All posts by Seth Resler

How Landing Pages Can Help Your Radio Station Accomplish Its Digital Goals

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

The first step in any radio station’s digital strategy is to define the station’s goals. In short, what do you want listeners to do when they come to your radio station’s website? You can read more about setting digital goals here.

Once you’ve decided what your station’s digital goals are, the next questions is: How do we get listeners to do what we want them to do? When a website visitor completes a goal, such as signing up for the station’s email newsletter, it is called a “conversion.” So if ten people sign up for the newsletter today, you have “ten conversions on the email newsletter goal.”

How can you increase the number of conversions on your goals?

There are two general steps that will go a long way towards making that happen: Make the call to action really obvious. Remove the other options.

This is what a website landing page does. A landing page is a webpage that drives a visitor towards a specific action, such as signing up for an email newsletter. They are sometimes called “squeeze pages” because they remove other options and push the visitor in a specific direction.

On the Jacobs Media website, the main goal of our website is to drive registrations for our email list. We frequently use landing pages to do this. For example, here’s what a typical blogpost on the Jacobs Media website looks like:

This is not a landing page. From here, a visitor can easily browse the site. But if you were to click on a link to one of our upcoming webinars, you would see a page that is formatted like this:

This is a landing page. Notice the key differences from our other webpages:

  • The links in the header, including the main navigation and the search bar, have been removed.
  • The sidebar is gone.
  • The footer, along with all of its links, is gone.
  • The call to action is emphasized with a headline and a big orange button.

Once you get to this page, your options are limited: Register for the webinar or click your browser’s back button. We’ve removed all other distractions to encourage people to take the action that we want them to take — register for our webinar and, in the process, sign up for our email list.

If your radio station’s website is built in WordPress, you can design a landing page template that drives people towards your goals. In the WordPress backend, it is easy to select a template for pages (not posts) with a dropdown menu:

You may also want to look into landing page software such as Leadpages.

Where to Use Landing Page Templates
Most of the pages on your website will not use a landing page template. Save it for when your listeners navigate to a page that leads directly to a goal. You want to use landing pages to tip the ball into the basket. Here are the webpages you may want to use a landing page template on:

  • The email newsletter signup page
  • Contest entry forms
  • Station event pages where the goal is to sell tickets
  • Station merchandise pages where the goal is to sell stuff
  • Advertising info pages where the goal is to capture sales leads

By strategically using landing page templates, you can significantly increase your radio station’s website goal conversions.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Why Our Guest List Blogpost Formula Works — And How Your Radio Station Can Steal It

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

In 2015, we added a new feature to our radio industry blog called The Guest List. The concept is simple: We invite a notable person in radio (or a related industry) to write a “Top 5 List” for us. We launched it in part to take some of the workload off of Fred Jacobs, who has been blogging daily for over a decade. The feature turned out to be very popular, with many of our lists going viral on social media or attracting a steady stream of search engine traffic. Here’s a look at why this blogging strategy worked, and why radio stations should consider seeking similar blogposts from influencers in their markets.

1. It’s an easy ask for the guest authors.
You never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get when you ask people to write a guest blogpost. Some people have a lot of confidence in their writing ability, others don’t. If people don’t know what to write about, thinking of a topic can be a big hurdle. For these reasons, I have found that people are much more receptive to being a guest on a podcast than being a guest on a blog.

Fortunately, the Guest List format makes things a lot easier on our authors. We suggest a topic (though we allow them to choose their own if they want) and spell out the simple five-item list format. For most people, this makes the process of writing a blogpost much less intimidating than starting from scratch.

2. It allows us to cover topics that we wouldn’t normally cover.
With more than three decades of experience, Fred has a vast knowledge of the radio industry. Still, no one person can know everything, and inviting guests to join us on the blog allows us to talk about topics or from points of view that we might not be able to otherwise. For example, we’ve invited attorney David Oxenford to write about legal issues and Professor David Whitt to talk about teaching music history.

At times, we’ve invited guest authors to write about a subject that we see mentioned on social media. I frequently see radio production directors grumble about salespeople on Facebook, so we asked Rob Naughton to write about the pet peeves of production directors. His post went viral.

Inviting guests to write has added breadth to our blog with positive results.

3. The headlines attract readers.
Deride it as “click bait” if you want, but the truth is, the “Top 5 _______” headline is a surefire formula for drawing traffic to your website. It works for a few reasons: First, it tells you exactly what the blogpost is about without giving away so much information that you don’t feel like you need to actually read it. It piques readers’ curiosity by making them wonder, “What are the five ______s?” They can only get the answer by clicking on the link.

Finally, it implicitly guarantees to the reader that they can scan the blogpost before they have to commit to reading the entire thing. When I conduct website usability tests, I see that nothing scares people off like dense blocks of text on a website. The advantage of lists is that the reader can scan the subheadings and then, if they like what they see, go back to the beginning and read the post more carefully.

