RBBi unveils MENA’s first study on the use of the Arabic language online

The paper explains how users behave and search for information online providing essential tips for brands on how to create effective digital marketing campaigns in Arabic

Red Blue Blur Ideas (RBBi), the first user-centric, data-driven and digital marketing consultancy in the Middle East today released details of the first MENA study on the use of the Arabic language online titled ‘A strategy for success: Arabic digital marketing in MENA’.

Digital marketing in the MENA region is growing at an increasingly fast pace. At the same time, digital marketing in a different language other than English poses a significant challenge because most, if not all the primary studies and information on this vital topic is created in English (with less than 1% of online content being available in Arabic).

Commenting on the study Ammar Badr, Digital Marketing Consultant at RBBi said, “The past decade has seen a monumental rise in the number of Arabic-speakers going online. Egypt alone represents 20% of the online Arabic audience, while the KSA holds 12% and the GCC countries together make up 22%. With the ubiquity of smartphones, most people now use search engines to find what they are looking for, making it essential for businesses to create an effective digital marketing campaign in Arabic. We at RBBi, conducted a detailed study on the use of the Arabic language online in an effort to help businesses solve the digital challenges faced today”.

With Google dominating 97% of the market share in Arab countries, findings show that being visible in customers’ native language is absolutely vital. Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world with a 41.7% Internet penetration. Unlike the English/European markets, the number of Arab speakers online is still young and developing, with its most significant advantage being the low competition and the vast amounts of high-quality data available.

The comprehensive content analysis uncovered that the Arabic language has some unique requirements that need to be considered when used online. For example, auto-translation tools must be avoided at all costs because domain names, web server configurations, URL structure and more require translation only by a native Arabic speaker. Moreover, mediocre quality translation leads to high bounce rates, making it essential for native Arabic speakers to translate content. Spaces need to be included between the coordination and the word so that search engines consider this a new word.

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The report also highlighted the importance of using the right words in Arabic, which sometimes have the same meaning. This influences the audience reach and website traffic. Words with Hamza need to be carefully considered in paid campaigns. Arabic speakers do not include Hamza when searching online, and this must be taken into account as well.

The study also revealed that businesses would profit from using an online Arabic spoken language like Arabizi, especially if addressing a young audience.

Language and cultural content strategy should be a fundamental part of any digital marketing strategy. High-quality content and SEO optimisation provide a significant option for businesses to do this efficiently and accurately to ensure that they target customers with relevant messages.

For more insights and to download the full version of the research, please click the following links for the English version and Arabic version.

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