The Stats of Digital Advertising in the MENA Region

Digital Advertising in the MENA region is one of the most competitive industries with potential growth in Ad Spend according to predictions. The region includes several markets including the GCC countries, Egypt, and several other key markets. Basically, the common factor about the MENA market is the Arabic language. However, for global businesses, Turkey and Iran usually considered as part of the region.

The biggest challenge with understanding the stats of digital advertising in the MENA region, is the lack of data and statistics. The figures are usually not up to date and numbers are inconsistent. Furthermore, there is some data is hard to reach due to shadow economy, personal businesses and lack of research institutes. In my research, I have tried my best to gather and compare data from different resources in order to provide reliable statistics.

Overview: Advertising in the MENA Region

Internet users in the Arabic Language countries are estimated at 183 million in 2020, which is considered as 70.2% of the population (Internet World Stats). According to statistics, Facebook is one of the highest influential platforms with over 133 million users, 51% penetration rate in Feb 2020. Egypt is considered as the top market for Facebook with 40 million monthly users, while Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for Twitter with 38% of the population followed by Turkey with over 13% of the population.

The Market Size

Stats from NT, estimated the advertising reach of cookies at 61.72 million and impression at 916 million. Another indication of the market size and growth is E-commerce. Based on PayFort report, the Middle East e-commerce market would grow to reach US$69 billion by 2020. The top share of E-commerce is in the GCC and Egypt. Both account for 80% of the regional e-commerce market.

Media Channels in the MENA

Source: Statista

The Advertising market continues to witness a major shift toward digital advertising. According to figures from Statista, the Internet is taking over in 2020 with 44.2% of the total Ad expenditure, while TV is decreasing to 30%. Notably, traditional channels are dramatically decreasing with Newspapers going down to 1.9%. Experts predicting more changes in the coming years due to the increase in online streaming and Youtube. TV will continue to decline while budgets will move to digital video channels.

The Stats of Digital Advertising [Infographic]

Infographic mena region - digital advertising

Digital advertising in the MENA region had a massive increase between 2010 to 2015. According to statistics from Statista, Digital advertising increased by almost 600%. The digital Ad Spend reached over 1 billion in 2017 and afterward, the growth started to stabilize. The predictions show a decrease in 2020 due to Covid-19 which impacted several industries such as tourism, exhibitions, retail, and automotive.

Digital Advertising in the MENA
Source: Statista

The 1 Billion Market

The figures release an average of 1 Billion U.S. dollars market of digital expenditure in the MENA. However, if we dig deep in the figures, I certainly believe the MENA region has a limitation in figuring out the accurate amount of digital Ad Spend. The region is home to a massive amount of shadow business and unofficial online business. In addition, Google and Facebook do not release their regional revenue data.

Source: Ipsos

Another estimate by Ipsos, values the digital advertising market in the Middle East at 1.2 billion in 2019.

Apparently, experts are predicting an increase in the coming years. However, there are several factors that can highly impact the digital budget including the price of oil, political events, economic recovery after the pandemic, and many more.

Social Media and Video Advertising are leading the growth

According to Ipsos estimation, 70% to 75% of the digital advertising in the MENA goes to Facebook and Google. The rest of the digital advertising dollar is divided among Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tiktok, and other Ad networks.

However, the trend in the Middle East is going into two main directions:

  • Facebook Advertising Network (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp)
  • Google (YouTube Video Advertising)

The Search Ads and Display is declining due to the higher penetration rate of Social Media. Moreover, A report of PwC shows that 78% of shoppers in the Middle East use social media to find inspirations for purchases. This is much higher than the global average of 37%. As a result, Social Media Advertising is leading digital advertising for advertisers.

The most remarkable fact about the region is Social Media Advertising which is the largest segment in comparison with search ads and display. According to Statista reports, Paid Social is the largest share of digital advertising expenditure in the MENA region.

However, YouTube is gaining a major demand lately as it was able to attract big share of traditional TV Ads. The Google’s platform is one of the top platforms in the region and source for news and entertainment. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are leading the region in terms of the YouTube number of users and hours spent.

Performance Marketing In The MENA

Ad expenditure in the GCC region is moving towards ‘performance-based’ with a strategic shift into learning budgets. This shift is putting more pressure on the market to change its advertising culture. According to a survey in 2020 by Interactive Agency Bureau(IAB), 59% of advertising agencies are significantly shifting into performance-based campaigns.

Facebook Advertising

The Facebook policy doesn’t allow to break the revenue by regions. As a result, there are no figures about how big is Facebook Advertising in the MENA. However, the statistics show 133 million Facebook users in the region, and over 63 million Instagram users.

Facebook launched Shop feature to business owners by late 2020 in order to boost the Ad revenue. With regional headquarter and a vast network of Facebook partners, the tech giant is focusing to increase its advertiser base and competing directly with Google.

Google Ads and Paid Search

Google Revenue is facing several difficulties this year. According to recent reports in Q1 2020, the median CTR for ads on Google Search decreased from 2.5% to 1.55%. CTR remains lower than we observed in 2019, down 44% year over year.

According to WordStream Data, while the US average CPC average is between $1 and $2 on the Search network, The United Arab Emirates is the only country in the region higher with 8% than average. The rest of the countries fall bellow average with 60% Saudi Arabia, 65% Egypt, 64% Kuwait, 61% Oman, 81% Qatar, and 74% Tunisia. In conclusion, the region is providing an area for growth and less competitive rates to the global average.

Google in 2019 launched Google Shopping Ads in the region. Now it is available for the GCC countries after it was limited to the United Arab Emirates. This move was able to attract E-commerce Advertising from top providers such as Souq, Noon, Jumia, and several other online stores. However, the main challenge in the region is the lack of qualified talents and agencies who can provide cost-effective results of paid search and display. While there is a vast amount of Google Ads Agencies in Dubai and the Middle East, the quality is not always efficient and the region is still under development when it comes to advanced Google Ads audit and performance.

Digital advertising agencies in the Middle East

Digital Marketing in the MENA region is a growing market with increasing potential due to economic growth in the GCC, Egypt, and Morocco. According to, the region has more than 500 advertising agencies that have a large number of employees. However, listed approximately 270 digital agencies listed in the United Arab Emirates. The numbers of agencies can exceed these figures since the Middle East is an emerging market for digital marketing startups.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia is fueling the region with small and medium-size agencies while the UAE is home to the big advertising firms. Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan represent the majority of digital marketing talents and creative resources. However, the highly qualified talents in digital advertising and performance are always moving outside the region to join companies in the European market. There is a gap in talents in several areas such as programmatic, paid search, audit, and digital marketing consultancy.

Programmatic Advertising in the Middle East

Programmatic advertising is not anymore an option due to the changes in Ad Tech. The slow transition from traditional to digital media is one of the key reasons that programmatic is struggling to dominate the region. Collectively, the MENA trail other regions in innovation and adoption of Ad Tech and marketing technologies (e.g., limited digital measurement, programmatic buying, and non-advertising forms of marketing).

The top Ad Networks in the MENA region include Facebook, Google Ads, IronSource, Applovin, Adcolony, AdFalcon, InTarget, AdZouk, and Ampush.

The United Arab Emirates is leading the growth in programmatic advertising due to the technology partners and the pressures from clients and brands to automate the process and use AI. However, the region is still outsourcing campaign management to agencies based in London. According to “Status of Programmatic Trading” survey, digital skills shortage at 39% and deeper understanding at 33%. These figures outline the main obstacles that are facing the adoption of programmatic advertising in the Middle East.

The Use of Arabic Language in Advertising

While the majority of the regional consumer are native Arabic speakers, the Gulf region and Dubai are home to expats from all over the world. English is commonly used as a business language in several industries such as Fintech, Technology, Business Services, Education, and Management. Moreover, English is widely used for luxury products and real estate development.

The Arabic language is dominating the region when it comes to retail, entertainment, and B2C. The statistics show that the use of Arabic varies based on the country. 96% of the consumer in Saudi Arabia prefer Arabic and 82% in Egypt, while in the UAE, 60% of consumers prefer to post in English. Marketers are using in usually a bilingual approach for their marketing message and Ads to increase the reach.

Digital Advertising by Sector

According to Ipsos research, the top ten sectors in region is dominated by beauty care, Foods, Telecommunication and Entertainment. While the top categories are Telecommunications companies followed by Real Estate and Banking.

Source: Ipsos

The MENA digital markets

To get deeper insights into the region, it is important to look into the top countries.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is considered as the top market in the region due to its leading role in digital media. According to TBWA, the United Arab Emirates is accounted for 46% of the total advertising spend. Dubai is a business hub and home to advertising firms as well as the headquarters of Multinational companies. The financial benefits of the banking systems in Dubai allow international firms to manage their advertising budgets from the city. Moreover, there is a percentage of the budget spent on other regions.


Despite the firewalls, political conflicts, economic difficulties, digital advertising is growing in Turkey. According to IAB, in 2019 Turkey was one of the top five largest growth markets in the CCE region.

  • Ad spending in the Digital Advertising market is projected to reach US$709m in 2020.
  • The market’s largest segment is Search Advertising with a projected market volume of US$285m in 2020.

Digital Advertising in Iran

Despite the limits and lack of Google Ads and Facebook in the country, Iranians are fast adopters of new technologies. Eventually, Digital advertising in Iran is dominated mainly by local Ad Networks. According to Adro estimation, in 2020 Digital Advertising will account for over 20% of the overall advertising share with 426 million U.S. dollars. However, the corona virus and currency inflation will decrease the figures dramatically.

Iran Digital Ad Sepnd

Markets with difficulties: Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq are markets that are deeply impacted by political conflicts and war. There is no enough data about these markets and advertising via Facebook and Google is not allowed in some markets such as Syria.

In conclusion, the most promising trend in regional advertising is Video advertising. YouTube is replacing traditional TV advertising gradually. The Video Ad Spend will continue to grow in 2020 with a huge opportunity for a massive increase in the upcoming years. Performance marketing s another important trend to watch. Brands are demanding payment by results (ROI & Return on ad spend ROAS) as well as enhanced consumer insights and analytics. Agencies are required to implement advanced technology and improve their performance marketing skills.

