Digital Marketing in the UAE: The Ultimate Guide

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is any promotion done using digital technology/channels. These channels can be web, emails, search engine, web and mobile apps, social media or any new digital technology channel. It can even involve offline examples such as television, radio, and electronic billboards. However, the more significant form of digital marketing is online, involving the medium of the Internet through personal computers and smartphones. These help at web traffic growth, brand awareness, lead generation, and conversion.

This guide we will focus on different types of digital marketing approaches.

Who can benefit from this guide?

  • Business owners
  • Maketing team members
  • Leadership team

By the end of this guide, you will be able to:

  • Have a conceptual understanding on the digital approaches – SEO, Social Media, Content, Email Marketing, Paid advertising.
  • Learn about the key metrics under each of the approach
  • Know which tools you should use
  • Develop a basic team structure for digital marketing

Marketing efforts targeted through an online medium are now a must for any business model, and can be outsourced to digital marketing agencies such as ours here at Outreach UAE.

Is Digital Marketing Worth the Hype? 

Smartphones and laptops are a necessary gadget in today’s scenario. With online shopping, payments, entertainment on web/mobile such as Netflix or YouTube, one cannot deny that the user spends more time with these gadgets than watching TV. Web conferences and communication via email have given rise to promotion over podcast, webinars and emailers rather than spending loads of marketing budget on sponsoring events, when the events can be hosted and broadcasted online on your preferred device.

In short, the modes of communication and entertainment have changed with time. Businesses have realized this shift and have made changes to their marketing spend in accordance with this changed consumer behavior and time spending pattern.

Since a large percentage of the world uses the Internet through technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers, it is extremely important for marketers to make an impact on these devices. To create an optimal sales funnel, building a website, and creating salient, industry-relevant content for potential customers cannot be overstated.

Your brand stories, products, and services are what will come alive to the average Internet user, so that you might eventually convert them into customers and promoters of your brand. All this will require a functional digital marketing strategy. Our guide will help you understand digital marketing, right down to its finer nuances, so that you are can eventually form your own strategy.

What is the Future of Digital Marketing? 

In 2014, smartphones users overtook desktop users with respect to Internet usage. This means the future of digital marketing is now leaning heavily on smartphone interfaces and applications.

The traditional digital marketing approaches such as paid, social, email, seo and content are experiencing shift in the way these are being operated.

Digital marketing is gearing towards a personalized approach to reaching and engaging with the target audience.

What will this mean to businesses who new to digital marketing or still in the process of embracing digital?

It is also predicted that Voice Search will become more popular for potential customers to find products and services they desire, as an extension of search marketing (through Google).

Small and medium businesses have found considerable reach with location-based SEO through Google My Business, which helps users locate products and services near them. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also a major mediums through which business can relate to their prospects. Thus, it is clear digital marketing is impacting businesses on a large scale. It is a long-term, larger scale effort to put into effect the various stages of the Customer Value Journey. The Customer Value Journey is essentially the process through which businesses convert Internet users into customers and promoters of their products.

The approaches/channels of Digital Marketing

Like any large-scale, long-term process, digital marketing has numerous elements to it that will need to be mastered before you implement a digital marketing strategy. There are 4 main elements.

  1. SEO
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Paid Ads
  4. Social Media Marketing

1. SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the process of adapting the content in the front end and the backend to ensure that it becomes easy for the search engine to find the content.

In other words, if a business has an online presence, then the page, content, urls, images needs to be made searchable via optimization.

The best quality web pages and websites are usually found at the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). But it takes a long time to build such a reputation with Google’s search algorithm, and that is only possible through high-quality digital content and healthy “white hat” SEO techniques over a considerable time period.

White Hat SEO is a term used to describe legitimate, fair techniques of optimization for search engines, which fall in line with Google’s search algorithm. This differs with Black Hat SEO that utilizes illegitimate, unfair techniques such as keyword stuffing and spam linking.  

How to optimize for SEO?


An online business will have to embed keywords on their web pages and include relevant tags in the back end, so as to help search engines find and store those pages.

Search engines like Google have programs called spiders or crawlers that scan the web pages. When the users search for related information, the search engine crawls (looks for info) web pages and fetches the results that are most relevant and ranked higher. Once the user types in a relevant keyword into the Google search box, the web page gets listed somewhere among Google’s SERPs. Based on the quality of the page’s content and its views/click-through-rates, it will get ranked on the SERPs.

