By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies
The website homepage is more important for radio stations than it is for many other businesses that use a Content Marketing strategy to attract web traffic. For most businesses, the strategy works like this: create online content (blogposts) and share that content through social media and search engines to pull people back to your website. This means that in a successful content marketing strategy, most visitors come to the website through a side door (a blogpost), not the front door (the homepage).
But radio stations have a third channel to drive traffic to their websites: their airwaves. Listeners hear the website mentioned on the radio, go to a browser and type in the station’s url directly. As a result, radio stations see a much higher percentage of their traffic come through the homepage than other businesses. In Google Analytics terms, website visitors who type the url into their browser are called ‘direct traffic.’
Because radio stations typically see so much direct traffic, the design of the homepage is critical. Unfortunately, too many radio stations cram too much stuff onto their homepages. As I’ve seen in the course of running many usability tests on radio station websites, the result is an overwhelming and frustrating mess.
Most radio stations would benefit by removing unnecessary elements from their homepage. The key to doing this is to understand what role different webpages play in your online strategy. After all, not all webpages serve the same purpose. Some pages, such as blogposts, are there to attract people to the website in the first place. Others, such as contest pages, are there to capture data from your listeners. To accomplish the goals of your digital strategy, you need to not only know what the purpose of each webpage is, but also when to present that page to your website visitors.
With that in mind, let’s look at some elements which you can remove from your radio station’s homepage:
1. The Slideshow
If there’s one element that is single-handedly bringing down the quality of every radio station website in America, it’s the slideshow. The slideshow was designed to showcase multiple different stories on a website. It makes sense for bloggers, news stations and sports stations. It has no business on a music station’s website.
Yet almost every single music radio station has one. Why? Because the slideshow prevents fights inside the station. When the morning show is demanding some homepage real estate to promote their signature bit, and the MD wants to showcase a hot new band, and the promotions director wants to plug this weekend’s street team stop, and the sales manager needs a little something to close the deal with Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s really useful to dole out homepage slides like you’re Oprah Winfrey giving away cars. (“You get a slide! And you get a slide!”)
But this does nothing for the listeners.
Think of your homepage as a billboard for your radio station — it’s a chance to make a first impression. What’s the first and most important thing you want your listeners to know about your station? That you’re giving away coffee coolattas and tickets to The Fast and the Furious 26?
You want people to know what type of music you play and the other important features of your station. The homepage is the place for core artists, positioning statements and perhaps photos of the morning show cast. For the sake of your listeners, axe the slideshow, even if it means that your staff argues more.
Blogposts and news stories are great pieces of content to drive people to your radio station’s website from social media and search engines. Once people are already on your station’s site, however, these pieces of content have served their purpose. There is no reason to send them there now; instead, you want visitors to accomplish one of the goals of your website: stream the station, sign up for the email list, enter a contest, etc. So don’t use valuable homepage real estate to send people to your station’s blog; use it to steer them towards one of these goals.
This doesn’t mean that you’re preventing people from reading the blog once they’re on the homepage; you should still link to it in your site’s main menu. It just means that you aren’t going to go out of your way to send them to a blogpost when you could be sending them towards one of the site’s goals.
3. Social Media Widgets
By the same token, the point of having social media accounts is to attract people to your station’s website so you can get them to accomplish one of your goals. Once they’ve come to the site, the last thing you want to do is send them back to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Instead, keep them on your website. Remove any widgets that display your station’s latest tweets and status updates (but keep a link to your social media accounts).
4. The Weather
The weather appears on radio station websites as a holdover from a bygone era. People don’t go to radio station websites to find out the weather — there’s an app for that! (Though I prefer to ask Alexa while getting dressed.) Weather may still have a place on your radio station’s airwaves — even if it’s more likely to be motivated by sponsorship dollars than listener demand — but it has no place on your radio station’s homepage unless you are running a news station.
When it comes to radio station homepages, less is more. Use this prime real estate to make a first impression and drive your listeners towards the site’s goals. Remove anything that doesn’t advance this strategy.
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Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.