UAE business executives stress on customer retention

EngageMint Dubai emiphasises digital-first approach

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A Staff Reporter

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Published: Wed 6 Dec 2023, 4:18 PM

Forward-thinking businesses worldwide, particularly in highly digitalized economies like the UAE, are subscribing to retention-led growth.

It’s a digital-first approach that emphasizes retaining customers with the same determination as acquiring new ones by harnessing data, deriving insights, personalizing customer engagement, driving repeat purchases, and fostering loyalty. The recently concluded EngageMint Dubai saw CXOs, CMOs, marketers, and executives of leading organizations discuss customer retention and bring varied, nuanced, sector-specific perspectives.


Mohamed Sayed Abd Elsalam, Group Head of CRM, Loyalty, Partnerships and Customer Analytics at MAGRABi, an eyewear retail chain, said: “MAGRABi streamlines retail operations by syncing in-store profiles with online signups, thus achieving a seamless visibility of offline purchases online.” Elsalam belongs to a growing base of executives who are devising experience-oriented omnichannel retail strategies with marketing technologies (MarTech) as the centrepiece.

WebEngage, a leading marketing automation company and the host of EngageMint, said that brands integrating offline and online channels are geared toward optimizing their marketing efforts and tailoring them to the unique expectations of each customer. Several studies have established that such personalized engagement often translates to a good customer experience, which, in turn, helps achieve higher retention. In light of growing acquisition costs globally and dwindling revenues, retention is being viewed as a sustainable route to profitability. Under the overarching theme ‘Unlock New Horizons in Retention’, WebEngage provided a platform for retention-first thinkers to share their thoughts.


Acquisition Vs retention

“Acquisition can be easy, but retention is quite complex. As often as not, certain audiences engage with your brand for, say, a year and then make lifestyle changes. If the brand cannot align with the customer’s evolved expectations, it creates room for churn,” said Omar Al Ashi, Founder and CEO of Urent, a peer-to-peer vehicle-sharing platform. Shyam Sunder, VP - Marketing & Executive Committee Member, TBO.com, a travel distribution platform, noted that acquisition and retention cannot be in silos, underscoring the need for an integrated approach with both online and offline capabilities.

Marketing automation is synonymous with efficiency

Ahmed Atta, Head of Ecommerce at StoreUs, an online retailer, said that automation should be prioritized over manual operations. “Enhance your marketing strategy by leveraging a pricing tool rather than comparing with rival brands daily/monthly. Address fulfilment issues like out-of-stock items with consignment modules, positively impacting customer retention,” Ahmed added. “I’d try to understand customer personas from a marketing POV, using analytics to learn the right way to approach each persona. And then automate the marketing campaigns,” opined Mohamed Sayed Abd Elsalam of MAGRABi.

Sayed also revealed that repeat customers drive more revenue, making it vital to understand the reasons why customers return and apply the findings to other segments. Ahmed Atta added that retention, not just acquisition, should be the brands’ focus from day one. Such affirming views on retention by leading customer-facing brands reflect the general direction that the regional business ecosystem is taking. As retention essentially requires brands to become customer-centric and experience-led, its uptake in the UAE is a welcome development — one that complements the government’s vision of a knowledge-based economy.


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