4. It gives our guests a reason to share our blog with their followers.
Web content goes viral when influencers — people with lots of online fans or followers — share their content with those fans. Our guest authors are usually influencers with a slightly different following than our own. For example, when Mignon Fogarty shares her guest blogpost, it reaches a lot of podcasters. When Luke Bourma shares his, it reaches a lot of cord cutters. This has enabled our blog to reach beyond just radio broadcasters and find new fans in other arenas.

5. The format is search engine friendly.
One advantage of the Top 5 List format is that it forces you to include keywords in your blogpost title and throughout the post itself. Even if you don’t know anything about search engine optimization, you’re likely to write a search engine-friendly post with this format. It’s hard not to.

That’s why we’ve seen consistent traffic to Sheri Lynch’s guest post, “The Top 5 Radio Topics That Get Phones Ringing.” It turns out that lots of people are asking Google for hot phone topics, and Google keeps sending them to Sheri’s post.

Radio stations can use Guest Lists to enlist influencers in their market to contribute posts to their blogs the same way that we do. Find some experts in areas that interest your listeners — food, local music, sports, beer, etc. — and ask them if they would like to write a post. Many will jump at the opportunity.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

7 Ways to Reduce the Stress of Your Radio Station’s Podcast Launch

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Podcasts have become a hot topic in the radio industry. Everybody’s buzzing about the need for broadcasters to embrace the medium, but there’s a side to it that also makes a lot of radio programmers apprehensive. For starters, most station staffers in the country are already stretched pretty thin.

But there’s more than just the workload causing concern among radio programmers. Many of them may quietly be thinking to themselves, “What if we’re not good at podcasting?” After all, we claim to be professionals in the audio content space. What if our podcasts suck?

I just launched a new podcast series, and trust me, I feel the same apprehension that you do. It’s a normal reaction to have when you take on something new. With podcasts, the stakes seem higher than radio shows. Bad radio shows can only be heard locally before they disappear into the ether. But bad podcast episodes can be heard around the world, and downloaded long after they were originally recorded.

This pressure can be intimidating. But the worst thing you can do is allow it to delay your radio station’s entry into the space. Here are some things you can do to lower the stakes and relieve some of the pressure:

1. Produce a pilot season.
When I first started podcasting, I assumed they were like The Tonight Show or The Today Show. That is, that new episodes came out on a regular basis from now until the end of time, and that if I wasn’t still producing the podcast in 20 years, it was a failure.

It was not until I listened to Serial I realized how wrong-headed this notion was. Serial was the first podcast that I encountered to produce a season with a limited number of episodes. This is a brilliant strategy. If the first season goes well, you can always come back for more. If it doesn’t, you aren’t committed to producing a failing show in perpetuity – or even a second season. It also give podcasters a natural break point at which they can stop, review, and tweak the show if necessary.

Instead of starting a podcast with an open-ended commitment, I strongly encourage radio stations launch with a “pilot season” consisting of a finite number of episodes (say, 6-12). Moreover, don’t call it “season one,” as that implicitly sets expectations there will be a “season two.” Instead, call it a “10-episode podcast series” and see how it goes. This will give you some breathing room and options.

2. Think of your station as a movie studio.
Not every movie is a hit. Some are huge flops. Movie studios realize this, and they build that expectation into their business model. Your radio station should do the same. Don’t bank everything on a single podcast. Instead, build a framework that allows you to launch multiple podcasts, and then run with the ones that gain traction, and drop the ones that don’t. Accept the idea that not every podcast is going to be a hit, and plan accordingly.

3. Pick a feasible show format.
My first podcast involved me going to protest sites, recording a series of interviews, editing those interviews, and compiling them into episodes. It could easily take 15 hours to produce a single episode. Not surprisingly, I was koverwhelmed by the workload, and that show “podfaded” after only a dozen episodes.

When I set out to launch my second podcast series, I gave a lot more thought to feasibility of the format. I wanted to focus on something I could realistically produce on a continual basis, so I settled on a show that involved one-on-one phone interviews. It began as a biweekly show, and I didn’t turn it into a weekly show until I was confident that I could keep up with the pace.

When you set out to create your first podcast, be realistic. Use a format that you know you can realistically produce given your limited resources.

4. Know your skills.
My first few podcast series involved one-on-one interviews. After a while, I wanted to move on to something more complex. Many of the podcasts I was a fan of come out of the Ira Glass This American Life storytelling journalism mold. So I set out to do something similar. The problem? As a commercial radio broadcaster, I have no experience with storytelling journalism. I quickly discovered that creating this type of podcast is not my forté.

