Saudi Focus 2022: Keeping up with digital – by Assembly’s Salma Eraki

Assembly’s Salma Eraki writes on the role of digital in the Saudi 2030 Vision and how businesses can benefit from it

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By Salma Eraki, content manager, Assembly Global

The state of digital in Saudi Arabia is evolving beyond expectation and gaining exponential interest, both regionally and globally. Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom has taken great strides towards a more advanced digital transformation.

The Saudi Vision 2030 aspires to build a digitally led economy, and in pursuit of this goal, the government has launched a range of digital-first initiatives. The vision will benefit both the public and private sectors by uplifting and empowering their overall growth and development through a digital lens. But businesses might wonder how that affects them, especially if they are not in a highly technical industry. As the nation steadily expands its focus on digital transformation, it becomes requisite for businesses to reevaluate their strategy with the Saudi 2030 vision in mind. If we fail to strategise innovatively and keep up with the times, we will be left behind.

Digital transformation and data-driven marketing

A data-driven approach can help your business grow across the board, from logistics, accounting, and customer service efforts to marketing and outreach initiatives. While devising a digitally conscious and data-first marketing strategy is vital for all businesses globally, the Kingdom is indeed at the frontier of digital transformation and advanced data.

As paid advertising witnesses unprecedented times with an all-time high in terms of revenue and ad spend in Saudi, businesses must step up their digital game. Having increased by more than 50 per cent in the last three years, the improvement in average spend per user throughout the Kingdom shows promising growth. 

Some of the challenges that CMOs are dealing with in 2022 are the inability to create meaningful connections with their customers and being able to optimise marketing funnels by using big data. As traditional marketing channels become more decentralised and the digital landscape more segmented, it becomes critical to create meaningful relationships and connections with your customers. Similarly, marketers are facing another set of challenges. According to the Oracle Marketing Trends 2022 report, 38 per cent ​of marketers surveyed said that maximising channel performance is one of their top marketing challenges. While 32 per cent said that one of the biggest challenges they deal with is segmenting and targeting audiences. 

This is where the data-driven approach comes into play. The ‘Vision 2030’ expansion involves advanced use of technology, which means brands and marketers can utilise targeted usage of data and intelligence. Digital transformation will make relevant data available through a data-driven media planning approach.

It helps drastically increase your chances of targeting the correct audience and driving more revenue by leveraging advertising automation. Properly targeted messaging enabled by data-driven marketing can improve conversion rates because it is more likely to reach the right audience and attract relevant attention.

Embracing machine learning and utilising big data to elevate your marketing strategies can provide a better understanding of your customers and enable you to meet them where they are. Leveraging the power of big data through analysing the customer journey and employing personalisation and automation can ultimately help brands drive results and allow them greater insight into consumer behaviours.

Vision 2030’s impact on e-commerce

With the highly promising investment opportunities that Vision 2030 will bring for businesses in different industries, the contribution of modern trade and e-commerce is projected to increase to 80 per cent of the retail sector. Additionally, Saudi consumers are moving in the direction of digital payments, which is a natural progression since Saudi Arabia’s internet penetration rate stood at 97.9 per cent of the total population at the start of 2022. As Saudi consumers spend more time online and get more comfortable with digital payments, their interest in e-commerce grows. According to a new report by BCG, titled ‘The SAR 50 Billion E-commerce Opportunity in Saudi Arabia,’ the sector’s market value increased by almost 60 per cent between 2019 and 2020 and is projected to exceed SAR 50bn by 2025.

As a result of the e-commerce boom under Vision 2030, every sector of the Saudi economy for business-to-consumer (B2C) goods and services saw increased digital spending in 2021. This resulted in a significant increase in consumer demand for digital commerce and associated services.

Vision 2030 is a uniquely transformative economic and social reform blueprint that is opening Saudi Arabia up to the world. Tech enthusiasts or not, this great endeavour to transform and innovate inspires us all to think of what the future holds for the Kingdom with great optimism. As Saudi Arabia strives to create a more diverse and sustainable economy, businesses are left with endless opportunities to claim a place in this future-facing initiative.