Watch for Missing Prospect Details that Tank Marketing Success

Mask against blue background shows results of incomplete prospect details
Lack of details hides your prospect behind a mask.

In today’s business environment, everything needs to be customer-focused. If you have gaps in your prospect details, it holds back your success. It doesn’t matter whether you are dealing with B2B or B2C, you are dealing with a human who is making the buying decision. 

You need to have a clear picture of who that human is regardless of whether you’re selling a supplement, coaching services, or writing a book.

Do missing prospect details hide your target behind a mask?

Ever seen one of those superhero shows like the Arrow? (Courtesy of DC Comics.) It’s their answer to the Marvel superheroes with all the different characters slipping in and out of the series instead of in separate shows. 

The challenge is when someone new shows up, you really don’t know who they are. It’s very similar to having incomplete prospect details.  You can say, “I deal with upscale clients who charge premium fees to coach people.”

Okay, that’s valuable but there is still a lot we don’t know. It’s like people with LinkedIn profiles with just the avatar silhouette instead of a picture and nothing filled out in their profile section.

We can’t tell if they might be a match for us to network with because we don’t know or can’t find out much about them.

What I learned when I mentored students

I’ve seen this situation over and over with career students and professionals. It’s really prevalent in the beauty and spa industry.  The thought is “My client is everyone.” 

Well, probably not.

While they may deal with people from 18 to 80, there is a sweet spot in there they haven’t identified. It’s based on their personal strengths and interests.  If they want to be a waxing diva, they should be narrowing the age group to those 18-38. Acne specialists, probably the same. Anti-aging specialists focus on slightly different demographics.

And there are a lot more demographics, professional and personal traits as well as goals and challenges that could enhance their marketing efforts.

What many people miss about a prospect’s details

Having an incomplete avatar or customer persona can cost businesses money.  It’s like trying to throw darts blindfolded or typing with a pair of welder’s gloves on. The results are more hit or miss and the rate of reader engagement drops significantly.  

A detailed persona allows you to segment marketing and to speak one-to-one with the reader. It allows you to build a bond of know, like, and trust with them. This keeps them coming back and increases your lifetime customer value.

Here are three tips to completing your prospect’s details

It takes a little digging but completing your prospect persona is well worth the effort. Think about the difference in a conversation between someone you don’t know with a friend. The goal is to make your target audience feel like you are a friend. To do that we need to know everything about them we can.

Demographics

These are the numbers and statistics that can help us market to the person.  Age, gender, location, income, and education are all components. Political alignment, military service, I find that it really helps my clients when I use the persona techniques to create an avatar. It becomes someone they can picture in their head.

In some cases, the business owner had a challenge and created a solution that they want to share with others. In that scenario, they may be their own ideal customer.  One of my clients falls into this category. Because of a horrible experience with an aging parent, he resolved to change the most dangerous room in the home. His specialty is products and consulting to age safely in your home. His story became the brand’s story.

Psychographics

Unlike demographics which deal with statistical data, psychographics deal with mindset. It deeply impacts each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Attitudes, values, beliefs, challenges, and aspirations are all important components. They guide us to where and how the person gathers information and makes decisions.

Psychographics determine what types of groups the person may affiliate with or events they may attend. They also indicate favored information sources. 

Using psychographics can allow you to have content that really meshes with your prospect’s mindset and engage them. 

In essence, both demographics and psychographic allow your marketing efforts to have significantly higher ROI analytics and sales. But for success, those prospect details must be combined with the shopper’s intent.

Intent

In marketing your product or service, the shopper’s intent is everything.  We need to know where the viewer is in their decision-making journey.  For each phase of intent in the buying journey, you need individually crafted content. You use the prospect details to hone in on what matters to them. The higher the item’s price, the longer the searcher will spend in each stage.

Research

In this phase, the visitor is learning about the product or service. They are gathering information. They are looking for informational sites, but they also check out reviews.

When you start typing something you want to search for information about, Google Suggest will activate and try to anticipate your need or goal.  Based on how previous searchers had responded, Google will present answers it best aligns with the words you used in your search.

The best way to create research content is to plug in words you suspect the searcher may use. The higher the number of responses equates to how popular a search term these words were.

Whenever possible, tap into your prospect in the research stage. Use the prospect details to engage and start building trust with them. You want to give them everything they need to make an informed decision. That’s quality content.