When you set out to launch your radio station’s first podcast, take stock of which skills your staff possesses and which skills they don’t. You’re much more likely to succeed if you build a podcast on the foundation that’s already there instead of trying to emulate somebody else’s podcasting style.

5. Pick a passion topic.
On the radio, we try to talk about pop culture topics with broad appeal. Podcasts, on the other hand, often work best when they cover specific niches. But what niche should your podcast cover?

I’m going to recommend something that runs counter to everything we’ve learned as radio broadcasters: Pick a topic based on what the host wants, not necessarily what the audience wants. (I know, I know. As a radio programmer who begrudgingly played a lot of Nickelback in heavy rotation, I’m surprised to hear me say it, too.)

Down the road, of course, you may want to launch podcasts based around the audience’s interests. But in the beginning, when we’re all still learning, the stakes are still low, and there isn’t extra money for extra work, so let the host develop a podcast around something she is passionate about.

Talk to your staff. If you’ve got somebody who’s excited about craft beer, parenting, pets, wrestling, or science fiction, let them run with it and see what happens. It will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

6. Don’t sell it.
Too often, as radio broadcasters, we don’t do anything new unless we think we can monetize it. One of the first questions I often get about podcasting is, “How do we sell it?”

Here’s my answer: “Don’t. Yet.”

I realize a lot of managers may scoff at this, but for now, treat your podcasts as an R&D project: there’s not a ton of money to be made in the space right now anyway, but there will be in the future, so develop the skills and expertise to make a great product. If you launch your first podcast by making promises to clients that you can’t deliver on, you run the risk of killing the goose that will one day lay golden eggs.

Don’t sell a sponsorship around your first podcast.

7. Make the goal to learn.
Instead of quantifying a goal for your first podcast in terms of dollars or downloads, articulate a goal more like this:

“We want to learn how to produce a high-quality podcast.”

Trust me, after your first 10 episodes, you’re going to know a whole lot more than you did at the beginning. There is a lot of value in gaining this experience. It will allow you to produce better podcasts that earn more popularity and profit down the road.

Yes, the podcasting space can be intimidating at first, and it’s natural for radio broadcasters to feel reluctance. By adopting the right attitude and planning correctly, you can reduce the pressure and make podcasting fun and rewarding.

Guide to Podcasting
Looking to launch your radio station’s first podcast? Download our Podcasting Guide for Radio Stations: here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Here’s What I Look for When I First Look at a Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

From time to time, Fred Jacobs pops into my office and asks me to take a quick look at a radio station’s website to see what I think. When I’m doing a five-minute diagnosis of a website, here’s what I look for:

1. Is it built in WordPress?
I always start by pulling up the station’s website and taking a look under the hood. In my Google Chrome browser, I go to View > Developer > View Source. This allows me to see the HTML code for the website. I search the page for “wp-.” If the site is built in WordPress, there will be multiple instances of “wp-.”

A radio station website doesn’t need to be built in the WordPress platform to succeed, but it does need to be built in a Content Management System (CMS) platform. A CMS makes it easy for radio stations to consistently publish new content. WordPress just happens to be the most popular CMS platform.

2. Does it have Google Analytics installed?
While I’m poking around the HTML, I also search the page for “ua-.” If I come across some code that looks like this…

<!– Global site tag (gtag.js) – Google Analytics –>
<script async src=”https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-XXXXXXX-X”></script>
<script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
gtag(‘js’, new Date());

gtag(‘config’, ‘UA-XXXXXXX-X’);
</script>

… then I know that the site has Google Analytics installed on it. This is a good sign — it means that the station has the ability to collect data about how visitors are using the website. Of course, whether anybody is actually looking at that data or not is a separate question.

3. Do they publish original content on a regular basis?
Next, is the radio station creating original content on a regular basis? Sometimes, the homepage will have a blog or news section on it; sometimes, I’ll have to search through the main menu to find it. If I find a blog or news section, I check to see whether they are creating original content on a local level or simply importing it from a national service. I also check to see how often new posts are published. And I take a quick look to see how good the content is: Are the headlines well written? Is there just an embedded video or audio file with no text description?

4. Is it obvious where this radio station is and what they play?
One of the best ways to see how good your station’s website performs is to run a usability test on it. At this point, I’ve run usability tests on enough radio station websites that I know some common issues to look out for.

One common issue is that the website does not make it clear where the radio station is, what type of programming the station airs, or even that it’s a radio station at all. When somebody tunes in to your station on the radio, of course they know what city it’s in — they’re in the same city!

But website visitors can come to your website from anywhere in the world. Often, they come by clicking on a link found on social media or in search engine results. So don’t assume that people who come to your website know what the radio station is all about. The homepage — especially the header — needs to make it very clear.

