If this photo of a minor league baseball park somewhere in America reminds you even a bit of your radio station's website, you are not alone.
A new research study conducted by Storyblok among 6,000 online shoppers in the U.S. and Europe conducted this past November will have a familiar ring to it. All told, consumers abandon an average of five purchases each year because of lousy websites.
Do the math: companies are walking away from a lot of money, while losing out on brand impressions because their websites are – to put it nicely – suboptimal.
To put it not-so-nicely, because their websites suck.
And as you might guess from your own experience, most of us are increasingly judgmental when we happen upon a kludgy website. More than four in ten website visitors decide within 10 seconds whether they'll stay or go; one-fifth make that call within 5 seconds. The margin for error is shrinking.
Interestingly, most business leaders know it, but they apparently do little to improve their websites' navigability and clarity. Storyblok recently conducted another survey among 500 C-suiters. Astonishingly, they found nearly half (48%) had recently been embarrassed in front of a client or consumer because of their company's lame website. Yahoo! calls this phenomenon “webarrassment.”
And what's even more amazing is that nearly nine in ten (87%) of these same corporate honchos say their websites “meet all or most of their expectations.” In other words, they're making money and delivering ROI despite an often shoddy user experience.
You have to wonder what a similar survey conducted among radio execs might reveal. Are they actually happy with what they're getting out of their websites, assuming they agree on their goals? Or do they see room for improvement?
Oddly enough the minor league ballpark is violating many of the same rules radio station websites do. When you stare at the photo, do you see the name of the team? Do you have any idea where you are? How's the fan experience? Is there any important information being communicated to the visitor? If you look closely, you'll see a sign that shows the speed of each pitch surrounded by ads for everything from hot dogs to sunscreen to tires.
Interestingly, I spotted 18 marketing messages in the photo – the equivalent of a really bad radio station stopset. It is an assault on the senses. There are so many ads, you end up ignoring them all. That's right – it's a lousy deal for the sponsors, too.
Since joining our company in 2015, Seth Resler has written hundreds of articles about how to manage a radio station's digital profile and assets under his “Connecting the Dots” banner. If I had to guess, I'd say his most frequent topic has been websites: goalsetting, design, do's and don't's, usability testing, rotators, pop-ups, and everything in between. (You can access any or all of these resources free at jacobsmedia.com – just type “website” into the search box.)
Why does he write so much about websites, an afterthought for many stations and even the people who program them? Because for most stations, they represent the #1 engagement destination, besides listening, of course.
They may be far from great, but they are a top touchpoint for radio. And isn't that enough of an incentive to make them better?
That may be changing as mobile becomes more utilized with each passing Techsurvey. (Techsurvey 2023 is now officially out of the field. We'll soon have updated results for you.)
Still, as so many broadcast companies are frantically trying to make their digital assets more competitive and attractive, wouldn't you think more effort, time, and resources would be funneled into websites? Radio researches its music, personalities, and contests. But its websites? They are almost always an afterthought.
Interestingly, many radio people – especially programmers – don't give their websites much thought. Their social pages are more responsive and in the moment. And at many companies, making changes on the website is often an arduous, thankless process.
And yet, chances are, more consumers may be visiting your website and streaming your station than cuming your station over the air. Time, effort, research, and even some resources might actually increase engagement, interaction, and accomplishing your goals.
Do you know who else checks out radio station websites? Advertisers. Businesses you pitch for the first time go to your site to learn more about your station – the first impression the salesperson attempts to make can go out the window if the website is lacking or sub-par. Why would a business be confident in a station's advertising program if their website is lame, has dated content, typos, and broken links?
It's another case where eating your own dogfood is always a good idea. Test drive your website. How does it look and feel? Is your station – what it does and where you are – well identified and clear? Check out the nav bar labels? Do they make sense and take you to the content you desire?
How is the level of advertising? Is it excessive, distracting, confusing, or all of the above? What's your “404 batting average? That's what you see when there are dead links that take you to no content. (At least Spotify has a sense of humor about their mistakes.)
And then there's usability testing, sitting a respondent in front of a laptop or desktop (or a mobile phone or tablet) and putting the website through its paces – finding key resources, asking about labels and what they mean, and gathering impressions. Mobile apps can be tested in the same way, a great opportunity to learn about what it's actually like to use a station's digital resources, rather than assuming (often incorrectly) that it's “all good.”
So, if you feel a little website shamed, apologies. But the research (and your own personal experience) suggests even a minimal investment in making the website a more satisfying destination for your listeners would likely accomplish your goals – clicks, engagements, views, merch sales, streaming – quicker and more efficiently.
Why do so many radio station websites suck? They don't have to.
It starts with focusing on the UX – the user experience – and making the obvious “repairs” from there. Historically, radio has often engaged in activities that are good for the company, rather than creating things and resources that suit the audience's needs.
Like so many other dimensions, station websites are often reflections of what broadcasters want rather than what listeners want. A better, more attractive, and less cluttered website can accomplish both goals – increasing visits, lowering the “bounce rate,” encouraging more frequent email database signups, and delivering more of what radio and its fans want.
Consumers stop going back to websites that are frustrating to use – confusing, slow-loading, cluttered, and loaded with click bait. These sites may yield results in the short run. But sustainable media business models demand return engagement – just like the routine of listening to the radio.
When we annoy and rankle consumers, they eventually just stop showing up, site unseen.
For resources and guides to help you design, build, and improve your website, head to www.jacobsmedia.com, navigate to Resources, then Guides & Tools. Or go the “search” box on the site and type “websites.”
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