Lessons from a content marketing cognoscente in Italy

The basics of content marketing in Italy may look the same, but don't count on tactics taking the obvious direction.

BY Rebecca Rolfes
Executive Vice President

The basics of content marketing—awareness, engagement, conversion—don’t change much from one country to the next. In the United States, the elements of a content marketing program tend to look pretty similar: digital content, perhaps print, social media, maybe events. Each brand’s strategy is different, but the nuts and bolts often look the same. Companies in Italy, where populations are smaller and target markets more easily defined, sometimes take less-obvious directions.

As an example, Wolters Kluwer Italy, a division of the global information services company headquartered in the Netherlands, uses a system of freemium sites for its target markets of lawyers, tax advisers, accountants, and risk and compliance professionals. The sites boast 4 million unique visitors per month and 600,000 registered users in Italy.

Sergio Liscia, WKI’s digital and business development director in Milan, shares those same awareness, engagement and conversion goals, but uses a unique hybrid approach he calls the “make, buy, partner” concept. WKI already had a database covering the majority of the intended audience in Italy and consequently created a digital path that starts with WKI’s brand properties—the “make” part of the concept. The “buy” part invests in generating a critical mass through technology investment, marketing expenditure (SEO, SEM) and resources, i.e., community management, Liscia says. Finally, because there are two top target audiences—legal and accounting professionals as well as their customers—WKI partners with consolidated players in adjacent markets, like Corriere.it, Italy’s leading daily newspaper, to attract audiences with content.

All of this aims at lead generation, with Liscia pointing to two trends that he says will strongly enhance those efforts in Italy:

  • The explosion in video, especially the ability to include a CTA in the video itself
  • Chatbots added to messaging apps, which he says his target customers are using more.

Moving to the all-important conversion stage, Liscia says the path to purchasing has gotten longer, and the decision process is “more articulated.” Content drives the user along the customer journey, enabled by tech. “Tools such as marketing automation allow the publisher to define the user experience for each touchpoint,” he says. “Remarketing pushes to the last phases of the sales funnel; suggestions of ‘people who bought this also bought this’ and triggered emails, things like ‘abandoned cart,’ finalize conversions.”

Here too, Liscia sees two trends that will change how companies convert users in Italy:

  • Paid advertising and algorithms are must-haves.
  • Bring the marketing team close to the content team to close the loop and engage in ongoing content marketing innovation.

Last year, taking advantage of the large community of law students hosted by daily online judicial guide’s portal Altalex, WKI launched its first embedded web-native product. Praticamente combines content, e-learning and service with a freemium approach: free web content and a paywall for a subscription to the premium service for bar exam prep.

“Praticamente offers an experience that is a seamless continuation of the portal in which it is hosted,” Liscia says, greatly increasing its odds for success with a receptive audience. WKI’s B2B program is a powerful reminder to content marketers around the world to never take a cookie-cutter approach. Same old/same old won’t cut it with users, especially highly sophisticated B2B audiences with ready access to plenty of content from many sources.

Social, Italian-style: Almost 70 percent of Italian internet users use social media, according to eMarketer. That’s equal to the take-up in the northern European countries of the Netherlands, Norway and the U.K. However, with only 66 percent of the country’s population online, that translates to less than half of the population. The translation? Italian companies have been relatively slow to swipe right on social.

published: August 31, 2017

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