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Customer retention is a priority in ‘finite markets’ like the UAE, experts say

Ankur Gattani Chief Growth Officer – WebEngage (left) and Ankit Bansal, Co-founder & General Manager of SellThru FZC. 

When there are only so many people a brand can acquire as “new customers” in an area it operates in, it is said to be dealing with a “finite market”. In such markets, consumption is unlikely to grow infinitely in the foreseeable future.

The situation is best understood by drawing an analogy between the UAE and India: Due to a massive population, some of which continue to remain underserved, India presents ample opportunity for brands to onboard new customers. Conversely, in the significantly less-populated UAE, acquiring new customers can be relatively more challenging due to nearly 100% internet penetration and heightened awareness.

So, brands in the UAE increasingly find themselves in a market-share battle where customer retention is seemingly the weapon of choice, according to Ankit Bansal, Co-founder & General Manager of SellThru FZC, the region’s first client-side digital marketing agency. At SellThru, the teams are predominantly from client-side backgrounds, enabling the company to view its customers’ marketing as a function rather than performance.

Drawing upon that unique competency and extensive experience, Bansal said the UAE market displays more maturity in terms of performance marketing due to the talent pool. “UAE’s talent attractiveness has drawn skilled workers from across the world, leading to the adoption of best practices. Today, there is scope for more growth by adopting full-stack CRM and marketing technologies and attaining an early-mover advantage. CRM, marketing automation, SEO, and, most importantly, a data infrastructure — which enables the first three — are indispensable to that approach,” Bansal added.

Bansal’s SellThru is a certified partner of WebEngage, a leading marketing automation company, and often collaborates with it for campaign management and integration. Customer data platform (CDP)-powered platforms like WebEngage seamlessly integrate with the client’s data infrastructure and different channels. The integration bridges marketing silos before advanced AI/ML analytics turn data into insights. The derived insights help orchestrate one-on-one communications and improve customer retention.

“We collectively foresee challenges that brands will face in the next 12 months in markets like Saudi and the UAE before devising the right approach forward. Brands often have apps with numerous sets of events flowing in, each with multiple attributes. Additionally, they could have online and offline channels. So, we have to get the integrations right. Once we do that, brands can differentiate themselves in the market by becoming more responsive to consumer needs. As each customer presents unique needs, personalization becomes paramount,” Ankur Gattani, Chief Growth Officer of WebEngage, echoed.

How Brands Can Retain More Customers

Bansal believes brands must do better than just jump on the bandwagon of marketing technologies to retain customers. “Brands must first articulate the problems they have. Depending on their operational channels, including e-commerce and physical stores, they may or may not need a single view of a customer. Brands that do not understand such granularities are overpaying for marketing technologies and underutilizing them. We believe in an outcome-based approach, ensuring brands not only adopt the right solutions but also maximize them,” Bansal explained.

Irrespective of B2B, B2C, or other business models, brands across GCC are now increasingly leaning toward AI and automation to optimize their marketing efforts. That development is supported by multiple studies where regional customers were found to prefer personalization more than their global counterparts. Brands rightly believe that marketing technologies will enable them to strike up one-on-one conversations with customers and personalize their experiences. WebEngage’s growing client portfolio in GCC is a testament to the uptake of AI and automation.

Providing a rationale, Ankit Bansal said the partnership between SellThru and WebEngage was nurtured through close collaborations. “We enjoy working with WebEngage for many reasons, especially the bi-weekly correspondence with the management. The flexibility to closely collaborate with different teams and deliver results has encouraged us to confidently introduce WebEngage to many startups. We believe in its ability to cater to startups’ distinctive requirements. Whenever customer retention comes up in a conversation, we think WebEngage,” Bansal asserted.

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