Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

You’re a Radio DJ. You’ve Lost Your Job. How to Take Control of Your Online Presence

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

Stay in the radio business long enough, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself out of work. It’s a rite of passage.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that in the moments immediately following your dismissal, you’re prone to panic. I’ve been there more than once or twice: carrying a box full of office supplies and old backstage passes out to the car. You may not feel this way now, but one day you will wear this battle scar as a badge of honor.

You’ll go home and work the phones immediately in the hopes of shaping the story before it gets out. I’m always reminded of this scene from Jerry Maguire:


Once the shock wears off and you’ve called all the people you need to call, it’s time to come up with a gameplan. There’s a good chance your future employer will look you up online, so it’s time to take control of your digital presence. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Set up a website
You need a central place on the web where you can direct both fans and potential employers. Purchase a domain for your on-air name, preferably one that ends in “dot com.” If there are common misspellings of your name, purchase domains for those, too. Even if you are using a hosted service like Blogger or WordPress.com, purchase a domain name and redirect it to your site. You can do this at any domain registry site, like GoDaddy or 1and1.com.

There are plenty of inexpensive website building programs out there. My recommendation is that you set up a self-hosted WordPress site. This isn’t hard to do, but if you’re not technically inclined, you can easily hire somebody to create one for you. One of WordPress’ big advantages is that once it’s set up, you can update it yourself with a backend that’s as intuitive as Microsoft Word. Plus, the platform is so popular that you can always find a WordPress developer for hire.

Your website doesn’t need to be fancy. A headshot, a brief bio, an aircheck and links to your social media profiles is enough. If you’ve got a blog, you get bonus points, but make sure you update it regularly and that you’ve posted recently. An out-of-date blog looks bad.

This photo was taken at the mall
This photo was taken at the mall

2. Get a professional headshot
Go to a photography studio and get some professional photos taken. You’re going to need them: for your website, for your social media profiles, for your YouTube aircheck.

Don’t cheap out on this. No, you can’t have your friend take a photo of you standing in front of a white wall. Shell out the $100 and get it done at one of those mall stores.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile
Many potential employers will take a look at your LinkedIn profile, so spend some quality time updating it. Make sure it’s complete, listing all of your past employers, along with a full list of your skills. You can upload files to your LinkedIn profile, so post your aircheck here to make it easy for people to listen to. Make sure you have a good number of connections, but don’t connect to people that you don’t really have a professional relationship with. LinkedIn shows you how complete your profile is — the more, the better.

4. Post your aircheck to Soundcloud and YouTube
No doubt, you’ve edited together a 3-minute aircheck demo before, but it may have been a while. If you don’t have access to an audio workstation anymore, you can download free or inexpensive software like Audacity or Garageband to get the job done.

Forget about burning your aircheck to CD; nobody has time for that anymore. Instead, create a Soundcloud account and upload your aircheck. Soundcloud is ideal for short pieces of audio because it is free, its audio player can easily be embedded on a website, and it integrates very nicely with social networks like Facebook. When somebody asks you for your aircheck, email them a link to your Soundcloud demo, don’t attach an Mp3 file; clicking is easier than downloading, especially if your email is received on a mobile device.


You may want to upload your aircheck to YouTube as well. Like Soundcloud files, YouTube videos are easy to embed on websites and share over social networks. The easiest way to make a YouTube video is to use a slideshow program like Powerpoint or Keynote. Create a single slide with your photo and name on it. Import your aircheck as audio. Then export the entire thing as a movie file and upload it to YouTube. Make sure you include a link to your website in the description of your video on YouTube.

5. Take control of your social media presence
Hopefully you have been actively using social media throughout your career, but if not, now is the time to start. At the very least, you should have a Facebook page (not just a personal profile), a LinkedIn profile, and a Twitter account. Use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage all of your social media profiles from one place. If you haven’t been posting regularly, start. Aim for at least once per day.

Now is a good time to start participating in various online communities. Join discussions in some LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ groups. There are several that focus on the radio industry, including this Facebook group.

Bonus: Launch a podcast
Want to keep your skills honed? Start podcasting. It’s not likely to replace your income, but it can be a good way to stay involved. Plus, it’s a great skill to put on a resumé. Start with our podcasting guide or join the Podcast Movement Facebook group. Better yet, book a trip to the Podcast Movement conference this summer. It’s easy to teach yourself and the equipment is relatively inexpensive.

