Summer concert season is now in full swing, and many radio stations around the country have been hard at work booking their own festivals. These events can be a significant source of non-traditional revenue for radio stations. Yet many radio stations will make digital mistakes that prevent them from selling more tickets and making more money. Here are some of those common mistakes and tips on how your radio station can avoid them:
1. Radio stations don't pay enough attention to the event's landing page on the website.
If you are selling tickets to your radio station's big event, the webpage that tells listeners about that event is incredibly important. Think of it as a two-step process:
- Drive people to the station's event page.
- When they get there, get those people to buy tickets.
Too many radio stations focus on the first step and ignore the second. If the station event's webpage doesn't make people want to buy tickets, it doesn't matter how many people see it. Review this page on your site and ask yourself these questions:
- Does this page have all the necessary details about the concert: Performers? Date? Time? Location including address? Price? Age restrictions? Parking instructions?
- Does the page have a big, bright button that says “Buy Tickets” which makes the call to action really obvious?
- Does the page feature an embedded audio promo for those baby bands that listeners don't know by name? (“Oh, they do that song!”)
- Have you removed all other links except the “Buy Tickets” button, including the sidebar and main menu? (This is called a “squeeze page” because it drives people towards a single action.)
2. Radio stations don't make it easy to get to the event page.
Radio stations often promote their big concert by including it as the first slide in the slideshow on their homepage, but nowhere else. My official position is that the homepage slideshow is an abhorrent feature that should be abolished from every music radio station website in America. But even if you're not willing to go that far, it's important to recognize that just including the concert in the slideshow isn't enough. For starters, after a few seconds, the slide switches, and now there's nothing on your homepage to direct people to the event page.
To fix this, make sure there's a link to the event page in your site's main menu. Also, make sure that the concert listings page has a big, obvious link to the station event page. I strongly recommend including a link to station event page at the top of the website sidebar. I would also use some of the website ad inventory to advertise the station event. Finally, consider using pop-up windows to promote the station concert. (Be cautious — we don't want this to turn into a slippery slope that leads to the sales department selling pop-up ads for discount mattress stores.)
You can find out if listeners are having a hard time getting to the station concert page by running a website usability test.
3. Radio stations send listeners directly to the ticketing agency's webpage.
Some radio stations direct listeners to the event webpage of the ticketing service instead of sending people to a page on their own website. For example, a station might tweet out a link to the “WKRP Big Picnic Concert” page on Ticketmaster's site. The problem is that the station has very little control over Ticketmaster's site. It can't change the designs to make the page more enticing to potential concertgoers. And it can't see any analytics to measure how much traffic it is driving to the tickets page. Whenever possible, you want to drive traffic to your radio station's website, not somebody else's. That's especially true when you have revenue riding on the page.
4. Radio stations flood social media with salesy posts instead of creating compelling content.
People don't like ads. We go to great lengths to skip them. So when posts pop up in our Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter streams telling us to “Buy tickets now!,” we get annoyed. Typically, these types of blatantly promotional posts don't perform well on social media.
So what do you do? Create compelling content. If a band is performing at your concert, send the record label a list of written questions for its members. Then publish the answers as a Q&A on your website. In this interview, embed a YouTube video of the band's latest single. In both the introduction and the conclusion of the interview, mention that the band will be performing at your concert and include a big, bright “Buy Tickets” button.
Now, share this interview on your social media accounts. It's likely to attract more incoming website traffic than a salesy post, and the people it attracts are more likely to be interested enough in the band to go see them perform live.
5. Radio stations focus on social media and ignore other marketing channels.
When radio stations seek my advice for selling more tickets to their concerts, they usually ask about social media to the exclusion of other digital marketing avenues. Social media can be powerful, but it's only one part of the equation. Make sure that you are also using these channels:
- Your Airwaves: Create an easy-to-remember vanity URL that redirects to your station concert page, such as wkrp.com/bigpicnic. Use this URL in recorded promos, sweepers, and live on-air mentions.
- Search Engines: People often turn to search engines like Google when looking for information about big radio station concerts. Make sure that you've properly optimized your station's website — especially the station event page — for search engines.
- Email Blasts: You know that email database you've been collecting names for all year? This is why you did it. Email marketing is a crucial component in your concert promotion strategy.
- Text Messaging: Texting can be an effective way to reach your listeners, but be sure to check with your station's legal team first. Some broadcasting companies have been fined for violating text message spam laws, so you'll want to make sure that you don't run into any issues.
6. Radio stations don't track their ticket sales efforts with Google Analytics.
Having a website and not looking at its Google Analytics reports is like having a radio station and ignoring the ratings. I noted above that selling tickets is a two-step process: first, you drive people to your event page, then you convert them into ticket buyers. Google Analytics can show you how you're doing at each stage. Are you attracting people back to your website but not convincing them to buy? Then you need to revise the page (see #1). Are you failing to get people to the website at all? Maybe your social media posts are too salesy (see #3). Use Google Analytics to make informed decisions about your marketing strategy. If you're new to Google Analytics, here's a guide for radio programmers.
7. Radio stations don't put a link for sponsorship inquiries on the station event page.
Tickets sales aren't the only way to generate revenue from station events; sponsorship dollars are often just as important. Make it easy for potential advertisers who are interested in your event to request sponsorship information. Include a link on the station event page for people to request more information.
If ticket sales for your radio station's big event are underwhelming, see if you're making any of these mistakes. A correction could have a significant impact on the bottom line.
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