Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

Here’s What Your Radio Station Should Put in Its Website Sidebars

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been explaining how we rebuilt the Jacobs Media website last year to take advantage of the same Content Marketing strategy that we recommend to our clients. In less than a year, it has — among other things — enabled us to grow our email list by nearly 500%. This strategy can produce similar results for your radio station.

You may want to go back and read some of the past columns if you have not already:

How we set goals for our digital strategy.
Why we’re using a Content Management System for our website.
How we’re going to connect our website to all the other tools in our digital strategy.
How we decided what pages to put on our website.

The Sidebar: Desktop vs. Mobile
The sidebar is an extremely important component of the desktop version of your radio station’s website. It become less important on the mobile version of your site because if you’re using a mobile-responsive website, it will probably get pushed farther down the page to collapse the site into a single column for smartphones.

Here’s what the sidebar looks like on the desktop version of our site:
Jacobs-1
For comparison, here’s what the same page looks like on a smartphone. As you can see, the sidebar gets pushed to the bottom of the page, and a visitor has to scroll all the way to the bottom to see it (which they are less likely to do):
Jacobs-2
What Goes In The Sidebar

Before we started building the website, we first laid out our digital goals. For Jacobs Media, we decided the most important goals of our website were (1) to explain to potential clients what we do, and (2) to build our email list. Your radio station’s website may have several goals, including getting people to stream the station, sign up for the email list, enter a contest, etc.

So what is the goal of the sidebar? Things that directly accomplish one of our website’s goals.

The first item in the sidebar on our website is a link to the About Us page. The reason we have given this top spot in the sidebar to this link is because it accomplishes the first goal of our website; it explains to potential clients who we are and what we do.
Jacobs-3The second item in our sidebar asks people for their email address, which accomplishes our second digital goal. Sometimes, all you have to do to get people to give you their email address is ask. However, it is important to explain to them exactly what they will get in return. Notice how we clearly indicate what we will be sending them (Fred’s blog) and how often they can expect to receive emails from us. In fact, we give people a choice — they can receive the blog daily or weekly.
Jacobs-4
Every other item in the sidebar — Research Results, Guide & Tools, and Webinar Recordings — links to a piece of content that is only accessible if you fill out a form giving us your email address. (If you’re on a smartphone, we’ll only ask for your email address before allowing you to access the content; if you’re on a desktop, you will need to fill out a longer form.)
Jacobs-5
What to Leave Out of the Sidebar

Once people come to our website, we want them to do certain things, such as sign up for our email list. To maximize the number of people who do this, we remove all of the other options. Take note of what we do not include in our sidebar:

  1. Our Latest Blogposts: The point of the blog is to create content that attracts people to the site from somewhere else, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, or an email. Once people are on the site, we don’t want to send them to another blogpost. Instead, we want to send them to a page with a form so we can capture their contact info. This way, we can email them new blogposts on a regular basis, encouraging them to return to the site multiple times. If we send them to another blogpost and then they leave without giving us their email address, there’s an increased risk that they will be a one-time visitor. But if we capture their email address, we increase the chances of turning them into a repeat visitor.
  2. Our Latest Social Media Posts: Many sites put a “Latest Tweets” or “Latest Facebook Posts” widget in their sidebar. This wastes valuable real estate in the sidebar, and can drive down the number of goal conversions your website produces. You want to drive people from social media to your website, where they can accomplish one of your digital goals. Once they’re on your website, you don’t want to send them back to a social network without accomplishing one of your goals. Don’t put a social media widget in your sidebar.

What Should Your Radio Station Put in the Sidebar?
The short answer is this: Feature items that directly encourage visitors to accomplish one of your digital goals in the sidebar. Leave out anything that does not directly lead to the completion of one of your digital goals. As you can see, this is why it’s so important to know the goals of your station’s website.

Let’s assume that the goals of your website are to get visitors to:

  1. Stream the station.
  2. Join the email club.
  3. Enter a contest.

You may decide to skip your first goal in the sidebar if you’ve already put your “Stream Live” button in the top right corner of your website header. Instead, you’l start with the second goal: Use a box that asks people to sign up for your station’s email club. Be sure to tell them what you’ll be emailing them and how often they can expect to receive emails. In short, what’s in it for them?

Beneath that, you can include a generic link to the Contests page. Even better, include a link to each of the contests that are currently running; this decreases the number of clicks the visitor needs to make before giving you their email address.

What else? If these are your station’s only three digital goals, then nothing. Quit while you’re ahead. If you have additional digital goals, such as encouraging visitors to click on an advertisement, then add that to the sidebar. But don’t fill the sidebar with extra stuff just to fill space. You’ll increase your website’s goal conversion rate by providing less options, not more.

Your website’s sidebar is a powerful part of your radio station’s overall digital strategy. Be sure to think carefully about how you use it.

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

Deciding What Pages to Put on Your Radio Station’s Website (and Where to Put Them)

Seth Resler
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

Last year, we redesigned the Jacobs Media website, enabling us to implement the same Content Marketing digital strategy we recommend to our clients. We believe strongly that whenever possible, we should do the same things we recommend to you. It’s why we’ve been actively podcasting, and it’s why we’re executing essentially the same Content Marketing program we espouse.

