A Review of Digital Marketing in Egypt
With the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in the number of companies seeking digital marketing services in Egypt. As more and more organizations began to forego the traditional ATL/BTL methodology of mass-market messaging in favor of more data-driven, measurable and personalized digital efforts, we’ve been bombarded with digital marketing questions – questions like:
- How should we design and write copy for digital ads?
- What does SEO actually entail?
- Is email marketing actually dead?
- What is the best campaign strategy for Facebook Ads?
- Where should I allocate most of my marketing budget?
We love receiving these kinds of questions, even if sometimes they’re questions we can’t answer directly because every business is unique and has its unique needs and growth strategies. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoy sharing useful articles, e-books, and courses with our audience that could help point them, and their businesses, in the right direction. Digital marketing in Egypt is still underdeveloped relative to more economically developed countries. Accordingly, we see it as a mission that those in the market with knowledge should spread it generously. In fact, one of our main missions as an agency is to improve the culture of digital marketing in Egypt by disseminating knowledge wherever and whenever possible.
If you practice (proper) digital marketing, you’re already ahead of the curve!
One thing that remains a constant about the state of digital marketing in Egypt is that even today, as we near the end of 2021, Egypt is overwhelmingly full of social media “experts” or agencies who claim to be digital marketers or to be doing digital marketing when all they’re doing is what data driven experts call impression based marketing. The result? As the great John Wanamaker once put it, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
To use a simple analogy, there are those who clean the car, (car being the product or service) and those who understand how the car’s motor is related to its functioning, mechanics basically. Both are important, but if you’re going to clean the car and call yourself a mechanic, well that’s just plain misleading, and vice versa obviously. We’ve seen agency ads that make claims like: “We’ll get you a reach of 1,000,000 users for 20,000 EGP” or “Triple your sales today with our 5,000 EGP bundle”. As a tentative piece of banal wisdom to the Egyptian digital marketing community, let’s all be honest about which part of the car we understand and can improve.
This sort of guesswork-driven marketing is detrimental to the clients who fall prey to those who confuse the word ‘digital’ for ‘effective’, only to discover months later that they’ve lost money on what could have otherwise been a good client agency relationship. As our industry is built on the foundation of trust and cooperation with clients, having this sort of reputation start to disseminate across SMBs is catastrophic for those who put in the work and know what they’re doing. You can find a concise guide on what type of agency services a company needs according to its business model here.
What also disappoints is the glaring lack of formal educational courses and diplomas on digital marketing in Egypt. With the industry over 20 years old since its inception, it is shocking to us that national marketing curricula have not evolved to keep up with the changes brought on by the advent of digital marketing. Just read the average marketing syllabus and you’ll find the traditional “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” and “The five P’s” (probably the biggest change in marketing syllabi was the addition of that fifth P 🙄). With undergraduate universities around the world creating more data driven marketing curriculums, we wonder when Egypt’s marketing departments in major universities will include digital marketing as a specialization. To be clear, the latter is not pointing to the major advances that are being made in continuing education within the MCIT’s mandate to digitally transform Egypt’s workforce.
Post-COVID state of digital marketing in Egypt
As people retreated to their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and state of quarantine, we began to notice a few things (the following is anecdotal evidence so take it with a grain of salt):
- An increase in the number of leads and potential clients popping up on our CRM system asking for measurable marketing.
- A rise in media buying costs due to increased demand for digital real estate pushing online auctions upwards.
- An exponential rise in the number of ecommerce websites in Egypt.
- Increased search traffic for introductory digital marketing courses as well as more in-depth topics related to digital and performance marketing.
- An increased understanding and acceptance of growth marketing and data-driven performance marketing within the Egyptian market.
What do these increases mean? In short, they meant that in the post-COVID world, more and more companies want to substitute the mad med for the math men. Justifying every pound spent is now an invaluable trait within the community of marketers and advertisers who want to make a real impact on the economy. Digital transformation in Egypt is in full force after COVID-19 and we predict that the highest paying jobs of tomorrow will all be driven by data.
What this means is that these “blockbuster marketing campaigns”, which depend almost solely on the power of a celebrity’s authority to get users to try their products, are a fraction of the equation that we call marketing. Good creatives are always going to be important, but if you don’t invest in data driven marketers around your organization, you’re going to miss the train. Invest in technologically savvy marketers who are driven by numbers and data, and are agile enough to keep up with a constantly changing industry.
Ryan Holiday, a brilliant marketer by all means and author of a book that changed many marketers’ perspective on the discipline, argues that, deep down, most marketers fantasize that they are premiering a blockbuster movie; a fantasy that warps the concept of marketing and the decisions made by marketers to go to market with a product or service. Remnants of this old school of thought think they need huge advertising budgets to make any sort of impact. This premise has no basis in the reality of this third industrial economy, and it is a premise that is set to be eliminated from our collective mindsets with the advent of digital marketing in Egypt.
As Holiday states: “these marketers want red carpets and celebrities, and most dangerously, assume that they need to get as many customers as possible in a very short window of time—and if it doesn’t work right away, they consider the whole thing a failure.”
The future of the digital and performance marketing industry in Egypt
The good news to take away from this article is that chief and marketing executives across the board are beginning to wake up to the reality: digital channels are the future of advertising and data matters much more than opinions, or as any rippler would say, data levels all arguments. (Of course, data isn’t the full argument, but it is the best tool we can use to make business decisions.)
We believe the industry is finally due for a period of exponential growth not only due to Coronavirus and its implications but due to the fact that the people making the decisions are finally beginning to realize that it’s foolish to market to the people of the 21st century with the same tools and strategies used in the 20th century while expecting the same results marketers achieved decades ago. It’s simply impossible to achieve significant, scalable results without embracing the tools marketers have available in today’s toolkits, and we sincerely hope the industry continues to evolve in that direction.
At ripplemark we believe we can all benefit from becoming generalists and jacks of many trades because that is the future of all professions, and we also believe that as relative experts offering data-driven digital marketing services, it is our moral obligation to do anything and everything we can do to further the development of digital marketing in Egypt to where it can catch up with, and maybe someday surpass, the level found in some of the more developed countries.