The Rise of Digital Marketing Consultant

Digital marketing consultant is commonly considered as a vague term for businesses. There have been several misconceptions about the marketing consultant as a profession as well as a consultancy role in the marketing world.

For decades, the consultancy has been outlined as business services with a traditional focus on organizational management. However, consulting firms had to evolve to catch up with the changing business world, and that led to advancing their sales and marketing consultancy services. Additionally, marketing and advertising agencies have been advancing their consultancy services and adding new areas such as digital transformation, automation, data analytics along with branding consultancy services.

However, the freelance forces in the digital marketing world started to change the term by providing highly specialized consultancy in channels like SEO, social media, content marketing, and PPC.

What Is the Definition of Digital Marketing Consultants?

The term “Digital marketing consultant” identified as highly experienced marketers with advanced skills in digital technologies. Strategic thinker with avid analytical skills and several years of experience in managing marketing channels and setting branding and acquisition campaigns. Consultants are hired by businesses on a contract basis or as freelancers to solve marketing problems or to conduct research and audit tasks.

\Mainly, independent consultants are cost-effective and fast accelerators for digital marketing initiatives. In addition, consultants help in advancing digital marketing channels, marketing technology, and paid media.  According to stats from Report Linker Marketing Consulting Services Industry in the United States of America is estimated to reach $46.1 billion by 2021.

digital marketing consultants

The definition of marketing consultancy has been evolving over the years. One of the main reasons behind this change is the vast expansion in technology and social networks. As a result, the marketing methodology and applications were impacted, and digital channels started to emerge and to replace the traditional media channels.

This shift brought a new generation of native digital marketers who reshaped the marketing in order to catch up with the social media revolution. Moreover, the online experience and purchasing habits have been in the center of the change and consumer behavior is shifting sand.   

Research vs Enabling

In the last few years, startups were ahead of the game and moved quickly with revolutionized ideas in digital marketing and customer-centric approaches. Therefore, the concept of marketing consultancy had new roles in the business environment.

Startups’ culture has been impacted by the mentorship idea and its benefits. That’s what did happen in marketing consultancy and consultants started to function as external advisors for businesses. However, the consulting firms and agencies still playing the traditional role of consultant with more extensive researches over enabling.

Gradually, the digital marketing consultant role is changing, and agencies are moving towards technology transformations and hiring highly specialized digital marketers to help businesses on execution and technology level.   

Startups had different spheres and terms as mentorship started to shape the idea of consultancy as a business need. With all these trends, marketing consultancy has been not explicitly stated or identified. However, the need for a professional digital marketing consultant has increased rapidly, and businesses started to get more of a clear understanding.

What Digital Marketing Consultants Do?

Part of the dilemma is having goals without a knowledge of how to do it or why? The key to understanding the digital marketing consultants relies on four factors:

  • Consultants help with uncertainty: The major role of consultants is to identify the problem. The definition of a consultant role is described by the term itself. Business owners and marketing departments tend to reach out to professional consultants when they need to find effective solutions for their marketing problems.
    In summary, it is not critical if the business was not able to identify the problem clearly. That’s the consultant job to investigate, identify, and provide the ideas.
  • Consultants transform the marketing: Hiring a digital marketing consultant is different than hiring an agency or full-time marketer. The consultants’ highest value is to provide the change the business is looking for. It is not about doing the job, it is all about investigating marketing objectives, process, and monitoring.
    The digital marketing consultant’s greatest value is bringing the change to the marketing department from restructuring and recruiting to setting new strategic objectives and optimization plan of the digital marketing channels.
  • Consultants are partners: Unlike hiring an agency, consultants are free of conflicts, bureaucracy, overheads, corporate policies. They serve as advisors and align to the business objectives by being results-oriented. The partnership with consultants allows the business managers to have an external expert to analyze the marketing performance and strategic approaches. The big benefit of this partner that it is outside of all the circles of conflict.
  • Consultants enhance the knowledge: Brining a digital marketing expert onboard is the main aim for business owners. Acquiring advanced know-how and technical hands-on experience is the main reason why companies need a professional consultant. Consultant serves in critical and highly advanced areas such as paid channels optimization, programmatic advertising, social media strategy, marketing automation, and lead generation campaigns.
    The benefit is massive for companies who either use an in-house marketing team or agency due to the extensive experience of the consultant. In other words, it is a plug and plays a role in the ability to train and educate internal skills.

Fundamentally, these core values of what marketing consultant can do to revamp the digital marketing department and provide advanced knowledge, are triggered by need the scale the business and most importantly to monitor the marketing dollar.

Why the Role of Digital Marketing Consultant is Becoming Important for Businesses?

1) The Competition is Getting Harder

In the online world, everything is getting highly competitive. Everyone is competing over social media and Google search. According to Facebook, there are over 80 million small businesses using Facebook’s free business tools. The new generations of digital consumers are changing all the purchasing habits theories.

Competing in this environment requires getting ahead of the game and hiring the best brains out there to win the competition. However, acquiring full-time digital marketing professionals with advanced skills can be expensive and problematic.

2) Digital Marketing is Changing… Fast

Digital marketing is not the same as it used to be. Social networks are constantly changing their algorithm and the party of organic reach is almost over. Digital marketing platforms are getting more sophisticated and complex when it comes to management and paid ads.

Fast-growing technology is moving towards AI and Machine Learning. Even consumers on each channel are changing quickly and Facebook users are not the same it used to be 3 years ago. The more of Generation Z, the more the change in behavior, content, creative and even mediums.

The change in social media apps, algorithms, and personalized timelines is triggering a more complex targeting. Companies need to move faster or otherwise, their campaign tactics will be outdated and ineffective.

3) Lack of Strategic Approaches

The most common mistake business fall for is conducting marketing without a strategy. Strangely, I’ve been interviewing hundreds of companies from all sizes and in most cases, the biggest issues to spot is the lack of strategic approaches. While some companies had the team and agencies on board for years, yet there was hardly any solid strategy.

Departments and divisions have been working in separate islands and control has been inefficient. It is true that having an effective marketing strategy is no easy task for companies due to several reasons. Some of these reasons are related to business management and the high turnover in marketing positions.

Therefore, marketing consultancy plays the main role for companies to determine the best strategic approach and use an expert vision to analyze data and insights to build a strategy.

consultancy process

4) Gaps Between Marketing & Business Objectives

The gaps between marketing and business objectives are the biggest pain points for senior management. The common issues vary based on the business type. The most common issue in B2B is an inconsistency between Sales and Marketing operations. In big corporates, the gaps could be due to process and isolated marketing division.

Aligning marketing with the organizational objectives is not a decision as it might seem. Usually, it takes a lot of investigation, resources, and data analysis to reach an ultimate situation. Here comes the consultant job as an external resource who has the strategic view and experience in marketing. While internal teams can have a solid process and framework, the digital marketing consultant can help in providing extensive experiences.

5) The Incompatible Marketing and Sales

Marketing and Sales relationship is always described as ‘mission impossible’. Startups try to solve this problem by combining it into growth division. Eventually, the greatest challenge relies on the conflict between the two departments.

There are huge investments now in technology to organize the process which allows us to track the customer journey and set up the contribution. CRMs and marketing clouds have been trying to solve these issues by implementing sophisticated tracking and automation. Salesforce, HubSpot and Marketo have been the key player in the field and they managed to provide effective solutions for tracking leads and customers.

Apparently, to organize the tasks and build consistency in the process not limited to technology, it is about choosing the right Tech Stack and setting up the process effectively. An experienced consultant can help in making planning and executing transformation. Therefore, marketing cloud providers tend to hire consultancy teams to help corporate with transformation and training.

6) Inability to Assess Marketing Performance

Part of the biggest shift in the digital marketing world is data. Trackability changed the industry and performance is converted into charts and tables with very specific numbers and metrics.  

However, it is commonly known for most marketers that marketing in some cases such as organic leads and building brand requires long term tactics. The problem is hard to describe but marketing teams tend to spend all their efforts in reporting than creating creative ideas. Assessing performance is a problem that can be solved by integrating consultancy with the marketing strategy and operation.

Setting up KPIs and automated real-time dashboards can solve the issues of time-consuming reporting. In order to implement the consistent dashboard and KPIs, the process should involve a marketing analytic strategy in order to assess the data and design the marketing dashboards.

7) Underdeveloped Marketing Process and Technology

Technology is a major challenge for all marketers, and it is reflected in managing the process. Getting in-depth with technology can have endless layers and there are over 5000 marketing tools over there in the market.  The challenge for marketing relies on how to find the best approach to shortlist the technology that works and connect the dots by building an effective process.

The process takes more than empowering people with technology, it is about people first place. Here it comes the role of consultant to review the situation and determine the technology based on the most important which is human. Providing customized training according to the company’s needs is one of the greatest benefits of having a marketing consultant on board. It is a fast track, direct to the point, and live examples from the heart of the marketing department.  

8) Expensive Marketing Resources

Headhunting is the most important step to build successful marketing. Acquiring the right digital marketing skills is what makes a difference in every brand we see online. According to Steve Jobs, the right people don’t need to be managed because they know what to do. However, in a competing world, it is not an easy task to afford the best talents in the market.

Initially, hiring a consultant has several cost-effective benefits such as negotiation and remote part-time contracts.  The contract is usually associated with results and specific assigned tasks. According to a survey by Credo, the average hourly rate for digital marketing consultants worldwide is $140.29 per hour, while 41.25% of worldwide consultants charge less than $100 per hour.

9) Lack of local market knowledge

While some companies might have a country-specific marketing team, it is hard to hire in-house local marketers for each market. Companies who want to scale and expand into new markets are searching for local experts who have deep insights into the market and the consumer.

Marketing consultants are essentially experts in a region or local market and have years of experience in this market. They can consult the company about potential opportunities and threats. In the case of cultural barriers and different languages, the digital marketing consultant is an effective solution for companies during the early phase of building a local marketing strategy and understanding the consumer persona.