So, for example, if a men’s clothing brand based in the UAE wanted to sell formal leather shoes, it would need to include keywords in its web pages – both on-page and in the site’s backend code, so that Google could find and link it to the SERPs. A salient keyword could be “formal leather shoes for men,” with the further addition of “formal leather shoes in the UAE.” In that manner, there would be numerous permutations of these keywords, such as “men’s leather shoes,” “affordable men’s leather shoes in the UAE,” etc.

These can be added to a web page as a part of on-page SEO, where the keywords are naturally placed within the web content and not infused deliberately, just for the sake of it. There are a host of free and paid keyword research tools on the Internet that help you see which keywords perform best. Some of the well known tools are Ubersuggest, Google Ads Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Moz.


Backend SEO refers to the embedding of relevant keywords into the backend code. The search engine usually crawls the backend code and this needs to be configured in a way that is most suitable and easy for the search engine to find information. Some of the things that can be done at the backend are listed below:
• Meta tags – Meta title, Meta keyword, meta description
• Page title and header tags
• Image and video optimization
• Sitemap
• Schema
This refers to the meta-title, meta-description, and other meta-tags. These get displayed on the SERPs, and must be thought out properly to engage searchers in the most convenient manner possible.


Back-linking is an off-page SEO technique, where a website’s web pages can be found from external websites. In other words, external websites embed link to their content that send the user from the external website to the business’ website.

Often, within an industry vertical, the marketers can reach out to similar businesses to place a link of their business’ in the industry website. Many a times, this can be achieved in a barter engagement. Adding links in the comment section (if there is one) along with some helpful information is another way of gaining backlinks. Google recognizes when relevant content is helpful to users in this way. Overdoing this aspect can fall under Black Hat SEO, so it has to be made sure it doesn’t feel like spam.


For better SERP ranking, website should not be optimized for the keywords and perfected at the backend, but should overall have the below characteristics:
• Page load should be faster
• Website should be optimized for mobile
• User navigation should be taken care of
• Errors such as broken links and 404 should be removed
• 301 redirects should be taken care of

How to achieve a high ranking with SEO?

Relevancy and quality of the content is of utmost importance. The content should be useful to the users/readers. No one wants to be directed to a web page with poor quality of content. In case the content is of poor quality, users will click away. Google will notice the click-through-rates decreasing and bounce rates increasing, thus, lowering your rank on the SERPs.
A high quality content is less efficient if it is not optimized well for the search engine and promoted well. Additionally, if the content is placed on a web page/ landing page, the user navigation and experience should be seamless.

Secondly, follow the White Hat SEO techniques above and stay abreast of key performance indicators. The latter can be done through web analytics applications. Coming to terms with the various intricacies of this will take some time, but a well crafted SEO strategy will come in play.

Metrics of measurement for SEO: KPI

  • Google analytics metrics:
    • Users – new and returning
    • Top performing pages
    • Bounce rate, pages per session, average time on page
    • Demographics and locations of the users
  • Page ranking
  • Keyword ranking

2. Content Marketing

Content is the fuel for any digital activity. The relevance of content has increased with time, with companies experimenting with varied forms of content type, content copy, design, and length. All the more it has moved beyond in the realm of curated content specifically for the user. This is because the internet is dumped with loads of information which may or may not be relevant to the user. Hence personalised and curated content is on a high rank.

Over time, it has been observed that visually appealing content such as videos and infographics are extremely popular. Interactive content have also hooked up users attention.

Content can be used in several forms. Some of which are outlined below:

  • Webpage / landing page
  • Blog posts
  • Video
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Social media posts – stories, posts, polls etc.
  • Quizzes
  • Forms
  • Newsletters
  • Emailers
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Interactive presentations
  • Sliders

Providing content is a vital part of the 8-step Customer Value Journey, especially the first 5 steps:

  1. Awareness: Making people aware of the brand.
  2. Engagement: Engaging them with content on the brand.
  3. Subscription: Coaxing them to acquiesce to a subscription content
  4. Conversion: Giving them affordable entry point offers
  5. Excitement: Free add-on products and offers after initial purchase
  6. Ascension: Paid add-on products to increase purchases
  7. Advocating: Customer reviews help advocate a product
  8. Promotion: Customers act as promoters for benefits or even without benefits

Content marketing gives users useful information over the course of their relationship with a business, be it as a first-time visitor, long-time reader, subscriber, or customer. It builds brand awareness and creates a dynamic through which the user is serviced, from where he/she may eventually make the choice to buy a business’ products.