So far, the strategy has been successful for us — we’ve seen a nearly 500% growth in our email database, a dramatic increase in our website traffic, an increase in webinar attendance, and significantly more radio stations participating in this year’s Techsurvey than ever before. In short, we know that Content Marketing works because it’s working for us.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve detailed how we’ve implemented this strategy and how your radio station can do the same. You may want to go back and read some of the past columns if you have not already:

  1. How we set goals for our digital strategy.
  2. Why we’re using a Content Management System for our website.
  3. How we’re going to connect our website to all the other tools in our digital strategy.

Pages vs. Posts
Sites that are set up for Content Marketing have two basic types of webpages: Pages and Posts. Pages tend to be static. That is, they don’t change very often because the information they contain is timeless. You write the copy and leave it there, often for years. On our website, for example, the “About Us,” “Contact Us,” “Research,” and “Consulting” webpages are Pages. On your radio station’s website, the DJ bios, contest rules, on-air schedule, are things that you might put on Pages.

Posts, on the other hand, are timely pieces of content. On the Jacobs Media site, Fred’s blog is written using Posts. Your radio station’s blog or news section will also use Posts.

In WordPress, the distinction between Pages and Posts has some practical implications on how the webpages are formatted:

    • Posts display a byline with the author’s name and the date; Pages do not.
    • Posts allow the reader to leave comments; Pages do not.
    • Posts may display the author’s bio on them; Pages do not.

Jacobs_020617
Mapping Out the Pages For Your Website
Before your developer starts to build your website, you will want to map out which pages you need and where you’re going to put them. In other words, we need to figure out what deserves to be its own page, what deserves to be a subsection of a page, and how these pages are going to appear in the website’s menu.

Start by brainstorming every piece of information that needs to be on the website. For Jacobs Media, we came up with this list:

  • About Us
  • Blog
  • Commercial Radio
  • Connected Car
  • Consulting
  • Contact Us
  • Custom Research Studies
  • Mobile Apps
  • Podcasting
  • Public Radio
  • Research
  • Techsurvey
  • Television
  • Webinars

For your radio station, you may come up with a list that looks more like this:

  • Advertise with Us
  • Blog
  • Concerts
  • Contests
  • Contest Rules
  • DJs
  • Morning Show
  • Photos
  • Playlist
  • Street Team Appearances

Next, figure out which of these items will get their own page and which will be a section of another page. For example, should Contest Rules be a section of the Contests page, or should it be its own page with a link on the “Contests” page? Should the morning show get its own page, or a section of the DJs page?

Thinking About the Main Menu
As you decide how to lay out the pages, you will also want to think about how they will be organized in the main menu. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to get the main menu right. Just about everybody who comes to your website will use it to find what they’re looking for, and you want to make that experience as easy as possible. Here are some tips when deciding what terminology to use in the main menu:

    1. The title of the page doesn’t have to be the term that you use in the menu. For example, the title at the top of your Contests page could be “Win Great Prizes from WKRP,” but the link to this page in the menu could simply be the word “Contests.”
    2. Avoid terms that overlap. I often see radio station websites that have a link in the main menu for “Events” and another one for “Concerts.” This confuses listeners. After all, isn’t a concert an event? By the same token, if you have a link for “DJs,” but a separate link for the “Sam and Diane Morning Show,” this is confusing. Aren’t Sam and Diane also DJs?
    3. Not every term in the menu has to link to a page. You can use a placeholder that has submenu items beneath it, but doesn’t actually link to anything itself. For example, “Events” could be one of main items in your menu. The word would not link to anything; instead, when the cursor hovers above it, two linked submenu items would appear: “Concerts” and “WKRP Crew Events.”
    4. Keep the submenus simple and intuitive. From time to time, I’ll come across a website with a main menu that crams a dozen submenu items underneath a heading. This is way too many for a visitor to scan. Try to limit a submenu to no more than five items. Moreover, put those items in an intuitive order, such as alphabetical.
    5. You can link to the same page in two different submenus. For the Jacobs Media site, we decided to put a list of upcoming webinars and a collection of past webinar recordings onto the same page. But which submenu do you put this page under? Upcoming webinars are “Events,” but webinar recordings seem to fit better under “Resources.” The solution? We put it in both submenus. Under “Events,” there is a link to “Webinars,” and under “Resources,” there’s a link to “Webinar Recordings.” Both of these links take you to the same page. Note that we also link to our “Research Results” in both the “Research” and “Resources” submenus.
    6. Avoid vague words. One of my pet peeves with radio station websites is finding the phrase “On Air” in the main menu. Everything a radio station does is on air — from the music to the morning show to the contest to the advertisements. Usually, what the radio station means is “DJs.”
    7. Beware of the “catch-all term.” Inevitably, you’ll fill out the menu and then be left with a bunch of other pages that don’t neatly fit into one of the other submenus, so you come up with a catch-all term. A popular term in radio station menus is “Connect.” In fact, we have a catch-all term in the menu on our website: “Resources.” Beneath it, we link to “Guides & Tools,” “Podcasts,” “Webinars,” “Research Results,” and “Videos.” Sure enough, when we run a usability test on our website, the term “Resources” performs worse than everything else in the menu. Sometimes catch-all terms can’t be avoided. But use them with caution.
    8. Avoid words that require knowledge of the station. Not everybody who comes to your station’s website will be familar with all of the on-air terminology that you use. Don’t assume that they know that the “Budweiser Lounge” is where you record bands playing intimate acoustic performances. A term like “Live Recordings” or “Acoustic Performances” may perform better.