Area of expertise

In the digital world, the full stack consultant is considerably rare. However, there are always consultants who are strong in specific areas based on their demonstrable experiences and skills. Consequently, it is important for businesses to select a consultant based on their priorities and strategic objectives.

Digital marketing consultancy combines a long list of fields due to the complexity of the digital world. Therefore, it is important to define here some of the most important categories to consider.

  • Market Research: Conduct market research to identify the opportunities, competitive analysis, customer persona analysis, and digital media trends
  • Brand Consulting: Provide guidelines for the branding strategy, positioning, brand image, and marketing message
  • Marketing Strategy Consulting: Develop and implement a marketing strategy based on the objectives and allocated budget and resources
  • Marketing Management Consulting: Study the marketing process and provide recommendations for the structure, recruitment, roles, and process
  • UX Design and CRO analysis: Run website analysis in order to study the customer online journey and develop an optimization plan
  • SEO Consulting: Provide SEO Audit, SEO analysis, keyword research, and optimization plan
  • Social Media Consulting: Define the social media strategy, optimize the channels, setup paid social strategy, and campaign plan
  • Google Ads Consulting: Conduct PPC audit, performance analysis, technical integration, and optimization plan
  • Content Marketing Strategist: Provide content strategy and implement the content calendar, inbound marketing, Email workflows
  • Marketing Technology Consulting: Analyze the marketing technology needs and give direction to configure automation tools and AdTech
  • Marketing Analytics Consulting: Develop the marketing analytics strategy, integrate the marketing data, provide data analysis framework and design marketing dashboards

Companies with established in-house digital teams may be too deep in the weeds to realize where their weakness lies. It might be the lack of improving marketing technology or moving around the strategy gaps instead of taking intensive actions and rebuilding their approach.

Consequently, businesses are aware of the risky situation that might occur by losing opportunities in market share or losing the brand positioning due to the lack of effective marketing reach or inefficient performance control. Therefore, searching for professional digital marketing consultant is an addition to the in-house teams and digital agencies.

While in-house teams and agencies can help businesses to execute and track the digital marketing plan, the consultants can always provide the best help in building an effective strategy and provide enhanced researches on the gaps and provide marketing technology consulting. While the hourly fee could be higher than a regular agency, professional consultants create more value than they charge. In addition, companies can only retain them for a few hours each week or month, they reduce the overhead cost.

According to the feedback from several recruiters and freelance websites, the majority of business owners are relying on digital marketing to grow their business profitability and market share. While there are plenty of digital marketers who can create and manage their SEO and social media, the results are usually disappointing and the competition is growing harder.

Business owners are actively searching for solution providers who are experts in the market to advise on strategy and conversion metrics. Counterintuitively, even an expensive freelance marketing consultant can save money and decrease the costs of ineffective campaigns and paid advertising.

Understanding the Marketing Consultant Role in Business

A marketing consultant role is considered one of the most important roles in the marketing industry in recent years. The marketing consultant role can be part of a consultancy firm or working as an independent consultant.

Fundamentally, the role of a marketing consultant is considered as a highly professional advisor and strategist who can assist the marketing department or agency to achieve the business goals.

What is The Meaning of Marketing Consultant?

A marketing consultant meaning is defined commercially as an external advisor with advanced marketing experience who provides extensive marketing services such as market research, marketing strategy, marketing optimization, and marketing analytics.

A marketing consultant is an external advisor with advanced marketing experience who provides extensive marketing services.

The marketing consultant allows the companies to establish an effective strategic approach backed with extensive analysis and data-driven framework. In addition, the consultant provides the ability to integrate the branding strategy and design the essential guidelines for marketing activities as well as a detailed marketing plan and channel optimization tactics.

The Story and Definitions

Marketing consultancy is a recent term that started to gain more attraction in the last few years. In the past, the marketing consultant role has been commonly used by management consulting firms. With the rise of the Internet and IT solutions, management consultation firms started to expand their services to include marketing consultancy as well as IT consulting. The term has been implemented and merged with sales under the service category “Marketing and Sales Consultation”. However, marketing and advertising agencies have been a key competitor and developed their services to include sophisticated consultation services for their customers.

Eventually, the marketing consultation have been shaped across the years and customized according to the business needs. Agencies have defined the term to match the advertising and branding services, while consultation firms relied on strategic and research side of the marketing consultation to help in adding value to the management consultation services. These two different approaches provided inconsistent path for marketing consultation services. Apparently, this led to unclear definition of the functionality and roles of marketing consultancy.

With the arrival of digital marketing to the scene, the marketing consultancy started to evolve as a term. The marketing started to move from the phase of the hypothesis to practices. Digital marketing provided the technology to the industry and reshaped the marketing industry. The tech capabilities and data became the cornerstone of marketing strategies and activities. Therefore, consultation tasks started to evolve to include digital marketing technology and data analytics.

The Rise of Digital Marketing Consultant Role

The evolution of the digital world provided a diversity of channels and multiplied the platforms. Accordingly, a generation of experts started to arise in every category from social media experts to PPC, SEO, and content geeks. Over the years, the consultation capabilities started to break into different categories based on the marketing channels, automation software, and technology.

This massive expansion has pushed the job of digital marketing consultants into a highly sophisticated and complex level of functionality and profession. Practically, it is hard to find a 360 degree of digital marketing consultant who has a deep understanding of strategic marketing, and at the same time he has hands-on experience in different digital channels such as performance, organic, and campaign optimization. These capabilities require professionals who had a technical background with optimization, as well as experience in managing end to end marketing projects for several brands and industries. Those are the people who can gain the title of an independent digital marketing consultant.
Read more about this topic: The Rise of Digital Marketing Consultant.

When and Why to Hire a Marketing Consultant?

Mainly, companies tend to hire a marketing consultant in order to help in gaining an efficient analysis of the market and the consumer. In some cases, the companies are more eager for a third eye perspective to review the marketing strategy and campaign performance. The needs could vary based on the nature of the business, industry, and company size.  

While the company needs for consultancy could be different in each case, the marketing consultant skills and capabilities could vary based on his field of expertise.

Startups and small businesses

Small businesses and startups cannot usually afford to hire full-time marketing professionals and tend to hire fresh graduates they are able to afford. The digital marketing consultant can help the startup with their mission in setting up their marketing strategy.

  • Provide the marketing experience required to establish the brand in the targeted market
  • Assist in building the business module by providing the market research and marketing strategic approach
  • Consult on the marketing channels and campaign tactics
  • Assist in designing the consumer journey and product development
  • Setup the marketing channels, process, and tech stack

Medium size companies and brands

Mid-size businesses and firms usually have dedicated marketing teams as well as marketing agencies. Eventually, there are always gaps in the marketing performance and evaluation process required. Hiring a consultant can help companies with the following key missions:

  • Provide an external vision and assist in reviewing the internal challenges
  • Allow the organization to indicate the gaps and the opportunities
  • Assist in the restructure plan and optimizing the process efficiency
  • Advise the top management on the marketing strategy
  • Provide a roadmap to improve the marketing performance and ROI
  • Allow the company to benefit from specialized expertise that is not available within the team
  • Present a new perspective of the customer persona and marketplace
  • Run advanced marketing analysis and help in setting up automated reporting and marketing dashboards.

Independent vs Freelance Marketing Consultant

While those two terms might be similar in many cases but in the market, there could be some differences between independent marketing consultant and freelance marketing consultant.

An Independent marketing consultant is considered as a consultancy firm with a well-established process and fully integrated capabilities on board. The independent marketing consultant has a more solid business background and the ability to cover 360 degrees of marketing consultancy services. They have their own personal brand, list of services, resources, and hands-on experience in end to end project.

A freelance marketing consultant is an external provider of marketing service who could be specialized in one or several specific marketing channels. This could vary from SEO consultants to Social media, PPC, Content marketing, and more. Freelance consultants tend to work on a project basis and provide their services through channels such as Upwork and LinkedIn.  

Marketing consultant skills

The marketing consultant is required to possession 5 main skills to be able to serve the role effectively. 

  • Understanding the market: The marketing consultant role requires in-depth experiences with the target market and professional skills in conducting effective market research. Understanding the market is not limited to previous experience, but it also expands to include the ability to run competitive analysis, data analysis and brand analysis.
  • Understanding the client: Conducting an efficient analysis of the customer persona is an essential key for successful marketing consulting. The consultant should be breakdown the customer segmentation and extract the patterns.
  • Strategic thinking: Aligning to the business objectives is the first pillar of the marketing strategy development. The foundation of a successful marketing strategy consists of the ability to plan marketing activities, design the process and establishing the KPIs. The marketing consultant should have the ability to effectively set the marketing tactics that fits the marketing objectives including inbound marketing, lead generation, retargeting and retention, growth hacking and guerilla marketing.
  • Mastering the marketing channels: While digital marketing channels expands into several categories and functionality, it is essential for the digital marketing consultant to master the most essential channels. Eventually, the channels must include the organic channels like SEO, Social Media, Content marketing and paid channels such as Paid search (PPC), Display, Paid social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn). Additionally, there are several main channels to add such as Email marketing, Video marketing, and influencer marketing.
  • Dominating the technology: Digital marketing is operated by digital platforms which requires the ability to manage, optimize and audit. The key to provide a professional marketing consultation relies in the ability to analyze and dig into to platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Advertising, Social media and SEO tools. The digital marketing consultant is required to be able to audit and set optimization for either planned or running campaigns on each platform. In recent years, the tech abilities expanded to include marketing automation clouds, AI, CRMs and CMS.
  • Managing expectation and performance: Data-driven strategy and campaigns are the main demand in the business scene. Establishing reliable KPIs and data reporting is considered the main framework of marketing consultation. Advanced marketing analytics skills and data analysis is a must for any consultant.

Marketing Consultant Responsibilities and Process

According to Harvard Business Review, consultancy is more than giving advice. In a review of the definition of consultancy, they indicated a broad range of activities and different practices. Initially, the key responsibilities of the consultant consist of several layers of commitments, starting with advising all the way to the sustainability of process and ongoing progress.