5. Is the language in the menu clear?
Another common issue that shows up in website usability tests is vague or confusing language in the main menu. For example, some stations will use the term “On Air” when they should use “DJs” (after all, aren’t the commercials and the music also “on air”?). Others will have a link for “Concerts” and another link for “Events” (aren’t concerts also events?).

Here are some common menu mistakes that I look for.

6. Are there clear calls to action?
The most important question you can ask when it comes to your radio station’s digital strategy is this: “When people come to our website, what do we want them to do?” I can usually tell if a station has asked this question just by looking at the site. Sometimes, they will be driving me to clear call to action, such as a big red “Listen Now” button or an email newsletter registration form.

Unfortunately, most radio station websites don’t steer me towards a few clear actions. Instead, they are cluttered with too much content, too many links, and too many choices. This is a sign that even if a radio station’s website is good at attracting visitors, it’s not very good at converting them. The station needs to set clear website goals.

By asking these questions, I can usually get a good sense of how a radio station’s website is performing. Yes, I always want to spend more time diving deeper into analytics before making a complete diagnosis, but this will do in a pinch.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

7 Common Mistakes Radio Stations Make With Their Email Marketing

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Email marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool for radio stations when executed correctly. Unfortunately, we see many radio stations making these mistakes with their email databases. Does yours?

1. Radio Stations Don’t Set and Meet Expectations
When you ask your listeners to subscribe to your email list, be sure to tell them what you’re going to send them and how often they should expect to receive it. Too many radio stations ask people to “Join our email list” without explaining what will happen when listeners sign up. Instead, use specific calls to action:

  • “Get our weekly concert calendar”
  • “Subscribe for daily morning show recaps”
  • “Sign up to receive the weekly playlist”

Once you set those expectations, make sure you deliver on your promise. Some radio stations seem to forget that they’re collecting email addresses. They don’t send anything out for months and only send out a blast when they are selling tickets to a station event. This is like your annoying friend who only calls when he needs something.

Be consistent with your email marketing. When you go long periods of time without emailing your database and then send an email seemingly out of nowhere, it confuses and annoys listeners.

2. Radio Stations Overload Them With Ads
The primary purpose of email marketing is to serve the recipients of the email. When you prioritize clients above listeners by crowding out compelling content with ads in your email blasts, you aren’t doing anybody any favors: It annoys your listeners and it doesn’t help your clients. When you email listeners, make sure you’re doing it because you have something to say that they want to hear. That goes for the advertisers in the email as well; make sure that the ads are relevant to the recipients so your emails don’t feel spammy.

3. Radio Stations Spend Time Writing Emails Instead of Web Content
Every radio station staff has too much to do and not enough time to do it. It’s important to allocate your staff’s time well. If your staff has to make hard choices about how much time they can spend writing, make sure they are writing content that lives on the station’s website, not email copy. Website content will attract more visitors to your site; it is indexed by search engines and it’s easier to share on social media than emails, so it should be the higher priority.

Instead, automate your email campaigns by using RSS-to-Email and Drip campaigns. This webinar will show you how. Doing this can save your staff a lot of time.

4. Radio Stations Don’t Send Emails to Targeted Segments
Only send people emails that are relevant to them. If a listeners lives in the South Bay don’t send them an email about a weekend street team appearance in the North Bay. They’re not going to come, and you’re clogging up their inbox. Collect data in your email database that allows you to send people only relevant information. For example, you may want to collect data about:

  • Residence Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Times They Listen

Use this data to tailor your email marketing campaigns.

Also, don’t assume that every listener wants to receive every email that you send. Some may want concert announcements, while others may wants the local music show playlist and others will want daily morning show recaps. Set up multiple email campaigns and allow listeners to opt into the ones that they want.

5. The Emails Are Too Long
Many radio stations produce email newsletters that contain a huge laundry list of content. The avalanche of information often buries the main call to action and if there even is one. Just as we tell our disc jockeys that there should be one idea per break, we should strive for emails that focus on a single concept. Each email should contain a single, obvious call to action: an obvious link that you want the recipient to click.

If you are automating your email marketing using RSS-to-Email campaigns, don’t include the text of your entire post in your email campaigns. Instead, include only an excerpt. Require people to click a link back to your website if they want to read the entire post. This will give you better data — email clicks are a better gauge of engagement than email opens — and increase your website traffic.

6. Radio Stations Don’t Review Their Metrics on a Regular Basis
Having an email service provider but never reviewing the data reports that it can provide is like having a radio station and never looking at the ratings to see if what you’re doing is working. Don’t allow the review of email metrics to be relegated to hallway conversations. Carve out time on a regular basis to review your email metrics. (I recommend that you set up a weekly web meeting.)

