should also collect it from visitors. "The website has to be the sole authority of information in the digital world, as well as a place where your brand is actively engaging with your customers. It should be well structured and taking on a mobile first approach that not only helps you retain your previous customers but also engage and win over new customers."



Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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