Digital marketing can be a big draw in the Gulf region

Should more firms in the Middle East be using new digital methods of marketing?

That's the philosophy of some experts taking a close look at what works in today’s modern Gulf Region.

Naufel Vilcassim, professor of marketing at the London Business School, suggested how companies in the region can move from traditional print and broadcast media marketing to a more sophisticated and modern multichannel strategy. This is just one of many reports in the region recommending that some of the newest forms of marketing can do well for businesses in the Gulf.

Vilcassim recently spoke about how the older forms of advertising such as newspaper and television advertisements and billboards are expensive and sometimes awkward, while new digital marketing methods can be deployed much more easily. There is also the ubiquity of wireless connections and smartphone customers in the region.

So what kind of digital marketing does he suggest?

Vilcassim talked about things like content creation, agile email marketing, social media marketing and the use of business intelligence and analytics, as well as modern forms of lead generation that utilize the Internet.

Another point Vilcassim stressed is to use “guerrilla marketing,” where marketing messages rely on central local events or phenomena. Giving the example of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Vilcassim contended that these types of promotions can foster brand awareness.

However, it’s not always easy for the region’s digital marketers. One challenge to this type of marketing strategy is language. Experts have pointed out how cross-language distribution can lead to translation errors and other kinds of disconnects across a target audience.

So how is digital marketing seen and used in the Middle East?

Greg Geronemus, owner of smarTours, runs tours to areas of Israel, as well other destinations like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“We promote our tours heavily through various digital marketing channels, including email marketing, social media, SEO, and more.” Geronemus told the Gulf News Journal, while also addressing the unique way that digital marketing can work in the MENA region.

“We believe that (digital marketing methods) are particularly effective for the Middle East.” Geronemus said. “The region offers such incredibly rich visual and video content that really lends itself to telling the story through digital marketing. Whether it's the historic and religiously significant visuals from Israel, or the awe-inspiring visuals from up-and-coming Abu Dhabi and Dubai, digital marketing is a perfect fit for the region.”

Geronemus said digital marketing will surely play a role in future markets, while some challenges remain.

“I believe that we've still only scratched the surface of what's possible.” Geronemus said. “That said, like with any form of marketing, you need to be smart and careful with digital marketing. As powerful and effective as it can be, it's also very easy to waste a lot of your marketing budget on digital marketing efforts. In other words, it's a great opportunity, but it's not without risk.”