7. Radio Stations Focus Too Much on Making the Email Look Pretty
These days, email service providers make it easier than ever to make your email look good. The problem? It may not look that way in the recipient’s email client. Email programs are notorious for displaying the same HTML email differently. What looks good on Outlook may not look good in Gmail, Yahoo!, or Apple’s Mail. Instead of spending time putting every colorful pixel in its proper place, create an email template that’s simple and elegant and hard for an email client to screw up.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

10 Pieces of Sales-Related Content That Should Be on Your Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

When I speak to radio broadcasters about pulling all of their different digital tools together into a coherent Content Market Strategy, I am usually talking to people in the programming department who want to reach more listeners. But Content Marketing is also an effective strategy for the radio sales team looking to generate more leads. This short video explains:

To generate leads, your radio station needs to create content. This content can take many forms: white papers, webinars, videos, blogposts, even events such as luncheons. In fact, once you create a piece of content, it’s easy to repurpose it in a number of different forms.

When conceptualizing content to generate sales leads, divide it into three categories:

    1. Early Stage Content: This is content aimed at potential clients who are just beginning to think about advertising, and haven’t even decided what mediums to use yet. They may not have a budget established at this point, so they may be doing their initial research.
    2. Mid-Stage Content: This content is created for potential clients who have decided that they are ready to advertise, and are now deciding what mediums to use and how much to spend on each. They’re still comparing radio, print, television, outdoor, and digital.
    3. Late Stage Content: This is content for advertisers that are close to signing on the dotted line. At this point, they’ve decided that they’re going to advertise on the radio and they’re just trying to figure out which stations to use. They may be evaluating different programs from different stations.

By watching which types of content people access, you can get a sense of where they are in the buying cycle. This lets you know how to best follow up with them.

But what should that content actually be? Here are ten ideas to get you started…

Early Stage:
1) Checklist: Is Your Business Ready to Advertise on the Radio?

2) Finding the Right Marketing Mix: Comparing the Advantages and Disadvantages at Different Advertising Mediums

Mid-Stage:
3) Radio Advertising 101: A Guide for Local Businesses

4) A Guide to Understanding the Nielsen Ratings

5) Beyond the Commercials: How to Create Effective Marketing Campaigns Using All the Tools That Radio Stations Have to Offer

6) How to Determine an Effective Budget for Radio Advertising

Late Stage:
7) Target Demographics: How to Choose the Right Radio Station to Reach Your Customers

8) 10 Questions to Ask Your Radio Salesperson

9) How to Write an Effective Radio Commercial

10) Common Mistakes Radio Advertisers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Lead Generation Guide
For more information on how to create content to generate sales leads for your radio station, download our guide, How to Create Content That Generates Sales Leads.

Download the Guide

You may also want to watch our webinar on the topic.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

5 Things to Remember When Repurposing Your Radio Station’s On-Air Content as Podcasts

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

For most commercial radio stations, the first step into the world of podcasting is to take their on-air content and publish it online as a podcast. Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s not just simply a matter of uploading a straight recording of a five-hour show. Here are some things to consider as you repackage your radio shows as podcasts:

1. Remove the Music
I’m not a lawyer, and you should always check with your own legal team, but I’m willing to bet that they’ll tell you that you have to strip out all of the songs you played on the air before posting your show online. At this point, there’s isn’t a license that easily allows for music by big artists to be included in podcasts. From time to time a podcaster finds a way around this problem, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

2. Remove the Commercials
When it comes to podcasting, the expectations around commercials are different. Podcasts don’t have six-minute blocks of produced 60-second spots. Instead, they usually incorporate host-read sponsorships at the beginning and in the middle of the podcast. If you don’t adhere to the convention, you’re likely to turn off podcast listeners. If you want to monetize your podcasts, insert separate host-read spots that meet listener expectations.

3. Chunk it Up
Public radio is much farther ahead of commercial radio when it comes to podcasting in part because there’s less work involved in adapting their content for on-demand consumption. By and large, you can take an episode of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! or Fresh Air and publish it as a podcast in its original state. Unfortunately, the same is not usually true of commercial radio. Even if you’ve got an all-talk morning show, simply publishing over four hours of audio on a daily basis isn’t a sufficient strategy. Yes, you should publish your morning show (sans music and commercials) in its entirety for die-hard fans, but you should also take the station’s interviews and benchmark features and edit them into specific podcasts.

4. Record Intros and Outros for the Podcast Versions
I have heard some radio stations “chunk up” features as podcast series, but neglect to properly set up these features for a podcast format at the beginning of each episode. The first 60 seconds of a podcast episode are crucial, as listeners will abandon the episode if they don’t understand what’s going on. Record a specific introduction for the podcast that tells people what the show is about, who you are and what happens in this episode. For example: “Hi, this is Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. Every morning at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15, we do our Morning Prank Call, where we call up a listener and, well … lie to them. Here are our prank calls from June 2nd, 2017…”

By the same token, record an outro for the end of each podcast episode: “Thanks for listening, I’m Johnny Fever. Remember, you can hear more prank calls every morning on WKRP at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15. Or you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts. You can also find them in the WKRP mobile app. Catch you next time!”

