It’s time to engage through mobile media

While the UAE boasts a high number of smartphone users, very few use their phone for browsing and purchasing. It’s time to engage, says Abdullatif Alsayegh, CEO at Alsayegh Media.

“UAE brands need to shift from trying to make a one-time sale to creating an ongoing relationship via mobile”

The billion-dirham question is, despite having one of the highest rates of smartphone penetration in the world, why does the UAE lag behind when it comes to smartphone phone use? This is even more confounding when we consider that human beings are habitual creatures. Two prominent studies sponsored by Facebook and Nokia, respectively, show that we spend more time with our mobiles than with anyone or anything else. On average we are next to our mobiles 22 hours a day, and four out of five of us check our phones within 15 minutes of waking up. Given our dependence on mobile devices, why aren’t people using these mobiles to go online or engage with brands?

Due of the power of habit, people usually use the same apps every day, and new apps they try have typically been recommended by friends. Users ignore annoying banners, but don’t ignore notifications. Why? Because they are personally relevant. Contrary to what many advertisers think, mobile advertising is not just about banners or SMS’s. It’s about engagement and two-way interaction. Rather than waste millions of their budget competing for attention in a cluttered media landscape, companies should give consumers a reason to follow them and await updates and notifications.

An international example is Metro Trains in Melbourne, whose “Dumb Ways to Die” safety awareness video went viral, attracting countless consumers to download the app. “Dumb Ways to Die” wasn’t just soberly amusing or visually appealing – It took place in a familiar setting, had a clear message and implicated the consumer in its campaign for accountability. It was also dynamic. Similarly, UAE brands need to shift from trying to make a one-time sale to creating an ongoing relationship via mobile.

The more loved a brand is, the more talked about it is, and the more people will spend on it. Target their hearts and minds first, and their pockets will follow; because if there’s one thing worse than not having a customer, it’s having an irritated customer.

Most importantly, never introduce new ideas into the market until your own team is wildly passionate about it. It should give you goose bumps of enthusiasm. Because passion is contagious, and it will be passed on from one mobile user to another. The open secret is that the world’s best brands don’t clog people’s inboxes trying to get their attention. The best brands are the ones you love so much that you’ll spend all night in a queue to get your hands on them.

I have enormous faith in the UAE market, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we claim our rightful place on the global stage of mobile Internet.

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