Corriere della Sera shares its 3 stages of digital subscription success

By Robert Okpu

Stockholm, Sweden


Corriere della Sera’s journey has, to say the least, been an impressive one. 

“We are forecasting that next year, subscription revenue will exceed digital revenue for the first time in the history of Corriere della Sera,” Fabio Napoli business digital director at RCS Media Group in Italy, told attendees at the INMA Media Subscriptions Summit last week in Stockholm.

Corriere della Sera is one of Europe’s best known newspaper brands. This has been has been the case for a very long time.

“We are a very traditional company,” Napoli said. “The company started off in 1876.”

What is new, however, is the success of its subscription rate, especially just over the last few years. Corriere della Sera is in its third stage of reader revenue model subscription development at the moment, just having surpassed half a million digital subscribers at the turn of the year.

The first stage being acquisition, the second retention, and the third engagement. 

Corriere della Sera has grown its customer base from around 135,000 digital subscribers in December 2018 to 500,000 digital subscribers in December 2022. 

This, according to Napoli, has been achieved focusing on four main pillars: organisation, technology and data, B2B, and B2C.

As far as organisation is concerned, many tools are now in place that were not there a few years ago: 

  • A digital-first newsroom, with shifts reviewed to have the best 24-hour coverage.
  • A cross-functional SEO team in the newsroom.
  • Team members with vertical competencies. 
  • Customer-base management. 

Corriere della Sera is now firmly invested in it’s third phase on this journey, which is engagement, Napoli said. “But that just means that this is what we are prioritising at the moment. It does not mean that we have completely dropped the first two phases: acquisition and retention.” 

Maria Sgromo, head of subscriptions at Corriere della Sera, said though the journey of her company over the past four years has been very successful, it has by no means been smooth sailing.

“If I look back at the past, the way we treated acquisition was very basic. We were actually scared, and we tried to keep things simple. But we started working on complicated and sophisticated models as time went by.”

It was the same with retention. The team at Corriere della Sera had to learn to walk before they could run.

“We started with very easy schemes,” Sgromo said. “But as we matured in experience, we asked more and more questions. Today we have very important churn risk models. We have very sophisticated win-back retention programmes.” 

And today the main focus is engagement.   

“We started by measuring engagement and trying to understand what that engagement is for our readers, both anonymous and customers,” she said.

Sgromo outlined Corriere della Sera’s bottom line: 

“What we always have in mind is that we want to grow in a sustainable and stable way way, both in terms of volume and revenue. This has been our road, from 2018 till today.”

The team at Corriere della Sera put a lot of work into paywall and CB strategy, paywall models, working with promotional plans, and exclusive Webinars for big events like the Italian election, personalising news, and combating passive churn. 

At the end of it all, Napoli said, the team identified four key strategies that were indispensable to reach success: 

Corriere della Sera epitomises the fact that the really great brands never stand still. They change strategy and evolve as they grow.

The INMA Media Subscriptions Summit is March 6-10. Details can be found here.

About Robert Okpu

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