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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:
- 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.
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.
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
- Commercial Radio
- Connected Car
- Contact Us
- Custom Research Studies
- Mobile Apps
- Public Radio
For your radio station, you may come up with a list that looks more like this:
- Advertise with Us
- Contest Rules
- Morning Show
- 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:
- 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.”
- 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?
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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:
- Consulting: Radio & Television, Digital & Mobile, Sales, Connected Car
- Research: Custom Studies, Techsurveys, Research Results
- Events: DASH Conference, Speaking Appearances, Webinars
- Resources: Guides & Tools, Podcasts, Research Results, Videos, Webinar Recordings
Here’s one way a radio station might set up their main menu:
- DJs: Mornings: Sam & Diane, Middays: Carla, Afternoons: Norm, Nights: Woody
- Music: Playlist, Local Music
- Events: Concerts, WKRP Crew Events
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.
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