The average radio station sees a 30% increase in listener engagement when it launches a mobile app. A mobile app for your radio station isn’t just a shiny gadget; it’s an expectation from your audience and advertisers. With many mobile app providers promising the moon, how do you choose the right one for your radio station? Many will decide they need a mobile app and immediately start looking at prices – only. Others may look for an app with the most bells and whistles. The key lies in focusing on practical features that your station will actively need and use rather than being swayed by a low price or an overwhelming list of functionalities that might look appealing but you’ll never use.
Understanding Your Needs
Before getting swayed by the allure of endless features or the temptation of budget options, it’s crucial to pinpoint what your station—and your listeners—actually need. A radio station’s app should be a bridge, not a barrier, to your audience. Evaluate the nature of your content, listener interaction, and your station’s unique flavor. Remember, the most expensive or feature-rich option isn’t necessarily the best fit for you.
High Level Needs to Consider
Do you have a network of stations needing a unified app presence, or will a dedicated app for each station better serve your audience? While costs vary, your decision should be audience-centric rather than budget-led.
Pros of a Single App:
- Unified brand presence
- Centralized management
Cons of a Single App:
- Potentially cluttered interface
- A one-size-fits-all approach may not suit all stations
2. Decide Your App Goals: What do you want your listeners to do with your app? For some stations, all they want their app to do is provide the ability to listen to the station. That’s it. Others want to be able to interact more with the app user, like sending notifications, getting requests and comments, allowing the user to enter contests, catch up on local events, and read the news. Know exactly how you want your app users to interact with your station. Likewise, know what (if any) information you want to get from the people using your app.
3. Website Integration: If you have an active website presence, you’ll likely want that content included in your app. The most common way website services interact with your website is via RSS feeds. This allows the content to be visible inside the app, but if a user clicks on it, they are taken to your website. Is it ok that they come out of the app for that? Ensure that all the content you want to include in the app can be accessed via RSS feed. You may not have an issue with news articles, but what about events, classifieds, job listings, and other post types?
A few services will allow you to enter contests, events, and other content within their admin area so that it appears within your app. This means you’ll need to enter that content on both the website and inside the app each time. Is that duplication of work something your team has time for?
A few services interact directly with your website via an API that pulls information from the website. This allows all your website content to be accessed without taking the user out of the app and onto your website. Typically, these services host your website as well.
Whether through RSS feeds or API integration, ensure your website’s pulse is felt within the app without overwhelming them with too much content. Just because it’s on your website doesn’t mean it has to be included. Pick and choose the best content to keep them engaged on the small screen.
Most Used Features in Radio Station Mobile Apps
Now, let’s get into features. Here are some of the most used and requested radio station mobile app features. As you listen, think, “Would my average user (and my team)” really use that? If so, note it so you can inquire with your app provider.
1. Live Streaming: The backbone of any radio station app has to offer a stable listening experience. Don’t stop at just the app in your hand. Listening in the car is very important via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2. Website Content: People use apps like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to see what’s new. Your app should provide similar value. News, events, and other content from your website make your app more than just a play button.
3. Push Notifications: Keep your audience engaged with real-time updates about shows, news, or special segments. Push notifications are different than text messages. Push notifications come from within the app, which means the app must be installed, and the user must have notifications enabled. Text messages require an additional service and use phone numbers.
4. Content Sharing: Enhance listener engagement by integrating easy-to-share buttons within the app. This could mean sharing content to their social media profiles or sharing with their friends via links or text messages.
5. Interactive Features: Incorporate interactive elements like polls, contests, and song requests to keep your audience active and involved. Some stations may want their audience to have the ability to create news stories or share photos and videos.
6. Podcasts and On-Demand Content: Offer access to recorded shows, interviews, and podcasts for listeners who want content on the go. Is this content also available within Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
7. Advertising and Sponsorship Integration: An essential feature for monetization, allowing for seamless integration of ads and sponsor mentions. What options exist? Are all ads within the app, or is there availability for pre-rolls, app sponsorships, etc? Keep these potential needs in mind.
8. Listener Analytics: Understand your audience better with detailed listener behavior and preferences analytics.
9. Customizable Experience: An easy-to-navigate and visually appealing interface tailored to your brand enhances user experience.
10. Technical Support and Maintenance: Reliable support and regular updates are crucial for the smooth functioning of your app.
Does the app you’re looking at offer these important features? The best way to find out is to download and test the client apps yourself.
Choosing the Right Provider
Once you have a clear understanding of the features you need, evaluate mobile app providers based on these criteria:
– Expertise in the Radio Industry: Choose a provider with experience in developing apps for radio stations, as they are more likely to understand your specific needs. You can find non-radio app companies that will build you a one-off mobile app. But be careful because they are rarely available after the sale for upgrades, customization as your needs change, etc.
– Customization Capabilities: Ensure the provider can tailor the app to fit your brand and specific feature requirements.
– Cost vs. Value: Don’t just go for the lowest price. Assess the value you’re getting for your investment. Can you recoup some of that expense with sponsors and banner ads?
– Client Testimonials and Case Studies: Review other radio stations’ feedback to gauge the provider’s reliability and service quality.
– Perform Usability Tests: Download many radio station apps from your provider client stations and use them as your listener would. Dig deep by entering a contest, streaming the station in your car, etc.
According to eMarketer, people’s time on their mobile devices continues to climb. You need a mobile app if your radio station wants to reach its listeners through their phones.
Several reputable companies specifically produce radio station mobile apps. Selecting the right provider for your radio station is not about who has the most features. It’s about the one who has the features that best align with your goals and that your audience will use and love. Your app needs a strategy just like your station and your website does. Remember, a well-chosen mobile app can significantly enhance your listeners’ experience and, in turn, boost your station’s success.