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

10 Ways to Get Listeners to Sign Up for Your Radio Station’s Text Message List

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Every radio station should be building a text message list. Text message lists are inexpensive ways to stay engaged with your P1 listeners. It is far easier for listeners to opt in to a text message list than give you their email address when they are out and about with nothing but their mobile phones. This means that text message lists are perfect for concerts, sporting events, and other on-premise promotions.

Use a specialized service to set up your text message database. You will want to reserve a keyword, such as your call letters. (There is a small monthly fee for this.) When people text that word to your services dedicated number, they will automatically be signed up for the list. For example, if they text “WKRP” to the number 55555, they will have joined the list.

Once you have set up an account with a text message service and reserved your keyword, you need to get word out about your text message list. For example, you need to tell your listeners to “Text WKRP to 55555 to win cool prizes.”

Beware of the Text Message Trolls

A word of warning: Several radio broadcasting companies have been slapped with fines because they sent out mass text messages in a manner that did not conform with applicable laws. With text messaging in particular, there are “trolls” that subscribe to lists in the hope that a company will run afoul of the law so that they can seek payment. Always consult your legal team before initiating any text message strategy to ensure that your station does not run into any issues.

One way to sidestep problems may be to use your text message service to immediately encourage people to subscribe to your email newsletter. For example, when people text “WKRP’ to the number 55555, they will immediately receive a message that says “Reply with your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.” By doing this, you can take advantage of text messaging, but still use email as the primary communication method, thereby avoiding the trolls.

But seriously, check with your lawyers first.

Here are ten ways to get that message out to your listeners:

1. On-Air Contests

The era of “Caller #9” is over. Instead, require listeners to text in to enter a contest. Your promotions department can log into your text message service to pick a winner, or even set it up to automatically text one random entrant a winning text message.

The downside? You don’t get to air a caller telling you “which station hooks you up with all the cool swag!”

The upside? You capture the phone number of every single listener who enters the contest.

2. On-Site Contests

At on-site promotional appearances, don’t ask listeners to write their email address on a slip of paper with a golf pencil. Your promotions staff has better things to do than enter those email addresses into your database by hand. Instead, require entrants to text in to win, just as you would with an on-air contest.

If the local car dealership still likes to see that old prize wheel in their parking lot, no problem; just ask people to opt in to the text message list and show you the welcome message that is automatically sent back for a chance to spin.

3. Sweepers

Cue the station voice: “Want to join our email list? Text WKRP to 55555.” Rotate once per hour.

4. On-Stage Intros

When your DJ gets on stage to introduce the headliner at the next concert, make sure they tell people to pull out their phones and text in.

5. T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, and Keychains

The great thing about the phrase “Text WKRP to 55555” is that it’s short enough to fit on every piece of promotional merchandise you give away.

6. The Station Vehicle

When you get that vehicle wrapped, include the text message instructions on all four sides of the van.

7. Banners and Signage

Yup. Here, too.

8. Wristbands

Wristbands are cheap. Print up several thousand with text message instructions on them and give them to your local concert venue to use when your artists come to town.

9. Artist Interviews

Got an interview with a big artist? Allow people to text in with a question that they want asked (“Text ‘WKRP and your question to 55555’ and maybe we’ll ask them on the air.”). Everybody who submits a question will be signed up for the list, and you’ll get a list of great ideas. You can even give prizes out to listeners if you use their questions.

10. Advertising

Planning a big outdoor, print or TV campaign? Include your radio station’s text message instructions.

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

7 Features Radio Broadcasters Should Look for in a Smartphone App

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

 

According to eMarketer, people spend 86% of the time they spend on their smartphones using mobile apps, and only 14% of their time using a mobile web browser. If your radio station wants to reach its listeners through their phones, it’s not enough to have a mobile-responsive website; your station needs a mobile app as well.

What should your radio station look for when building a mobile app? Here are seven key features:

1. Streaming
The number one feature radio listeners look for in a smartphone app is the ability to stream the radio station. According to our 2016 Techsurvey, 84% of radio listeners own a smartphone. If they’ve downloaded your app, they can listen to your station wherever they are — at work, in the car, at the gym, at home, etc.
Seth-12. Registration/Data Collection
Once upon a time, advertisers were primarily interested in reaching the most consumers. Today, they are focused on reaching the right consumers. After all, a golf store doesn’t want to pay to reach a bunch of people who don’t play golf.

