Using Search to Boost Local Radio Campaigns

We’re the first to argue that there is no single medium that reaches local audiences as powerfully as radio. But these days, no single medium, no matter how powerful, can’t benefit from digital amplification.

Marketers have put a lot of effort into creating a great cross-platform experience between TV and digital. You can’t miss the ubiquity of Twitter hashtags on your TV screen. But radio marketers have been less aggressive because it’s less clear how to combine mediums. The first challenge is that nearly half of radio’s 13-35 demographic is in a car. This is a powerful phenomenon but it also poses some unique challenges.

car-audioEven though tablets, PCs and mobile phones (in theory) are out of reach for radio’s car listeners, this audience is simultaneously  more captive, less distracted and, more often than not, just a turn signal away from a purchase.

Livio, one interesting startup, is trying to take this one step further. They’ve created a prototype that  connects your smartphone to your radio while you drive. Hear an ad for a steakhouse while you’re hungry? Hit a button, and Livio will plug the address into your GPS.

But even without technological ways of bridging the gap between audio streams and purchasing, marketers have plenty of other routes to explore. No local campaign is complete without some of these  radio-to-digital basics.

Aural signatures are undeniably powerful way to establish brand recognition. But when people are taking that final step to procure a local good or service, there’s a good chance they’re using through Google. They’ll remember a catchy jingle, but it’s critically important that they can quickly complete the transaction digitally.

As SearchEngineWatch reports, “Ninety percent of consumers now use search engines to shop locally; these queries are happening from the desktop, on the mobile web, in apps, from maps, and even from GPS and other in-vehicle devices.”

That means a few things to marketers. Firstly, search engines are an invaluable component of any local campaign but they’re best utilized after establishing a brand’s resonance. Users may be searching for “Cambridge auto-repair” or “Kalamazoo interior design,” but it’s the brand recognition from other platforms that will make you stand out amongst competitors.

With that in mind, there are two prongs to any Google strategy. Search engine optimization and adwords.

The first can be tricky. SEO is the process of having your website appear atop the “organic” part of Google’s search results. Businesses are regularly bombarded by quick fix “SEO experts” who promise top spots in search results, but the reality is that it usually takes time to have your business be the first or second result.

More often than not, good SEO consists of creating great content that people want to read and share. Company blogs are their own art in the SEO field, often referred to as “inbound marketing.” Being on the first page of Google means life or death for some companies, and being the first organic result can capture as much as 33% of that term’s search traffic. And marketers would also be wise to make sure their business is on Google places to get maximum exposure from Google.

Otherwise, marketers will have to get to the top of the search results with paid advertising. It can be equally effective, and has become an industry in its own right, but truly capturing as much traffic from “Kalamazoo interior design,” either through paid Google ads or organic rankings, will still rely on the brand recognition that comes from radio.

But of course, getting consumers to your web platforms is only half the battle. Marketers need to make sure their web presence is fine tuned. Are your landing pages designed to convert those consumers into sales? Will users looking for you on social media find a barren, content-free desert, or a vibrant community that is engaged with your project? Will users who are on the road be able to find a mobile-friendly version of your website when trying to locate your business?

Plenty of marketers tout their native platform as the best – digital, TV, radio, print, etc. But here at the Altitude Group, we believe that the best elements of each platform work best together in harmony. We specialize in reaching local audiences, apps like Foursquare and services like Google Places provide amazing ways to connect local communities digitally. The question is not which is better, it’s how they can best work together.