Creating Effective Radio Station Newsletters

We’ve always preached here to do all you can to drive traffic back to the website where you can monetize it.  Newsletters are an awesome way to do that and inform your listeners.  What’s that?  Newsletters are dead, considered spam most of the time, and not effective anymore?

Rest assured that newsletters remain an effective communication channel for radio stations to keep in touch with their listeners. They are actually better than social media in many regards because there’s no algorithm in place to determine whether you receive them or not. In fact, you could be reading this article because of a link in our weekly newsletter.

You never want to overload your listeners with too many e-mails. However, if you’re posting great content like local news every day, then it might warrant sending newsletters one or more times per day.

Why send regular newsletters?

  • Drives brand awareness for your radio station (keeps it top of mind).
  • Keeps subscribers up to date with what is happening at the station and in your community.
  • Creates trust and authority.
  • Keeps subscribers engaged with your website (meaning more traffic).

What should I include on sign-up forms?

An e-mail address is the only required field but most add a name field. Try not to make your signup form a lengthy questionnaire.  Nobody likes those and you’re sure to put off many subscribers if the form is too detailed.  If you want more information about each subscriber, then respectfully ask for that information down the road at some point.

You should also include somewhere around the signup form information so that subscribers know what to expect when they sign up. If they expect to see your newsletter each day, week, or month; then send them accordingly on a regular schedule.  If your subscribers are getting too much or too little interaction from you than what they anticipate, then they will likely unsubscribe.

Are you planning to import contacts from the database that you have been building over time?  Remember that contacts must have given their consent to receive emails from you.  E-mailing services take spam very seriously and can boot you from their platform if you’re accused of sending spam e-mails.

What content should my newsletter contain?

Calls to action: What do you really want subscribers to do after opening your email? Tune in? Visit a certain link? Whatever that is, make that very clear.

Local news: Sharing local news and information is a great way to engage via newsletters. The stations that we’ve seen benefit the most from their newsletters have included local news on their websites and provided a way for listeners to receive those headlines in their inbox each morning or afternoon.  This would also apply to music news or even national news if you’re a talk station.  It’s really easy to incorporate your website RSS feed into most e-mail service providers now.  This puts most of the content on automatic!

Contests and promotions: Your newsletter should always contain the biggest contest or promotion the station is involved in at that time.  Be sure to direct traffic to the website.

Events: If you post events on your website, include a few upcoming calendar events in your newsletter.  This might include remote broadcasts as well.

Links to Polls: If you’re running a poll on your website, ask for their opinion with a link to the poll page on your website.

Nearly all links within your newsletter should link back to the website.

Should I include client banner ads?

Keep it to a bare minimum. Nobody signs up to get more advertising. So, if your e-mails look like a page full of client ads, expect your subscribers to fall off quickly never to return.  One banner ad should be sufficient per e-mail but make the call to action within that ad be worth getting, like a super sale, 50% coupon, etc.  Not a simple logo.

How frequently should station newsletters be sent?

The frequency entirely depends on you and the content you’re providing. Some will say that sending out newsletters no more than twice a week, or once a month is best practice.  However, if you are providing a news service to your community with daily updates, then there’s no reason why you can’t send news headlines once per day, either in the morning or near the end of the day.

Consider having two or more e-mail lists that listeners can sign up for. One list can be periodic news updates that are more promotional content-driven like contests, events, etc.  And then another list that is daily that contains news headlines/daily information.

What newsletter services are best for sending/deliverability?

There are many different email newsletter services to choose from, but some of the best affordable options include ConstantContact, MailChimp, MadMimi, MailerLite, ActiveCampaign, and Campaign Monitor.

These services make it easy to get started. Nearly every platform has pre-made professional templates that you can drag and drop your content into.

A specialized service like this is the best way to go to ensure the deliverability of your newsletters too. There are plugins and resources out there that allow you to e-mail newsletters directly from your website. However, this can take up server resources that could go toward making your website faster. And you don’t want to get the IP address of your website banned in case someone reports your e-mail as spam.

Important: Consider NOT sending emails directly from your station’s email address.  It only takes one or two subscribers to mark your newsletters as spam before your email address can be blacklisted and classified as spam by many email clients. This means that if you use your station e-mail address for regular client business, those e-mails might not make it to their intended recipients.  E-mail clients share spammer data to keep you safe and if your address shows up in one of these spammer databases, it’s a very difficult and lengthy process to fix.

Wrapping up

Ensure your newsletters contain compelling content that links back to the website as much as possible. Be brief. Don’t include tons and tons of content and overwhelm your subscribers. Don’t include full news articles either. The key is driving website numbers that you can sell to more advertisers.

Meet the expectations that you’ve set for your newsletter and be consistent. Deliver your newsletter on a regular schedule.  You may want to consider multiple newsletters that have different frequencies so that the subscriber can choose what they receive.

Promote your newsletter on your website and on-air often.  Give specific reasons for signing up and follow through on those.

If you’re importing contacts that you’ve gained over time, ensure you have the approval of those contacts to receive your newsletter.

Always ensure you have an easy, straightforward unsubscribe option in every e-mail you send. If you don’t include this, then it’s a sure-fire way to be labeled as a spammer.

Writing a newsletter might seem like a chore, especially at the beginning, but it can add a major boost to your site traffic and sales.  With the right email newsletter service and a little bit of brainstorming, you’ll get up and going and be sending engaging newsletters in no time!  Hopefully, these tips help equip you in creating your radio station newsletter.

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.