Why Arabic content is a must for marketing in the Middle East
All available statistics point towards the Arab world as the next centre of internet boom.
The past decade has seen a monumental rise in the numbers of Arabic-speaking people getting online, with as many as 413 million expected to be attuned to the World Wide Web by 2015. Set against the two million of 2000, this represents a rise of 20,650 percent.
Even in 2011 there were just 65 million Arabic web users.
Couple this enormous growth with the realisation that Arabic speakers form one of the world’s wealthiest population segments and it is staggering to realise that only two percent of digital content can be found in their native tongue.
This is a massive disparity, compounded by the fact that in 2012 95 percent of Fortune 500 websites did not have an Arabic version.
As the internet and smartphone explosion gathers more and more momentum in the Middle East region, there is no better time to capture the native market and bring the un-doubted clout of digital marketing to the screens of the most economically powerful.
Caliber is a specialist in integrated SEO, content and social marketing, and has started working with clients to provide content experience in both English and native Arabic.
Ian Humphreys, Regional Director for the Middle East and protagonist of award-winning content marketing campaigns for some of the world's biggest brands including Ticketmaster, Tesco and TUI, believes now the time is right to maximise website optimisation by making offerings multilingual.
“Arabic content is an area of enormous potential in the Middle East,” he said. “It’s the native tongue of the wealthiest and most influential segment of the population, yet most companies ignore it and confine their marketing to English.
“Only two percent of digital content is in Arabic and this needs to change. While Arabs can speak and read English, it is always preferable to reach your target demographic in their native tongue.”
While the result is preferable for the end user who can surf the web in the own language, it is also viable for companies concerned with SEO rankings looking to get a step of international competition.
Humphreys continued: “Arabic content is a useful approach for website optimization in this market, primarily by helping your page rank when people search in Arabic.
“Google will be much more likely to serve a page in Arabic to a user who searches with those criteria. Currently, the vast majority of searches in the region occur in English, so it isn’t a game-changer but a way to gain a small, competitive edge.”
Companies looking to extend their internet reach into Arabic, and indeed other languages, need to invest first and foremost in the right people to deliver content in an engaging manner that is accurate in translation and thus primed for SEO.
For Humphreys this means finding and developing editors with an appropriate arsenal of language skills, able to
“Companies should invest in excellent multi-lingual editors,” he said. “A superb editor is the heart of any content operation as they set the tone of voice, ensure quality and bring the best out of their writers.
“Look at the world of journalism, The New Yorker may employ the best writers but it’s their editors that have made it an institution.”
Creating multi-lingual content in a non-English language will sit favourably with SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) served in that particular dialect, especially if competitors are not doing the same. Getting SEO right from the outset is likely to be crucial when rankings come into fruition.
“If you are starting a business it’s crucial to consider SEO from the outset,” Humphreys added. “Companies generally make a litany of small, hard to avoid errors that can cripple them down the road. One hour of SEO before launch is worth five hours of SEO later on.”
Caliber has worked with a host of clients with a global presence, helping to optimise their offerings across multiple nationalities. These include Tesco, eBay, HSBC, Expedia, Ticketmaster and TUI.
As the Middle East continues to invest heavily in becoming a leading light in the technology, backed politically by Smart Government initiatives in the likes of the UAE, the potential for digital marketing and e-commerce is patently clear.
With more and more people discovering the internet via desktops, tablets and smartphones, the scope for Arabic content could not be greater.
“Companies that create well-structured websites, and invest in SEO and content will distinguish themselves from the competition and make a great deal of money in this rapidly emerging market,” Humphreys said.
“As we start the run up to Expo 2020, the Middle East is a very exciting place to be.”
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.