  1. Providing extensive research and insights about the market, consumer, competition, and brand position.
  2. Solving marketing challenges and creating effective marketing solutions.
  3. Identifying the gaps and investigating the marketing performance using auditing and data analysis approaches
  4. Aligning the marketing objectives to the business goals and optimizing the process and framework to match the resources
  5. Assisting with execution and the implementation of channels and campaign optimization
  6. Building the data-driven process and automated tracking process to sustain the corrective action.
  7. Facilitating marketing learning and training the team on how to resolve similar problems in the future.
  8. On-going support and optimization to improve marketing ROI and strategy optimization.

In conclusion, digital marketing consultancy services are mainly focusing on improving the marketing process in order to sustain a solid roadmap of profit and marketing ROI. It is more about answering the business questions of when and why the company needs to design their marketing activities. It is a more in-depth process than setting up a campaign plan or marketing platform.

The Ultimate Guide of Digital Marketing In the GCC

Digital marketing in the GCC market has massive value in the regional market of the Middle East. The GCC is the key driver for business expansion with the biggest market share of the marketplace. Ultimately, the global business arrives in the MENA region with the main business goal of establishing their business in the GCC countries first. The same business goal is also common among regional companies that tend to scale within the region.

Digital marketing is considered as the main strategic approach to reach the GCC markets in the most cost-effective and reliable tactic. In addition, digital marketing is considerably a fast-track to establish a market presence and to build a consumer base in a new country or region.

Why the GCC market is the most attractive market within the region?

The Middle East market is considered a hot spot for political conflicts, instability, business liabilities, and financial issues. Quick market research could show up with several sorts of complicated obstacles such as slow internet services in some countries, absent of business environment, lack of online payment solutions, difficulties with customs, or even war zones.

For over a decade, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region, which includes 6 Arabic countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar), has rapid economic growth with GDP increase by total 65% in the last ten years. Now in 2020, the total GDP of the gulf nations is $3.464 trillion. The GDP of the Gulf countries presents one of the wealthiest markets in the world. 


Therefore, the Gulf is considered the most reliable market within the Arab region. The political stability and financial rapid growth in the GCC countries is the main factor that attracts investors and businesses. The GCC has some of the most competitive places when it comes to the ease of doing business or establishing a startup. In addition, Dubai is considered one of the most important business hubs in the world.

The Stats of Digital Media in the GCC

Digital marketing the GCC is an ultimate marketing tactic due to several important factors.

  • Internet: The GCC countries are digital empowered with approximately 92% of Internet penetration according to 2020 statistics from Internetworldstats.  While the worldwide rate stands at 54%, the Gulf countries are way ahead of many global markets.
( 2020 Est. )
Internet Usage
% Population
April -2020
Bahrain1,701,5751,615,62094.9 %1,352,500
Kuwait4,270,5714,231,97899.1 %4,093,000
Oman5,106,6264,011,00478.5 %2,635,400
Qatar2,881,0532,942,00099.6 %2,942,000
Saudi Arabia34,813,87131,856,65291.5 %23,720,000
United Arab Emirates9,890,4029,532,01696.4 %8,737,000
  • Social Media: The GCC has one of the highest rates for Social media users. According to statics the UAE and Qatar have the world’s highest rate at 99%, while the rate is 98% in Kuwait and 92% in Bahrain. Saudi Arabia, the biggest market with GCC, has a high number of actives users with 12 million Instagram users, 11 million Twitter users, and 14 million Snapchat users.
  • Digital Ad Spend: Digital Advertising is developing rapidly in the GCC market in the last few years. The total digital ad spend is expected to reach USD 6.51 billion in 2020 in the MENA region with the biggest share of spend targeting the GCC. Programmatic advertising in Dubai is on the rise due to the massive demand from multinational firms in the city which considered the home to headquarters in the pan Arabic region. Internet giants and digital agencies are considering Dubai as the key access to the region when it comes to the advertising dollar. 
  • Digital transformation: According to Internal Data Corp, the digital transformation dedicated budget in UAE in 2020 is US$11 billion, while in Saudi Arabia it is estimated at US$8 billion. 
  • Ecommerce:  The Gulf region with Egypt is accountable for more than 80% of the E-commerce market in the MENA region. According to BMI Research state in 2020, the UAE market share of e-commerce is 45.6%.

With this overview of digital marketing in the GCC, we can have a clear understanding of the big opportunities in the market. However, the important question is: How to access the GCC market effectively with a digital marketing plan.

1. Invest in market research

Initially, there are several confusions and misconnections about the gulf region. Hooking up with a local agency through some ads is the most common mistake I keep seeing in this market for a decade now. However, digital marketing is highly competitive in this “red ocean” spot of the world.

It is wise to stop thinking of advertising and start with conducting market research and strategy. Business owners tend to save the time and budget that is spent on conducting strategy, and this is a fatal mistake. The first marketing investments that arrive in the region are usually wasted.

Start but dividing the GCC marketplace into countries and even major cities “Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Al Riyadh, Jeddah, etc.” and explore the demographics of expats density versus locals, the competition and market needs. It is a mistake to look at the GCC market as one local market. For instance, the expats dominate cities like Dubai where you will have to rely on English content. Saudi Arabia has the lowest number of expats with 32%, however, the purchasing power can differ between cities.

Market research is a crucial investment for companies and startups in the GCC. It allows effective targeting and filtering for the segmentation as well as the ability to compete successfully.

2. Define the consumer persona

Do you have a clear understanding of the consumer culture in the GCC? That’s the first question to ask clearly and loudly. The purchasing decision is highly influenced by family and community culture as well as the current trend. The Arab purchasing decision is considered different from individualistic decisions in markets such as Europe and the USA. This leads to the conclusion that Middle East consumers and Arabs in the GCC are not fast movers when it comes to new ideas or services. They consume new ideas slowly and they are waiting till they see high demand in their community.

Understand the persona of your targeted segment before building a digital marketing strategy. Focusing on building a reliable and outstanding brand image is the key to access this market.

3. Build a localized digital marketing strategy

Setting up the digital marketing for the GCC requires focusing on a localized approach. Ultimately, there are several factors that can define your tactics and strategic approaches such as budget, marketing resources, market research findings, industry, and technology. Whether you are hiring a digital marketing team or an Arabic marketing service provider, it is important to get local experts. However, in the following steps, we will focus on the common factors for a digital marketing strategy in the GCC and Arabic countries.

  • Language approach: Arabic localization is more than a language translation. Having an Arabic website or social media channels is not the key to sell to the GCC. In fact, English is a common language for a major amount of gulf users, especially in B2B services. Arabic business owners and consumers tend to search for local choices to grantee some amount of reliability. Initially, Arabic digital marketing campaigns are not the only choice to access the Gulf region. For some industries and services, the majority of search is conducted in English. To be able to define that, it is important to conduct market research as mention in step one.
  • Local business approach: Setting your business locally might require registering a local company. However, you can overcome this by virtually setting up your local identity using digital capabilities. The first step is to purchase a local website with a local domain and create a version of your website dedicated to the region. Most multinational firms choose the domain (.ae) for their Middle East version. Adding a local contact (local phone number, address, WhatsApp, etc.) is a highly beneficial step for GCC consumers to increase their conversion rate. Most importantly, add local currencies for your products, services, and digital marketing campaigns since the GCC consumer tend to prefer transactions with their local currency.
  • Digital marketing approach: The biggest mistake you can possibly do, is to select the wrong digital marketing channel. Marketing in GCC requires implementing the most effective marketing channel and not just relying on the popularity of social media among the local consumer. Setting Arabic social media campaigns can be beneficial for branding but not for conversion. You might need to expand your vision than to include Arabic SEO, content marketing, Google Ads, Email and inbound marketing, and even channels such as Video marketing and Display.
  • Digital marketing services approach: Searching for a reliable digital marketing agency in the GCC can be tricky. There is a diversity in the choices when it comes to the best Arabic digital marketing agency. While Dubai is the biggest hub for digital marketing services, there are also other Arabic agencies to look at in places such as Cairo, Jeddah, Amman who has expertise in the Gulf market. It is important to avoid low-quality freelancers as well as digital marketing agencies in Dubai with ineffective costs. Search for a digital marketing consultancy first to review your needs and provide you with guidelines to start on the right foot.
  • Marketing evaluation approach: Set your digital marketing strategy object and expectation. Prepare KPIs for each digital marketing services you are going to hire before you start in order to reach a pragmatic milestone. Eventually, there is a misconception about the GCC which is so common. Some believe that the high purchasing power of the Arabic consumer in the GCC means an easy profit. Research how you can position your brand in the market first. The wealth of consumers comes always with it is different purchasing habits and preferences.
  • Branding approach: To gain a local presence it is important to revamp your branding strategy and customize your local tactics of Arabic branding campaigns. Avoid translation and work on native content as the first step, then simplify your marketing message for the local consumers. It is highly important to understand that Arabs are not sophisticated when it comes to online experiences. It is highly important to use a language and a marketing message that is easy to consume by the average consumer.

4. Optimize the digital marketing campaigns

Digital marketing services contains several channels and campaign tactics to reach the consumer. In the GCC, there is a huge rise in social media usage, but this is just the surface of the statistics. Each marketing channel can serve different objectives and provide a certain rate at a cost for impressions, clicks, conversion, and ROI.


The campaign channels can vary from social media and Arabic SEO to Google Ads, Email marketing, video marketing, display networks, content, and influencer marketing. In order to achieve digital marketing objectives, it is important to create your digital marketing mix and optimize the channels.

Social Media Marketing in the GCC

Firstly, it is important to understand that social media marketing is not limited to Facebook and Instagram. With that said, we have to understand that choosing the proper social media channel is the cornerstone for setting up the social media strategy. Each channel has it is a function and it is the effectiveness rate. It is important to understand that Instagram for Arabic consumers is more about entertainment and trends. Therefore, implementing the regional Instagram marketing campaign should have aligned with Instagram’s user behavior. Therefore, awareness and retargeting are the most relevant objectives for the channel.

