Why Text Messaging Is A Crucial Component To A Radio Station's Online Strategy
April 14, 2015
For most companies, text messaging is not a very important part of their online marketing plan. That's not the case for radio. For radio, text messaging is a vital link in any successful online strategy. Without it, your station's chances for success plummet.
Because of the Hardware Gap.
I've written about the Hardware Gap before. It's the vast chasm that exists between your listeners' radios and all of those other devices they own that are connected to the internet. While just about every other technological contraption — from the camera to the video camera to the calculator — has been swallowed up by the ubiquitous smartphone, the car radio has not.
In fact, many of us celebrate the fact that the car radio has not been swallowed up by the smartphone yet. After all, that's the thing that keeps our industry going.
But the fact that the car radio and the cell phone have not merged — the fact that there is a Hardware Gap between them — also presents challenges. Chief among them is that software can't jump the Hardware Gap. This means that radio is largely impervious to everything from social sharing to analytics tracking.
The upside? Radio has not been disrupted by the internet as quickly or thoroughly as it might have been without the Hardware Gap.
The downside? Radio has a harder time taking advantage of everything the internet has to offer. This gap is the reason why it's so hard to affect your radio station's ratings with online strategies.
In short, the Hardware Gap is both radio's saving grace and it's Achilles' heel.
That's where text messaging comes in.
Text messaging is one of the most effective ways for radio stations to bridge the Hardware Gap. It's not perfect, by any means. But given that we know relatively little about where our listeners are when they hear our stations (despite Nielsen's best guesswork), we can at least be fairly confident that they have their cellphones with them. So we can use our airwaves to encourage them to whip out those phones and fire off a text message. It's a relatively small ask.
In fact, I would argue that radio stations should use more of their on-air resources (more sweepers, more contests, more live reads, etc.) to promote their text message lists than their websites or email lists.
Because once a listener has joined your text message list, it becomes much easier to get them to sign up for your email list. In fact, many bulk text message providers now integrate with popular email service providers, so as soon as a listener opts in to the text message list, he will receive a second text message asking him for his email address. If he replies, he is automatically subscribed to the station's email list as well.
And once you have your listeners' email addresses, you have a tool for driving them back to both your website and your airwaves.
Don't be complacent when it comes to your radio station's text messaging strategy. It's one of the most effective tools that your station has.