Urban Radio: 11 Tips to Improve Your Station’s Website
by Kevin Ross
Entertainment Industry Expert
This past week, I’ve been looking at several urban radio station websites. I looked at each site from a marketing perspective but also as a listener. For the most part, I immediately noticed that most urban sites had too much or too little going on. What is too much? Too many colors, flash elements, to much info on the first page and just an overall ‘where do I go and what the hell do I do’ feeling immediately after the page popped up. What is “too little?” Bland colors amateur designs and cheap looking templates, not enough information to keep someone’s attention for any length of time.
For the most part and with all due respect to corporate templates, they are boring and the same or similar ones are being overused, there are too many duplicates. It appears that urban radio is still struggling with the radio/internet marriage and the listener is probably aware of it, more than you know. Even if you have a database of 40,000 listeners, is that enough? Programmers, MDs and air staff must pay closer attention to the site and not look at it as “Shit, that’s ain’t my damn job.” Here are some of the most common errors friends:
1. Dated news stories. OK, I know, a corporation probably owns your station and you don’t want to take responsibility for misrepresentation of the station by gossipy and possibly fabricated news stories. Here’s one possible solution. You can use a service like Radio Facts Updates with a disclaimer that you create that will give headlines. The listener can hit the link and the blog can either appear within your site or independent of your site. Listeners LOVE controversy, trash and gossip and it MUST be FRESH, NEW and CURRENT or your news is a joke. You mission is to KEEP them COMING BACK…In real estate we say Location, Location, Location for urban radio websites I say LURE, LURE, LURE…
2. The SAME artists in the head banners: Beyonce, Anita Baker, Luther, Mariah, Janet, Jay Z, 50. I MUST give it to GCI for not using a head banner AT ALL. This IMMEDIATELY set them apart and made them much more appealing to the eye. Alternate these artists and use some newcomers. Listeners can truly appreciate a station that’s on the cusp of the NEXT big thing. Ironically, I have not seen Mary J on many head banners.
3. Feature your best looking or most popular announcers (in that order) Good lord… some announcers are absolutely hideous. I mean no teeth, bald and a nappy beard… and I won’t even talk about the men. Some stations need a disclaimer to put under the announcer’s picture. “The station is NOT responsible for this face.” Perhaps have a station day where the announcers have professional pics taken with proper lighting. Put a banner ad on the site for the photog and do barter or hire a retouch artist to clean up the pics a bit. Give the retouch artist temporary health insurance in case he ends up in the hospital for exhaustion. A good QUALIFIED webmaster should be able to recommend a retoucher. Remember that your announcers are representing the station.
4. Does the station do any outings with staff members? Bowling, Dinner… something. There were very few sites where I saw two or more full time shift announcers hanging out and having a good time. Where’s the “family” element, the connection? It adds to the “celebrity” element of the station AND the morale.
5. Are you sending out an email blast every week? If so, what’s in it and are they reading it? I can give you some great interesting tips on how to do it and what to put in it. There are also several sources that you can use independently to determine who’s reading your site and your blasts. NEVER fully depend on an outside company. that has not hung out at home with your listener….. (wink). Remember that the game is to LURE. Lure them to the station and LURE them to the site. LURE, LURE, LURE…
6. Has your webmaster at least tried to secure the stations call letters in all forms from domain owners? (nicknames etc) If your station is WUUU and I’m and everyday Joe, I’m going to type that in FIRST, even if you tell me it’s “WUUUformetoo.com.” I may be in my car when you give that address and may not remember it. You need to secure all possible names the listener will use and forward them to one site. TIP: The .TV craze is about to EXPLODE as video integrates between cell phones, blogs and webs. SECURE THE .TV extensions NOW.
7. Are you doing contests on the air and sending listeners online to complete it? (Filling out entry forms etc).
8. Are you making any reference to the “digital” aspect on any of the shows? (Digital top ten Votes, Digital Contest, Digital Date Line etc)
9. Do listeners have to sign up or register for contest instead of just playing? This is a great opportunity to increase your mailing list and/or email database. Include a disclaimer that they will be added to the mailing list for future station events, or give them a checkbox to opt out. (Giving them the checkbox will garner a lesser chance of securing long-term database sign ups.)
10. Where does the station rank in search engines? When I type “Chicago Urban Radio” in my yahoo search engine, WGCI and WVAZ should be in the top 5 categories but they are not (sorry guys and gals) HOWEVER, when I type “Chicago Urban Radio” in my Goggle browser, WGCI comes up first. While this is a great start, we have to consider ALL browsers and there is a way to fix this.
11. Readers/listeners LOVE pictures. In some cases there are too many and in others there are not enough. I have to give it to WBLS on this one, they had some GREAT pictures of several events and the pictures showed me the listeners are really supportive of not just the station but the personalities.
These are just a few ideas that you might consider. If you want more or would like for me to take a look at your station/company’s site personally, contact me below.
Below are some of the most impressive sites I saw…
WGCI visually appealing, informative, great navigation, great colors
WBLS Informative, lots of pictures
KPWR visually appealing, great colors
KKDA looks like a template but one of the best ones I’ve seen. Visually impressive