Secondly, social media in the GCC doesn’t mean creating a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter, or stashing money here and there on several paid social campaigns. The GCC users are mainly using social media for entertainment and chasing the trends. Therefore, it is not ideal if your industry is B2B or business services. As a marketing consultant, I always face the misconceptions of social media marketing role. And I have to say, “It is not a magic”.  If you don’t have a strategy of the proper channels that can serve your type of industry, then you are wasting your efforts.

Thirdly, social media bidding is very high and expensive in some local markets due to aggressive competition. Kuwait has a very high cost for reach and CPC followed by Dubai. Running social media campaigns without planning can just burn out your budget in a few days without gaining a proper cost per conversion.

social media in GCC

In conclusion, it is important to have a plan for lead generation and acquisition before launching a paid or organic social media campaign. A digital marketing agency that is offering only some attractive designs and posts for social media in the region is just a part of the job but not all the jobs. You need to design a conversion funnel, email automation, retargeting settings, and KPIs before you implement your social media in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf region.

Google Ads and PPC in the GCC

GCC has an emerging consumer who is searching for products and services. Google Ads such as search Ads are a highly effective way to access the region in a short time and generate conversion at a lower cost. Google Shopping is finally active now in all countries within the GCC, which provides a great opportunity for e-commerce. However, Arabic PPC and Search Engine marketing require professional skills in configuration and optimization.

In the GCC countries, the search skills of the Arabic audience are not really advanced for most of the consumers. In other words, Arabs are not specific when it comes to search habits and the search behavior is limited to trends and broad terms. For instance, I have been hired by a global car rental company to run an audit for their Arabic keywords and Google Ads. After researching the case, I advised them to ditch all the keywords that are very specific to care rental in cities and just target the whole country or even the continent as “Europe”. The issue that Arabs who search for car rental, they don’t write specific city or an airport but they just type “car rental in Europe”.

Finally, it is important to understand that international businesses in some industries are heavily targeting places such as Dubai. Ad bidding is getting skyrocket for some highly competitive services such as real estate, finance, consumer goods, business services, etc. However, there are always opportunities in the market if you have advanced skills or resources with search engine marketing. Programmatic advertising in Dubai is on the rise and there is ongoing growth in this digital marketing services.  Check the article: Arabic Google Ads and How To Improve The Audience Engagement With Ads.

SEO and Content Marketing

Arabic SEO has been one of the most effective digital marketing services for businesses in the GCC. Dubai, Egypt, Saudi, and Jordan had the biggest share of online content. With the rise of SEO services and awareness in the GCC, the market is becoming more competitive and reaching maturity for some categories. Eventually, the misconception of SEO remains in three practices.

Most importantly, some SEO agencies in the GCC are trying to sell SEO packages without researching the customer needs or building quality practices. This ends up with low-quality content scrapped from the internet and edited. Therefore, it is important to avoid SEO packages and search for high-quality services.

The second misconception is about old SEO tactics that are not effective anymore. For instance, some SEO agencies will offer a package with backlinks and brag about the number of backlinks they are offering. Backlinks are not just about the number of links, it is all about relevancy and quality. Hence, local domains are more important than having links from blogs created in India.

Finally, SEO services should focus on local SEO to enhance visibility and relevancy. Including keywords for local geographic locations and content are two important factors for increasing your rank and brand visibility. In conclusion, SEO services and content marketing are a long-term practice and has to be built up organically and professionally. Choose the SEO agency that can provide original quality content and well-researched keywords.

Video Marketing in Arabic

Due to demographics and social changes, video is an ideal medium to reach the Arabic consumer. Gen Z in the GCC is consuming videos at the highest rate in Saudi Arabia. However, video marketing is limited to entertainment content and the content creator in the region is still serving this type of demand. The social behavior of the regional content is considering videos as more entertainment than educational or awareness. Therefore, video marketing in the region is not for everyone and is not effective unless you have fresh content that has entertainment incentives such as travel, media, gaming, fashion, gadgets, and so on.

The most important tip about video marketing remains to create an entertaining content with straightforward message. Avoid using translated videos and create authentic content that address the regional consumer.

The paid advertising remains highly effective on YouTube in the long-term, while Facebook can generate massive views in the short-term. Live content and human elements are relevant to the GCC consumer more than animation and slides. In conclusion, it is important to use influencers and interviews to showcase your services and products than focusing on other aspects. In addition, the entertainment is more important than quality in most cases.

Email Marketing

The GCC is hotspot for massive offers and Email campaigns. However, the region didn’t reach the full maturity of Email marketing as a digital marketing tactic. There is a huge amount of spamming and impersonalized campaigns that is flooding the user’s inbox without proper automation plan.

The most important guideline for Email marketing in the GCC and Arabic countries is to focus on proper frequency and fine tune the promotion with personalization. Open rates are considered very low in the region since the local consumer tend to use it mainly for business and career purposes. However, setting up effective automation tools with proper workflow and segmentation can improve the cost-effectiveness of the digital marketing campaigns.

5. Know the culture

I kept this point to the end since it is for those who are digging deeper. Digital marketing allows companies to reach consumer quick and at major scale, but that’s only the water surface. Establishing a brand name on the ground is a matter of art and science. With that said, we have to understand that any brand is dynamically interacting with the culture.

This fact is commonly discussed and evaluated in the rooms of marketing teams of the big brands who are well established in the region. They know that their brand image should always address the Gulf culture. You will see this in all their marketing campaigns from creatives to marketing message. Automotive brands tend to focus on luxurious specification with the dessert in the background as main theme. Beauty brands will focus on black hair to match the Arabic beauty prospective. Fast food companies are continuously adjusting their meals to match the local taste.

The global brands are not only customizing their products but also tapping into the mind of the GCC customer and trying to catch the momentum. Eventually, a proper understanding of the culture in the region will help to unlock the shopping trends, seasonality and the key motivations that drives the GCC customer. Ramadan is a big season for some industries, but there are expats who are also interested in Christmas season. The culture is diversified due to globalization and the GCC is no longer a closed and conservative environment like before. The younger generation are avid consumer for new ideas and main cities has a cosmopolitan culture of young workforce coming from all around the world.

In summary, the GCC is a thriving market and driving the MENA region in many sectors such as e-commerce, finance, aviation, tourism, and retail. Digital marketing services is an opportunity for many small and big size businesses to access the Gulf countries. However, the opportunity is not only in the high purchasing power, but it also relies on how you design your marketing strategy and the digital marketing consultation services you depend on. As an independent digital marketing consultant, I always suggest conducting proper research of the market before setting the marketing campaigns. I hope you find the provided guidelines helpful, and I would like to hear from you if you have questions or marketing inquiries. Finally, digital marketing in the GCC is all about tapping into the market needs and the Gulf consumer.

The Foundation of Marketing Analytics: From Challenges to Process to Profit

Marketing analytics is the process of comprising data and technologies to establish trackable metrics and data-driven marketing activities.

The main function of marketing analytics is to import the business metrics, such as ROI, and marketing attribution into the core of the marketing game.

In other words, the analytics job is to gathers data from across all marketing channels and to combine it with the consumer databases then and consolidates it into an insightful marketing view. From this analytical view (360° Knowledge Graph), marketers can extract real-time analytics and actionable insights that can provide the steering wheel for effective targeting and personalized marketing efforts.

marketing analytics process

What can you do with marketing analytics?

From a general perspective, the analytics of marketing data plays an essential role in achieving business objectives. Eventually, the roles can be strategic or operational or financial.

  • Understanding your target consumer: analyze the target consumer, predict trends, monitor consumer behavior
  • Monitoring business goals: Connect online behavior with offline data, measure ROI and customer lifetime value CTV
  • Measuring the marketing performance: Monitor real-time performance, forecast future performance, campaign performance, return on Ad spend ROAS, bidding strategy, and budget allocation across channels and devices.
  • Analyzing the competition: Compare marketing activities against competitors’, analyze the market share, and monitor the brand visibility.
  • Enhancing the marketing team: Build a data-driven team, increase the credibility of results, improve the efficiency of marketing priorities, and ROI tracking.

Marketing analytics: The challenges of technology

Over the years, as businesses expanded into digital marketing techniques and the need for advanced targeting and tracking is becoming the main focus of marketing initiatives. With the higher demand for efficient solutions for analytics, the challenges started to rise.

  • Isolated environments: The new technologies were typically deployed in isolations and the result was a huge set of tools and platforms of disconnected data environments.
    Marketers would have to implement several tools and platforms to monitor all the data sources (Google Analytics, Social Media tools, SEO tools, CRM platform, Automation platform, etc.).
    This would require several resources including talents, API integration, IT capabilities, and multiple data aggregations.
  • Data Discrepancies: There will be always instability and mismatching results coming from different platforms.
    For instance, comparing Google Analytics and Facebook conversions will reveal a big difference since they use different tracking.
    At the end of the day, you will be facing the issue of which data source is the most reliable for making a decision?

  • Customization: Each business has its own technology stack and infrastructure. Connecting Sales data with online data is sometimes one of the biggest challenges for marketers.
    Your company could be using SalesForce for offline data while you are using several tools for online data.
    Combining these resources in one source for analysis could be expensive for SMEs who cannot afford the cost of enterprise clouds or solutions.

Marketing Analytics Process: Main steps to marketing analytics success

To get the highest value and greatest rewards from marketing analytics, follow these four steps:

1. Determine the objective function of marketing analytics

Marketing analytics relies on three pillars: econometrics, experimentation, and decision calculus.

CMOs can use econometrics when they need to make hypotheses about their marketing activities and test them by using experiments. Where the decision calculus comes down to individual digital marketing channels introducing their own intuition into the equation, marketing analytics as a whole allows the marketing department to identify best estimates for how to measure the effects of marketing activities.

Intuitively, the metrics and data analysis should provide the best relationship between marketing inputs and consumer response.

Set-up your objective function clearly. What are the business metrics the business wants to set as its goal for optimization? This may be one of any formulas for assessing business success, including market share, conversion rates, brand equity, customer lifetime value (CLV), retention rates, future growth potential, and business valuation.

2. Connect the data across departments

The second step is to connect the marketing data with other data sources within the firm. Bring the online insights of consumer interactions onto your customer database.

