Does Radio Advertising Work? Here's How to Do It Right

Bob Leighton
Last updated by Bob Leighton

We are moving forward steadily through 2018; it's hard to believe that fourth quarter is just around the bend. Things move fast, so I am going to ask you to pause and take a look around. Is everything digital, social, connected, and a little too obtrusive when it comes to advertising? It might seem that way.

Today, more than ever, digital marketing captures a significant portion of advertising dollars, and because of that many people are quick to assume that "radio doesn't work." However, to the contrary, this channel provides many benefits to your business campaigns. Radio is America's number one reach medium and the local nature of many stations allows advertisers to target specific regions, genres, and audiences. You do face a learning curve when adding radio advertising to your marketing strategy, so it's wise to approach it like a marathon rather than a sprint.

Many of our current Leighton Media clients have had experiences, in the past, with radio not working. We openly discuss that topic when we begin collaborating just to clear up any misconceptions or address any particular pain points with radio. Just as with any advertising channel or medium, there are certain nuances and best practices that apply.

Here's Where Radio Advertising Gets a Bad Rap

Does Radio Advertising Work? Here's How to Do It Right

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming radio is an outdated advertising channel.

A large percentage of the population turns on the radio when they're commuting to work or just driving around town. Businesses keep music stations on for background noise, for both employees and customers. Technology hasn't replaced radio; it's simply expanded its reach. Once you understand that this marketing channel makes perfect sense in modern advertising campaigns, the rest comes easy.

Radio advertising is typically more expensive than some of your online tactics, such as PPC. You need to pay close attention to every aspect of your radio ad so you get the results you want. Execution must be spot-on if you want to run shorter campaigns, as mistakes at this stage often make people think that radio doesn't work. I recommend that you rely on your radio rep's expertise to maximize your budget and pinpoint issues with your proposed campaign.

Station selection is another area that can trip you up. Though radio advertising reaches a broad audience, you can narrow down the demographics by paying attention to the type of programming available. For example, millennials often listen to Top 40 stations, while people 55+ listen to the news or other talk stations.

How to Prove Your Radio Advertising Works

Once you have a strong radio advertising campaign in place, it's time to look at how you can track the results. You might not be able to drop a tracking cookie on radio listeners, but you do have several ways to get performance data for this offline campaign. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Custom URL: A newly registered domain associated with each campaign gives you the opportunity to track traffic generated from these ads. You put a redirect in place so the listener is seamlessly sent to your main website.
  • Custom Landing Page: You do not have to add dozens or hundreds of domains to stay on top of radio traffic. A custom landing page is almost as effective and allows you to present listeners with a personalized message. You need to make sure that the landing page URL is simple to type. Some listeners will only type in the base domain, so this method won't register 100 percent of your radio traffic.
  • Discount Codes: This method is the easiest of the three if you're only interested in conversion data. Mention a discount code that's unique to the radio campaign, and keep an eye on your orders. You can't track raw traffic, but you can find out whether radio is a good fit for your products. 

Radio is far from dead, so don't overlook this highly effective marketing channel. When you do radio right, your business will benefit.

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