What Your Small Market Website Can Do Better than a Big Market Website

It’s natural to compare your small market website against those in large to major markets.  But keep in mind that the dynamic is completely different in those bigger cities than in your market.

A large market website may be a good place to look for a more modern design, but it’s certainly not the place to go looking for content ideas.  The content you choose for your small market website should be easily relatable to your local audience.  If you copied a major market website for your small market, you might never see any substantial traffic there.

I recently visited 20 random “big broadcaster” radio websites across several random markets and noted some things that small market websites can do much better than they can.

1. Local News

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any kind of local news on a large market radio station website, that plays music 24-7. Most of these stations stick to music and national entertainment news only.

While format news can be compelling, it does nothing to help their search engine optimization because that same news can be found on every one of their 50+ similar format websites.  Search engines love unique content, so they actually lose SEO prowess by doing this.

Chances are good that your radio station is providing local news and information on-air.  Re-purposing this content online is a great way for your website to always be fresh and engaging.  It gives you more reasons to promote the website and more reasons for listeners to return day after day.

The only local news you’ll find in larger markets will be found on news-talk station websites.  It was good to see a couple of music station websites using the local news RSS from their news-talk station as a means of cross-promotion.

2. Local Sports

You’ll never find a local high school football score on a large market radio station website unless their local team has won a national championship of some kind. On the other hand, smaller-market radio stations have turned local sports into major revenue streams.

Work out deals with the local high schools to provide their news, scores, and even streaming of their sporting events on your station website.  Fall sports are huge and it’s never too early in the year to start planning for them.

3. Events

Big markets simply have more going on and that makes it much more difficult to include everything on the station website. Most large market stations only cover major events that they sponsor, or nearby concerts or music festivals where they expect the kind of music they play to be heard.

Your small market website can do much more.  True, most listeners will not care about every quilting gathering, town council meeting, or bingo night.  But, let your unique market be the judge of how deep you go with events on your station website.  In a small enough market, your station website can become the place that everyone goes to know about anything happening in your area.  This can bring substantial traffic to your website and substantial revenue along with it when you can sell those traffic numbers to clients.

4. Contests

Yes, the major market players have great contests, but most are national contests. They sound huge on-air, but listeners are smart and realize they are difficult to win.

I believe as an industry we’ve looked at those huge nationwide contests and told ourselves, “We can’t compete with that, so why do contests at all?”  I say that because the “Contests” pages are bare on most of our affiliate websites.

The first time I was ever on the radio, I won a dinner at a local restaurant.  You would have thought I won a million dollars.

Your local advertisers are still willing to give away something to get their name out there and to grab a list of entries that they can use for marketing purposes, like their e-mail newsletter.  So, start hitting up local merchants to give away their products on your station website.  Is it dinner at the local restaurant, a hot tub from the local distributor, or is it a USED Honda Civic?  Hey, they get 45 miles to the gallon, so that would be an amazing prize right now with gas prices as they are.

Either way, there’s a promotion out there that the client is willing to pay for.  Just be sure to include a website component so it can be shared on their social media channels as well as your own.

Try to always have at least one contest running on your website, even if it’s just an informational page about the morning show “listen to win” contest.  Contests and radio simply go together, so when your contest pages are bare, it gives the appearance that the station isn’t very active.  It’s actually better to remove this page when you don’t have active contests.

5. Local Banner Advertisers

Most “big broadcaster” radio stations have moved away from being local information and content providers. Since they don’t focus on local content, their websites are nearly void of local advertisers. I did find some regional advertisers on a few sites that I reviewed, but none were local to the city the radio station is located.  Some stations showed advertisers which were local to me, which felt sorely out of place since I was looking at a station website in another part of the country. 

Wrapping Up

Don’t ever think that “big broadcaster” stations have more staff, so they are able to do more.  By in large, that’s simply not the case.  They likely have one, possibly two or three, unlikely four or more, people with website access.  In many cases, they are more likely to have less than you do.  I personally know of one six-station cluster in a medium market with just one person with website access among them.

Finding the right local content for your particular audience should bring surprisingly large amounts of traffic.  These traffic numbers are what you’ll use to sell clients on those pages.

Be sure to promote your content heavily on-air.  Simply building the content won’t bring traffic.  This is one area the bigger markets actually do excel over smaller markets.  They consistently promote their online assets like websites, mobile apps, as well as streaming.  Small markets should step up in this department and promote their websites more often.

How are you doing with local content and the promotion of it on-air?

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