When it comes to spotting emerging trends, few people are better positioned than marketers. Not only do marketers need to predict future consumer behaviours, they need to know about their current priorities. Their aim is predict a customer's needs days, months and years from now – and then figure out how they can meet them.

This has always been a challenge, but it’s never been harder to foresee what the future holds than it is at this moment. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the marketing landscape in startling new ways. Rather than working in an office, workforces now collaborate remotely from kitchen tables and bedrooms. 

Social distancing has shuttered shops and sent customers on journeys to new digital places. Multi-channel marketing has captured their attention and real-time engagement has made them feel valued. At the end of the day, a company’s customer service is just as important as its products. In fact, customers’ expectations have never been higher. Organisations need to accept that offering exceptional service is part of doing business in the ‘New Normal’.

In the sixth edition of the State of Marketing report, we gathered insights from nearly 7,000 marketing leaders, including 200 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Actionable information is crucial for tackling challenges in the current marketing landscape. Now, let's look at the biggest takeaways for marketers in the UAE.


Engaging the customer in real time is a top priority

In the current climate, customers expect real-time engagement from businesses. According to the State of the Connected Customer report, 71% of customers have utilised multiple channels to initiate and complete a transaction. These multi-channel interactions are now a standard. Yet, only 56% of UAE marketers say that they offer dynamic interactions. For savvy business leaders, this represents a gap in the market.

UAE marketers also appear eager to outgrow ageing business models. Reportedly, 76% believe that traditional marketing roles are limiting customer engagement. The disconnect between marketing and IT is also notable. We found that 68% of marketers in the UAE say that they’re aligned with their IT counterparts, but a study of IT leaders reveals that poor alignment between business units is one of their top challenges.

Finding and developing talent is also a key concern. Considering employees drive businesses just as much as new tools and technologies. This is also on UAE marketers’ list of priorities:



AI is pointing UAE marketers in new directions

The possibilities of artificial intelligence have intrigued businesses for decades. Now, the use of AI is booming in the current climate. In fact, 94% of marketers in the UAE have used AI, mostly to create personal experiences within individual channels. In an age when the customer journey has never been more important, AI helps businesses deliver exceptional experiences. It provides a clearer picture of the customer’s wants and needs.

Distilling data has become crucial for engagement. And a staggering 78% of marketers in the Emirates describe their engagement as data-driven. The typical marketer uses an average of six different data management tools – double the amount they used on average in 2018.



Account-based marketing (ABM) is boosting B2B engagement

B2B customers now expect the same level of engagement and service that their B2C counterparts. So businesses are turning to ABM tools to deliver on those expectations. Marketers rely on ABM to create personalised campaigns that engage in real-time. This adds value to long-term customer relationships and helps support business continuity.

ABM programs have become flourished in a short period of time. Reportedly, 92% of B2B marketers have an ABM program and 64% of these were started within the last five years. In a short time, they’ve grown intelligent and powerful, with 68% of ABM programs now using automation.



The advent of 5G will upend the future marketing landscape

The world is always changing and the marketing landscape must follow its lead. Innovation has accelerated and the digital transformation is reimagining industries across the world. New ways of doing business are emerging every day. So it’s hard to predict what tomorrow or the next ten year might bring. But there’s one thing businesses should definitely plan for in the upcoming decade: 5G.

Around 56% of Emirati marketing leaders think that 5G will have a major impact on the industry in the decade ahead. The implementation of 5G will connect the world in new ways. Like the expansion of the Internet of Things or a boom in virtual reality (VR), which could be used in everything from educational platforms to job training to sporting events. It may also create new uses for augmented reality (AR). This will put a world of information at our fingertips.

As the world continues to change and evolve in exciting ways, marketers will be there to ensure that customers are along for the ride – wherever it might take them.


To see more insights from marketing leaders around the globe, check out this year’s State of Marketing report today.