Does culture play a role in drafting CRM strategy?

 

I will try to answer with an illustration.

Birthday congrats via CRM system database

Some CRM experts may devise a CRM strategy and system as such to send automatic, yet personalized, birthday congratulation emails to customers (even to B2B customer’s contact persons if deemed appropriate). Such e-mails may carry an incentive, a special, a coupon or a digital gift. This is a brilliant idea if it is not privacy breaching & in accordance with opt-in & op-out regulations in some countries  (like West European and North American countries)

CRM-happy-birthday

However, in Middle Eastern & Far Eastern countries, people may have a different notion of birthday congratulations and/or celebrations for adults. For instance, and according to my experience as a former manager of a full-registration based digital business aimed at international freelance linguists, Asians of the Far East (Japan, Korea and China), specifically females, prefer not to enter their birthday dates on online forms at all. I actually had to change the birthday form-field into “voluntary” instead of “compulsory”, to allow some members to register their full professional information with ease and a peace of mind!

Also, birthdays are not widely celebrated in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) area among native inhabitants of countries such as Saudi Arabia or the UAE, due to religious motives. So, would sending such a “thoughtful” e-mail gesture be applauded or would it rather backfire and be viewed as offensive?

I would go about it safely and say “ yes”,  in some area’s, culture does play a role. One must be wary of such sensitivities.

Arabic SEO

Why are there so few companies in the Middle East that use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for sales & promotion?

Companies in the Middle East do what works best for them and reaches (or is reachable to) people. Search isn’t that (yet) in the Middle East, when it comes to exploring e-commerce outlets.

There are several reasons for the slow advancement of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & online digital marketing in the Middle East:

1. Arabic is not a popular internet language of commerce and information

top-10-languages-in-the-internet

Yes, Arabic ranks seventh among the top-10 internet languages, but the “net indexed harvest” of what the internet contains of Arabic words is really limited to general information, Wikipedia pages and lots of user-generated content in forums and social media. Compared to other regions, fewer Arabic-language websites are dedicated to a business or a company. Most of these websites do not have dynamic content (blogs) and are poorly designed and search engine optimized.

2. The Middle Eastern buying behavior of target audiences is NOT search-centered

riyadh-shopping-mall

Riyadh Shopping Mall

Whether it relates to searching for general info or product info with the intent of buying, people in the Middle East are yet to adapt to giving their full trust to the internet for making a responsible purchase behavior. They are more used to practices such as “bargaining a price” and “checking out the good with their hands”, than to “fixed prices”, “product displays and comparisons” and “online payments”, which makes the traditional physical shopping experience a more favorable one. They believe what they see in a shop and view other alternatives with some suspicion.

3. The level of penetration of e-commerce in houses which is still immature.

Internet-Penetration-Middle-East 

While we see big name e-commerce brands establishing themselves, like Souq.com & Namshi.com, people know these websites from the TV-ads or from social media endorsements by friends or followers and not from conducting a search query on Google. So, it appears that Middle Eastern e-commerce companies are aware of the poor use of search engine for random buying decisions and relent to TV-ads and more high ROI media to achieve big and instant exposure.

4. TV is still very big in the Middle East

Despite the rise of engagement in e-commerce, companies are still sticking to traditional media in the UAE.

Despite the rise of engagement in e-commerce, companies are still sticking to traditional media in the UAE.

TV advertisement works in the Middle East more than in other regions and offers competition to online marketing or print marketing because of high rates of “home-sitters” overrepresented by females (the typical indirect purchase decision makers) and children (high birth-rate and young population region), next to low levels of readership and home-internet penetration rates in many areas.

5. E-commerce success is reserved for the big ones

Souq.com

Souq.com

Namshi.com

Namshi.com

In the world of e-commerce of the Middle East you have to be big to be seen and successful, while in other parts of the world there is a flourishing SME, small business and digital home business branch with ordinary people selling goods online via web shops. Search engine is a typical advertising medium (SEO & SEM) for small & medium size business; since they are not many in the Middle East, there is not much utilization of it for commerce. Big business can always afford mass media advertising like TV with quick ROI, resulting in less attention to SEO.

Email marketing vs Social Media Marketing-1

ما هو الأكثر فاعلية: التسويق عن طريق مواقع التواصل الإجتماعي أم التسويق عن طريق البريد الإلكتروني؟

لعل هذه الإجابة القصيرة تغني

لماذا التسجيل في جميع وسائل التواصل الإجتماعية (حتى وإن كان التسجيل عبر وسيط كفيسبوك أو تويتر) هو باستخدام البريد الإلكتروني دائما؟ لعله لأن البريد الإلكتروني سيبقى إلى أمد طويل نقطة الإتصال الأولى والأكثر خصوصية بين الشخص والإنترنت؟

info-graphic-email-marketing-vs-social-media-marketing

وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي نفسها تقر بفعالية البريد الإلكتروني التي تفوق فعاليتها في معظم الأحيان، بالترويج لصفحاتها ومحتواها عن طريق البريد الإكتروني نفسه وإرسال مختلف التنبيهات والتأكيدات عن طريقه لمشتركيها. بطبيعة الحال هناك فروق عملية بين الإثنين متعلقة بنوعية التسويق واهم شي، بقدرة وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي على تحقيق ما يسمى بالتسويق الموجه أو المستهدف، مما يجعلها في حالات أخرى أكثر فعالية من البريد الإلكتروني، الذي قد يكون “مهجورا” من قبل مدمني فيسبوك وفيسبوك مايل، مثلا، والذين غالبا ما ينتمون إلى فئات عمرية معينة.

