Now in its second edition is the digital event “Digital Marketing Focus for E-commerce and New Retail” by Netcomm – The Digital Commerce Consortium in Italy -, based on a survey conducted in November 2021 with a sample of 41 e-commerce channels selected as representative of the Italian e-commerce panorama. From the event, it emerged how digital marketing represents the engine of E-commerce today, above all with regards to Generation Z: a tool capable of launching new challenges not only for communication, but also for the entire supply chain. “Companies must be able to face the present-day and future challenges of digital marketing – confirms Roberto Liscia, President of Netcomm -, where the key target is represented by Generation Z, which includes those born between 1997 and 2012. It’s an especially interesting range of consumers, because its market share is quickly growing along with its role and influence in terms of social behaviour and purchasing trends”.  “The challenges regard not only marketing, the language of communication, and the social platforms of reference – continues Liscia; but the entire supply chain is in fact called upon to offer increasingly personalised products and extremely rapid, interactive, and personalised video experiences. Finally, it’s important to remember the strategic relevance of the physical stores, from which Generation Z expects state-of-the-art experiences”.

Goals and challenges for digital marketing

For the players of online channels, digital marketing is decisive, above all when it comes to conquering the shares of eShoppers and promoting the products and brand itself, with quality coming before quantity: for 93% of the e-commerce companies in Italy, the winners are in fact those with the best skills and abilities in managing digital channels, and not the companies that invest a large amount of their budget in advertising. Nevertheless, among the future challenges of digital marketing, the most difficult is setting aside a larger budget with more extensive investments (for over 70% of the sample), followed by the need to develop digital marketing skills and a dedicated team (for almost 65%), develop the export channel (for 57%), and correctly manage applied technologies for digital marketing (for 50%).

The most widely used digital marketing channels and techniques

For half of e-commerce companies, the impact of the cookieless era on digital marketing, or rather the new scenario that sees an end to the use of cookies by third parties, will be important. For over 80% of companies, the most widely used digital marketing channels are their own pages present on social networks, advertising used as a keyword in search engines, and marketing e-mails with their own database. For around 55% of these companies, retargeting on social networks or other channels, performance marketing, and content marketing are the most adopted techniques of digital marketing; the drive-to-store technique is used by 36% of the sample, but if only 85% of the sample that also has physical channels (e.g. stores) is considered, this figure increases to 43%. For 60% of those polled, the traffic arriving from paid channels is worth between 10% and 50% of their total e-commerce traffic.

The technologies applied to digital marketing

A good 77% of the companies polled recognise that digital marketing is increasingly a question of technology and applications, with only 58% confirming success in having achieved a satisfactory level of technological development in their digital marketing, which they consider to be one of the main strengths of their company. The technologies used the most by companies are Web Analytics and evolved tracing tools (58%); the integration of digital channel data with the CRM of the company and other channels (53%), and artificial intelligence tools (45%). The areas of greatest interest for the use of big data are the personalisation of advertising and marketing messages and all marketing-related interactions, with significant growth experienced since 2018. Big Data is then used to increase the performance of all ad campaigns with an increasing tendency to use big data to construct predictive and attribution models.  

Generation Z

Youths born between 1997 and 2012 are a key target and will be for the next 20 years, even if in Italy, they represent a more limited percentage when compared to other countries, and especially Asian ones. For this reason, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of the tastes, habits, and attitudes of this generation to create hybrid and multichannel proposals. It’s a mobile first generation, which migrates towards platforms where there is more privacy and new, faster, languages like memes, which represent a new form of expression. It’s a generation that is also extremely attentive of its looks, with the aim of achieving a unique identity. The businesses interested in approaching this target must accordingly be very careful about the factor of ‘uniqueness’, while also offering quality at the right price and focusing on products that transmit the right values.

Physical and digital channels for Gen Z

Generation Z looks for products online but follows the advice of friends in their final purchasing decisions. They are on social media and follow influencers, are multimedia-oriented, and do not perceive a division between offline and online channels, while preferring to go to physical stores, where they expect an advanced experience and the possibility to touch the products with their own hands: also for this reason, Generation Z is ready for the Metaverse to expand their experiences, including real-life ones, while offering opportunities for socialization and purchasing. To arrive at Gen Z, it’s important to work with different channels extensively, mapping different behaviours and interests. Social networks are an important showcase for products and it’s just a short step from recommendation to communication, and click & buy, even if in Italy, social networks have not yet constructed a business model that works, like it does in other countries like China. Experts feel that there is a connection between Social Commerce and Live Commerce and that maybe Live Commerce will be the turning point for Social Networks to launch social e-commerce models also in our country.