Although Qatar enjoys one of the highest rates of internet penetrations in the world, with practically all of its residents being online, either through fixed or mobile connections, the majority of the country’s businesses are surprisingly lagging behind when it comes to their online presence.

While in developed markets, basically every small business has a website, in Qatar many medium sized companies even don’t have one. Further on, many have either extremely bare bones or noticeably dated websites that look like they belong in another era – as in mid 2000s era!

Companies in Qatar with corporate blogs

Perhaps not surprisingly corporate or business blogging is therefore not something Qatar based companies commonly utilize. Out of the 50 businesses and organizations which we analysed for the purposes of this blog post, only 20% of them use this online marketing technique to promote themselves. And that percentage is a bit generous, since several of those have their blog sections either in disarray, are off topic and not really focusing on the subjects they should be or in one extreme case the blog is completely copy pasted from other publications. The latter is obviously a really bad idea, since it reduces trustworthiness of the company.

But hold on, let’s just make sure we are on the same page about this corporate / business blogging thing
A corporate or business blog is basically a part of the website that the company uses to create and publish content which addresses industry insights, updates, expert tips and best practices. Unlike traditional press releases, blogs should not be strictly only about your business, but should instead be utilized as a platform to show thought leadership and communicate views on industry issues.

The end game is of course to promote the company’s products and service, however in a non direct way, focusing primarily on building trust through showcasing the company’s expertise and know-how in its area.

A good company blog will provide valuable resources to help its target customers solve their problems and answer their questions.

Corporate blogs are an excellent tool to drive traffic to websites primarily through search engines such as Google. In addition, they go hand in hand with email marketing and can also potentially go viral on social media, of course primarily depending on the topic. Due to its enormous benefits, corporate blogging is used by businesses of all sizes around the world, however in Qatar it is a seriously underutilized practice as we’ve pointed out above.

We at Priya DSouza Communications most definitely recommend it and if your organization requires assistance with it, you can check our Corporate Blogging offer here or at the bottom of this post.

Ok with that out of the way, let’s get back to what companies in Qatar are doing to capitalize on corporate blogging

The analysed businesses range from small to big businesses across various industries such as hospitality, automotive, health, telecoms, finance, logistics, real estate, etc.

So… what are others doing you ask? Well the good news for you is that not much in fact, which presents an opportunity for you and your organization. Now to be fair, there are some companies that are doing it right and we’ll name them here, because they deserve it: Vodafone Qatar (which focuses on a particular CSR initiative), WISE (enormous amount of resources, practically set up as a publisher) and Nexus Advice (a company with a well rounded approach to corporate blogging). Further on there are a few more that have corporate blogs, but could use some improvement in one way or another: Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Gulf Warehousing Company and Qatar Office Space to name some of them.

That of course doesn’t mean no other company in Qatar is utilizing corporate blogging or doing it well, but in general it shows that companies are not tapping into the potential properly and that potential is definitely there.

We’ll tell you why – because practically nobody is doing it in Qatar and you have a perfect opportunity to make your business a shining example. The fact is there is a lack of online information in practically all fields in Doha, which is a consequence of insufficient messaging from both the State as well as the private sector in addition to a not exactly inspiring media landscape and of course the fact that Qatar is a revolving door. Just think of all those times you were trying to find some relevant information online, only to often end up being frustrated with the scarcity of information available.

People come and go constantly, which means there is a need to constantly educate newcomers about your company, products, services and your expertise. So make sure people can find out about you on the platform you control – your website.

Companies in Qatar are missing the point of corporate blogging

Let’s take a look at a real life example in Qatar. Al Sraiya Holding Group is one of the rare companies in Qatar that sort of maintains a corporate blog, which we can give them credit for. However the nature of these blog posts is so generic, that it offers little in the way of positioning the Group as one of the leading companies in their fields in Qatar, which without a doubt they are.

One of their blog posts has a promising title: “Inside an Investment Holding Company” (By the way, the fact that we just linked to them, will help that post to rank higher in Google Search). Well so far so good! For all interested stakeholders – be it their partners, suppliers or customers this could be a great opportunity to get to know them better. However this particular piece of content reveals absolutely nothing about Al Sraiya Holding itself, instead it’s a generic piece of content that doesn’t even focus on Holding Companies in Qatar.

Another example from the same company would be: “What you should know about Business Partnerships”. Well great, sounds like Al Sraiya Group offers business services related to opening a business in Qatar and now they’ll give us some important information to be aware of. Next, they’ll of course offer us their services at some point, after they convince us of their expertise by having written that blog post.

