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.

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