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Digital Marketing

A Guide to Marketing During Ramadan

Gareth Cartman

If you're marketing in Muslim regions, Ramadan is a time of increased online activity. Many brands are taking advantage - the key is to honour the culture and make a connection. Let's take a look at how to market during the holy month.

Islam’s holy month, Ramadan, is approaching. And with it, what marketers call the “Ramadan Rush”.

Just like Christmas, Ramadan has become a shopping season – and that means that advertising spend in the run-up to Ramadan – and during it – increases significantly. If you’re advertising in Muslim regions, you’ll no doubt have noticed your Cost Per Click rising.

Ramadan is a unique time for Muslims all over the world, and involves fasting throughout the hours of daylight. Habits change: working hours are reduced, people socialise more after sunset, and this is important to know as a marketer: buying habits change. 

People spend 30% more time on social media during Ramadan compared to other periods, for instance.

So what do you need to know? Here’s our guide to marketing during Ramadan.

Have a little respect, and keep it light

Ramadan is the third most important obligation for Muslims. Fasting is obligatory during the daytime, and Muslims pray more and give more to charity. Edgy adverts are not appreciated – and what’s more, if you’re advertising food, it’s perhaps not a good idea to run your adverts during the day time.

That said, you can have some fun if you keep it light and good-humoured, as these two adverts illustrate quite nicely:

As these adverts show, the objective is to honour the culture, and make a connection.

Mobile usage will increase massively

Ramadan is a time to reconnect with the Islamic faith, and to spend more time with family and friends. Therefore, people work less (reduced working hours) and rest more.

For you, this means a reduction in the amount of desktop activity, and an increase in time on mobile. Already, mobile usage across MENA outstrips every other device significantly, but this increases throughout Ramadan.

Think of the following:

  • 80% of people are on their smartphones while watching TV – and more people watch TV during Ramadan, so align your strategies especially on social media
  • The timing of your ads. Focus on the evening if you can schedule.
  • YouTube advertising gets more competitive - how can you better target during peak periods
  • Is your website responsive? If not, you might be losing out

Brands that connect, win

Specific images are associated with Ramadan, such as tea pots, crescents, dates and lanterns. You’ll find the major brands associating themselves with these images as a way of cutting through the clutter and creating associations with the brand.

For instance, take a look at how Burger King took on the crescent during their Ramadan campaign:


However, taking these images through your advertising, from offline to online, from Twitter to Organic Search, will reinforce your message. The more integrated you can be across the whole experience (remember, people frequently have at least two devices in front of them, if you count a TV as a device.)

Search Trends Change

One of the most popular search terms in the UAE, peaking during Ramadan, is “Why do Genies hate dates”.

Why indeed? Well, if you can answer the question, you have a pretty good chance of ranking well. It’s a little bit “Britney Spears” (i.e. inserting a keyword that’s nothing to do with you in order to rank, a strategy dating back to circa 1999), but using search trends can lead to some interesting discoveries.

Stay on top of search trends and build content that peaks specifically during Ramadan.

And by the way, if you were interested, we don’t know why genies hate dates, but legend has it that the Djinn are creatures in Arabian folklore who hate dates (not the type you get on Match.com, the ones you eat) and people use dates to protect themselves against the Djinn.

So there you are.

Give it up

Ramadan is about charity, so aligning yourself with a charity is a good idea, not just for marketing, but because it is A. Good. Idea.

However, giving away some of your knowledge is always a good thing – Betty Crocker’s Ramadan Recipes, for instance, earned over 5 million views last year.

The campaign is a great example of how to retain attention during the holy month, with a recipe every day, and how to align a brand with local sensitivities.

Clever.

Betty Crocker also know that search traffic for ‘recipes’ rises during Ramadan as people celebrate together more - here’s the Google Evidence:

Notice the drop-off directly after Eid Al-Fitr.

So if you’re marketing to Muslims during Ramadan, there are plenty of opportunities and you will have to manage your spend carefully. People will be online more, they’ll be using their mobiles more, and they’ll be spending more – but remember to honour the culture and keep it light; increase your spend at the right times, and distinguish yourself from the clutter - and remember to monitor your search trends so you’re on top of every opportunity.

If you want to improve your online visibility in the MENA region, CLD has experience in improving rankings & social presence for our clients in the area. We are regular visitors to see our client base, so contact us today to find out how we can help.