Here’s the final menu structure we came up with for the Jacobs Media site:

  • Home
  • Consulting: Radio & Television, Digital & Mobile, Sales, Connected Car
  • Research: Custom Studies, Techsurveys, Research Results
  • Events: DASH Conference, Speaking Appearances, Webinars
  • Blog
  • Resources: Guides & Tools, Podcasts, Research Results, Videos, Webinar Recordings
  • About
  • Contact

Here’s one way a radio station might set up their main menu:

  • Home
  • DJs: Mornings: Sam & Diane, Middays: Carla, Afternoons: Norm, Nights: Woody
  • Music: Playlist, Local Music
  • Events: Concerts, WKRP Crew Events
  • Contests
  • Blog
  • Advertise
  • Contact

Of course, we’re going to test the website’s menu structure in a website usability test to see how well it performs, and I’ll walk you through how to do that in an upcoming post.

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

How the Tools in Your Radio Station’s Digital Strategy Fit Together

Seth Resler
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

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been writing about how we rebuilt the Jacobs Media website to implement a Content Marketing strategy, and how your radio station can do the same. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to go back and re-read the previous articles. To recap, here’s what I’ve covered already:

  1. We decided on the goals for our website: Explaining what Jacobs Media does, capturing email addresses of potential clients and increasing our website traffic.
  2. We decided to build our website in WordPress, a popular Content Management System.

The next step is to figure out which other tools besides our website we will incorporate into our overall digital strategy and how they work together. Here are those tools:

1. The Website
Our site is a WordPress website with static pages that act as a brochure, explaining what we do, and posts — primarily consisting of content that Fred publishes to the blog on a daily basis.

The purpose of the posts is to attract people to the website. These posts get shared on social media, indexed by search engines and emailed out to our database. Hopefully, people will be intrigued by the post excerpt they see in these places, click the link and come back to our site. Your radio station will use blogposts (you may prefer to call them “news articles”) to do the same thing — drive traffic to your site.

The pages, on the other hand, accomplish our first goal: They explain to potential clients what we do. For example, we have pages about our Consulting, our Research and our Speaking Appearances. Of course, your radio station won’t need to explain what you do in the same amount of depth that we do because people are already familiar with what a radio station does. However, you will have a number of static pages on your website, such as your DJ Bios, your Concerts page and your Advertise With Us page.

2. The Email Service Provider
The second goal of our website is to capture email addresses — and if possible, more information — from our visitors. We want this information so that we can continue to engage with them through email. If they visit the site and don’t give us their email address, they may never return; but if they give us their email address, we can send them emails that encourage them to return to the site to see our latest content. So we want to capture people’s email addresses and add them to our our mailing list using an email service provider (ESP).

It’s important to note that an ESP is different than a personal email client like Outlook or GMail. ESPs are specifically designed to handle mass mailings to large groups of people. It’s important to use an ESP to handle your mass mailings too, because they will keep you compliant with laws like the CAN-SPAM Act. There are small business ESPs, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact, as well as enterprise solutions. A large broadcasting company might use an enterprise ESP, while a stand-alone station might use a smaller ESP.

At Jacobs Media, we decided to use Mailchimp. Unlike radio stations, which may have tens of thousands of listeners in their email databases, we only have a few thousand industry professionals, so a small business solution makes more sense for us. That may not be the case for your station.

3. Database Software
Many companies outside of the radio broadcasting industry use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to manage their database of potential clients. Think of a CRM as a high-tech Rolodex. Years ago, salespeople kept the contact information on cards in their Rolodex, and every day they would turn the Rolodex a bit and new cards would come to the top. You’d call those potential leads, make notes of their responses, and then move on to the next day’s leads. By turning over the Rolodex, you ensured that you kept in periodic contact with all of the potential leads.

When it comes to enterprise CRM software, Salesforce is the 800-pound gorilla. However, there are a number of small business CRMs for companies that don’t need all the bells and whistles, including Highrise, Zoho, and Batchbook.

Radio stations should definitely consider using CRM software to manage clients and leads on the sales side of the building. For managing listeners, however, Salesforce may not be the most appropriate choice. Instead, companies like Triton Digital have designed software specifically for managing radio listener databases, while some stations are also using software from vendors like Gigya, Janrain, or Appreciation Engine.

Ultimately, we decided that Jacobs Media did not need dedicated software to manage the Jacobs Media contacts; because we don’t have to manage hundreds or thousands of contacts, our ESP, Mailchimp, works well enough.

4. Webinar Hosting / Contesting
Webinars are an important part of our strategy for reaching out to potential clients. Since relaunching our website, we have hosted a free webinar about once a month. This has proved to be one of most effective ways for us to grow our email list.

To host these webinars, we need special software. GoToWebinar and Cisco’s WebEx are the two big players in the webinar space, although a number of other options that piggyback on Google Hangout technology have popped up in recent years.