5. Get Credit
If you want Nielsen to count any time-shifted radio listening towards your station’s PPM ratings, you’ll need to do two things: (1) Use audio that’s encoded for PPM and (2) Publish it online quickly — Nielsen only counts audio that is listened to within 24 hours of the original broadcast.

Guide to Podcasting
For more help with podcasting, check out our Guide to Podcasting for Radio Stations.

Get the Guide here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

Review These 8 Digital Places Where Listeners Interact With Your Station

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Twelve years ago, when I was a radio station program director, my staff would huddle once a week for our “Music Meeting,” where we would decide what songs to add to, move up in or drop from rotation. We would compile a ton of data for this meeting, including airplay charts, callout research and concert calendars. But this data-driven approach bears little resemblance to how the average listener experienced music on our station.

So one day, I decided to take the staff out of the station. We piled into the car and drove to three different music stores to see what our listeners were experiencing when they went shopping for the songs they heard on the radio. Could they find the baby bands we were playing? How were the biggest artists represented in the shops? Was there a difference between the shopping experience at indie stores and big box chains?

The results were eye-opening. Often, we were championing artists on the air, only to find out that our efforts were being hindered on the ground. Sometimes, it’s useful to step out of the confines of our radio station offices and experience things the same way that our listeners do.

Today, technological changes mean that our listeners may experience our radio stations in any one of many different ways. When is the last time you examined the paths to your radio station with a fresh pair of eyes? If it’s been a while, take a moment to put yourself in a listener’s shoes and try approaching your radio station through each of these channels:

1. Website
Take a look at your radio station’s website on three different types of devices: a desktop computer, a tablet and a smartphone. Based on what you see, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where is this station?
  2. What type of music does this station play?
  3. Who are the core artists on this station?

To fully understand how listeners are interacting with your radio station’s website, you’ll want to run a usability test.

2. Social Media
Take a look at your social media feeds with fresh eyes, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But don’t focus on your station’s page for each of these social networks. Instead, examine individual posts in isolation. After all, most people see these posts in their feeds, not on your page. Based on what you see, ask yourself:

  1. Does this post make sense without the context of the station’s website or social media page surrounding it?
  2. How does this post compare to others that might come up in a listener’s feed? How does it compare to other posts in your own feed? Is it as compelling as the other posts from your friends?

3. Search Engines
Listeners may come to your website after conducting a search in a search engine like Google. What will they see in the search engine results? To find out, you may first want to use a VPN to ensure that your search results are not colored by your browsing history. Then, conduct searches for popular terms that revolve around your website, such as:

  • Call letters
  • Morning show name
  • DJ names
  • Specialty show names
  • Names of signature concerts or events
  • Names of benchmark bits
  • “[Format] radio station in [City]”

Are the results that come up accurate? Do they link to the correct pages on your station’s website? Do the pages’ titles and descriptions support your branding? If not, you may need to optimize your website for search engines.

4. Mobile Apps
Before opening your radio station’s mobile apps, see how they appear in the Apple and Google app stores. Ask yourself:

  1. Are they easy to find when searching the app store by call letters, station name and morning show name?
  2. Is the description of the app compelling?
  3. How are the reviews for the app?
  4. Is the logo on the icon current? Is it clear and readable on the phone?

The best way to take a fresh look at your radio station’s mobile app is to run a usability test on it, just as you would for the station’s website. Be sure to test both the Apple and Android versions of your app.

5. TuneIn
Some listeners will access your radio station through the TuneIn mobile app. When’s the last time your opened up TuneIn to see how your station is represented there? Take a look.

6. Car Dashboards
How do listeners see your radio station when they’re in the car? That often depends on the type of car stereo they have. Try tuning in to your radio station in a car with a radio equipped with RDS, a dashboard running the Android Auto operating system and a dashboard running the Apple CarPlay operating system. Ask yourself:

  1. Is it easy to get to your station?
  2. How well is any additional data displayed in the dashboard?

7. Smart Speakers
As we’ve seen in our most recent Techsurvey, 11 percent of radio listeners now own smart speakers and the number is growing quickly. Have you tried to access your radio station on the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple Homepod? Test it out and ask yourself:

  1. What words can be used to pull up the radio station?
  2. Are there phrases that don’t work?

If you have developed special skills for your radio station, do all the commands work as they should?

