Things Every Radio Station Website Should Have
July 29, 2014
1. A "Listen Now" Button
Seems obvious, doesn't it? But you'd be amazed how many radio station websites get it wrong. Not because they don't have one, but because they bury it. Chances are, the content that you put out over your airwaves is your primary, if not your only, source of revenue. Even if you are charging lower advertising rates for your online stream than your terrestrial signal, you need people to listen. Which makes this button your primary "Call to Action." In other words, this is the number one thing you want people to click on when they come to your website.
So make it look the part.
This button should:
- Look like a button, not a banner ad
- Have a color scheme that sets it apart from the rest of the page
- Appear in the same place on every page (probably the upper-right corner, above the main navigation)
- Be clearly labeled "Listen Now"
- Be a link that people can easily right-click, copy and paste in other places, especially on social media
I have seen many "Listen now" buttons that don't look like buttons. Instead, they look like banner ads with photos of artists and fancy fonts.
Never bury your "Listen Now" button "below the fold." In other words, do not make listeners scroll down the page to find this button. Put it somewhere that is very obvious and accessible.
Take a look at the primary Call to Action buttons on other websites and see what they look like. For example, go to Google. Notice how obvious it is which button they want you to click on. Now go to Facebook (when you're not logged in). Is it obvious what they want you to do? What about Twitter?
Your "Listen Now" button should be just as obvious.
Here's Facebook's homepage. See how easy it is to identify the primary call to action?
Here's the homepage for my podcast. Notice how I use size, color and whitespace to make the primary call to action stand out
2. A Contact Form for Prospective Clients
Your website should be generating leads so that your sales people don't have to do all the heavy lifting. In the coming weeks, I'll go into greater detail about how to set that up. In the meantime, make sure that your website has a clearly labeled phone number and contact form (or email address) for prospective clients.
This form should be short. The longer the form is, the less likely people are to fill it out, so keep it to the basics: Name, phone number, email address and organization.
If the form itself doesn't appear on every single page, a clearly labeled link should. That can be a menu item in your main navigation labeled "Advertisers" or a button in your sidebar labeled "Advertise with Us." Either way, this link should appear on every page. This is one of the most important things people can do on your website -- far more important than reading your jock's biographies or seeing the Cat Video of the Day -- so don't bury it.
Most importantly, set up a system in place so that when a person fills out that form (or sends an email), they get a response within 5 minutes. Yes, I said 5 minutes. The longer you wait to reply, the less chance there is that you will be able to convert the lead into a purchase. There should be a system in place to make sure that the form submission is emailed -- or even sent by text message -- to multiple people to ensure a quick response. I have seen companies escalate new leads all the way to the CEO if they are not answered within an hour.
If you choose not to reply to after-hours submissions right away, be sure that you reply to them first thing the next morning.
3. Google Analytics
You need to track everything that happens on your website. Where is your web traffic coming from? What pages are people clicking on the most? Are they using mobile devices, tablets or desktops when they come to your site? How many pages are they looking at? Etc.
Fortunately, it is free and easy to answer all of these questions by installing a little snippet of Google Analytics code in your website's header. You can find instructions at http://google.com/analytics]http://google.com/analytics.
Google has also recently introduced a product called Tag Manager, which makes it even easier for people in your station, like your Program Director or Promotions Director, to track specific actions without needing to seek the help of your webmaster every time.
4. An Email Signup Form
One of the most powerful things that you can do with your website is collect contact information from your visitors so you can cheaply and easily reach them later. There are plenty of small-business email solutions, including AWeber, iContact, and Constant Contact. My favorite is Mailchimp, because I am a fan of its, RSS-to-Email feature, which dramatically cuts down on the amount of copy you need to write (I'll explain how in an upcoming column). All of these services make it easy to create a signup form that can be embedded on your website.
Once again, I recommend making the form as short as possible -- just the email address if possible. If you want more information from your listeners, you will need to give them a bigger incentive to fill out a longer form. For example, you may want to require a longer form to enter a contest. Remember that people are less likely to fill out a longer form. In general, I always like to have two forms on my websites: one that asks people for just their email address (to sign up for the newsletter), and a longer form for access to something better.
Make sure that the text encouraging people to sign up clearly spells out the benefits of doing so. Will they get a daily recap of the morning show? Weekly local deals? A discount code for your summer concert? Tell them exactly how often they can expect to receive an email from you. Set their expectations, then meet those expectations, or people will unsubscribe from your list.
You should also have a popup window that appears on your website asking people to sign up for your email newsletter. I know what you're thinking: "People hate popups!" Yes, they do...when those popups are for something that they don't want. Never put advertisements for your clients in popup windows on your website. You're just ticking them off.
However, there is a good chance that your listeners do want to sign up for your email list. They have come to your website, so they've already expressed interest in your station. So a popup with your email signup form is not nearly as abrasive as a popup with an unrelated ad. In fact, using popup windows has increased email signups on my websites by over 500%.
If you have built your station's website using Wordpress, there are plenty of great plug-ins for popup windows. I have used Code Canyon's Ninja Pop-ups for Wordpress on my website, SethResler.com, with great success.
5. An Image on Every Page
When your webpages are shared on social media networks like Facebook, an image is pulled from the page to appear in other people's newsfeeds. If there's no image to pull, or the image pulled is something unrelated, like an image from a client's ad, it decreases the chances that people will click on the link and come to your website. Make sure that you have a related image that looks good at a thumbnail size on every single page.
If you are using Wordpress to host your website, I recommend using the Wordpress SEO by Yoast plug-in, which will not only let you refine how your webpages apprear in Google's search results, but also how they will appear when they are shared over social networks. This plug-in lets you easily select which picture you want to use when somebody shares your page on Facebook.