I have talked about how webinars could be a powerful lead-generation tool for radio sales departments, but it’s not something you’ll use on the programming side. Instead, you’ll use contests. Where we give away information to build our email list, your station will give away Kings of Leon tickets.

The database software you use may offer giveaway capabilities. For example, Triton has the Amp suite of tools to manage contests. If your database software does not, you will want to look into software specifically for contesting.

5. Streaming
Jacobs Media does not run a radio station, so we do not use software to stream anything as part of our digital strategy. But your radio station will. Triton Digital, Wide Orbit, Securenet Systems, and Stream Guys are some of the big players in this space. When evaluating vendors, you’ll want to ask about measurement, advertising management, geofencing and a host of other options.

6. Podcast Hosting
We do, however, produce several podcasts for the radio broadcasting industry. We need a place to host the audio files for these podcasts. There are a number of options out there, including Libsyn, Blubrry, Spreaker, Audioboom, Omny Studio, Art19, Acast and more. Our podcasts are designed for the relatively small audience of radio professionals; it is not our goal to monetize the podcasts directly through ads, so we need pretty basic functionality, including metrics.

Your radio station, on the other hand, will want to invest some time evaluating the different options to see which best suits your podcasting needs. All of the above options offer something slightly different.

7. The Mobile App
These days, it’s not enough to have a mobile-responsive website. Every radio station ought to have a dedicated mobile app. This mobile app should not only allow people to stream the station, but include other important features like an alarm clock, contesting, podcasts and metrics. Our sister company, jācapps, builds mobile apps for radio stations.

8. Everything Else
There are also a number of other small tools that we use as part of our digital strategy, including Google Analytics for website metrics, social media management tools (Fred uses TweetDeck, I use Hootsuite) and a number of WordPress plugins (including the Yoast SEO plugin).

Before your radio station builds its website, it’s important to map out how it will interact with all of the other digital tools in your strategy. You want to understand how all of these tools work together to accomplish the digital goals that you established. Be sure to plan this out at the beginning, because changing vendors later can be a massive undertaking.

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

Why Your Radio Station Should Use a Content Management System (CMS) for Its Website

Seth Resler
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

Last year, we rebuilt the Jacobs Media website from the ground up to enable us to execute the same type of Content Marketing strategy that we recommend to our radio station clients. This post is the second in a series explaining what we did and how your radio station can do the same thing. If you missed last week’s post, you may want to start by reading it first.

Last week, I explained how we determined the goals of the new Jacobs Media website. In case you missed it, those goals were to:

  1. Explain what Jacobs Media does to people who are unfamiliar with us
  2. Grow our email list
  3. Increase our web traffic

Once we figured out where we were going, the next task was to figure out how to get there. That starts with the website. It always does. To properly execute a Content Marketing strategy, you will need a website that makes it easy to create, publish, and edit content.

A Content Management System
A website that makes it easy to manage content is called, not surprisingly, a Content Management System (CMS). Your radio station will need a CMS website if it hopes to execute a successful Content Marketing Strategy.Here are the key features of a Content Management System:

  • It is easy to add, edit and delete content.
  • It allows you to have multiple users, each with a unique login username and password.
  • It allows you to assign roles with different capabilities to different users; for example, an Author may be able to create content but not publish it to the live site, while an Editor may be able to create and publish content.
  • It enables you to establish an editorial process; for example, one person may write a blogpost, then another reviews and a third publishes it.
  • It is optimized for search engines; in other words, it makes it easy for sites like Google and Yahoo! To include your content in its search results.
  • It makes sharing content on social media easy; for example, it allows you to add “social sharing” buttons to each blogpost.


wordpress-logo-150x150Why WordPress

There are a number of different CMS platforms out there, but one of the most popular is WordPress. WordPress is a free CMS that is used by about a quarter of the world’s websites. It offers a number of advantages for radio broadcasters:

1. It’s free.
WordPress is free to use. Out of the box, it comes with limited functionality, but you can add a number of “plugins” to it to enable it to do additional things. Just about anything you want to do, somebody else has probably built a plugin for it already. Some of these plugins are free and can be of questionable quality, while other plugins cost money but are well maintained and supported.

2. Developers are easy to find.
Radio stations tend to see a lot of turnover when it comes to web developers because developers often find that they can make higher salaries doing the same jobs in other industries. Because so many websites are built in WordPress, finding a new WordPress developer if yours leaves is not difficult — it’s a common skill.

3. It plays nice with all of your other digital tools.
WordPress can be easily integrated with a number of different online tools, from email service providers like Constant Contact and Mailchimp, to form builders like Formstack and Gravity Forms, to video hosting services like YouTube and Vimeo. You’ll want to combine multiple digital tools into a single coherent strategy, and WordPress will make that possible.

We chose to build our new site in WordPress for a few additional reasons:

  1. Fred has been blogging daily for over a decade in WordPress. By continuing to use WordPress, we would easily be able to export the blog from the old site and import it into the new site.
  2. By continuing to use WordPress, Fred would not have to learn a new system.
  3. I have a lot of experience building WordPress websites. While I am not a computer programmer by any stretch, I do know how to build a website with the goal of capturing email addresses in mind.