8. Podcatchers
If your radio station produces podcasts, people may be accessing them in iTunes, Apple’s Podcasts app or other podcatchers (podcast listening apps). Try searching for your radio station in popular podcatchers, including:

  • iTunes (on a desktop computer)
  • Apple Podcasts app
  • Stitcher
  • Google Play Music
  • iHeartRadio

As broadcasters, it’s easy for us to get mentally stuck inside the confines of our own building. Every once and a while, it’s a good idea to step back and reevaluate how listeners are accessing our stations, and see if there are opportunities for improvement.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Reduce the Bounce Rate on Your Station’s Website

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

A website “bounce” happens when somebody comes to your station’s site and then leaves without navigating to another page on your site. Like radio tune-outs, bounces can happen for any number of reasons: people may have gotten what they needed from the webpage, they may not like what they see on the page or there may be an external factor that has nothing to do with the site. For example, they may have been viewing your site on their phone when they arrived at their bus stop, so they left.

Like radio tune-outs, the fewer bounces your website has, the better. You can track your bounce rate (the number of single page view visits divided by the total number of visits) in Google Analytics. As a rule of thumb, you should aim for a bounce rate of less than 50%. Lower is always better.

Here are six ways to reduce the bounce rate on your radio station’s website:

1. Include inline links to related content.

When people are reading one piece of content on your website, encourage them to visit related content. While many websites do this by including links to related content at the end of a blogpost, inserting them directly into the body of the post can improve your bounce rate even more. Politico does this very effectively:

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2. Make sure your social media posts accurately reflect your content.

When people click a link to your content on social media, they have expectations about what they are going to see. If you violate those expectations, they will leave.

For example, if I see a post about Metallica’s upcoming tour in my Facebook feed, but clicking on the link takes me to a gluten-free cheesecake recipe, I am going to bounce. This is an extreme example, but sometimes we accidentally give people the wrong impression when we post to social media.

For example, if the blogpost was about all of the concert tours happening this summer, but didn’t mention Metallica until the seventh paragraph, people may be confused if the Facebook post implies that the content is all about Metallica.

Make sure that your content — especially the headline — is clearly related to the social media post used to share it.

3. Optimize content for search engines.

Likewise, when people click on links in the results in search engines like Google, they have expectations about what they will see. Be sure to optimize your blogpost correctly. Start by including keywords in the title, the URL and the body of your text. For example, if your blogpost is about Kanye West, include Kanye’s name in the post’s title. Avoid titles that are too vague.

4. Conduct a website usability test.

If your website is not easy to use, people will leave. Run a Website Usability Test to see how people interact with your site. In this test, you sit people down in front of your website and ask them to perform certain tasks while thinking out loud.

For example, you might ask them to enter a contest they heard about on the radio, find more information on the morning show or sign up for the station’s email list. This test will show you what people have trouble doing when they come to your website. Making changes based on the results can have a positive impact on your website’s bounce rate.

5. Optimize your site for mobile devices.

When you look at your Google Analytics, pay attention to the bounce rate across different types of devices: desktops, tablets and mobile. The bounce rate will almost always be higher on mobile devices because we are less likely to leisurely browse on our smartphones, but if it’s dramatically higher this could be a cause for concern.

If your website is not designed to look good on smartphone browsers (you’ve seen those sites — the ones that you have to pinch and zoom in on to read on a phone), then you’re probably driving visitors away. It’s also a good idea to run a usability test on the mobile version of your website in addition to the desktop version to make sure that it is just as easy to use.

6. Increase readability.

Another good way to decrease your website’s bounce rate is to make your content more readable. For many sites, this means reducing the grade level of the content by removing big vocabulary words and shortening sentences.

With radio station websites, however, it is often helpful to raise the grade level of the content. Make sure that the blog uses complete sentences that are grammatically correct. Avoid emoticons, excessive use of exclamation points and all caps. You can measure the grade level of a blogpost with this tool.

7. Tune up your site’s speed.

If it takes too long for your webpage to load, people will bail out. If you find that your site takes a long time to load and you have a high bounce rate, there could be a correlation. There are a number of ways to boost your site speed, from using a CDN to reducing plugins to cleaning up code; your webmaster can investigate these.

Do you know what the bounce rate is on your radio station’s website? If not, find out and decide whether or not it’s an issue that you need to address.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.

How to Use Twitter to Engage with Influencers in Your Radio Market

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Radio stations often think about using social media as a tool to reach listeners, but it’s also a great way to reach other leaders in your market who can in turn reach your listeners. We call these people “influencers” — the folks who have a large following of their own that overlaps with your station’s fanbase. They can help your radio station amplify its message and reach more people.

I’ve written about engaging with influencers before, especially as part of the launch of a new radio morning show. But I want to take a closer look at how you can use Twitter in particular to engage with these leaders in your community. While Facebook is a fantastic tool for engaging with your station’s audience at large, I find Twitter to be more effective with influencers.