To connect your advertisers with the right people, your radio station will need to collect data about its listeners — above and beyond the data provided by Nielsen. Your radio station’s app can play a crucial role in that process. Make sure you are building an app that is capable of gathering data from listeners through registration forms, contest entries, social media integration, and more.

3. Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities
Digital revenue continues to be the best growth opportunity for radio broadcasters. According to a recent study by Borrell Associates and the Radio Advertising Bureau, digital revenue for radio stations is expected to grow by 22% in 2017. Make sure that your station’s app gives your sales team opportunities to generate revenue.

Seth-24. Push Notifications
A push notification is a message that pops up on a listeners mobile device, even when the app generating that notification isn’t currently being used. Push notifications are an effective way to alert your listeners to time-sensitive issues. For example, you may want to let listeners know when an on-air contest is happening, when tickets to a big concert go on sale, or when there’s an emergency in your community.

5. Social Sharing Buttons
As part of a Content Marketing strategy, social media is a very effective way to attract people to your radio station’s website. You want to make is easy for listeners to share your radio station’s online content, such as blogposts, on their social networks. When they do this, they bring their friends back to your website. If your mobile app is showcasing your station’s online content, make sure it also makes it easy for people to share that content.

6. Alarm Clock
In our 2016 Techsurvey, we saw the smartphone overtake the clock radio as the primary device used to wake people up for the first time. So if you want listeners to continue to wake up to your radio station, you’ll need an alarm clock feature in your app.
Seth-37. Podcasts
While podcast listening has seen steady growth over the years, it still hasn’t achieved mass adoption. In our 2016 Techsurvey, only 28% of radio listeners reported listening to a podcast in the last month. The reason for that is simple: Listening to a podcast requires several steps: You have to download a “podcatcher” app, find a podcast, subscribe to the podcast, and then download the latest episode.

Radio stations are very well-positioned to take advantage of the podcasting medium, in part because they can make it easier for their fans to listen to podcasts by including them in their mobile app. This cuts the number of steps down, making a station’s podcasts accessible to more people.

Mobile Strategy Webinar
Our sister company, jācapps, has built over one thousand radio station apps. Next month, join us as we co-host a free webinar with the jācapps team: “Mobile 101: What Every Radio Station Should Know About Mobile App Strategy.”  Register here.

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

SEO 101: Search Engine Optimization and Keywords for Radio Broadcasters

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

As radio broadcasters, we want to use Content Marketing as a framework for our digital strategy: We create content on our website, then share that content in places that our listeners will find it. For example, we might write a blog post and share it on Facebook. Once people click on the link to that content and come back to the station’s website, we encourage them to take a specific action, such as enter a contest or sign up for our email club.

Resler1Radio broadcasters tend to focus on social media when trying to drive traffic to their website, but there’s another channel that should not be ignored: search engines. Just as your listeners probably visit Facebook on a regular basis, they also frequent sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Don’t ignore the power of Search Engine Optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization?
“Search Engine Optimization,” or “SEO,” is simply the art of getting your content to show up in the results of search engines like Google so that more people visit your site. If you’ve ever searched for something in Google, you know that the search engine produces both organic (unpaid) results and sponsored (paid) results. When we refer to SEO, we are talking about getting your station’s website to show up in the organic results.
Resler2You may also hear the term “Search Engine Marketing” (SEM). SEM is an umbrella term that includes SEO under it. SEM also includes other tactics, such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising is what gets your station into the sponsored search engine results.

Why Does SEO Matter for Radio?
When I first started at Jacobs Media, I worked with a radio station that hosts a huge annual concert. The name of the concert is not the same as the name of the radio station. By looking at their Google Analytics reports, we could see that on the day that the radio station announced the lineup for their concert, their website traffic shot through the roof. We discovered that the increase in traffic was coming from Google.

What were these people typing into Google that was bringing them to the station’s site? Google Analytics told us that they were typing in the name of the concert. In other words, people heard the concert announcement on the radio, then went to Google to search for the concert so they could get more information.

Unfortunately, the radio station had not optimized their website for search engines, so the blurb in the Google result displayed the incorrect date for the concert and listed a band that wasn’t playing that year. Moreover, the link that Google was directing people to was not the correct page on the station’s website. Listeners may not have found the concert information they were looking for. This could have negatively impacted the number of people who came to the concert. Concert attendance, of course, can have a big impact on ticket and sponsorship sales.