Keep in mind, while I highly recommend it, you don’t need to build your radio station’s website in WordPress to have a successful Content Marketing strategy. However, you will need to build in a CMS platform of some kind.

Question about your Content Marketing strategy? Contact me here.

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

How We Set Goals for Our Website (And How Your Station Can Do the Same)

Seth Resler
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

Last spring, we set out to do a makeover of the Jacobs Media website. It was part of an effort to implement the very same Content Marketing strategy that we recommend to our clients. After all, we figured that if we’re recommending it to you, we should eat our own dog food. So over the next several weeks, I will use this space to show you how we did it, and how your radio station can put the same approach into practice.

When overhauling your radio station’s website, the first and most important thing to do is to define the goals of your digital strategy. Ask your team, “What do we want listeners to do when they come to the radio station’s website?” I’ve outlined some of the possibilities radio stations should consider here.

For Jacobs Media, we defined these goals:

1. Explain to People What We Do
As an organization, Jacobs Media has evolved over the years. In the early 1980s, when Fred was just starting out, the focus was on helping broadcast companies launch and program Rock and Classic Rock radio stations. In the 1990s, Alternative was added to the mix as we helped radio stations implement The Edge format across the country.

Twelve years ago, we launched Techsurvey, the radio broadcasting industry’s largest online survey. This gave us insight into a number of issues — from mobile phone and social media usage to podcast listening and the connected car — which affected all radio stations, regardless of format. Increasingly, we found ourselves serving stations outside of the Rock Radio family, including public radio broadcasters.

As we grew, our old website no longer adequately explained all of these services and areas of expertise that we offered to clients. So one of the goals of our new website was to build something that explained what Jacobs Media actually does.

While we did not have a quantitative standard to measure our progress here, we could (and did) use website usability tests to gauge the new site’s performance. I’ll discuss how that works in more detail in a future post.

2. Grow Our Email List
Given the nature of the consulting business, it’s tough to connect our sales directly back to our web metrics. This is much easier to do when you sell widgets online than when you put together relationship-oriented deals with many service and pricing options and tiers.

Given that limitation, the metric that made the most sense for us to measure the success of the website was the growth of our email database. Prior to the launch of the new website, we were actually using two email services: Constant Contact to manage our mass emails to clients, and Feedblitz to automatically send our blog out on a daily basis. We decided to consolidate everything into one MailChimp email database.

Here’s the growth curve of our email list since we launched the new website last spring:

Web0123a

In the coming weeks, I will explain how we achieved these results.

3. Increase Web Traffic
While encouraging people to sign up for our email database is our most important quantifiable goal, the number of people who visit the website is another metric that we monitor carefully. Before the launch of the new site, we actually had two separate websites: JacobsMedia.com, a “brochure” site which explained what our company does, and JacobsMediaBlog.com, which housed our daily blog written by Fred. Only the blog was built in WordPress.

We decided to combine these two sites into one WordPress website living at the JacobsMedia.com url. Here’s what our website traffic looks like since the launch of the new site:

Web0123b

4. Other Goals
There are a number of other stats that we review, including the number of stations that register for Techsurvey (this year’s number will blow away last year’s), and the number of people who register for and attend our webinars (these numbers vary depending on the topic and date, but are also generally on the upswing).

Once we decided upon the goals of the website, we set out to build it. I’ll discuss that process in future posts. As you can see, deciding upon the goals of your radio station’s website is a crucial first step. Everybody involved with the site should agree upon the answer to the question, “When listeners come to our website, what do we want them to do?’ If you haven’t explicitly agreed upon these goals, gather your team together and do so now.

If I can answer any questions about this post and the process, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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

If This Then That: the Website That Connects Your Online Tools

Seth Resler
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

One thing most of us have in common is that we’re moving at a fast pace, multi-tasking all the way. It’s not uncommon for simple tasks to get dropped or forgotten. And when that happens, we’re letting others down, whether it’s business or personal.

But there are great web tools that can helps us with basic tasks, leading to more efficiency…and happiness. One of my favorite time-saving tools is a website called IFTTT, which stands for “If This Then That.”

It allows you to link up any number of digital tools to any other digital tools. For example, you can tell the site, “If I post a photo to Instagram, download it to my Dropbox account.” Or “If it’s going to rain tomorrow, send me a text message.”

IFTTT works with dozens of services, from WordPress to Spotify to Google Calendar to GE Appliances. You can use it for your social media, your smart home devices, or even your connected car.

The tasks that you set up between two services are called “applets.” Here are 10 applets that radio broadcasters might find useful:

  1. Share your latest WordPress blogpost on Facebook.
  2. Share the results of your Mailchimp email newsletter with your team.
  3. Set the WeMo coffee maker to have freshly brewed coffee when you arrive at the station.
  4. Automatically wish your friends happy birthday on Facebook.
  5. When you receive an email with an attachment, automatically save it to Dropbox.
  6. Get notified on Skype when somebody rings the station’s doorbell.
  7. Create a Google Doc spreadsheet that tracks every social media post made through Buffer.
  8. Automatically share the track you post to Soundcloud on Facebook.
  9. Back up all of your Pinterest pins to Google Drive.
  10. Get an email heads-up every time there is a response to your survey on Survey Monkey.

