Bridge Ratings Consumer Profile: Satellite Radio


January 31, 2007

Satellite Radio Personas

Like any good, well-positioned product, satellite radio attracts distinct consumers. Based on 2006 interviews, the following entry-level profiles of consumers that may represent a couple of typical market segments for satellite radio:

  • Profile 1: "Cindy" Cindy is a 40-something sales professional who spends a lot of time driving up and down the East Coast to meet with clients. She's smart, tech savvy, and extremely competitive. She suffers from extreme time poverty, but dissatisfaction with local radio and a lack of time to build her own music collection have left her with a iPod full songs she's tired of. She has very diverse tastes, everything from classical to Broadway to classic rock. She's actively seeking better entertainment.

  • Profile 2: "Mark" Mark is a 50-something good ol' boy who lives in Tulsa, OK. He's spontaneous and extremely impatient. He runs his own construction firm and does a decent amount of driving. He's in the market for a new truck, and one of his buddies has been telling him about satellite radio. Mark is a diehard Oklahoma University Sooners fan and overall sports junkie. He listens to a lot of sports shows. His wife, Debbie, is a serious music aficionado. He also has a 17-year-old son, who listens to a lot of rap.

Cindy's Experience on

Cindy was immediately frustrated upon arriving on the XM Radio home page. There's simply nothing that shows her the breadth of music genres she'll be able to listen to. She has no relevant action to take here. Further, XM doesn't answer Cindy's biggest question: what's in it for me? The overall design is dark and uninviting. Yellow text on a maroon background is hard to read.

The "Explore XM Programming" section may provide the information she's looking for, but it's buried below the fold, where she's unlikely to see it. A frustrated and hurried Cindy hits the "Learn About XM" button in the top nav. When the "Learn About XM" page loads, things go downhill, pronto. Cindy still sees no benefit, nor does she get an idea of what types of artists and music she'll be able to listen to. Yet she's presented with a sell and a call to action she's not ready for. She clicked "learn more," but she's just being sold more. Cindy skims a few irrelevant sentences of copy, but seeking immediate gratification she's unwilling (and too busy) to read more about what XM has to sell and completely ignores the second header.

Customers don't want to be pushed, they want to be pulled. Why else would they visit your Web site? Instead, she makes a leap and decides she'd just like to hear what XM has to offer. She clicks "Listen Online."When she arrives on the "Listen Live" page, Cindy feels as if she's on a different site. She isn't sure what to do next. Where's the "play" button? She just wants to listen to some of the music! There's a form to fill out, but she's unwilling to share any personal information, so she gives up. Even if she did want to sign up, would she be able to listen live? (Also note: the yellow "Listen Now" icon in the top right corner simply reloads the same page. Why?)Cindy bails. Sirius, here she comes.

Cindy Arrives on Sirius

Cindy is a competitive, time-starved music aficionado. When she arrives on the Sirius home page, there are no enticing images or elements that provide an impression of the vast music choices she'll have as a subscriber. The color palette is dark and masculine. The light gray"Music" button is almost invisible; Cindy never sees it. Instead she uses the top navigation and clicks the "What's On Sirius" button.On the What's On Sirius page, Cindy becomes frustrated. She still doesn't see genre listings in the active window. If she were a more patient persona, she might have noticed the rollover sub navigation near the top of the page, but she's anything but patient.

Underneath the main banner in the active window, she clicks on "Music."When she lands on the Music page, Cindy still doesn't get any satisfaction. This page looks almost identical to the last one. At the fold, she spots the word "Pop" and scrolls, finally seeing a genre list. She clicks on a drop-down and finds an esoteric listing of names, which isn't helpful. As she scans and scrolls down the entire page, she gets some resolve. Still, she'd like more mentions of specific artists she might hear. This page has no clear subscription call to action. Of course, there's a free online trial button near the top, Cindy never sees it. With no clear action to take, Cindy bails.

Mark's Experience on

When Mark arrives on the home page, he's presented with nothing relevant. He scrolls down, but finds no mention of professional or college sports. Sure, there's a Major League Baseball banner, but this isn't the resolve Mark needs. Frustrated, he figures he can shop around, maybe sports is an add-on, like his NFL Sunday package. He clicks on "Shop XM Radio" in the top nav.

The shopping page is completely useless for Mark. What are these iPods for? What do they do? The banner's distracting and keeps bringing up a pink player; he saw the same thing on the home page. Mark's getting the impression this is a "girly" radio service. He sees nothing about sports here.He does, however, manage to find the "Car Stereo" button on the left. He clicks.On the "car stereo" page, he's presented with a list of car stereos, with no indication why he should choose any of them. Additionally, Mark's confused by the dramatic increase in price from the second to third listing: $99 to $1,700. What? Mark is gone.

This is too much effort for an impatient, spontaneous type. Even if he were a bit methodical, there isn't enough information to justify buying.


Do you wonder what percentage of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by satellite radio in 2006 were sunk into marketing to drive people to XM's Web site investments last year. Did it get its money's worth? Where's the Return on Investment in this marketing? With 20 minutes and a very shallow set of simplistic personas, fatal leaks are evident in how satellite radio sells to two typical segments.

Mark Gets Sirius

Our fun-loving, spontaneous sports fan Mark arrives at the Sirius home page and is immediately greeted with sports elements. Just above the fold, Mark clicks the "Sports" section.The sports section is really exciting for Mark. He sees everything he could possibly want: college, pro, football, basketball, commentary, all these choices are evident. At this point, Mark can click on anything and explore to his heart's content.

The tragedy is Mark will gain resolve for Sirius as an option, but no matter where he goes from this page, he won't encounter any subscription calls to action in the active window. You can point to the near invisible "free online trial" button in the top right-hand column that looks like a banner, but Mark (like Cindy) is likely to miss it due to banner blindness. Mark may be persuaded to subscribe right now, or even to be referred to a local dealer, but he isn't given these opportunities. He leaves interested, but with no clear next step.

Free Advice

After losing a combined $1.5 billion in 2005, Sirius and XM may be willing to take some free advice. Some suggestions:

  • Provide a summary of benefits on the home page. Why not present the total number of channels, hours of programming, genres, and artists subscribers can experience each week?

    Display the price more prominently. How much is the service? Is it too expensive? Why does it seem like you're trying to hide this information?

    Tell visitors how easy it is to get started. Explain how to subscribe. Make it simple. Where do they get equipment? How much do they have to spend? How soon can they start listening?

  • Tell visitors what others have to say. XM and Sirius both have passionate fans. Why aren't they represented on the sites? If you've ever visited the XM fan sites? If so you'd see how persuasive these fans are. It's interesting to us that XM and Sirius never built this into their sites. They don't even offer an obvious link to it.

Kudos to Bryan Eisenberg

Bridge Ratings is a ratings and research company based in Glendale, California. We are dedicated to providing on-going, immediate, reliable, useable and affordable audience measurement services for the radio industry. Our methodology is based on sound consumer research principles. We are in the business of tracking listeners - not listening. Because we are a true research company we offer flexibility


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