Right? Unfortunately not. Again extremely generic content, one that we more or less have no use of, since we’d want to know details about either Qatar or whatever other market they operate in. Further on, there is no call for action, it’s hard to tell if the company even offers these kinds of business services, since they don’t direct us to any sort of an opt in form in order for them to get in touch with us or link to a website of their subsidiary that specializes in these matters.

No offense Al Sraiya Holding Group 😊, but you can do better, which the size and success of your Holding Company clearly shows.

Not utilizing content that was already created

There are a number of companies in Qatar, especially medium or big in size, that periodically do their own publications such as company magazines and the like. These are practically always created for print and that is perfectly fine and well, since there is a clear value in that format. However there is absolutely no reason to not publish that same material online. In an appropriate format that is of course, which PDFs are definitely not.

These organizations are missing out on creating additional resources on their websites, which can be read in a normal form as blog posts. The thing is the content is already written, now it just needs to appear in a suitable form online. It keeps the website updated with fresh content, it’s suitable to read and it’s by far superior for SEO purposes to have separate posts – as in one article per webpage, instead of in bulk as a PDF magazine.

A number of companies and organizations we researched are missing out on this opportunity. They basically create the content, but forget to deliver it in an appropriate form for online readers. The best example of this would be Qatar CSR, an initiative by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A snapshot of http://www.qatarcsr.org – the entire content of their corporate magazine is available in the form of PDFs, instead of appearing as separate posts on the website. A perfect example of wasting content and not capitalizing on potential website traffic.

Basically the whole point is to talk about both what the State of Qatar as well as the leading companies in the country are doing in terms of corporate social responsibility. There are hundreds of articles waiting to be published and arranged in a meaningful way on the website, instead of being stuck in those five enormous PDFs.

The difference in the number of visitors to this specific website would be considerably larger and the intent would have been achieved, maximum exposure. Again, no offense there MOFA 😊, but you can do better.

Pretty much the same can be said for numerous others we took a look at for the purpose of writing this blog post: Petrotec, Doha International Family Institute, Ali Bin Ali, Al Sraiya Group and Qatar Chamber among others.

Not focusing enough on building subscriber databases

Newsletters or email marketing remains to this day one of the most powerful online marketing techniques, as spammy as it can appear, once you’ve subscribed to tens and tens of newsletters throughout the years.

Despite this, it is one of the best ways to get the message across directly to your audience. While open and click through rates are rather low, that number can still be significant in case you’ve worked on and maintained a valuable emailing database.

One of the easiest ways to do that is of course by having an embedded opt-in form on your website – basically a form where visitors can type their email in and end up in your database. This way that emailing list you have will continuously grow, without your direct intervention or effort!

Websites with a newsletter sign up

Out of the 50 websites of Qatar based businesses we took a look at, only 26% of them had a newsletter sign up form. Unfortunately, the majority of these were however not implemented particularly well. With that we mean not explaining what the visitor is signing up for, as is the case with Petrotec or Rivoli Group for example.

Best practice on the other hand dictates a business informs the customer what they are signing up for – it also results in more people signing up for the newsletter. An example of properly informing the visitor can be found at Doha International Family Institute, which states: “Sign up and you won’t miss information about our latest activities, publications, grant opportunities and upcoming events.”

With some websites such as Ali Bin Ali or Venture Gulf Group, the opt-in form doesn’t function at all, which is of course worse, than if the website didn’t have one at all.

On the other hand a company like Aamal gives the subscriber a lot of options by segmenting which type of emails they want to receive: press releases, financial statements, etc. The only drawback with their approach is that they require too much information from the visitor, which can of course be further useful for their targeting purposes, but it at the same time reduces the amount of people subscribing, since the more information you ask for, the lower the number of visitors that decide to opt in. Further on, Aamal makes an unnecessary additional step by asking people to register and create a password, which is utterly unnecessary for an email newsletter.

Astonishingly the only two businesses in Qatar which have websites with a pop-over inviting the visitor to sign up for their newsletter are the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel and Nexus Advice, which is definitely nice to see. They are also well done, not too intrusive and take a bit of time before they show up, instead of immediately popping up. In addition Nexus Advice utilizes exit intent, which means that when the website visitor wants to navigate away from the website, the pop-over is triggered and asks the visitor if they would like to book a free financial check-up.

This latter case is also the only such instance of incentivizing the visitor to sign up for their newsletter, which is a well established practice in other countries, especially among web savvy establishments.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the state of corporate blogging in Qatar, we’ll focus over the coming weeks on various aspects of how to run a successful corporate blog. From the various benefits such as SEO, link building, how it measures up against social media as a traffic generator, lead generation and much more.  

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