This is just a small sample of what you can use IFTTT to do. I recommend spending some time playing with it and looking for small ways to make your life easier.

Webinar
I love little tricks like these, and later this month I’ll be hosting a webinar on “Digital Tricks Every Radio DJ Should Know.” Please invite your on-air talent to join me for it.  REGISTER HERE.

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

5 Steps to Getting Your Station’s Digital Strategy Off the Ground in 2017

Seth Resler
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

It’s that time of year when we make resolutions, both personal and professional. If your radio station (or radio company) has been neglecting its digital strategy, or if it’s time to take that digital strategy to the next level, 2017 is the year to do it.

From time to time, radio stations ask me to talk about social media in a manner that suggests they view “social media” and “digital strategy” as interchangeable terms. In fact, social media is just one part of an overarching digital strategy. Moreover, it’s not the first part.

When people ask me to talk about how to use social media, my first question is always, “Is your radio station regularly publishing online content?” If the answer is “no,” then I actually prefer not to talk about social media. Because unless your station is creating its own online content, the most it can really hope to do with social media is push other people’s content around the web.

Sure, you can share fun stuff from YouTube, Rolling Stone, or TMZ. But that’s just going to drive your listeners to those websites. It’s not likely to have a significant impact on your station’s ratings or — more importantly — its revenue.

So if your radio station or company is still struggling to get its digital strategy up and off the ground, before your station starts asking questions about social media, take these steps:

1. Understand where social media fits into your radio station’s overall digital strategy.
Remember, “social media strategy” is not the same as “digital strategy.” That’s like saying that “adding detergent” is the same as “doing the laundry.” It helps get the job done, but it’s just one step in the overall process.

The overall digital strategy that your radio station or company should use is Content Marketing. This is a strategy that is used by thousands of companies outside of broadcasting that can be adapted for your radio station or company. This short video will give you a brief overview:

For a deeper look at how Content Marketing can work for you, check out this webinar recording.

2. Start publishing online content.
Online content – or a blog – is the foundation of your Content Marketing efforts. Once you have a grasp of the overall strategy, it’s time to put it into place. Of course, the first thing you need for Content Marketing is content — and that means you have to publish that content online. While your station may eventually want to create videos or podcasts, written content is usually the easiest to produce in large amounts — especially when you’re just starting out.

A blog is simply a section of the website that’s regularly updated with content. While it can be something like what Doogie Howser composed at the end of every episode of his eponymous TV show, it can also be something much more professional. The websites for Perez Hilton, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times are all, in essence, blogs.

I’ve put together a guide to launching a blog, as well as hosted this webinar on the topic. Start there.

3. Publish mo’ better online content.
In the beginning, I recommend that radio stations set realistic goals for their online content or blogs. If you come out of the gate thinking you’re going to publish five blogposts a day, you could be setting yourself up for failure. You’ll just wind up getting discouraged. Instead, aim for one solid post a week, or one per contributor each week. Once everyone gets the hang of it, increase the number to two. Then three. Over the course of several months, ramp up the quantity, making sure the quality holds up.

Once you’re publishing a healthy number of blogposts, focus on the quality. Develop editorial guidelines so that the style of the blog content appears consistent, even if you have different writers. Invest some time learning what makes for an effective blogpost headline. Invite guest bloggers to contribute material. And so forth.

4. Regularly talk about your blog.
Carve out time on a weekly basis to bring together the appropriate staff members to review your online content, both to see how recently published content is doing by reviewing website analytics, and to look ahead and plan upcoming content. You can incorporate this into your weekly programming or music meeting, or establish a new web meeting. But the key here is to set up a specific time to discuss your web strategy instead of relegating these conversations to random hallway occurrences. Here’s a webinar recording that will show you how to run a weekly web meeting.

5. Develop a social media strategy for your blog — along with SEO and on-air promotion.
Only now, after you’ve gotten into the habit of regularly publishing content on your radio station’s website, you’ve upped the game on that content, and you’re regularly reviewing the performance of that content, is your radio station truly ready to tackle social media. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you should hold off on tweeting or posting status updates until reaching this point. I’m just saying these efforts will have limited upside without strong content on your website, so make sure you’re also completing the steps above.

Once you’re creating consistently good online content, you’re ready to start sharing it on social media. Think of your website as a radio station, and social networks like Facebook as local highways that get lots of traffic. Before you spend money putting up billboards advertising your radio station to the people on that highway, you’ve got to play great songs on your station. By the same token, before you start posting to social media, you need to put content on your website. Here’s a good rule of thumb for figuring out what content to share on social media.

Of course, social networks are just one way to promote your website content. There are other ways as well – notably search engines like Google, and your radio station’s airwaves. If your website is like a radio station and posting to Facebook is like putting up billboards by the highway, then optimizing your website for search engines is like running TV ads, and plugging your website on the air through live reads or production elements is like putting signs on the sides of buses. In short, social media is one way to promote your website’s content, but it is not the only way. Make sure that you are not ignoring the other methods for promoting your website’s content.

