How UAE Brands Can Drive Mobile Expansion

Mobile apps are rapidly becoming the primary interface between UAE brands and consumers. While this trend has been ongoing for some time, it has undoubtedly been accelerated by the recent pandemic. And with the UAE boasting some of the highest smartphone penetration figures in the world, mobile is only set to gain further momentum. Organisations such as Careem, and Talabat have posted exceptional growth in their customer base, as the convenience of mobile apps draws customers away from traditional contenders towards digital-first alternatives.

Recognising this, established brands are now turning to mobile as another channel through which they can reach consumers and remain competitive. So, as digital becomes a greater priority, here’s how UAE brands can scale their mobile app offerings.

User Acquisition
Acquiring new customers is always challenging, so having a solid acquisition strategy should be a critical first step. The average time UAE consumers typically spend on social media per day is just five minutes shy of three hours. It follows logically then that running ads either on other apps, or social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat or TikTok can be a great way to reach new and existing customers and scale your business.

Metrics like Cost Per Impression (CPM) and Cost Per Action (CPA) can provide a lot of clarity and help businesses make informed decisions on where to invest their resources. CPM enables you to put a monetary value on the number of times your content is viewed by your audience, while CPA puts a value on actions taken as a direct result of seeing your content, such as a download, a purchase or a sign-up.

CPM is relatively low cost, especially compared to traditional marketing channels such as television and out of home advertising. CPA campaigns are also relatively low risk because payment to the advertising platform only has to be made when a specific and meaningful action, defined by you, takes place.

Optimizing Owned Media
One of the most cost-effective ways of acquiring new app users is to take advantage of owned channels that you’re already using to communicate with customers and prospects, such as owned social media or email lists. The fact that these channels are owned by your brand gives you the freedom to be more creative. These channels can be used to display engaging, personalised content, encouraging users to download your app, which could be anything from offering a discount, a free trial, or a new product feature specific to the app.

When a user clicks on the content, they will either be taken directly to the app if they already have it installed, or to the relevant app store. Crucially, when the user opens the app, they will be taken straight to the content they were originally interested in, for example the discount page, instead of having to navigate from the homepage themselves. This small but significant touch can have a huge impact on the overall customer experience and ensure that the users’ journey from first seeing the advert to opening the app is seamless and personalised.

Rethinking The Customer Journey: Web-To-App
Another example of using owned channels to drive growth on mobile is web-to-app acquisition. In other words, content is placed on the web browser, which, as above, then sends the user directly to the app store or to the relevant page in the app. Not only does this enable marketers to create better onboarding experiences which are intimately linked to better conversion rates, but it’s also generally more cost-effective than relying exclusively on mobile.

Perhaps more importantly though, is that from a privacy perspective, because the journey covers owned channels, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) does not need to be collected for attribution purposes, and first-party data can be leveraged to optimise the experience. As we move into a privacy-first era, where Apple’s update to iOS 14 is expected to all but diminish IDFA collection, brands that embrace web-to-app will be able to get ahead of the curve.

Measuring The Impact
Growth on mobile will be much harder if you don’t have effective measurement and attribution tools in place to identify where installs are coming from, understand what content resonates with specific user groups, and where you should be investing more of your marketing efforts. Taking a data-driven approach will also give you a clear view of the customer journey, so for example, you could see whether a user has clicked through to your website but didn’t download your app, or if they installed the app but either don’t use it or quickly uninstall it. Having this knowledge can make the difference in how successful your user acquisition efforts are.

There is no doubt that mobile will continue to grow in the UAE. The country already leads the Middle East’s digital maturity index and it’s digital-first start-ups that are now attracting the greatest degree of attention and investment. Many of these start-ups are either mobile-first or have a mobile app as a key component of their business model. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated mobile use as consumers look for alternative ways to interact with brands. With innovation abounding in the space, competition for customers will be strong. Having an effective way to understand how well your user acquisition efforts are actually working and which parts may need improvement will be essential for growth.