All posts by Seth Resler

The Importance of Asking: How to Grow Your Radio Station’s Email List

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

A month ago, we relaunched the Jacobs Media Strategies website. One of the main reasons – aside from the need for all businesses to have a strong website – was because we wanted to have a living, breathing example of the Content Marketing digital strategy that we preach. In short, we didn’t want to just tell you that it works; we wanted to be able to show you that it works.

“But you’re not a radio station!”

That’s true. But Content Marketing is not a radio strategy. It can be adapted for use by radio stations, but it is a marketing strategy that’s used by thousands of companies outside the business.

Including ours.

Our Goal
The first and most important question you can ask when it comes to your station’s website is this: “What do we want people to do when they come to our site?” This is your goal.

Your station may have multiple goals for its website. For example, you may want people to:

  • Stream your station
  • Join the email list
  • Enter a contest
  • Click on an ad
  • Buy tickets to a station event
  • Purchase station merchandise
  • Request advertising information

The more accurately you can tie those goals to your station’s bottom line, the better. This is easier for some businesses than others. If you sell gadgets or good through your website, it’s very easy to connect website goals to revenue. It’s tougher with a radio station. It’s also challenging with a consulting and research firm like ours, where our arrangements with clients depend on a wide range of factors.

We decided that the goal of our website is to drive people to sign up for our email list.

Calls to Action
We redesigned our website with that goal in mind. If you look closely, you will see that we encourage people to sign up in several different places:

  • In a Pop-Up Window: After you’ve been on the site for enough time, a box will open asking if you’d like to subscribe to our blog. This pop-up does not appear on the mobile version of the site.
  • In the Sidebar: On the desktop version of the website, there is a box in the sidebar inviting readers to subscribe to the blog.
  • At the end of Blogposts: At the end of every blogpost, we invite people to sign up to receive the blog by email.
  • Research Results: We put a lot of “freemium” content behind forms. It doesn’t cost people anything to access it, but they have to fill out a form providing their data and subscribing to the blog.
  • Webinars: We use this form for both live and recorded webinars.
  • Guides: We have created several guides, such as our “12 Steps to Launching a Successful Blog,” behind forms.
  • Videos: Our short videos are not behind forms, but a handful of longer ones are.
  • Contact Form: When you fill out the contact form, you can check a box and subscribe to our blog.

In the month since we’ve launched the new site, our email list has grown by nearly 40%. We wanted to know which of these sources was driving the most email signups. Every email signup form on the site passes an unseen code that allows us to track this. Here’s how they break down:
New-Subscriber-Sources-1024x619The pop-up window was the top source, resulting in more than a quarter of the new email signups. Pop-up windows are very effective at driving email signups. (Note: This does not mean your radio station should start using pop-up windows for advertisers, only to attract sign-ups for your own station email list.)

One of the more interesting findings is that we didn’t need to bribe people to sign up for our blog: 27% of signups came from the Pop-Up Window and 15% came from the Sidebar / End of Post forms. In other words, 42% of people subscribed to our mailing list just because we asked them to. That may be something to think about in your web efforts.

Pop-Up-Window-1024x842

Two other big sources were Study Results at 25% (driven by our recently completed Techsurvey) and Live Webinars at 18%. Obviously, your station doesn’t have these assets to offer to listeners. But, you very likely have other things that could help you accomplish your goals. You might track contest entries, or put “freemium” content like artist interview recordings behind a form.

Decide what you want people to do when they come to your radio station’s website. Then set up your site so you can not only track the number of visitors who are accomplishing that goal, but also how they are accomplishing it.

We are doing our best to not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk. We hope you can benefit from our efforts, and we invite your ideas and feedback.

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

Editorial: Please Recycle. It Increases Your Radio Station’s Web Traffic

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media Strategies

As broadcasters, we tend to view our content as fleeting. We do one on-air break and move on to the next, never looking back. But the internet allows us to get more life out of our content long after it’s published – or aired. Shinedown may be performing in your town tonight, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t still want to hear your morning show’s interview with the band six months from now. By making this content available on the web, you can get even more value out of it after it first airs.

synchronize-150123_640-200x193But, your efforts shouldn’t end when you air the content and/or publish it on your station’s site; continue to promote it as well. By resharing your older content on social media, you can increase the number of people who come to your website.