This year, set out to implement a holistic digital strategy for your radio station or company, not just one that focuses on individual components like social media. By linking all of the tools together into a coherent gameplan, you’ll be able to use the web to impact the station’s bottom line.

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

What Are the Goals of Your Radio Station’s Website?

Seth Resler
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

Your radio station has a website — but why? What is the website for? How does it fit into your radio station’s overall strategy? What do you want listeners to do when they come to your website?

It’s important for radio broadcasters to step back and think about these questions. If the best answers you can come up with are, “because everybody has a website,” or “because listeners expect it,” or “because branding,” then it’s time to sit down and articulate some better responses.

What do you want listeners to do when they come to your website? Ultimately, you want listeners to do something that impacts the station’s bottom line when they visit. With that in mind, here are some possible goals for your radio station’s website:

1. Stream the Station
You probably want listeners to, y’know…listen. After all, when they stream the station through your website, that counts towards your Nielsen ratings and your ratings directly impact the bottom line.

2. Sign Up for the Email List
We no longer live in a world where advertisers just want to reach a lot of consumers; now, they want to reach the right consumers. Digital outlets like Facebook and Google have a ton of data that allow advertisers to target people precisely. To stay competitive, radio stations need to be gathering data on their listeners as well (and not just relying on the data they get from Nielsen).

Data gathering starts by capturing email addresses. Sometimes you’ll be able to capture other information at the same time, sometimes you’ll have to re-engage with listeners later to capture more data. But once you’ve got a listener’s email address, your station is in a position to go back for more later. So one of the key goals of your website should be encouraging people to sign up for your radio station’s email list.

3. Enter a Contest
Contests are a great way to capture listeners’ data and build your station’s email list. Contests can also be used to encourage listeners to create online content (photos, videos, etc.) that can be used to share on social media and attract more visitors to your station’s website. Getting contest entries should be a key goal of your radio station’s website.

4. Click on an Ad
If your radio station generates revenue by getting listeners to click on (or view) ads, then this should be one of the stated goals of your website.

5. Buy Tickets to a Station Event
Many radio stations generate revenue through events — both by selling tickets and sponsorships. The more people that attend the event, the more revenue the station can make. So ticket sales is a key goal of the station’s website.

6. Buy Station Merchandise
If your radio station generates revenue by selling t-shirts, hats, or lunch boxes, this should be one of the explicit goals of the website.

7. Download the Station’s Mobile App
If you have a mobile app that allows you to drive listening (and ratings) or generate revenue directly from the app, then the number of downloads can impact the station’s bottom line. Use your website to encourage mobile app downloads.

8. Request Advertising Information
Many radio stations overlook the fact that their website can generate sales leads. But if an email or a phone call from a potential client comes in via the website, it can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. One of the goals of your radio station’s website should be to generate leads for the sales team.

A few notes on your station’s website goals:

A Website Can Have Multiple Goals…
There’s no rule that says your website can only have one goal. There may be multiple things that you would like listeners to do when they come to the website.

…But, Some Goals Are Worth More Than Others
All of your website’s goals should ultimately impact the station’s bottom line, but that doesn’t mean they’ll impact it equally. When you sell a concert ticket, the station may make $40 profit, while an advertising lead may generate $5,000 profit. Know the goals, but also know their value.

Just Because You Can Measure Something, That Doesn’t Mean It’s a Goal
Notice what’s not on the list of goals for your radio station’s website: Facebook likes, retweets, pageviews, email open rates, etc. These are all good stats to track, and they can help inform your decisions as you try to increase your website goal conversions, but that doesn’t mean they are important in and of themselves. They are a means to an end, not the end. Limit your explicit goals to the things that directly impact the station’s bottom line and don’t get distracted by other data points.

Everybody Should Agree on the Website’s Goals
In every radio station that I’ve ever worked in, there has been tension between the programming department and the sales department. That’s because the two departments have different goals: one is focused on ratings, the other on revenue. Most of the time, those two goals go hand in hand, but sometimes they don’t and that’s when issues arise.

Don’t make the same mistake with your digital strategy. Everybody — from the DJs to the digital team to the Program Director to the General Manager — should agree on what the goals of the radio station’s website are. If two people are looking at the same data and drawing different conclusions, you’re setting your station up for internal strife.

Review the Analytics Regularly
It’s not enough to define the goals of your website; you also want to sit down regularly and see how well you’re achieving those goals. I encourage radio stations to conduct a weekly website meetings to do this.

If your station hasn’t taken the time to explicitly define the goals of its website, get the appropriate personnel together and do this. Once you’ve decided what they are, type them up and post them where everybody can see them. You’re digital strategy will go farther if everybody is on the same page.

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

Always Embed YouTube Videos on Your Radio Station’s Blog First

Seth Resler
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

Always Embed YouTube Videos on Your Radio Station’s Blog Before Sharing Them on Social Media.

When describing the role of social media in a radio station’s digital strategy, I often use the analogy of the station itself: Your website is the radio station. Just as you put songs, DJ breaks and other content on your airwaves, you put blogposts, videos, podcasts and other content on your website.

Once you’ve got content on your radio station’s airwaves, you go out and promote the station with advertising. For example, you might put a billboard up by the side of the main highway that runs through town because you know lots of people will see it and (hopefully) tune in.