Metrics of measurement – Content KPIs

  • Page visits / traffic generated on the content page
  • No. of downloads and form fills
  • Content performance on social media via social engagement metrics
  • Backlinks generated to the content

Content marketing is always in sync with the overall business and marketing goals and objectives. Once the key messaging focus areas are laid out a content plan is developed in and content is paced out as per the buyer’s journey, typically in the awareness, consideration, decision making, and advocacy phase.

Steps to get started:
• Develop a content strategy
• Develop a content plan with key messaging, titles, SME’s
• Editorial calendar to be developed in sync with the social media calendar

3. Paid Ads

Paid advertising is another way to get to achieve brand awareness online. Paid advertising online comes in two forms. A large part comes through search networks, such as Google Paid, and the other through social media advertising, such as Facebook, Instagram, and the sponsored social media Ads.

This differs from organic search marketing as businesses need to pay to get their content in front of the users. The paid ads operate on different objectives outlined below:
• Awareness: where businesses pay on the impressions and reach achieved
• Engagement: businesses pay on responses such as post engagement
• Website traffic, call only, lead generation, app installs are other objectives

It is usually based on the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising model, where businesses pay search engines or social media websites based on the number of clicks, actions, and purchases they get off the ad.

Search, Display, Shop, and Video ads are popular in the Google Ads network. Google Ads is the best cloud software application available to create and manage paid ads. It tracks performances of various ad groups and helps you see which ads are doing well, and which aren’t. Ads using the Google Ads platform can be published on websites, videos, apps and Google partnered sites.

It also helps businesses calibrate their ads to certain locations, sitelinks, affiliates, and phone numbers. Ads are created within a certain text limit and use regular calls-to-action (CTA) and simple language that is to-the-point. Learning about advertising uses a hot of time as it

For social media ads, there are different channels that can be used such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat, and Telegram. Which channels to prefer would depend entirely on where the consumers are for that business ad industry. The parameter is also country specific as few social media channels are restricted in some countries.


The users are targeted using the broad categories mentioned below:
• Demographic
• Location
• Affinity and interest
• Behavior
• Life events, and
• Contextuals
• Keyword based
Every social media platform has their own ad console, for example, Facebook and Instagram ads can be executed using the Facebook ad manager.

Metrics to measure – Paid Ads KPI

  • Google Ads
    • Impressions
    • Clicks
    • Avg CPC
    • Amount spend
    • Conversions
    • CTR
    • Cost per lead
  • Social Media
    • Impressions, Reach
    • Post engagement, Page engagement
    • CTR
    • Clicks
    • Amount spend
    • Conversions – form fills
    • Cost per lead

4. Social Media Marketing

Close to 3 billion people use all the various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, etc. Social media content on these platforms can be used to generate awareness, engagement and aid subsequent lead generation.

Through social media content, businesses can engage even more personally with customers and prospects, through

Posts, polls, quizzes, contests, videos, and comments can be used on social media channels to engage with the target audience. Having a social media account is like having a business card, in today’s scenario. Users are social savvy and are included to assimilate information about the companies via website and social media channels. Hence, it becomes a mandate for a organisations to maintain social media hygiene by placing relevant thought leadership and quality content to drive user attraction and engagement. This engagement and following eventually leads to generating leads for the business.

Almost every major business will have a social media account, to engage and convert people into customers. Each of these social media sites have idiosyncratic differences (for example, Instagram is more visual-based, with videos, boomerangs, and high-quality photos), but all have workable interfaces that will allow you to manage a steady outlet of content.

There are 4 common elements to deriving the most out of social media:

(1) Social Media Strategy: This strategy document is in sync with the business goals, sales vision, key messaging, marketing strategy and content strategy. In this the macro elements are laid out that includes but is not limited to:

  • Competitor audit
  • Research and trends
  • Target audience and the buyer journey for each
  • Social media mix
  • The content type across the buyer’ journey
  • Process and workflows,
  • Social media guidelines
  • Tools to be used, and
  • Key metrics.

(2) Social media calendar: It is important to find a steady routine to posting on these websites, as the more you post, the more likely it is that you will get views, engagements, impressions, and shares. The second step is to have an execution level document that outlines a calendar of posts that is scheduled across the different social channels.

Metrics for measurement: Social Media KPIs

  • Followers
  • Post likes, comments, shares
  • Page likes
  • Clicks from the posts
  • Direct messagings
  • Chat inquiries


Digital marketing is a carefully crafted and strategic venture that companies should plan and execute in an integrated manner rather than having an ad hoc approach.

Businesses have allocated more than 80 percent of their marketing budget to digital marketing initiatives. For companies still thinking to embark on the digital journey – the time is now.

Have questions around how to start and get the most out of digital marketing? Email and seek your answers.

Leave A Comment