Chapter 7: How to Know Radio Is Really Working
Every campaign and each element of a campaign should be driven by one thing: Results. Hard data will let you keep your campaign in perspective and objectively analyze what did or did not work. Develop a strategy ahead of time to identify what KPIs to monitor, develop benchmark goals to ensure your campaign is on track, and reflect on results as opportunities to improve future campaigns.
Ensure you have the means to track which elements of your campaign are driving results. For instance, your paid social media ad might lead to a different landing page than the URL given in your print magazine ad, or your radio spot lists a unique phone number to track. Hashtags and unique codes can also help indicate attribution. However, you also need to remember to view your channels holistically — the path to purchase is extremely fragmented, so the last interaction a customer had with your brand may not be wholly responsible for their decision to act or convert.
Commit to A/B testing to pinpoint the best call-to-action or creative execution. This data will give you a snapshot of what you can expect when the ad actively runs and help ensure you’re observing the best KPIs for success.
Impact on Your Business Goals
When you developed goals for your radio campaign, that should give you clear guidelines for what your campaign is intended to accomplish. Watch for lifts in foot traffic, web traffic, leads, and especially revenue over an appropriately corresponding time frame to objectively determine whether the campaign has benefitted your business. (Remember, awareness campaigns take time to build momentum and yield results.)
The Campaign Is Generating New Leads
Another key factor is actually generating leads with your advertising. The results we mention in the first point aren't necessarily the same thing, just as tracking metrics and their results aren't the same as understanding your ROI. New Leads are an extension of those results, carrying the listener from simply visiting your website — to keep with our previous example — into taking steps to find out more about your business in a way that leads them closer to conversion. For example, if the landing page features another call to action that has them exchange particular information in order learn more, sign up for your newsletter, or download related content.
Of course, to ensure that these new leads are due to your radio campaign, you'll need a way to determine attribution. Sometimes, that means using a phone number that's only featured in the radio ad; however, you'll need to have a number that's easy to remember, especially if your ad will air during popular drive times, when people can't immediately reach for their phones.
Alternate ideas can include catchy short URLs, CTAs that include a code specific to the radio ad which can in turn be entered when they fill out lead forms, and hashtags for social media engagement. It's important to remember to avoid weak methods of attribution, including the "mention this ad" schtick or "check off where you heard about us" forms.
Reliance on Data
You may be familiar with the old advertising tactic, “mention this ad,” but it’s actually a horrible way to gauge ad effectiveness or ROI. We’ve written about it before, but this kind of ad doesn’t provide a true CTA, and thus it isn’t very compelling and is historically very inaccurate. Worse still, it doesn’t provide a dependable means for tracking -- it relies too much on the customer and their ability to remember exactly how they experienced your ad in spite of just how many ads they experience across multiple channels every day. It also puts the burden on your employees to ensure they’re actually asking these questions when they should be focusing on customer service and getting the sale.
Hard data, on the other hand, is critical for determining how effective a campaign is and being able to course correct when a campaign isn’t performing, not to mention ensuring you’ll avoid the same mistakes in your next campaign. Hard data includes actual number of leads generated, new customers, sales of a certain product during a certain time period, or year over year growth just to name a few.
Bonus Tip: It’s About the CTA
When it comes to tracking your marketing ROI -- whether on the radio or almost anywhere else -- one of the most important things to keep in mind is your CTA (or call-to-action). Here’s how to know if your CTA isn’t making the cut:
1. You're Not Seeing Results
While this might seem pretty simple, it’s something marketers surprisingly overlook at times. There’s always a bias to sticking to what you’re doing. But if your marketing isn’t generating results or conversions, it’s probably a good time to look at your call to action and see what potential improvements might be made.
2. Your Call to Action Is Vague
People respond best to clear instructions and low barriers to completing action. Is your CTA clear for the listener or viewer in terms of what their next steps are? What exactly will they receive by taking the next steps, and why exactly should they engage? Overall, keep your CTAs clear and to the point, prompting people to take only a single action (not a variety of different ones). According to radio advertising best practices, you’ll want to define the action clearly and make it easy to understand, as the listener may not be in the position to stop and write down information while they’re listening in the car.
3. Bland Language That Doesn't Convey Urgency
Without a captivating message that sparks the listener’s imagination, your CTA will simply fall on deaf ears. A radio ad, for example, should tell the consumer to do something like “Visit our website to claim today’s exclusive promo code.” This makes them excited that it’s an exclusive special that will only be available for a limited time. If your ad simply asks them to call a phone number, you won’t find many people that will find any urgent reason to do so.
4. You're Not Speaking Your Audience's Language
Although your CTA might be clear and concise, if it doesn’t relate specifically to your audience you might be in trouble. On one end of the spectrum, it might be too industry specific or jargon heavy. On the other hand, maybe your messaging is simply missing the correct audience you intend to be targeting. You’ll want to use language in your radio ads that speaks not just to the consumer group you’re targeting, but also to their motivations.
5. Your CTA Is Too Close to the Competition
While it’s ok to use messaging that’s acceptable within a certain industry, if your CTA sounds too close to what your competition is using, your call to action is bound to get lost in the shuffle. You can definitely use some inspiration from your competitors, but certainly avoid directly copying what they are offering or how they’re utilizing their CTAs. The bottom line is if your call to action sounds like it’s copied from a competitor, it won’t allow you to build your own individual business or brand.
Now, go back and take a look at your calls to action, particularly in your radio ads. You’ll then be able to determine if your marketing needs a stronger call to action and adjust your CTA game plan accordingly.