We recently relaunched the Jacobs Media Strategies website. On the new site, which was built in WordPress, we included a plugin that recycles older content. This plugin randomly selects blogposts from the last six months and automatically reshares them on social media. As a result, we’ve seen a lift in our website traffic.

Generally, these older posts will see a small number of clicks every time they are reshared. But, over the course of a week, these add up to a significant amount of traffic. Over a month, and you can definitely see solid increases.

And, every once and a while, an older post will go viral. Last week, we reshared our Radio’s Most Innovative profile of KZEW’s “Zoo World.” When it was first published, the post attracted a healthy amount of interest, but it garnered even more traffic the second time around. Many people who missed the post when it was first published now shared it over social media, and as a result, this was one of our top blogposts of the week – despite the fact it’s several months old.


Jacobs Media Strategies

Webinar: Understanding the Connected Car

Serious changes are coming to the dashboards of American cars. Here’s what your radio station needs to know


It’s helpful to divide your blogposts into two categories: evergreen content and topical content. People will still be interested in hearing your Little Steven interview years from now, while the preview of the 2016 Arts and Wine Festival will not be valuable once the event is over. While most of the posts in our blog have a long shelf life, we are careful not to reshare posts that wouldn’t make sense at a later date. (We don’t want our “Happy Thanksgiving!” blogpost to reappear on Facebook in July.)

To get more life out of your station’s online content, use a service like Buffer, or a WordPress plugin like Revive Old Posts or Evergreen Post Tweeter.

And, remember, it pays to recycle!

Questions? Contact me.

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

Editorial: How to Launch a Successful Radio Station Blog

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media Strategies

Last week, Kim Komando delivered the keynote address at the Radio Luncheon at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas. Kim hosts a successful syndicated talk radio show that focuses on consumer technology. She can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations by over six million people. She explained to her fellow broadcasters how they could use their websites to grow their audiences:

“Your website must offer unique, original, engaging content that’s not a repeat of something that you have broadcast earlier, or just a whole bunch of links to other things.”

Kim is, of course, explaining how Content Marketing works. Content Marketing is the digital strategy used by thousands of companies around the world to attract customers. It takes all of the different digital tools — from social media to email to analytics — and pulls them together into a single coherent plan. (This short video shows how it works.)

Not surprisingly, at the heart of Content Marketing is content. What we’re really referring to is a blog — a section of your radio station’s website that is regularly updated with new content. As people discover this content on social media, find it in search engines, and hear about it on your airwaves, they will come back to your website. Once they are there, you can encourage them to take an action, such as sign up for your email list or enter a contest.

The reason that, as Kim says, your digital strategy must be more than just providing “links to other things” is because you can only encourage people to take these actions (like signing up for your email list) if they come to your website. You can’t grow your email database by sharing a link to TMZ on Facebook.

Nope, you’re going to have to create your own content.

Your station needs to produce a blog.

But how?

Last week, I gave a webinar on how to launch a station blog in 12 simple steps.

Spoiler alert! Here are the 12 steps:

  1. Create a “blog” section on your website.
  2. Envision your audience.
  3. Write content guidelines.
  4. Establish an editorial process.
  5. Develop a list of blog topic formulas.
  6. Implement a content calendar.
  7. Set achievable goals.
  8. Set up your analytics.
  9. Adopt a proactive social media strategy.
  10. Optimize your blog for search engines.
  11. Promote your blogposts on the air.
  12. Hold a weekly digital strategy meeting.

Even if you are successfully publishing a blog on your station’s website, you may want to check out the webinar for ideas on how you can improve the process.

To help you implement these steps, I’ve also created a printed guide: 12 Steps to Launching a Successful Blog.

Watch the Webinar

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

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

Seth ReslerBy: 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 for 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. Let me know how I can help.