The value of connecting marketing data with sales and finance can help business managers in many complicated tasks. For example, if a company is examining gross profits, what are the attributes of the business that contribute to those profits?  Another example, net profit is gross profit minus marketing costs. If both gross profit and marketing costs are known, net profit can be computed easily.

For decades, the relationship between marketing costs and unit sales is complex and driven by numerous unknowns. You cannot directly sum the investments in marketing (for example, organic, advertising) to obtain sales. Connecting data can bring more accurate analysis rather than a guess based on historical data, wherein several factors in addition to the price also affect sales.

Eventually, this is the main difference between an identity relationship and an empirical relationship when you are making a decision. Empirical implies is always a prediction while identities are certain.

Marketing analytics process

3. Set up the rules and analytics techniques

The third step is to identify your models, strategy, and analytical techniques. It is a critical step since a lot of businesses tend to fall behind in determining the right approach for analytics.

To avoid drowning into the huge ocean of your data, it is better to use a balanced assortment of effective analytic techniques which combines the following:


  • Find the data behind the data
    Don’t only look for the obvious metrics like conversion, try to use analytics to reveal more about the customer journey which can help you to build a better experience and improve retention.historical data
  • Analyze the historical data
    Use marketing analytics to report on the past performance which will allow you to understand the trend.
    Find answers for questions like which campaign generated higher revenue in the last year? How did your email campaigns perform over time?
  • Engage with real-time
    Marketing analytics platforms would enable analyzing the life feedbacks and rates which would help you to answer questions like How the customers are engaging with your offering? Which channels your most profitable customers are engaging with? Who is talking about your brand on social media, and what is the feedback?
    Influencing the future
  • Influencing the future
    The value of marketing analytics gets higher upon delivering data-driven predictions.
    You can use the analytics to build an effective marketing strategy for the upcoming year by answering such questions as How you can design campaigns to turn short-term wins into loyalty and ongoing engagement? Which markets should you target next using the current portfolio? Which channels are more effective for conversion?
  • Get your model and reports fixed
    It is important to know which marketing inputs of interest (season, promotional price, advertising, sales calls) should be considered as having an impact on the dependent variable? Once you set up the regression model, the CMO can predict the outcome metrics for different marketing input levels.
    This is the mathematical model that describes the relationship between the independent variables (such as offers, advertising, sales calls) and the dependent variable (such as market share, profits, CLV)

4. Build the analytic strategy and actionable tasks

It’s important to know where you stand along the analytic spectrum, so you can identify where the gaps are and start developing the actionable tasks.

The marketing organization would need to build a data-driven strategy that can bring the most profitable results. Of course, if you’re not quite sure where to start, well, that’s easy. Start where your needs are greatest, and fill in the tasks over time as new needs or potential arises.

Some of the most common tasks are:

  • Setting the Data Collection: APIs, Platforms, Tags, Cookies
  • Building Analytical Models: Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive, Prescriptive
  • Planning Campaigns: Combine analysis with creativity
  • Developing Measurement and KPIs: Go beyond CPC and likes
  • Visualization and Storytelling: Charts and dashboards that don’t suck
  • Optimizing Conversion: Testing UX, Personalization and Engagement
  • Set the Data-Driven Advertising: Budget allocation, ROAS, Bidding, and Targeting
  • Analyze Attribution: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Converge; Channels Optimization
  • Research on Tools: Develop the Marketing Tech Stack

5. Learn from insights and optimize

There is absolutely no real value in all the insights marketing analytics can give you – unless you act on it. In a constant process of testing and learning, marketing analytics enables you to improve your overall performance by adjusting strategies and tactics as needed.

Without the ability to test and evaluate the effect of each marketing campaign on your consumer and profit rate, you would have no idea what was working and what wasn’t, when or if things needed to change, or how.

6. Build a professional analytics team

marketing analytics teamThe last and most important step of the data analytics foundation is to build your marketing data team. Depends on the type of your business, amount of data and marketing technology, you can decide what is the best approach to build an effective data team. There is no straight formula for the structure, however, there are many common types:

  • Entrepreneurial: Usually the team consists of one marketing analyst, project manager, and data scientist. This team commonly placed under the management of “Performance Team” which is responsible for paid advertising as well.
  • Professional: The analytics teams might be larger than an entrepreneurial system and consists of several marketing analysts with different tasks as well as data scientists, developers, marketing technologists, and project manager. In this model, the analytic team is placed under a separate department and manager by the Chief Analytics Officer (CAO). This model is commonly used in mid to big size companies.
  • Superior: This is a very advanced team structure that is commonly used in tech giants and big players in e-commerce. The analytics team in this model is highly involved in BI as marketing.

Overall, most of the companies would hire only one marketing analyst or few and place them under the performance marketing, which is a common mistake since marketing now is all about measuring the performance. It is better to keep the analytical skills more centralized and connected with all marketing initiatives from strategy to branding to advertising and creatives.

For more information, read How To Shift Your Marketing Team to Data Science and Marketing Technology?

Marketing Analytics Outcomes: How to measure the Proft

For each marketing strategy, the company is looking to assess its return on investment (ROI).

But how we measure Marketing ROI? It is equal to profits related to marketing measures divided by the value of the marketing investment — which is actually money risked, not invested:

Marketing ROI = [Incremental Sales × Gross Margin – Marketing Investment] ÷ Marketing Investment

Determining ROI is simple arithmetic; however, estimating and defining the effects of ROI is difficult. Imagine that your department spends $2 million on Google Ads in 2019 and generates $10 million in incremental sales that year with marketing contribution margins of 50 percent. The company would determine its marketing ROI as follows:

ROI = ($10M × 0.5 – $2M) ÷ $2M = 1.5

A CMO would have therefore determined that his return is 150 percent on the marketing investment. But the CMO will likely still have questions. Will the investment in 2019 also pay dividends in 2018? Will increasing the investment will increase the returns in sales, or are there diminishing returns to marketing? What are the longer-term effects, and what is the CLV of the client acquired through this campaign?

These are the real questions and the goal of analytics is to accommodate these nuances of marketing’s influence on sales so that the estimate of incremental sales is an accurate reality.

What about future ROI?

I believe that marketing function is not only about generating ROI on the spot. Marketing departments should benefit from analytics to work on maximizing long-term profits or as I call it, future ROI.

In order to do that you cannot simply shift funds from low ROI to high ROI activities because of your CEO considerations about the marketing budget. In fact, you are harming the company in the long-term because there may well be strategic considerations not fully captured in the ROI measures themselves.

Examples are brand exposure versus short-term sales, balancing push and pull efforts to support distribution channels, and target segments that are strategically important in the long-term.

The role of analytics would jump in and help you to consistently make good decisions about which customers to select for targeting, the contribution of channels in the CLV, and nurturing the leads to increase future profitability.

Read more about this topic: The Future of Digital Marketing

Bottom line: CMOs must understand their marketing analytics foundation as precisely as possible to determine how to gain success in a data-first world. If sales calls are profitable only up to a point, the marketing manager must know at which point the calls start costing the company money instead of making it. The only way to measure this is through the insights and relationships revealed by marketing analytics. By using statistical analysis techniques, firms can use past customer behaviors to predict how customers will react to different marketing channels; managers can then optimize spending on each channel.

Arabic Google Ads: How To Improve The Audience Engagement With Ads

Google Ads in Arabic language is considered one of the main digital marketing channels to reach the Arabic audience. Eventually, setting up the Google Ads in Arabic requires key essential practices to make sure you are not burning through your money without reaching your targeted consumer segment.

Starting with proper planning and effective paid ads strategy will help in setting up the Google Ads account effectively. Therefore, I will provide the main top practices to increase your engagement rate!

Firstly and foremost, what I will explain next focuses on Arabic SEM related tactics and I will not talk about the generic ones. Many others have already trod this path before.

1. Think Arabic When It Comes To Your AdCopy

It is the first time the user lays eyes on your brand. Believe me, you do not want to send a first wrong message. The Arabic language is not easy, so Google translate will not really help you to craft a good Google ad. You will need a human to help you generate an authentic message through your ad copy so that you will deliver the right message and boost the engagement rates with your audience. Let’s have a look at one example below:

Below are two ads triggered when you search for the keyword “Book a flight” in Arabic. As an Arabic native speaker, I can clearly see that the first ad is written by someone who understands Arabic well while the second sounds really like a machine translation. Even though it is still Arabic, the second ad lacks coherence and it is full of ambiguity. It totally gives me a wrong impression about the brand, also I do not know what I should expect to see on the landing page if I decide to click on the ad. So, if you want the right audience to click your search ads, make sure that you write an ad copy that is clear, coherent, and can define your own brand.

Google Ads in Arabic

2. How to Optimize The Arabic Keywords Match Type?

No matter what match type strategy are you following, whether it is Exact, Phrase, or BMM Match type. You need to pay extra attention to the fact that due to the Arabic language complexity, the same Arabic keyword can have several prefixes or/and suffix attached to it, the thing that can change the meaning of the word but Google Ads will consider it just one word. For instance:

The keyword “تصليح جوال” which means “repair my mobile” can have multiple versions as follows:

تصليح جوالي , تصليح الجوال , تصليح الجولات , تصليح جواله

Those four terms might look the same but they slightly have different meaning and you cannot be really sure how the close variants of Google Ads will work in your Arabic keywords. So, my advice is to keep testing different match types for the same keywords and keep a close eye on the search term report to add/remove keywords as needed until you reach the best version and match type of your target keywords

3- How To Optimze The Negative Keywords List?

I have an example here of some Arabic ads triggered by the “Booking Private flight” search query in Arabic.

Arabic negative keywords

First ad translation:

  • Booking a private flight. Get quotations now
  • we promise you the highest standard of luxury, privacy, and safety………………………..etc.

Second ad translation:

  • Flights to Cairo, book flights for Egyptians.
  • Book now return flights to Egypt……… etc

What happened here is that I was searching for a private flight and two ads were triggered, the first one is offering the exact service I am really looking for but the second ad is actually not offering PRIVATE flights but just normal public flights. The issue here is that the word “Private” in Arabic should have been added to the negative keywords list in the second ad so that it will prevent their ads from triggering when a user searches for a private flight. This explains why a strong negative Arabic keywords list can save the day and hence save your money too. Thus, make sure to conduct solid Arabic keywords research that taps into all possible negative keywords.

