As we look ahead to January, a typically quiet time of year for radio stations, I want to issue broadcasters a challenge: For one month, use every other production element between songs to promote you radio station's digital assets. For 30 days, double down on sweepers that can drive your station's website traffic, mobile app installs, and podcast downloads, and see what happens.
There's one caveat here: Focus on the digital assets that you own, not the ones that you're renting. In other words, scrap the sweepers that ask listeners to follow you on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. After all, even if you increase your station's Facebook followers, you're still subject to the whims of Mark Zuckerberg's algorithm. Instead, encourage listeners to take digital actions that can be directly traced to your radio station's revenue.
First and foremost, send people to your radio station's website, where they can stream the station, join the email list, click on an ad, or take other actions that can impact the bottom line. However, there may also be actions worth encouraging that don't involve your station's website. Here's a list of things to consider promoting:
1. The Mobile App
Our sister company, jācapps, has built over 1,000 radio station mobile apps, has seen it time and time again: when stations promote their apps, the number of downloads increase. Create a few short sweepers promoting your station's app and watch the download numbers rise.
2. The Email List
Email marketing is still a tried-and-true method for reaching audiences. Use your airwaves to let your audience know that you have an email club and what they'll receive if they sign up for it.
3. The Text Message List
Frankly, it's a lot easier for listeners to send a text than sign up for an email list from their phones. Generally, we caution broadcasters about using text message lists because some companies have run afoul of spam laws and been forced to pay hefty fines. But if you integrate text message signups with your station's email list — after running it by your legal team, of course — you can avoid these issues. Here's a tutorial. Once you've got everything set up, cut some sweepers to promote the text message list. For example, “Text ‘WKRP' to the number 555999 now!”
4. The Alexa Skill
We've seen explosive growth in smart speaker ownership over the last several years, and this holiday season, we expect to see that trend continue. If your station has developed a skill that allows people to listen to it directly, as opposed to through an aggregator app, use your airwaves to promote it. Tell people how to install the skill with a piece of production.
5. The Morning Show
Your morning show's page on the website should have a vanity URL — a short URL that's easy for jocks to say on the air and easy for listeners to remember when they hear it — such as “W-K-R-P-dot-com-slash-Morning-Zoo.” Promote that URL in sweepers as well as in any morning show promos.
6. DJ Bios
Speaking of vanity URLs, you might as well give them to all of your on-air personalities. They love hearing their names in vanity production, so why not kill two birds with one sweeper and send listeners to your station's website at the same time?
7. Core Artists
In addition to creating vanity URLs for your jocks, create them for your most important artists. Compile your interviews, blogposts, photos, and videos involving these artists on their respective pages. Then create sweepers to play into our out of songs by those artists. For example, “Want to go behind the scenes with Drake? Go to W-K-R-P-dot-com-slash-Drake.”
8. Concert Information
Webpages with concert listings are typically among the most popular on a radio station's site. Lean into that by using your station's on-air concert announcements to direct people to your online concert listings.
“Want to win ticket to see Green Day, Weezer, and Fallout Boy? Find out how at W-K-R-P-dot-com-slash-contests.”
10. Benchmark Features
Conclude your phone scam, weird news segment, or battle of the sexes bit with a production element that tells people where they can go online to hear more.
11. Station Podcasts
Got podcasts? Let listeners know! Get more bang for your buck by promoting your station's mobile app at the same time: “Check out the Venus Fly Trap podcast! Available in the WKRP mobile app or wherever you find your favorite shows!”
12. Advertising Info
Radio broadcasters constantly tell clients that their radio airwaves are a great way to reach customers, yet few use their own airwaves to attract new clients. Create a short sweeper to play into or out of commercials that says something like, “Want to advertise your company here? Learn how at W-K-R-P-dot-com-slash-Advertise.”
As you can see, it's easy to find a multitude of different ways to promote your radio station's digital assets without worrying about getting repetitive. So here's my challenge: This January, try it — make every other sweeper one that promotes a digital asset. Then track your stats to see what happens. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn that radio is an effective way to persuade listeners to take actions.