Ears = Eyes = Ears = Eyes = Ears … You Get The Point

In “duh” industry news this week, The Media Audit new National Radio Format Report confirms substantial growth in the number of radio listeners visiting radio station websites.  The report claims 17.7% of US adults have visited a radio station website within the past month – that’s about 25 million unique visitors per month in just 80 markets tracked by The Media Audit – and represents about 5% growth in only three years.

It’s probably safe to assume that as more radio stations expand their digital content and more consumers have access to the web these numbers should naturally grow.  However, you could make a case for the growth to be a little surprising based on some terrible content found on many radio station websites (even in major markets).  We’re almost to 2011, yet many stations have not committed adequate resources to provide the same great content on digital platforms they strive to provide on air – missing potential revenue streams and the opportunity to recycle listeners back to your station for higher ratings.  There are still radio stations who believe “10 Questions with DJ” is awesome … and don’t even bother updating them except for when they change talent.

I’ll give you a few things I consider “basic musts” for all radio websites at the end of this post.  First, some of the other findings in The Media Audit report:

  • 75% of radio website visitors are moderate-to-heavy radio users, listening to radio for nearly three hours per day on average … Translation:  We haven’t lost them to other media providers, yet.  They still like listening to the radio, which makes them easier to bring back to your station for more listening occasions.  Tease them with great content on the web, a reason to listen at a specific time.  And, get them back to your website through exclusive content promoted on air.  More listeners drive more traffic to your site increasing digital revenue potential; and more visitors could mean higher ratings.
  • 88% of monthly radio website visitors have made at least one purchase online in the past year; 36.7% of radio website visitors have made 12 or more online purchases during a typical year (about twice as much as other heavy radio listeners) … Translation:  Great news for eCommerce initiatives like “Half Price Deals.”  But, it shouldn’t end there.  Radio will not be able to compete with Groupon long-term.  What else can we do to get listeners to pay us for content?  What other programs can radio develop to share revenue with retail partners who use radio websites as a sales destination?  How can radio do a better job selling ad bundles that include traditional commercials, streaming commercials, digital real estate, texting, database marketing, etc?
  • Top metro markets for radio website visitors:  Minneapolis, Orlando, San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle (all with 20-25%).

In the interest of brevity, I’ll devote more space to the subject in a future post, but here’s a look at a basic checklist of what I consider to be essential content on every radio station website today (in no particular order):

  • Playlist, Songs Played, Streaming Link, Email Requests … all similar, and the number one reason listeners are most likely to visit a radio station website.
  • Concert Listings … although I question radio’s ability to compete with destination sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton for music/celebrity news, it’s pretty safe to assume that listeners would like to find information about upcoming local concerts from artists you play.
  • Database Registration & Incentives, including Text Messaging … this is a must!  It’s critical to get your listeners to share their email address and phone number so you have a way to communicate with them directly.  More controversial is what content to put behind mandatory registrations (i.e., must be a club member to stream or access podcasts).
  • Social Media connectivity … aggregate your Twitter, Facebook, & Foursquare streams in one place; provide convenient links to join you in those communities (and find a way to integrate their social media log-ins to your database); and make it easy for your fans to “Like” or share your content with their friends on their own social media feeds.
  • Lots of frequently updated video, pictures, and audio – preferably exclusive content.
  • Advertiser Directory … a simple listing of your clients phone number and website, charge a premium for “expanded or featured” listings.
  • Online Contesting … a way to win, a reason to come to your site, definitely with forced registration of some kind.
  • Daily Polling … interact, ask questions, talk about the results on the air, solicit feedback, conduct music research, ask some perceptual questions, hit on the biggest pop culture topics.  No brainer!
  • Interactive Blogs … not just a blog, an interactive blog.  I alluded to my doubt that listeners think of radio station websites first as the best source for celebrity gossip and music news – there are just too many other sites who do a better job of it; so, don’t limit your blog to just rehashed content from your prep service.  You should have some of it, without question, but it should be re-written to include a different point of view or commentary from your talent.  Everything you talk about on the air should also be available from your blog, perhaps with “extras” you tease on air.  Not only should every jock on your station have a blog, but the PD should blog, promotions, the receptionist, behind the scenes, everybody you can get to contribute should help add value to your site’s content.  Seek out non-talent who can provide exclusive content; i.e., music and movie reviews, a fashionista, recipes, etc.  And, they must be interactive – write in a way that encourages comments, then reply to those comments on your site and social media networks.

We’ll discuss these further in future blog posts.  But, I’d love to hear what you think is most important for radio websites and why.  Leave a comment below.

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One Response to “Ears = Eyes = Ears = Eyes = Ears … You Get The Point”

  1. 88% of monthly radio website visitors have made at least one purchase online in the past year, thats not true.

    I’ve read that only like 45% did. Meh.

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