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By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies
In radio, there are two ways to grow your ratings: Attract new listeners, or get your existing listeners to listen to the station longer. In industry jargon, you can build the cumulative audience (cume) or increase the time spent listening (TSL).
The conventional wisdom is that it is easier and less expensive to focus on getting existing listeners to listen longer. You can entice listeners to stick around to hear their favorite song, a clever morning show bit, or a compelling contest without breaking the bank. Attracting new listeners, on the other hand, is more difficult. You have to go get listeners that you don’t already reach through your airwaves and convince them to tune in. Historically, this has required paid advertising through billboards, television ads, etc. — things that few stations have large budgets for these days. It is also possible to build cume through unpaid earned media — such as the press coverage a station might get for a morning show stunt or a charity event — but this can be unpredictable.
Which is why a radio station’s website can be so valuable. If people who are not current listeners find your station’s online content on social media or in search engine results, they can click through to the station’s website, and discover the radio station. This is how a Content Marketing strategy works:
Unfortunately, many radio station websites are geared towards existing listeners to the exclusion of newbies. This happens because we’re so familiar with the details of our own station, when we sit down to create our websites, we tend to forget that other people may not have the same level of familiarity. But if we’re not conscious of the fact that non-listeners may come to our sites, we could miss out on the opportunity to build cume.
The most common example of this is radio stations that use proper nouns in their website menus. For example, a radio station website menu may include a link labeled, “Fidget and Kim.” Fans of your station may know that Fidget and Kim are the morning show hosts, but others will not. Re-labeling the link “The Fidget and Kim Morning Show” will give these people more context. This issue can pop up all over a radio station’s website: with the names of contests, concerts, specialty shows, benchmark features, and e-mail clubs. Often, adding an extra word or two will make your website far more accessible to the masses.
This issue can crop up again when it comes to the order in which items are presented on the menu of a radio station website. To a P1 listener, it may make perfect sense why the DJs are listed in this order:
- Johnny Fever
- Les Nessman
- Venus Flytra
After all, this is the order of their airshifts on the station. But to the uninitiated, this order makes little sense. It would be helpful to point this order in the menu so it makes sense:
- Mornings: Johnny Fever
- Middays: Les Nessman
- Nights: Venus Flytrap
Sometimes, a radio station’s website can alienate potential listeners not because of what it says, but because of what it omits. For example, does the homepage make it clear what kind of music the station plays? Or is this crowded out by a slideshow? When you go to the morning show’s page, is there a blurb or introductory video explaining what the show is all about? Or does the page assume that visitors already know?
Take some time to review your radio station’s website with a fresh pair of eyes. Pretend you’re somebody who just moved to town, happened to click on a link on Facebook, and you’ve stumbled onto the site for the first time. Is this website welcoming to somebody who’s not already acquainted with the station, or does it presume a certain level of familiarity? (If you want to take this exercise a step further, a Website Usability Test is an excellent way to see how people interact with your site.)
Make sure that you’re not squandering the opportunity to use your website to grow the radio station’s ratings.