Digital strategies increase listener engagement and bring listeners back

In spite of all the terrestrial doomsayers, traditional radio still takes the lionshare of radio listening minutes. But listener expectations are changing. Customers pushed traditional retailers on to the web and it’s listeners that are driving radio stations to craft a digital strategy. Early adopters of digital radio have found that, unlike traditional radio, digital radio can get listeners coming back. Here’s how.

The value of one-to-many communications

Terrestrial radio is broadcast media. A station emits what’s known as a one-to-many communication — one message goes out to many listeners.

As listeners, we tend to like this type of media — there’s something experiential and communal in everyone tuning in to the same program and listening to the same song at the same time.

“Did you hear when Talk Radio Host X said Y about Z last night? Crazy.” There is something about the one-to-many nature of broadcast that makes it human. It’s tribal — tuning in to a message that’s only intended for members of a local group.

For a station, broadcast is efficient — one message suffices for an entire audience. There’s no need to tailor individual messages to each and every listener. That means centralized resources can be devoted more towards programming and advertising than individualizing the message.

Digital channels increases the value of broadcast media

The emergence of digital radio has opened up entirely new opportunities for radio stations.

The biggest opportunity digital channels bring to traditional radio stations is in listener engagement. Where broadcast, and the one-to-many model struggles, is what happens after the radio is shut off.

With its only communication channel voluntarily closed, traditional radio can do very little to get a listener — one it’s built and nurtured and marketed to for years — to turn the radio back on. In broadcast, listener engagement is almost binary.

That’s where digital channels come in. A listener via a mobile app has left open an always-on, 24/7 channel to engage with a station. With this door now open, radio stations can find creative and personalized approaches to get their listeners to turn their radios back on.

How traditional radio stations are using digital to get their listeners back

Getting a user to come back to a station all comes down to push messaging. Push messages are those messages that apps send directly to a user’s home phone screen.

Push messaging has been honed to perfection by social media networks. What’s more enticing than to receive a message that a friend is up to something, but you have to click here to find out just what he’s up to. Facebook built a social network of over 2 billion users on one simple concept: pushing messages to people to come back to the site and join a party — a party their friends are already attending.

Armed with an army of listeners with radio station apps on their phones, stations can use various types of push messages to get listeners to open up their apps and tune back in:

  • Favorite song alerts: Stations can use mobile apps to nudge listeners back to their music or content. If a listener previously likes a song in an app, push messages can be used to alert the listener that a song she likes is playing.
  • Show reminders: A mobile app can easily remind a listener five minutes ahead of a show that she’ll want to log back into her app to listen in.
  • Deep linking: Push messages don’t have to be merely reminders. They can contain links that directly drive a user back to the content a station wants to share.

It’s important to emphasize that push messaging shouldn’t be generic. The more personalized these messages are to a user’s tastes and likes, the more effective push messages become in getting listeners to come back to radio.

Frequency also matters. You have to be strategic in how you frequently you use these messages. Communicate too much and a user will uninstall your app. Use fluffy, generic messages and a user learns to tune them out.

The effect of push messaging on getting listeners back

Nobex paid plans (Plus and Pro) provide this type of push messaging and we have lots of stations around the world using it to get listeners to tune back in. After analyzing traffic and usage patterns of dozens of stations, it’s clear that push messaging works.

spike in listener engagement from a push message to a radio mobile app
Real data from a Nobex Partners client

Take this example, for instance. This is a graph of a daily streaming pattern for one of our larger clients on the platform. You can see the weekly gyrations in listener usage. This station experiences a usual traffic spike at the start of the week and then a general dip, which continues through the weekend.

Look at the traffic explode at the end of March. With a simple push message that took just a few minutes to configure on the Nobex Partners platform, the station successfully spiked its traffic by close to 100%.

Radio app daily listening usage over time with multiple push messages
Multiple push messages and their effect on listener sessions

This graph shows the effect on listening when multiple push messaged are used throughout a day. This Nobex Partners client typically uses 1 or 2 push messages throughout a day to reengage its listeners. You can see how traffic generally spikes when that happens.

The addition of push messaging to a radio station’s tool box is one answer to the question of how to get listeners to tune in more. Using customized messaging tools like the ones we’ve developed at Nobex Partners means radio stations can blend the value of broadcast radio with the power of digital communication.

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