Here’s a step-by-step process for doing so:

1. Identify key topic areas for your radio station.
Make a list of all the subjects that your listeners are interested in. This will vary based on your target demographic — Alternative music fans might like craft beer while Hot AC listeners may care about parenting — but here are some possibilities to jumpstart your thinking:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Beer
  • Cars
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Movies
  • Parenting
  • Pets
  • Restaurants
  • Science Fiction
  • Superheroes
  • Television
  • Video Games
  • Wine

2. Brainstorm a list of related influencers in your market.
Now that you’ve got a list of hot topics, it’s time to make a list of the people and organizations in your market who have a following related to those topics. Are there local automotive bloggers, parenting magazines, or restaurant associations? Here’s another list of possibilities to get you thinking:

  • Bands
  • Bloggers
  • Breweries
  • Chefs
  • Colleges and universities
  • Concert venues
  • Festivals and events
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Reporters and columnists
  • Television personalities
  • Theaters and performing art spaces
  • Trade organizations

3. Start a shared spreadsheet.
Okay, let’s get organized. Enter this list into a spreadsheet — preferably a shared file such as a GoogleDoc so that multiple staff members can access it. Add columns for all of the information you want to collect about these influencers, including:

  • Organization
  • Category (I like to quickly sort my influencer by the topic areas from step one, such as ‘Food’ or ‘Music’ or ‘Sports.’)
  • Website URL
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Job Title
  • Email Address
  • City (in case you want to target influencers by geography)
  • Contact Page URL (some websites ask you to fill out a contact form instead of providing an email address)
  • Facebook Page URL
  • Twitter URL
  • Instagram URL
  • YouTube Channel URL

You may want to install an extension for your web browser that allows you to quickly open multiple links. For example, I use the Bulk URL Opener extension on my Chrome browser. When I want to open the Twitter page of every ‘Sports’ influencer on my list, I sort it by category, select and copy the Twitter URLs, click the Bulk URL Opener button, and paste the URLs in. Boom! I have each influencer’s Twitter page open in a different browser tab.

4. Divide your influencers into Twitter lists.
Create a Twitter list for each category of influencers. To do this, first follow the influencer by clicking the ‘Follow’ button. Then, click the three small dots next to the ‘Follow’ button and select “Add or remove from lists” from the dropdown menu. You can add the influencer to an existing Twitter list or create a new one.

5. Follow these lists in a social media management app.
I recommend using a social media management app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. These make it much easier to use social networks — especially Twitter.

I use Hootsuite to manage my social media. I create a tab for “Twitter Lists” and on that tab, I create a stream (column) for each of my lists. This allows me to quickly and easily scan the stream and see what all of my influencers are tweeting about.

For example, I am launching a new podcast about Detroit this fall. To get ready for that, I am following Detroit influencers on Twitter and dividing them into lists. Here is what those Twitter lists look like in Hootsuite:

 

 

 


6. Retweet the best tweets from these influencers.

On a daily basis, spend a few minutes perusing the lists in your social media management app. Look for the best tweets from your influencers and retweet them. These influencers will notice that you shared their tweets and it will build goodwill with them.

The advantage of dividing your influencers into lists by category is that this allows you to make sure that you are tweeting about the right topics in the right ratios. You don’t want to go overboard on ‘Science Fiction,’ or ignore ‘Sports.’ Having the lists in different columns can help you avoid these issues.

7. Use #FollowFriday to give your influencers a shoutout.
Follow Friday is a popular meme on Twitter. Every Friday, Twitter users show appreciation for other Twitter users by listing them in a tweet with the hashtag ‘#FollowFriday’ or ‘#FF.’ It’s a nice way to give a shoutout to others. Acknowledge your influencers with this hashtag and they’ll appreciate it.

8. Share your influencers’ content and tag them in the tweets.
If your influencers create content, such as columns, blogposts, videos or podcast episodes, share a link to that content over Twitter. Be sure to tag the influencer in your tweet by including their Twitter handle so they notice.

At Jacobs Media, I frequently share posts from Alan Cross’ wonderful blog, A Journal of Musical Things! When I do, I always include ‘@alancross‘ in the tweet because I want him to know that we’re giving him some love.

9. Share your radio station’s content and tag the relevant influencers in the tweets.
When sharing your radio station’s website content on Twitter, include the Twitter handle of the appropriate influencers in the tweet. Be careful not to tag influencers who aren’t relevant. When sharing your blogpost about last night’s Cage the Elephant show, you should tag the concert venue but not the quarterback of the college football team. Hopefully, they will retweet the station, passing your content along to their followers and increasing your website traffic.

When it comes to social media, don’t think of it as just a way to reach listeners. It’s also a great tool for connecting with other leaders in the community — especially on Twitter.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at mab@michmab.com or 1-800-968-7622.