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

Editorial: Set Yourself Up to Measure Your Own Social Media Questions

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

I often get asked very specific questions about social media, such as:

  • “How often should we post?”
  • “What topics should we post about?”
  • “Should we post videos directly to Facebook or use a YouTube link?”

Inevitably, I give the same answer: “Experiment and see.” I don’t say this as a cop-out, but because what works for other stations (or other companies) may not work for yours. Yes, there are suggested best practices out there, but you should never let those take the place of hard data.

As broadcasters, this is a relatively new idea for us. We often program by our “gut.” A record or a contest or a bit either sounds good on the air or it doesn’t; Nielsen doesn’t give us data that’s granular enough for us to pinpoint specific results, so we offer our best educated guess.

But online, we have much better analytics. We can run small experiments and see the results in real time. We don’t have to guess which is driving more traffic to our website, Facebook, or Twitter; we can actually see the answer.

A great example of how to gather this data comes from the folks at NPR. They had questions about the best time to publish Facebook posts. They had a theory — called the “Facebook Whale” — and they set out to test it. Bryan Wright and Lori Todd explain what they did and what they learned here.

How can your radio station perform similar experiments to answer your social media questions? Follow these steps:

1. Define and agree upon your metrics.

Start by asking, “What does success look like?” What is the goal of your social media efforts? To get lots of likes? To drive traffic to your station’s website? To add registrants to your email database? To increase ratings? To generate revenue? These things are all related to each other, but some are more important than the others. Make sure that everybody agrees ahead of time on what the appropriate unit of measurement is and how many constitute success.

For example, let’s say your station has its annual Spring Fling Concert coming up and you’re thinking of running Facebook ads to help sell the show. You need to fill 1,000 seats to break even and 2,000 seats to hit your revenue projections. If you sell more than 2,000 tickets, your boss will love you; if you sell less than 1,000, you’ll need to update your resumé.

At the end of your experiment, you don’t want different people to look at the same result and draw different conclusions. If you’re measuring website clicks but your General Manager only cares about ticket sales, you’re going to run into problems. By agreeing upon the proper metrics ahead of time, you can avoid this confusion. You and your GM agree that while you should monitor website clicks, success will ultimately be measured by the number of tickets sold.

2. Set yourself up to measure.

Now that you’ve decided what you’re going to measure, you need to make sure that you can measure it. Make sure that you have the appropriate tools in place, whether it’s Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Bit.ly reports, etc. Also, make sure that you understand how to use these tools. If you don’t have them or don’t understand them, you’ll need to address these issues before you run any experiments.

In the case of our Spring Fling Concert, we can set up different website landing pages, which are identical except for a hidden code passed to the ticketing service. This code allows you to pull a report to see how many of our ticket sales came through Landing Page A and how many came through Landing Page B.

3. Run experiments.

One of the simplest experiments to run is called an “A/B Test.” Control (to the best of your ability) all of the possible variables except one. Change that one variable for half of the test and measure the results.

For example, you could create two Facebook ads that are identical except for the headline: One reads, “Tickets to the WKRP Spring Fling Concert are on sale now” and links to Landing Page A while the other says, “See who’s playing the WKRP Spring Fling Concert” and drives people to Landing Page B. Set the Facebook ads to alternate so they are both shown an equal number of times. Watch to see which ad produces the most website clicks and, more importantly, results in the most ticket sales.

4. Review the results together.

Be sure to set aside time to review the results of your experiment with your team. Discuss the results and draw conclusions together. This ensures that everybody is on the same page.

After a week, let’s see which of the two Facebook ads has produced the most ticket sales. Interestingly, Headline B (“See who’s playing…”) resulted in more clicks, but fewer sales than Headline A (“Tickets…are on sale now”). While Headline B was attracting people who wanted to see the lineup, they apparently aren’t ready to make a purchase. As a group, you and your GM may decide that your budget is better spent on Headline A and shift your dollars accordingly.

The best way to figure out the proper digital strategy for your radio station is to set yourself to perform small experiments like this. If you would like help doing so, feel free to reach out to me.

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