4- Localize The Arabic Ads Efficiently

This might really sound straightforward ! You are now probably saying, “Yeah, I know I have to localize my Google ads into the target language”. This is not that simple though because Arabic language is spoken by 22 different countries and each country has its own version of Arabic and as a result each Arabic country has a its own unique way to search online in Google. For instance the word “Car” in Arabic can be searched online differently based on what Arabic country you are from;

  • Users from Egypt will use the word: عربية
  • Users from Saudi Arabia will use the word: سيارة

Because of those differences, you need to treat the AdCopy, keywords in Arabic localization a bit differently. So, what you can do here is to either use standard Arabic which is common and widely understood between all Arabic counties and this will be a good solution or really learn the differences between the same word or term in the specific Arabic country and this will be a better solution.

5- Why Your Arabic Keyword Research Went Really Wrong?

I have worked on dozens of Arabic Google ads accounts and the most common thing between them is lots of irrelevant keywords and the conclusion I came to is that all keywords research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush and etc do not really work efficiently when it comes to the Arabic language. I have no clue why, but they sometimes really screw the keyword research. You would see inaccurate numbers about the search volumes as well as those tools will be missing lots of local potential keywords.

This will result in building irrelevant keywords in your account, leading to less engagement from your right audience. My recommendation here is to add one more step after using the keywords research tool which is to conduct manual keyword research to capture the real keywords that your target audience would engage with. This will help you to bridge the gap between automated keywords research and relevant target keywords.

Mastering the Arabic Google Ads

While the paid search and display is considered as one of the most effective tactics in reaching the Middle East customers, there is still a gap in the market when it comes to localization of the campaigns. Eventually, Google Ads doesn’t provide specific guidelines for the Arabic Ads and the performance teams and paid search specialists would need to expand their efforts by sharing the experience. Accordingly, this article discussed some of the main practices that could help in managing the Arabic Google Ads.

Hopefully, this helped you understand the uniqueness of the Arabic language when it comes to Google ads and PPC & SEM in general. Stay tuned! Many more tips on how to manage and optimize your Arabic Google Ads campaign are on the way.

In-House vs Agency Marketing: A Comparison of Benefits and Cost

In-house vs agency marketing is a critical decision for business owners and stakeholders. While marketing revolves around theoretical and practical ideas, the role of marketing within the organization is becoming the most striking trend about marketing in the present time.

According to research published by MarketingWeek, only 8% of brands are ‘very satisfied’ with their agency partners and more brands are considering taking activities in-house. Eventually, stats from Harvard Business Review, shows that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have the shortest lifespan in the C-Suite. In addition, the issue with in-house marketing is not limited to senior marketing managers, stats from the LinkedIn analysis shows that marketing roles had the highest turnover rate with 17% comparing other functions.

In nutshell, whether the marketing is in-house or outsourced the issue remains the same. Decision-makers are considering marketing as the most unstable department in most organizations.

Analyzing the Problem

In the 15 years, I’ve spent in the marketing industry between full-time jobs and marketing consultancy, business owners are always questioning: “Should I hire an in-house marketing team or agency or marketing consultancy?”. In-house marketing vs agency is not just a regular business decision; it is an existential question for business owners.

In one gloomy day at the office in Singapore, the CEO finished a long meeting with our marketing team by shooting the question: “Who can we trust?”. At this moment we had reached the point that he doesn’t believe in the in-house team. At that time, he was afraid that agencies wouldn’t give him what he is looking for. I voluntarily answered him: “trust no one”. Yeah, he got it and a few months later he fired the marketing team and a few months later he stepped down as CEO.

Either way, we agreed that the trust level in marketers is falling down. The marketing and Ad technology didn’t provide a spike at the trust level. In fact, it made everything worse for senior marketing managers. The more the C-Suite are able to see the flood of numbers arriving from MarTech tools, the more they expand their abilities in spotting issues. Therefore, managing marketing remains a myth in most businesses. The question is getting extremely complex.

My aim here is not to convince you what works better. Remember that my motto is “Trust no one”. Let’s start by elaborating on some key pain points. I receive three types of business inquiries as a marketing consultant which can help us in analyzing the case.

1) Companies that are disappointed by their agency or tried several agencies with no effective results.

2) Companies that have an issue with their in-house marketing capabilities or willing to expand their in-house team.

3) Startups who have limited resources to hire an agency or in-house team and wondering what to do.

Attending several meetings and workshops with business managers and senior marketing management, made me realize that in-house marketing vs agency discussion is brutal. On the table there are few ideas:

  1. What is the best option that fits with our business model, budget, and resources?
  2. Which solution is cost-effective and easy to integrate?
  3. What is the best effective approach for the short-term and long-term?

It is all business decisions, but it is not fully accurate when it comes to marketing playground as there are few tricks and bumps along the way. Marketing is very dynamic due to the ongoing changes in consumer behavior, competition, and technology. What fits your business now might be problematic when you try to scale your business or open new markets. What is costly now can be cheaper with ongoing updates in MarTech and marketing automation. Marketing consultancy plays the main role in setting up the cost-effective automation plan for organizations.

The First Rule of the Selection Process

Based on many years in marketing consultancy, I had to listen carefully and analyze the requirement with one objective strategy in my mind. The only rule you need to keep in mind is what I learned from my conversion with my ex CEO, there is no perfect choice or fully trustworthy.

In-house vs Agency Comparison

After setting the main rule of establishing marketing, we come to an important part about the comparison of in-house marketing vs agency. After a constructive discussion with my fellow marketing expert JK Baseer, we concluded the main factors you will need in the comparison and what is the pros and cons of each option.

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AccessibilityAccessing the market is relatively slow with the in-house team. Building a team requires time to hire a team and to acquire marketing experiences in the target market.Faster access to the market due to the availability of local market and knowledge, tactics and consumer habits. The agency’s expertise allows faster access to the market and target consumers.
AdaptabilityThe in-house team is internal which allows a high level of adaptability and ability to rearrange tasks priorities, higher control and faster implementation of strategic adjustment and marketing budget allocation.   Agencies can be much slower to adopt depending on their workload, priorities and internal process. Additionally, the agency is interested in increasing marketing spend. However, the agency can have a valuable perspective of the strategy optimization.
ReliabilityReliability in managing the team, monitoring the quality, and controlling the projects from start to finish.Limited control in terms of process and difficulty in tracking and monitoring the quality.
ConnectivityThe In-house team is able to communicate with all stakeholders within the organization and have a major ability to access data, analyze, and align responsively.Tasks and projects coordination could be complex due to communication barriers. In addition, the agency is required to do extra efforts to reach different stakeholders and to access data.
FlexibilityThe In-house marketing team can adjust their skills to manage the required tasks and manage pressures. The team can expand or scale down based on the company’s needs and financial situation.The agency is handling several clients and you may have to wait for your turn. In some cases, the agency can provide flexibility in terms of fees and resources reallocation.
Pool of TalentsIt is rare to find talents who are experienced with all aspects and tools of digital marketing to cover all the marketing needs. Acquiring a successful marketing team requires experienced marketing recruiters and most importantly time.   Agencies work with several clients and they have more skilled individuals on hand. Their talents are diversified and covers wide areas of marketing channels, technology and as well as external resources.
OrientationIn-house marketers are paid to live and breathe your brand, product, and industry.The agencies have their own business objectives, technology partners, structure and profitability targets.
InvestmentThe in-house team is relatively considered as a long-term investment.In some cases, sustainability in the long-term could be one of the top issues.

This comparison of in-house vs marketing agencies illustrates the main differences. In contrast, it is important to explore the third path which consists of in-house marketing and digital agencies together.

Hybrid Marketing Team

The hybrid marketing team is considered a highly effective solution. Eventually, this solution is inherited by most of the top brands and big business firms. The main advantage of hybrid marketing is the ability to organize the workflow more effectively and control the results efficiently. Moreover, the in-house marketing team is given the ability to focus on the big picture or tasks they do best while you extract specific channels and researchers to specialized digital agencies.

The main disadvantage of the hybrid marketing team in some cases it is highly expensive which is suitable for big firms. In addition, you are still not protected from all the issues of the agency’s reliability and adaptability. While the hybrid solution could be customized based on the business objectives and budget in some cases, there is substantial heavy work to sustain it.

After exploring the different solutions, it is critical to understand more in-depth the dynamics and science behind managing the marketing outcomes.

How to Measure the Outcomes?

When it comes to the learning outcomes, in-house marketing and hybrid are certainly the best option to inherit. The organization must acquire the knowledge of how to communicate with the consumer. The core function of marketing knowledge is bigger than just data, market insights, and marketing academic disciplines. Marketing knowledge is about gaining accumulated information and increasing overall business performance.

Basically, the fatal mistake for some businesses is that they limited themselves and isolated the marketing knowledge inside the in-house marketing department or digital agencies. Marketing knowledge has a direct impact on all the business functions from improving the product to opening new markets at a lower cost to increasing awareness which has a direct impact on customer support. Building business decisions cannot be extracted just from campaign data and monthly reports of marketing ROI.

Over the years, I developed a high sense of how the company integrates its marketing within the organization. Successful companies tend to create highly effective communications and integrations between departments. I also tend to measure the success of the companies with how much information they have about the customer. Eventually, everyone overuses the term “customer-centric”, yet only so few companies are ahead of the game and managed to get closer to their customers.

Therefore, the management of marketing extremely complex and more intense than monitoring the performance. Fundamentally, I believe there are four major areas to measure the marketing outcomes beyond just the term “marketing performance”.

