Did you know there are more than 44,000 radio stations worldwide? Radio is still as relevant today as it was a century ago when it was first invented.

Getting (and retaining) listeners is one of the key goals of any radio station. This involves creating fresh, quality content and making it easy for listeners to tune in to a show and participate. This post explains how text messaging is a brilliant tool to help with that.

How radio stations can benefit from text messaging

Text messaging offers plenty of scope to grow your radio audience and increase listener engagement. It enables you to:

  • Easily interact with listeners – and get their feedback on what they'd like to hear from your radio station. It can be cheaper for people to text in rather than call a radio station (depending on the call length and whether a premium phone number is used).

  • Mix up your show content – having regular breaks where listeners can enter a competition or vote on song choices for the next hour makes your show more dynamic and interesting.

  • Generate new material – through audience participation, you can gather listener stories, opinions and questions to inform future show topics.

  • Reward listeners – with exclusive offers, deals and incentives to keep them coming back for more. Your audience could either text in to receive their reward, or you can send an outbound promotional text message campaign to them (once you have a list of subscribers).

  • Attract advertisers – your listeners will be the target audience for certain businesses. Offering advertisers sponsored text campaigns is a great way to generate more income from your radio station.

SMS radio use cases and examples

Here are seven ways you can use mobile messaging to capture the attention and loyalty of your radio show listeners.

1. Song requests

Encouraging listeners to text in the music they want to hear helps keep them engaged for longer. They're not likely to switch channels or turn off the radio until their favourite song has been played.

Listener texting in with song request

2. Texting contests

A radio contest is a fun way to keep listeners engaged and reward them for their loyalty. Examples of radio contests include:

  • Name that tune – where the first listener to text in with the correct song title and artist wins a prize.

  • 'Just for fun' music trivia quiz – allow your audience to get their thinking caps on and test their knowledge of a particular genre of music. You could offer prizes for the most correct answers or choose a handful of contestants to battle it out against each other. Hold the quiz on a set day and time every week, so your listeners know when to expect it.

  • Photo contest – participants text in a funny photo, and you post your favourite on your website (this has the added benefit of driving traffic to your site).

3. Host giveaways

Team up with local brands and businesses to offer great giveaway prizes in return for a mention. Typically, you'd ask listeners to text the answer to a question to enter the giveaway and then pick the winner randomly.

4. Audience poll

Poll your listeners via text messages to get an idea of what content from your show they like or dislike. It's crucial to request feedback regularly, as listener habits tend to change over time.

5. Live voting

This is similar to a poll, except you'd be gathering responses from incoming messages in real-time, enabling you to interact with your audience live. You could send out a question to help influence your show content that day, e.g. "Do you want to hear Ed Sheeran songs today? Vote Y/N."

You could even use live voting to gather information for businesses (in return for a fee), e.g. "Who's the hardest to shop for at Christmas? 1. Partner. 2. Friends. 3. Family. 4. Co-workers. Vote 1,2,3 or 4."

Example of live voting by text message

6. Third-party advertising campaigns

Radio broadcast advertising is incredibly effective – according to one study, radio delivers a £7.70 return on investment for every pound spent. And it can drive immediate results, boosting brand browsing online by 52% on average.

Offering text message advertising as well as broadcast advertising creates an additional income stream. You could create various promotional SMS campaigns for businesses, including special offers, flash sales, new product launches and more.

7. Local alerts

SMS is an excellent tool for communicating time-sensitive information – texts are sent and delivered virtually instantly. Why not use text messaging to update local listeners on weather forecasts or traffic updates?

Example weather warning alert

Getting started with SMS messages

There are a few straightforward steps involved with setting up text messaging for your radio station. These are:

1. Choose an SMS provider

This is a service that acts as a gateway between your business and the mobile phone networks. It enables you to send out text messages in bulk, manage your subscriber list, conduct analysis, and get support with your campaigns if needed. Make sure to set up two-way text messaging so you can receive messages as well as send them.

2. Start collecting subscribers

Through your SMS provider, you could set up a shortcode number and ask listeners to text the number to opt-in. Or you could create a landing page on your radio station website with a data capture form.

With Messente, you can easily upload subscriber lists from a range of formats into the software ready for sending campaigns. Note – ensure your subscribers know what type of SMS messages they'll be getting from you at the point of collecting opt-ins.

3. Inform your listeners and potential advertisers

Start encouraging listeners to text in with text-to-win contests, quizzes, and polls. Regularly remind listeners how they can sign up to your subscriber list for special offers, live voting and more.

Create a page on your website for interested advertisers that explains the benefits of SMS marketing to your listeners. Include your audience numbers and target demographic, plus advertising packages and prices.

4. Create outbound SMS campaigns

Communicate with your subscriber list through third-party SMS marketing campaigns, feedback requests, audience polls and local alerts. It takes just a few minutes to write your message and send it to your entire list.

Ready to get started texting with Messente? Sign up for your free account today to explore our simple solution.