The four ‘golden rules’ of mobile marketing: in Dubai and beyond

Last updated: 19 March 2014

One trend which again has been on show at this week’s GITEX conference in Dubai is the ubiquity of mobile technology. You’ll look no further than a few yards before setting eyes on someone talking into their phone, typing a message or email or browsing their tablet.

Whilst GITEX attracts delegates from across the world, this issue is particularly pertinent in the United Arab Emirates, which has one of the world’s highest mobile penetration rates: around 1.7 phones per person. This presents marketers with a huge opportunity to communicate with potential consumers.

However, although mobile phones have been commonplace for almost twenty years now, they are still a very private medium; brands and mobile operators looking to engage with customers via their mobiles need to keep this in mind. Our UAE survey we have recently commissioned into attitudes towards mobile marketing reveals the willingness of respondents to engage with mobile marketing. The research shows that Dubai residents are particularly receptive to targeted campaigns, and highlights the untapped potential for businesses to build closer links with their consumers via mobile marketing.

Mobile messaging is already part of everyday life in the UAE, with 99% of those interviewed receiving messages from chains, brands and their mobile operators.  Overall, 83% of respondents stated that such solicited text messages would be well received. Another key finding of the research is the UAE residents’ preference for immediate and tangible benefits out of mobile marketing campaigns; 46% favored instant rewards or discounts and 32% showed appetite for regular updates from preferred brands.

Two-thirds of Dubai’s adult population would be won over by mobile marketing provided it respects four ‘golden rules’:

  1. That their permission is asked before texts are sent. Unsolicited messages are not so welcome.
  2. That the sender is clearly identified. Just as in their personal communications, people want to know who is contacting them, so being up-front and stating your brand and the purpose of the message is crucial.
  3. That an opt-out facility is provided, so that they can stop the service as soon as they choose.
  4. That the messages are relevant to them. If what is being sent fits with the recipient’s individual interests, then they are usually very happy to receive them.

For those companies that are already observing these straightforward guidelines the results speak for themselves as they have reported a sixteen-fold increase in the number of subscribers to the services being promoted.

Whilst the lessons learned in this survey are just as applicable to other parts of the world, it appears that the mobile phone is particularly well-suited to be the medium of choice for mass marketing in the UAE, and given the UAE’s diverse population and vibrant media industry, the mobile phone can genuinely claim to be its true common denominator. With a remarkable penetration rate of around 1.7 phones per person, this offers brands, chains and mobile operators the potential to turn mobile phones into the primary direct marketing channel to reach out to individual consumers across the country.

To keep up with the very latest on what’s happening at GITEX, keep an eye on our hashtag: #GemaltoGITEX. And if you’re at the show itself, simply tweet us @Gemalto with your thoughts on mobile marketing opportunities.  Use #GemaltoGITEX so we won’t miss your tweet and you could get a chance to win an iPad mini!