Radio stations must extend their presence beyond the airwaves to survive in the coming years. While our listeners have seemingly endless options that pull at their focus, so do we as radio station operators. We have streaming, social media, mobile apps, smart speakers, CarPlay/Android Auto, video… the list goes on and on. With so many options, focusing on what’s essential may be difficult. While all of these have merits, having a well-designed and functional website is not just a ‘nice-to-have’—it’s essential. Today, we’ll delve into your website’s two most important objectives. We’ll also explain why investing both time and possibly staffing into your website could be one of the best business decisions you’ll make.
Objective 1: Generating Revenue
Banner Ads, Sponsorships, and More
You’re in the radio business because you love it, but it’s not something you can sustain doing unless you can make money from it because equipment and fees cost money. Your station’s website is digital real estate that can—and should—be monetized. This is usually achieved through various means like banner ads, sponsored content, third-party ads like AdSense, and even affiliate marketing. Setting up banner ads related to your listeners’ interests can generate much income, especially if you have high website traffic.
If you want to see one station killing it with local ads, visit breezynews.com. When you visit this site, you might think that some or most of the ads are “value-added” or bonused in some way. They all have a schedule separate from their on-air buys.
Revenue can also come from direct partnerships with local businesses. Your station likely already has relationships for on-air advertising; leverage these to include web-based sponsorships or bundled ad packages that include both on-air and digital promotion. These can go beyond the website into what your station is doing on social media and other platforms.
For some stations, the website serves as a marketplace to sell merchandise like branded T-shirts, mugs, and other swag. Similarly, you can offer discount deal-type programs and sell coupons for events and services. It’s another revenue stream that can add up over time.
Objective 2: Content and Community
Your website should be more than just a billboard and listen live button; it should offer something of value to the people who visit. Whether it’s news, events, articles that dive deeper into topics discussed on-air, interviews, or even local sports information, your website should become a go-to destination for content that matters to your audience and community.
Focus on Your Local Community
Depending on your station’s scope and target audience, local news, weather updates, and event information can be a huge draw. A community-focused approach can set you apart from competitors.
Taking our breezynews.com website, for example, they consistently add four to six news articles each day about what’s happening in their community. In a town of 13,000 and a listening area of below 100,000 people, this website generates over 220,000 page views daily. The content brings the audience back, and they’ve nearly put the local newspaper out of business with it.
Your market may be different with a news leader that would be difficult or impossible to compete with. Instead, focus on what they are not and be the leader for that content. Is that local sports? Events and local concerts? Obituaries? Every market and radio station is unique in the content that connects with its audience.
Encourage user interaction through features like song requests, comments, contests, and forums. This will increase user engagement and provide valuable data on your listeners’ preferences and behaviors. Peakofohio.com is another example of a website that produces daily news stories, but they tell us that the comments on these posts create the most engagement.
The Importance of Defining Website Objectives and Goals
So, we know the two most important objectives: revenue and content. You can’t expect to earn revenue without the content because, without content, there’s no audience to show revenue-generating ads to.
Once you have content, it’s time to start focusing on goals. A website without clearly outlined goals is like a ship without a compass. Whether it’s generating a specific revenue figure from ads and sponsorships or increasing user engagement by 25% in the next quarter, having clear goals will guide your strategies.
When you set your goals, you make them measurable, achievable, and time-bound. This helps allocate resources effectively and allows you to track performance over time. With clear objectives, you can regularly update your website to meet these goals and tweak strategies as required, ensuring that the website optimizes its dual purpose.
Why Investment is Critical
Time and Manpower
While great content and more revenue sound great, they do require an investment of time and effort. For smaller stations with limited staff, this can be a daunting task. Yet, in today’s digital-first world, this is non-negotiable. If you and/or your team devote minimal time to the website, you can expect minimal or no return. Over time, you’ll notice your investment time will decrease as you put systems in place to streamline things.
The Case for Hiring
Because manpower is a common concern, especially for smaller operations, making a new hire or contracting out web management services may be necessary. A dedicated resource can focus on optimizing ad placements, updating content regularly, and interacting with the community, thus freeing up other staff to focus on what they do best: creating compelling radio. We recommend all stations have a “Digital Content Manager.”
Hiring someone may initially seem like an added cost, but the ROI regarding revenue and audience engagement could be invaluable.
Your radio station’s website should never be an afterthought. It’s an essential platform that serves dual purposes—revenue generation and community building—that are critical for your station’s long-term sustainability and growth. By recognizing the importance of each and devoting the necessary time and resources, you set yourself up for a win-win situation: a profitable business and a loyal listener base.
So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to focus on making your website work for you, not just as an accessory to your airwaves but as an integral part of your radio station’s success.