The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been in the midst of a significant digital transformation for many years. Companies in the region are leveraging the power of technology and future-proofing their businesses with strategies and initiatives that align with the needs of digitally-empowered consumers.
Across industries, technology is disrupting and radically transforming the way businesses operate. From the automotive industry’s rapid shift to e-commerce to the travel and tourism sector’s forays into the metaverse, to the digitization of healthcare – the Middle East is quickly becoming one of the world’s most technologically progressive areas.
Education technology (EdTech) is another area where the UAE is leading the charge. In this article, we take a look at some of the top EdTech startups in the UAE and how they’re embracing digital transformation strategies to reach their audience and succeed.
The state of EdTech in the UAE
Although it has been in development for decades, the EdTech industry boomed around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic as educational institutions sought online ways to communicate and facilitate learning during a time when face-to-face classes and in-person learning and development was suspended.
The global education sector ( which includes public and private schools, universities and colleges, training centers, and so on) underwent a swift switch to virtual learning platforms and other online methods of communication to align with the state of the education landscape and the world as a digital environment.
In the UAE, the pandemic served to accelerate the EdTech revolution, pushing 72% of Gulf educational institutions to advance their digital initiative roadmap by at least a year. As soon as the pandemic posed a significant risk to the wellbeing of students, teachers and their peers the UAE Ministry of Education announced distance learning initiatives.
The purpose of EdTech solutions is to empower students and corporations with digital solutions that allow them to keep up with the changing world.
Although many are skeptical when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom, the overarching goals of EdTech solutions in the classroom are to improve student outcomes, facilitate individualized learning and reduce the burden for leaders and instructors. As of June 2022, there were 288 educational technologies companies in the UAE, a number which is expected to quickly rise.
Due to the vastness and diversity of the education landscape, EdTech companies have found innovative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and stand out to target audience niches with specific pain points. One of the most effective ways of doing this is with digital marketing strategies.
Moving forward, it’s important for EdTech companies to keep users at the heart of their solutions to better understand how technology is changing education in the UAE. Although bringing technology to the classroom does yield more opportunity for data harvesting and other problematic practices, it also empowers learners to learn in innovative and highly effective ways.
The role of digital marketing in EdTech
In a world where almost everything we do can be done online, including going to school, effective digital marketing practices are essential to stand out from the competition and attract your target audience.
Through practices such as inbound marketing and paid advertising, companies can build brand awareness, engage their community, and drive lead generation to grow their business.
Although many of the same digital marketing strategies can be applied across industries, we’re going to take a look at some and how they relate to the EdTech sector.
Some key digital marketing trends that EdTech companies should lookout for implement in their overall business strategies include:
1. The importance of SEO strategies for increasing website traffic
One thing’s for sure, algorithms play a major role in how consumers discover and interact with businesses. An effective SEO strategy is vital for EdTech companies in the UAE to stand out and get found by big-bucks clients like schools and institutions.
Be sure to carry out on-page optimization for your website and related content pages. Use keyword research to optimize content with the terms that potential customers are searching for, and don’t forget to check your title tags and meta descriptions to boost visibility in SERPS.
Off-page SEO involves doing things like offering a great user experience and attaining valuable backlinks from trustworthy third-party sources to increase your credibility and ranking.
2. Email marketing isn’t dead
Over recent years, the EdTech industry has become a key focus for institutions and individuals seeking to improve their education in a digital environment.
One of the most effective ways to reach out to potential clients and customers is, still to this day, via email. It’s no wonder why 89% of marketers use email as their primary channel for generating leads.
Key trends to keep an eye out for in email marketing include hyper personalization, AI, user-generated content and an enhanced focus on audience privacy. Email lists are useful for helping you narrow down your target audience and allow you to reach out to them with personalized content in a way that they’re more likely to see.
EdTech companies should consider implementing an email marketing strategy that involves sharing key news and industry updates to provide clients and potential customers with valuable insight to keep them engaged.
3. Video is the most engaging type of content
Humans are visual beings. That’s why video has quickly surpassed other types of content as the most popular, with 72% of customers agreeing they’d rather learn about a product or service through video. What’s more, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it.
There are many ways EdTech companies can utilize video marketing to their advantage.
From creating product videos that educate customers on how to use your product, to customer testimonials and industry analysis webinars – there’s plenty that this visual medium can communicate. What’s more, video is much more passive and engaging than written content, which makes it ideal for featuring on your website and social media channels.
You can also leverage video features on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share stories or short snippets about your product, trends shaping the industry, or simply entertaining content to catch the viewer’s attention.
Top UAE EdTech startups and their digital transformation strategies
1. Noon Academy
Noon Academy is a fast-growing EdTech startup in the Middle East. The platform facilitates interactive classes with gamified features to enhance the online learning experience. They currently have over 14 million registered users spanning the MENA region.
Students can learn from their peers in an affordable and fun social learning environment and access the platform through a subscription or membership.
Noon Academy has embraced digital transformation, with advanced technology forming the basis of their platform. The goal is to provide a more interactive social learning experience that’s accessible for all kinds of students through gamified features that enhance user engagement.
They’re also making use of digital marketing strategies to grow their audience. Examples of how they’re doing this include having a highly-optimized website with an attractive interface that’s accessible to their target audience (young learners), and utilizing social media to share important company updates.
An established learning and development platform launched in 2020, Zedny seks to address industry changes before professionals in the Arab world fall behind. Although it’s not technically in the UAE, Zedny is based in Egypt so it remains part of the MENA region.
The platform features over 5000 hours of learning and development content, including video lessons and animated summaries of business bestsellers. With courses available to employers and individuals, Zedny is a valuable asset for businesses and employees to stay on top of their hard and soft skills while improving their employability.
The company is embracing digital transformation with its AI engine and machine learning capabilities that produces comprehensive assessments to empower human capital. It also features an attractive and easy to use interface that allows users to track their progress through a learning management system.
Based in Jeddah, Aanaab is a professional development platform for teachers that raised $1.5 million in its first external funding round.
Their courses are aimed at empowering teachers to study for and pass Cambridge International certificates and to help them improve their skills in self-development and educational strategies, tools, and techniques.
In 2020, the company partnered with the UAE Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia to help train and develop the skills of over 1000 teachers while helping them to learn about integrating technology in education. The company has also partnered with various schools and institutions to help them meet their professional development goals for educators.
Their courses feature video lectures, interactive discussion boards, reading material and more that are all accessible through an intuitive software solution. Aanaab is enhancing the accessibility of education for teachers in the Arab world, making it simpler for teachers to improve their employability and achieve their career goals.
When it comes to digital marketing, Aanaab has a strong social media presence on Instagram and Facebook where they post regular updates. They also boast a highly optimized website with an intuitive user interface that’s simple for everyone to use – even those with more of a traditional educational background.
Ready to grow your EdTech business with digital marketing?
With the market size and demand rapidly increasing, there’s no better time than now to start investing in the future of your EdTech company.
Digital transformation and marketing will play a key role in allowing you to reach a digitally empowered target audience as you drive forward the field of education with technological innovations.
Want to find out more about digital marketing trends shaping industries across the Middle East?
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