The State Of Digital Marketing In Egypt- 2019- Opinion
Let’s start with some definitions. The only reason in doing so is to clear the scene for the argument that there’s a massive gap in the digital agency landscape and it needs to be filled if brands and companies nationwide are to shift to what is widely called in academic marketing as ‘digital first’ organizations.
As a rule of thumb, Egypt is behind in Digital Marketing in comparison to the US and Europe by a factor of 3-4 years in conservative estimates. This comes as no surprise since the adoption of Internet 2.0 (i.e. social web or participatory internet) by the wide majority of the populace happened in the last 8 years whereas in the West it’s been going on since at least since the 2005’s.
Any casual observer of the online advertising/digital marketing field will realize the overwhelming number of agencies that offer creative solutions to online publishing and advertising needs -an amount that isn’t offset by an equally strong number of agencies that offer technical, performance based online marketing. For simplicity, let’s exclude the number of traditional advertising agencies from this observation due to the complexity that it would create in analyzing the variables that shape this ecosystem.
Digital marketing isn’t advertising and it’s not social media and it certainly isn’t content produced for digital channels (video or photo) or even buying media on Google or Facebook. Digital Marketing is a discipline that encompasses Search Engine Marketing (SEM- with Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click Advertising), Mobile Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media, Analytics, Display Advertising and Affiliate marketing. It takes considerable years of experience and practice to be technically proficient in all channels, as a lone marketer of course. Even agencies will prioritize certain channels over others as the pace of change in each can’t be understated. To be a digital marketer today is gloriously overwhelming (I say this because I love this industry with a passion), and having an agency on board that knows how to leverage different channels to bring you a positive ROI is crucial to Egyptian SMEs and startups that may be stuck in the social media content/posting for the sake of posting model of digital. Even big multinationals, with their huge budgets, are still spending millions on outbound marketing techniques and while yes, the majority of Egyptians are still cracking the code of Internet 2.0 (think of all the avatar like names many Egyptians use on Facebook, “Mimi Loves Susu” “7abibet 7ayaty”and the like), 35% of the 40 million or so internet users in Egypt have visited an online retail store, 40% of those have searched online for products or services to buy and 22% have made a purchase, there is no escaping the tide of EMarketing. If big brands are to be relevant in the next 5 years to a generation of Egyptians growing up with digital, investment in omnichannel* digital marketing is crucial to their relevance -the advertising/social media agency model does not suffice anymore.
Marketing to customers online is no longer going to an agency, asking it to create some posts & to boost content to thousands of people while the agency mindlessly charges for a non-result driven service. By results we don’t mean likes or shares, we mean being able to measure whether these activities have had a significant effect on the company’s bottom line. To achieve this, a digital marketing agency has to teach its people to be customer centric, consumer journey driven, and integrated digital marketers. Tying in social with offline, measuring traffic on your website, creating goals that represent growth metrics to the business, making sure you’re optimizing your website for search, retargeting your prospects, using analytics tools to attribute success to certain channels over others, etc. That’s ultimately what a digital marketing pursuit must look like, anything else is not digital marketing.
*Omnichannel Digital Marketing refers to the process of creating a seamless customer experience across a brand’s sum of its touchpoints. Or as Aaron Agius brilliantly defines it: “Omni-channel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.”