غني عن الذكر أن التسويق عن طريق البريد الإلكتروني يحتاج بالطبع إلى قائمة من المشتركين الموافقين على إستقبال رسائل ترويجية عليه تناسبا مع اللوائح القانونية في بعض البلدان. أما وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي فلا تحتاج إلى إذن مسبق وتلغي الحاجة إلى الوصول إلى المجموعة المستهدفة، بل في الغالب هي التي تجدك.

There is a Ford in your future!

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time”. Do you agree?

Well, if this is said by the great Henry Ford, who will I be if I dare disagree?

 

quote-anyone-who-stops-learning-is-old-whether-at-twenty-or-eighty-anyone-who-keeps-learning-stays-henry-ford

 

I agree for the most part. But I’d, also, say in a very low voice (to avoid public scrutiny from the “majority vote”), that this is a saying by a great industrialist who changed car/automobile production into innovative mass production (the first conveyor belt-based assembly line in a car factory), benefiting from being only the second manufacturer in the US after Ransome Eli Olds, soon the biggest in the US and the one with lowest competition and biggest market share by 1913, already.

The likes of Ford and big companies can afford ongoing advertisements efforts and expenditure without turning an eye to ROI vs cost.

 

There is a Ford in your future!

 

I don’t think this saying applies to all businesses all the time! You can’t “stop the time”, but you can pause your advertisement efforts according to situations. Why? Some advertisement simply entail more cost than any gain or ROI and sometime no gain and no ROI whatsoever. Your advertising strategy may need some tweaking and reconsidering. Would you still follow such saying blindly because Ford said it about his company, product, market and TIME?

 

Advertisement Money Wasted

A great ad should be…?

What makes a great ad differs according to the type of advertisement. You didn’t specify what type of ad, so I will choose TV-ad.

Tv-ad-3

TV-ad

A great TV AD should be interesting to watch and re-watch, enjoyable to listen to from the kitchen, hard to zap away during commercial breaks and easily remembered and associated with the advertised product.

It can be anything from funny to lame and from informative to vague as long as it does not humiliate the intelligence of the viewer with too many clichés.

Business Idea-1

You have the start-up capital, now which business to tap into?

You have the money? Great! Now, wait! Be patient, careful and thorough without losing your sense of adventure and creativity to invent or innovate.

You’ve the greatest of obstacles to entrepreneurship moved out of your way, don’t put obstacles yourself. Don’t rush into thinking that having capital will make any business idea revel in success.

Here are some tips:

  1. Consult your mind and your character. Will you be the captain of your business? Then you must choose of a type of business that fits your character? Will you be the business owner only and leave day-to-day leadership to someone else from day one? Then, your scope of choices should involve the choice for the best leadership too.
  2. Conduct generalist brainstorming research about “gaps in the market”. What’s new, hot, successful, durable, international, expandable or secure, depending on your own imagination of how your business should be like in3-5 years.
  3. Don’t limit yourself to your local or national borders. See what others are doing oversees and take the possible advantage of being first in your own territory.

    Knowledge, Passion & Profitability

    Knowledge, Passion & Profitability

  4. Know your future competitors and current inspiration sources. Visit the website and if needed physical locations of existing companies that you wish you’ve started. There is no shame in copying and improving existing idea’s and being a starting probably inexperienced entrepreneur, you will learn a lot from others about what you can and cannot do, without re-inventing the wheel.
  5. Network with people, visit business seminars at your local chamber of commerce, join business clubs, connect online, visit universities (yes, universities!) and don’t disqualify anyone from being a source of inspiration.
  6. Narrow down your research to specified sectors or markets of choice and make your research thorough this time.

    Which business

    Which business

  7. Consult country, market and sector reports from official entities to entrench yourself in the statistical side of your endeavor.
  8. Write down your business ideas in non-official formats and see whether it makes sense, once written down.
  9. Write a feasibility study. Does it still make sense?
  10. Draw up a pilot business-plan. Does it still make sense?

 

If yes, then congratulations you’re on your way to conceptualize what used to be a dream/idea.

cloud-computing-security

What are the security and reliability concerns of cloud technology for business?

cloud-computing-and-security

Security concerns:

  1. Is my sensitive company information private?
  2. Do IT companies or SaaS companies adhere to their marketed privacy protection practices?
  3. Is resource sharing always positive or do I want to keep some business intelligence from some employees & layers of organization?
  4. Do I need internet banking protection level or average level or low level?
  5. Can my “cloud system” be hacked?
  6. How can I ensure that oversees employees or home-workers do not share my business information with others?
Cloud-computing-PWC

Source: PWC

Reliability concerns:

  1. Do I dare to conduct business over the fragile web instead of a controlled network environment?
  2. Does cloud technology offer scalability to my business?
  3. Is cloud technology more or less stable than local internet (on-company or company owned dedicated server)
  4. Is the SSL-protection offered by the 3rd party service provider trust-worthy, or do I want to choose an SSL-certificate myself?
  5. How & how fast will my employees react & adapt to this cloud technology?