This is just one example of how SEO can affect a radio station’s bottom line. Your radio station should take the same care with search engines that it does with social media; both can drive an enormous amount of traffic to your station’s website when used properly.

How Does SEO Work?
Search engines like Google want people to find what they’re looking for. If a Google user doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll stop using the site and go to a different search engine instead. So Google has a vested interest in making sure that it puts the most relevant content at the top of its results.

Google uses an algorithm to do this. That algorithm is a closely guarded secret, much like the formula for Coca-Cola. Google also tweaks that algorithm from time to time. So rather than try to game Google’s algorithm, your best bet is simply to create compelling content that people will search for. The more high quality content you create, the more web traffic that search engines like Google will send your way.

If you create content that isn’t very good, Google won’t want to put it at the top of its search results. Google looks for signals that the content it puts atop its search results or both relevant and high quality.

There are some basic steps you can take to make it easier for Google to figure out that your content is both relevant and high quality. I’ll discuss those next week.

Keywords
When people go to a search engine, they type a word or phrase into the search box. These are called the “keywords.” As your radio station maps out an SEO strategy, the first important question is, “What are people typing in when they’re looking for our content?” In other words, what are the keywords for your radio station’s website?

Different pages on your website may have different keywords. For example, while your call letters may be a keyword for the entire site, the word “Weezer” may only be a keyword for some pages. The listener who does a Google search for “WKRP morning show” is looking for something different than the listener who types in “WKRP Weezer acoustic performance.” Note that you’re not just using SEO to send people to your website’s homepage; sometimes you’re using it to send people to a specific page within the site. Every time you create a piece of content for your website, ask yourself, “What would people type into Google if they were looking for this?”

Take some time to brainstorm some of the keywords people might type in when looking for your radio station’s website. They may include words like:

  • The station’s call letters
  • The station’s format or music genres
  • The name of the morning show or on-air personalities
  • The names of syndicated programming or specialty shows
  • The names of benchmark features
  • The names of signature events, concerts, or contests
  • The names of core artists
  • Words like “concerts,” “interviews,” or “playlist”

Keyword Tools
There are a number of tools that you can use to help you figure out what your keywords are. Here are two from Google that you should know:

1. Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool: Google provides a tool to help you see how different keywords might drive traffic back to your site. Google provides this tool for free because they hope that you’ll eventually decide to spend money on sponsored search results, too. To use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, you will need to set up an Adwords account (but you don’t have to spend any money). Then, answer some questions about who you are targeting, and Google will return a list of suggestions.

Here, I’ve used the tool to find out what keywords English-speaking people in North America might type in when searching for a “radio broadcasting consultant.” As you can see, Google produced a list of related phrases, showing how many searches each term receives, how much competition there is for each term (how many people are bidding on that term in Adwords), and so on.Resler3
2. Google Trends: Google Trends is a free tool that allows you to see how many searches a specific phrase receives. You can even compare different keywords. Here, I’ve compared the number of Google searches for “Howard Stern” to the number of searches for “Ryan Seacrest.”
Resler4Long-Tail Keywords
When I first moved to the Detroit area, I had to find a new dentist. I didn’t type “dentist” into Google. That would not have produced the results that I was looking for. I didn’t even type in “Detroit dentist.” Instead, I typed in “Clawson dentist,” because Clawson is the small Detroit suburb that I live in. When a phrase uses specific words to narrow the search, that’s called “long-tail keywords.” The name comes the classic marketing book, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

When people are looking for your radio station, they probably aren’t going to just type in “radio station.” They’re more likely to type in something like “Seattle alternative radio station.” Because long-tail keywords are more specific, they will produce more relevant search results. “WKRP morning show” and “WKRP Weezer performance” are both long-tail keywords, and will direct people to different pages on your site. Keep this in mind as you try to determine the keywords for different pages on your website.

There are a number of other resources that can help you determine the best keywords for your website content, and you can even hire companies to help you with this. Search Engine Optimization has grown into a cottage industry over the years. If your station is just getting started, however, you can use these free tools and some educated guesses to figure out what the keywords are for different pages on your website.

Once you know the phrases that people are typing into search engines when they’re looking for your content, you can optimize that content to so these search engines are more likely to include it in their results. This will drive more traffic to your site.

I’ll give you some actionable steps for optimizing your content in next week’s column. In the meantime, if you’d like help with your radio station’s digital strategy, please contact me.

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

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.