Radio Is a Powerful Ad Channel Across the Sales Funnel

Contributor: Todd Kalman, SVP of Sales, Marketron

Radio still has plenty of ears listening. The latest listener data highlights that AM/FM radio is the No. 1 mass-reach audio medium, with 91% of Americans age 18 and older listening monthly. Ad-supported radio also wins in share of ear and time spent listening. These are vital metrics demonstrating that radio is still a dominant presence and the best way for many advertisers to connect with audiences.

However, radio doesn’t get its due as a tactic that drives consumers down the sales funnel. There are misnomers about its ability to create demand and convert it. Many think of it as only good for top-funnel awareness messaging. We shouldn’t be selling radio short on its ability to influence buying decisions from the top to the bottom.

With the widened perspective of what radio can deliver, local media sellers and advertisers should take note of all its capabilities.

Radio Drives Awareness and Much More

Traditionally, you and your advertisers have focused on radio as a tactic to get the word out and become familiar to listeners. Spots run with frequency, helping to build awareness and recall. The philosophy is that if you plant this seed, people will remember the radio ad when they need a service or product. Data suggests this is what happens, as listen-through rates for audio ads are 91%. Additionally, research shows that those exposed to radio ads had an 82% higher ad recall than those who weren’t.

Of course, your creative needs to be engaging and relevant and use simple, branded language. When ads follow best practices, their impact can introduce people into the funnel and keep moving them. We know this because AM/FM radio listeners have a high purchase intent.

Taking Advantage of High Purchase Intent

Purchase intent describes a consumer’s probability of making a purchase. Depending on the product or service, the buying journey can vary in length. It’s much longer for major purchases like cars and shorter for everyday items.

Data confirms that radio listeners are high-intent buyers for many categories, from cars to real estate to meal kits. Thus, radio plays a vital role in buying decisions, and ads can reflect all stages of the sales funnel. What’s crucial in producing outcomes is the content and positioning. It needs to nudge people to do more research or make a decision. Consistent spots do deliver results for advertisers. A study on home improvement radio ads found that they boosted engagement and sales. The ads drove a greater sales lift than TV, with an ROI of $28.82 per $1 spent.

So, how do you get listeners to convert that intent to purchase?

Bottom-Funnel Radio Ads Need to Drive Action

A bottom-funnel radio ad must have a specific conversion goal to start — website visits, calls or foot traffic are common ones. Beginning with the advertiser objective will dictate the copy. Other factors to consider are:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the audience’s pain point?
  • What will make the ad attractive to the audience?

Defining these things will help with any bottom-funnel campaign. Radio is the king of reach, but it’s OK to be more targeted in bottom-funnel content. Let the segment of the listeners that advertisers want to attract know it’s for them.

Other helpful tips for creating high-performing bottom-funnel radio ads include:

  • Generate urgency for promotions and sales: As you know, great deals don’t last forever. Convey that in the message multiple times, along with how to claim it (e.g., in-store, online, etc.).
  • Be specific when the goal is to drive website traffic: The ad should provide a unique URL that’s short and easy to remember. The page should highlight the offer and have a conversion point. It’s a more effective strategy than sending them to the homepage.
  • Ensure language is simple and on brand: Radio ads need to be straightforward and free of jargon. Being clear and concise prevents confusion. Remaining on brand also matters, and the content should follow the company’s voice and tone.
  • Include social proof to build credibility: A radio ad that uses customers’ or employees’ testimonials will create engagement. The reviews of others heavily influence consumers.
  • Lead with benefits, not features: Radio ads should “show,” not tell. How do you do this in an audio medium? Focus on how the product or service solves their problem, which you defined earlier.
  • Get personalities involved for greater engagement: When hosts read the copy and endorse the company, this can go a long way with listeners. Many trust the voices they hear every day and could respond more favorably to these ads.
Radio Is a Full-Funnel Ad Tactic

We shouldn’t limit the capacity of radio ads to top-funnel tactics. They perform well here, but there’s more that spots can do for advertisers. They create and convert demand with a reach that outperforms other types of media. When talking to clients about how they want to use ads, broaden their perspectives with this data and ideas. When executed well, radio is a revenue boost for you and your advertisers.


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