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Marketing CapabilitiesThe marketing contribution to the organizationImpact percentage on Product development, Operation, IT, Customer support, HR, R&D
Marketing ProcessThe efficiency of marketing as a functionInternal marketing process (Marketing cost, Productivity, Technology, KPIs)
Marketing PerformanceThe marketing output comparing marketing strategy objectivesMeasuring the cost per Channel, Leads, Sales, Acquisition, Retention and CLV
Marketing InvestmentThe marketing status comparing investment objectiveThe overall impact on Business Finance and ROI

Take a moment and start to reconsider the whole picture and measure the advantages and disadvantages of in-house marketing vs agency comparison. Marketing has different sides and you cannot limit it to one dashboard of the marketing department which visualizes the cost per acquisition. It is important to measure marketing outcomes as part of the organization’s picture. Now, back to our question: Which can deliver a better impact on the organization? Agency vs In-House?

Rebuild your objectives and expectations based on the four key areas before you make the decision. You will need an internal marketing expert of marketing consultation that can help in setting the measurement in place. 

How to Calculate the Cost?

Some would consider that a growing in-house marketing team is more expensive than hiring an agency. You would need to pay full-time salaries, buy the tools, pay for training, and the risk of a long-time process. While an agency contract is a negotiable and less headache in terms of skillset and tools. That’s a mistake since agencies are not generous by any meaning. The agency will give you as much as you pay. They can put heavy pressure on their teams to deliver but at the end of the day, they are looking for more profit out of your account. However, finding a good agency or establishing a hybrid is considered a painful process and costly.

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Agency cost formula: Cost of agency recruiting process + Time spent + Agency fees + Ad and media spending commission + Marketing tools + Communication and project management 
In-House cost formula: Cost of recruiting process + In-House costs (spaces and equipment) + Time spent + Full time salaries + Marketing tools + Training

In-house teams are certainly expensive the same as agencies. Several agencies argue that they are saving the cost of marketing ad tech tools, but this is not true. Top platforms and AdTech require new licenses that you are going to pay for. Most importantly, the top marketing agencies are already partners with the technology providers, and they are highly interested in selling you to their technology providers at a good rate. Keep in mind that the price difference can be massive sometimes for some platforms such as Google 360, Adobe Marketing Cloud, etc.

Fundamentally, the solution is not to conduct a basic comparison of prices but to measure the ROI of each investment. For instance, investing in a marketing platform is better with an in-house team because you are able to embrace this technology and dominate the knowledge of your marketing automation process.

Marketing Consultancy vs. Agency or In-house

The marketing function is not limited to generating leads and revenue. At a fundamental level, marketing has a great role in learning customer behavior and the market. If you don’t have an internal marketing professional or marketing consultancy services, you are potentially exposed to several blind spots in the decision-making process.

Hiring an independent marketing expert is a common option for many Tech and SaaS firms during transformation and strategic evaluation. A marketing consultant role exceeds the auditing and transformation tasks and enables businesses to have an extensive outside perspective.

  • The marketing consultant enables the decision-makers to have a trusted advisor who is able to provide unique perspectives, increase the senior management ability of analysis, and continuously train and educate the internal marketing team.
  • Professional digital marketing consultancy that worked with several agencies in the past can help effectively in the process of shortlisting and hiring an agency and more importantly in developing the framework and managing the expectations.
  • Marketing consultants work according to the decision-makers’ agenda and helps in connecting the dots and analyzing the gaps in the performance.
  • Working directly with a marketing consultant is a more reliable and cost-effective solution than hiring relying on the agency to do all the consulting work.
  • A consultant can effectively help in analyzing the marketing strategy and develop the required reporting system and KPIs in order to control the outcomes of internal teams or digital agencies according to business objectives.
  • Marketing consultancy has the freedom to analyze independently, they are expected to align with the organization structure and follow the same workflow such as internal employees.
  • A marketing consultant has comprehensive experience than marketing generalists in the job market. Consultants have dominated the experience of the market and work with multiple companies and projects. They are exposed to different marketing strategies, MarTech tools, budgeting methods.
  • The marketing consultancy model is more flexible to negotiate and contract, unlike hiring multiple internal and external resources.

In summary, the debates about in-house marketing vs agency could be justified to the basic rule of how you can manage the options on short and long-terms. Eventually, marketing consultancy professionals can provide a major assist in controlling the marketing spend and help in selecting the right approach. The consultant key expertise is not limited to setting up the marketing strategy only, but it is essential in analyzing the company’s needs, budget and monitoring the performance of the agency or in-house team. The main value of consulting is having an advisor on your side of the table who can answer business questions and help with the investment allocation.

How to Do Marketing During The Coronavirus Crisis?

Marketing is a sensitive phenomena affected by what is going on in the world. Marketers have been positioned always at the frontline of every change or trend going in the market. We can call this process as the breath of bread the marketers have to experience in their morning and start preparing for it with questions such as what is going in the market? What is the new trend our consumer is following? And how we can respond?

Fundamentally, while marketing is highly sensitive to trends, in the times of Coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown, and economic recession, the marketing is officially going to war!

Let me first say that this article is not going to discuss the common trending tactics of how to show solidarity and how to support health care workers or how to raise awareness about social distancing. There are tons of articles full of tips and guidelines on how to adapt a responsive branding campaign during the time of the epidemic. This article is about what you should do with your marketing strategy in the short and long-term.

Key learnings from the Pandemic and Lockdown

Firstly, let’s extract the main factors we are facing during this exceptional time of our lives. Considering that we have never been in such situation and so few marketers from the 2008 crisis are still around, while most of the marketing team are probably younger. Even though the crisis now is bigger and more drastic then anyone has ever had and there were such no major lockdowns we have faced before. Yet, there are few key insights which we have to consider:

  1. The Internet is everything now: With the lockdown, the internet is becoming our life. People are relying on the Internet more than ever. Major amount companies are asking people to work from home, meetings are online, restaurants are only open online, universities and schools are only available online, and our consumption of entertainment is mainly online. We have been doing this before optionally, but now it is mandatory.
  2. The consumer is trapped: There is no more luxury of going to malls, fairs, and stores. There is uncertainty about how we will go to our regular life. All the takes now are about “flattening the curve” to control the virus’s new infection but there is no sign about how this is going to end. Obviously, if the lockdowns are release, people will still be conservative in their moves for a while. Online shopping will remain strong for months to come.
  3. People will get bored: Few days in the lockdown and people are suffering already. They have a big appetite for things to watch, browse and read. While watching the news is their top priority at the moment, their time is full of long hours to surf and read. They saved the time of traveling, commuting to work and social gathering. They have now a lot of time to read and watch online more than they ever did before.
  4. There is an urge: Currently, there is a strong urge to food and supplies. Gradually the urge will move towards many other things and it will rise based on the post-pandemic changes. The world is going to change for a while, and we are going to have a very hot summer full of new urges. Imagine if the borders are open finally and people allowed to travel safely then you can think of all the locked-down people around the world wanting to have a vacation. The most suffering industries such as travel and hospitality will flourish like never before. We all believe that there will be a recession but there will be an urge. How and where it is going to affect the most, we will get to see signs after signs, and it is better to be ready.
  5. Marketing hesitation: There is a decline in Chinese ad spend this year due to the outbreak of the virus according to a report by Dentsu Aegis Network. Moreover, Econsultancy predicted that highly impacted countries will witness a decline in ad spend. The impact is not going to trigger a big decline in advertising spend and market budgets, there are several hesitations about campaign creativity and marketing channels. Notably, a new study by Pattern89 showed that imagery of human interaction declines by 27.4% in social ads due to the social distancing trend. Creativity is shifting and the pandemic controlling the way brands interact with consumers. We are in a crucial time for marketers and there is a huge uncertainty sense taking over.

What marketers should do during the crisis?

Eventually, the biggest lesson we should learn and act upon is to change. Marketers are like investors, and in the darkest times, there should be a change and radical decision to adopt. Remember that marketing at the frontlines of the battle and they should not just align but also to lead part of the change.

1. Change in the marketing strategy

The marketing strategy should be customized, and radical changes should be inherited. Today’s data is going to show different insights, predictions analysis is not going to be accurate, the consumer behavior is evolving, and a new strategy is required. Companies who hesitate in taking swift changes will suffer the most.

2. Rebuild the relationship with the customer

While the consumer is currently worried about their lives than what you are offering, it is time to show your brand story instead of aggressive advertising and acquisition tactics. People are online now more than ever and reaching them should not be limited to “stay safe” messages only. Think about reintroducing your brand and product through a story. Think of entertaining context you can come up with and more insightful content instead of your aggressive sales offer you flooded their inbox within the last year. Localize and personalize your approach and make the right connection away from KPIs pressures.

3. Change your attitude and think outside the fridge

Everyone during the quarantine is regularly visiting the fridge. It is not time to showcase your overly optimized marketing messages in the website headers. It is important to do some copywriting work and reshape your main messages to show more about who you are instead of what you need. The consumer is now at the phase of extensive reading with more time in hand. Fill that void with informative storytelling. In other words, it is time to strengthen the brand instead of aggressively promoting your product. Search for creative ideas and take bold actions in your marketing approach.

Example: Outdoor advertisement created by Miami Ad School, Thailand for Netflix. They designed an outstanding outdoor campaign for those who don’t stay at home during the quarantine. The campaign included spoilers of its top series.

4. Improve your marketing quality

It is better to overlook all the crappy processes, channels, and ad campaigns and revamp the marketing plan. The competition landscape is going to change slowly during the current phase, but the change will be super aggressive later on. A few months from now the recession will create a highly competitive ground for all types of businesses. You can witness right now how the competition is accelerating in some industries such as online grocery apps and streaming. Therefore, the budget and ad spend are not going to be the only topic on the table of senior management, but how we can respond fast to changes and stand out. The quality of the marketing activities is the right investment at the times of the Coronavirus crisis. Stand out creatively with quality and unique ideas.

Example: Great approach for Google Ads with a terrific storytelling idea.

Finally, there are many worries about our lives and the future right now. Eventually, during the storm marketers are working from home thinking of many questions such as the future of their jobs and the financial situation of their companies. With every storm, there will be seeds carried to grow new plants. Learning and adapting are important in these times and marketing is eventually one of the things that will witness a lot of changes such as our lives. It is better to focus on improving the quality of what we do than hesitating about how the numbers are falling down on the charts.