4 Reasons Why Readability Really Matters
Imagine spending hours, days even, on creating an incredible blog post, sales letter, or email series just to have absolutely no one read it. And imagine traffic isn’t even the problem!
Your analytics show you that people are coming to the page, but leaving almost as soon as they show up. How would that make you feel? Most likely fairly frustrated or like your time was wasted, right?
Well in the world of digital marketing this happens far too often. And the majority of the time it has less to do with the actual quality of the content, and everything to do with how it looks and reads. We call this readability and just a few tweaks can make an immediate impact.
What Exactly Is Readability?
According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, readability is simply defined as “able to be read easily; such as legible or interesting to read.”.
To expand upon that a little more, readability takes into account everything from how the content appears on the page to how complicated the writing is.
Have you ever read a legal contract and been put to sleep? What do you think would happen if you used that same sort of style and tone in your emails? Exactly. They’d either never get read or lead to a mass exodus of even your most loyal of followers.
Luckily there are a few quick fixes which can instantly improve both your content and how it’s read. And in our world of Knowledge Commerce where we sell our unique expertise via online courses, membership sites, and other digital products…
The more you can get someone to read your marketing, the better chance you have of getting them to take that next action. Whatever that may be.
So let’s dive into the 4 reasons why readability really matters and how you can apply some “quick fixes” to improve every piece you put out.
4 Reasons & Prescriptions For Readability Improvement
#1: Clutter & Distractions
Ready for some tough love? For the most part, your prospects and even most of your customers aren’t sitting anxiously in front of their phones and computers waiting for your next post. Some are...but most aren’t.
And that’s ok! The faster you embrace this sort of reality, the faster you’ll succeed in the way you create content. Here’s what you want to be crystal clear on…
Your prospects are bombarded every day with clutter, just like you are! Many have thousands of unread emails, earmarked posts which they’ll get back to “one day”, and a non-stop barrage of new content being flooded in at them every second of every day
The online marketing world is one of consistent clutter.
And again…this is only “bad news” to those who are either blind to it, or choose to do nothing about it. Since you’re neither, it actually creates an environment for you to thrive!
So here’s the prescription to increase readability in the midst of so much clutter…
Speak Clearly, Directly, & Emotionally To Your Prospects Top Problems!
In journalism, there’s a phrase called “burying the lead” where a newer journalist unintentionally buries the most important part of the story too far down that the reader never finds it. Obviously, this hurts the performance of that piece.
The next time you write a marketing email, Facebook post, or any other kind of marketing content, remember this acronym…
WIIFM: “What’s In It For Me”
Your prospect reads everything through this lens and so do you. And like most of us, problems are typically right there towards the top of what we’re interested in. Either solving the ones we’ve got or avoiding the ones coming our way.
So stand out from the clutter and increase the readability by not “burying the lead” and focusing more on the pressing problems of your prospect.
#2: Entertainment Over Education
Look around you and what sort of marketing do you see standing out, getting noticed, and ultimately getting read? The type that incorporates a fair dose of entertainment.
This is true both online and offline, in print media and in digital media, and in nearly every medium you can find. You for sure see it in mainstream news.
How is readability impacted by weaving entertainment into your content and copy? Well remember this simple phrase and it’ll be a guiding light helping you to navigate into the minds of even your most guarded prospects…
No one will be bored in print!
Replace the word print for a Facebook ad, email, webinar, or any other selling medium and it’s still just as true. If you’re content looks, feels, or reads in a boring way, the readability is obviously negatively impacted.
The quick cure? Interweave entertainment and education as best you can.
Watch how other marketers do it and watch how the mainstream news does it. When you’re aware to it you’ll start to see it all around you.
As a Knowledge Commerce entrepreneur, you actually have a huge advantage over other more traditional businesses. Most of you don’t answer to anyone. You can test anything you want at the drop of a hat. You can infuse your content with entertainment in whatever you see fit.
So do it! Find ways to include your personality, tell fun stories, or incorporate unique ideas to capture the attention of your readers.
#3: Make It Easy On The Eyes
Even if you don’t change a single word, this quick fix can make an immediate increase in the readability of your content and marketing material.
You’ve undoubtedly seen someone post something on Facebook without ever gracing the reader with a single press of the “Enter” button, haven’t you? Sometimes people will leave a “TLDR” (too long didn’t read) or some other sarcastic remark.
Well, what if what that person just posted were directions to where he had buried his vast family treasure and the first person who found it would have full claim to every dime?
That’s why readability matters. Most likely the majority of people, if not all, quickly glanced at the huge block of text, heard an alert go off in their brain “too long don’t read”, and kept scrolling.
Now imagine this same person leads with the headline…
“Follow These Directions To Find $1,000,000 - This Is Not A Joke”
...and then kept the following content simple, spaced out, and easy to quickly read at a glance.
Would’ve made a huge difference right?
It could’ve been the exact same words just formatted differently and the readability would’ve jumped instantly.
Sometimes in effective content creation, you have to set aside the “proper” writing style or structures you were taught in grade school in order to better connect with your audience. Do you still want to use the correct grammar as much as possible? Of course.
But above all else you’re writing to evoke an action, not to win a literary award.
So feel free to have one-word sentences, 1-2 sentence paragraphs, or to format your content in whatever way to best entice the reader to get into it.
If you can get your reader to at least start reading, you’ll be far and above most others.
#4: Keep It Simple
In the above paragraphs, we mainly focused on how the format of your content dictates how it’s perceived. If it looks hard to read, most won’t even attempt it. In this final tip, we’d like to provide some suggestions on the content itself.
The mistake we see many digital marketers make in everything from blog posts to email marketing is their content is too complex. Big words, lengthy explanations, and a tone which is more likely to be found in a text-book than an online conversation.
For some, this can be quite a struggle, because keeping it simple is actually difficult to do.
But here are just three quick fixes that if you apply them, you’ll see immediate improvements…
- Write as you talk. You want your content, copy, and anything which you put out to feel like a conversation between to people. Be normal. Use slang. Keep it casual when appropriate.
- Use simple words which are easy to understand. If you think your audience might need a dictionary for something you just wrote, see if you could write it another way. The key here is not to impress, but to create clarity.
- You don’t have to tell the whole story. Sometimes we feel like we have to explain every step or process to whatever it is we’re talking about. But that’s not always needed. Your goal instead is to share enough to get the click.
One quick way to review the readability of your content or copy is to insert it into a program like Grammarly, The Hemingway App, or simply googling “Flesch-Kincaid tool”. Each one of these programs will instantly score both your grammar, style, and readability score.
Increase Readability & Increase Conversions
Ultimately the reason readability is so critical is that it positively impacts your conversions. The more people who read what you put out, whether copy or content, the more people who will buy your online course or digital product.
By following the 4 quick fixes below, you’ll be helping to turn more visitors into leads and leads into customers.
#1: Speak Clearly, Directly, & Emotionally To Your Prospects Top Problems!
#2: Interweave Entertainment & Education
#3: Make It Look Easy On The Eyes
#4: Write As You Talk
Unsure Of What To Sell?
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