Think of social networks like Facebook and Twitter as busy highways. You want your website to be seen there because its desirable for lots of people to click a link and visit your site.

Unfortunately, many radio stations use their social media posts to send visitors to other websites: YouTube, TMZ, Rolling Stone, etc. This doesn’t hurt your website’s traffic, but it doesn’t help it either. It’s like putting a billboard alongside a very busy highway encouraging people to watch YouTube.

(Want more info on the right mix of content to share on social media? Here’s an explanation.)

I encourage radio stations to avoid sharing links to YouTube videos directly on their social media accounts. Instead, take an extra 60 seconds to embed the YouTube video on your radio station’s blog and then share a link to that blogpost on social media.

This short video shows you how:


Website Goals
Why is this so important? Because your radio station should have specific goals as part of its overall digital strategy, such as encouraging people to stream the station, sign up for the email list, or enter a contest. You can only accomplish these goals if you can get them back to your station’s website. Listeners can’t stream the station from YouTube or sign up for your emails on TMZ.

Additionally, by adding a couple of paragraphs of extra text to introduce and comment on the video, you can add your brand’s personality and your radio station’s perspective to the mix. Now, the video appears in the larger context of the radio station.

Always take the extra time to embed a YouTube video on your own website before sharing it on social media. This small step will help your radio station achieve its larger digital strategy.

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

Here’s Your Most Important Digital New Year’s Resolution

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

With the holiday season upon us, we’re taking the opportunity to present some articles by Seth Resler that you may have missed. This one was originally published in the January 24, 2016 issue of MAB News Briefs.

It’s that time of year when we step back to look at the big picture. What do we hope our stations will accomplish in the coming year?

I’d like to suggest one digital New Year’s resolution above all the others: Set up a weekly web meeting.

As I spoke to station after station last year, it became obvious that just about every staff member, from the on-air talent to promotions coordinators to program directors, had thoughts about how they could improve their online efforts. Unfortunately, they often have no arena in which to voice these thoughts. At best, these ideas are mentioned in passing in the hallways. At worst, they are never voiced at all.

Your online content deserves as much attention as your on-air programming. So carve out some time on a weekly basis to gather everybody to review, discuss and plan your digital strategy.

Who Should Attend

Bring together every staff member who has a stake in the website: your webmaster, anybody who blogs, the promotions department, the appropriate salespeople, etc. If it’s inconvenient for the necessary air staff to physically be in the room, allow them to phone into the meeting or make other arrangements to get the information they need.

Old Business

Start the meeting by reviewing the performance of your website over the last week. Think of this like a music meeting at a radio station that plays songs in current rotation. Just as you would spend time reviewing callout research, sales figures, airplay charts, Shazam, etc., do the same with your online analytics. Compile Google Analytics, email reports, social media metrics, etc., and put them together in a packet so everybody can review them together.

As you look over the data, ask yourself some questions:

  • How many people came to our website?
  • Where did they come from (social media, search engines, etc.)?
  • Which social networks drove the most traffic?
  • Which keywords drove the most traffic from search engines?
  • What content brought them to the site?
  • Which device types (desktop, tablet, mobile) did they use to come to the site?
  • What percentage of visitors “bounced” from the site (left without looking at a second page)?
  • How many people completed a goal on the site (signed up for the email list, entered a contest, etc.)?

After a few weeks, you will start to discover patterns and trends. Perhaps certain topics, such as food, sports, or video games, will perform better than others. Over time, you can use this information to guide your online strategy.

New Business

A Content Marketing strategy will enable you to attract listeners to your website. (This short video explains). At the heart of this strategy, of course, is content. Use the second half of the weekly meeting to plan the specific content you’ll post to the site in the coming week. Again, this is similar to a music meeting, except instead of adding songs, you’ll be adding blogposts, podcasts, or videos – in short, digital content.

Decide who’s responsible for specific content creation to the site. Is there a promotion that needs to be added to the homepage? Are there concert photos that need to be uploaded? Is there a sporting event that somebody should blog about?

There are two tools that will help you here:

1. A Content Calendar

A Content Calendar is a spreadsheet that helps you dole out web assignments to the staff. Don’t try to keep track of all the blog assignments by email; you’ll waste a lot of time digging through your inbox. Instead, create a Content Calendar as a Google spreadsheet, and share it with all of your online content creators. This way they can log in anytime and quickly see what’s going on with the website.

I have created a Content Calendar template that you can use for your station. If you would like a copy, please email me.

2. A List of Blog Topic Formulas

There’s nothing worse than being told you have to write a blogpost and not knowing what to write about. You can help your staff avoid writer’s block by having a list of sure-fire topics to fall back on, from album reviews to interviews with local celebrities to a list of things to do this weekend.

Feel free to email me for a list of blog topic formulas. Adapt this list to suit your station’s audience and use it as you fill out the Content Calendar. This will make it easier for your station to produce content on a regular basis.

You can’t pull together a successful online strategy overnight. It takes a lot of work over an extended period of time. But every journey starts with a single first step. Your first step is to set up weekly website meetings.

I’m excited about the year ahead for digital, and I hope you are too.

Please reach out to me with questions, comments, and thoughts.

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.