It’s great to link to additional resources on your website that may deal with information or friction solving. You can also add a link to a compare page, the next phase of intent.

Compare

Comparing can have some overlap with research.  Reading reviews may give them research answers but it can also allow them to compare brands and see why yours is the best choice.

Creating pages that compare your brand to other well-known brands right on your website can be great. They help the searcher and build more trust.

With most visitors, tucked in their prospect details are the issues that frustrate them. It can be as simple as being an established customer but being treated as a prospect by customer service. It is important to address friction points if you want to maximize engagement.

As with research, providing additional information links is a good idea. It might be content on how to use the item.  Then make it easy for them to make a purchase. 

Buy

Keep it simple for the shopper to make their purchase. Share testimonials and reviews to make them feel positive about their buying decision.

Share links that may address FAQs in case there is residual resistance. Also, share tips for having maximum success with the product once purchased.

Success 

Many companies miss the value of offering content that enhances successful ownership.  This can lead to frustration or even returns.

How-to guides of all sorts make ideal success content.  A link to a Facebook user’s group is another option. 

This segment is an ideal place to include content that deals with the concerns or issues the customer service department hear from buyers. 

Use it as a stage that lets the buyer know you are there for them now and in the future. Bond them into loyal repeat customers with high lifetime value.

When I work with clients

We start with evaluating their prospect’s details. If there are details missing, addressing them first will allow the marketing to be more targeted, engaging, and have a higher return on investment.  Need help with your avatar? Message me.

For more on understanding customers, check out this article “Let’s Humanize Marketing.”

Check out this to enhance your customer experience: Customer Experience Enhancers Increase $$$

Want to boost your marketing ROI? This article gives you tips.

B2B Buyers Want B2C Shopping in 2021!

B2B buyers now want shopping to reflect that of their B2C experience. The lines are blurring.
B2B shoppers want B2C experiences

The face of marketing to B2B buyers is rapidly changing, and there is a lot of somewhat confusing information out there.  After sifting through mountains of information, I found three keys B2B buyers desire when looking for a solution.

In one sentence—B2B buyers want their experience to mirror their B2C personal shopping experiences.

My own experience as a B2B buyer

One of the hats I’ve worn was as the buyer for the B2B division of my company. As a distributor, we purchased from the manufacturer and sold to professionals who used the product in their retail businesses.

The twist is that I also handled customer service. So I felt keenly aware of our customer’s pain points and needs. I wasn’t randomly shopping for new items to add to our professional collection.  I was only open to things that could seamlessly integrate into our B2B buyer’s needs.  

Regularly, I got pitches from all sorts of companies who thought they had the hottest item on the market.  Many were duplicates of what we already carried.  Others were selling items unrelated to our niche. A third group sold devices only legal for medical professionals to purchase—less than 5% of our buyers.

Many were non-US-based firms wanting us to import their items. They’d gotten our contact information from who knew where and were mass marketing.  It was immediately clear from the pitch email the sender knew nothing about our business.  

  • I didn’t know the email sender. 
  • Their spam approach screamed at me. 
  • There had been no attempts to build trust. 

It felt like a guy trying to get you to jump into bed at the first meeting. Ick. Turn and sprint away.

The companies I built relationships with were for the long term.  We wanted products that our buyers could trust would be there and always meet specific performance standards.  They were companies we learned we could depend on.  

Trust was a huge factor.  Support and accessibility to information, quick customer support, and a willingness to work with us to resolve any challenges. 

We’ve done business with one of these firms for well over 20 years. It’s not something the buyer thinks of, but I can’t even guesstimate the CLV of our monthly purchases over that time frame. 

B2B Buyers and Marketers have a lot in common.

With years as both a marketer and a B2B buyer, I’ve noticed the two have a lot in common. Both are putting their business, reputations, and jobs on the line with every purchase they make.

Both buyers and marketers are deluged with proposals and pitches. They both have to sort through masses of emails to identify any nugget that might be of real benefit to their business situation.

Recognizing those experiences and the similarities have helped me help my marketing clients. We build the relationship as team partners to discover solutions and create a strong ROI. Perfectly done with a successful marketing campaign or project, it’s a win-win for both.  

Here’s a secret to keep in mind…

Stakeholders view things differently—it’s vital to recognize that each person with a stake in the decision views the process a little differently. They come at it from different departments, different needs, and even different goals. As a result, their risk factors may be higher, and decisions more complex. 

They may need different types of answers. Communications need to help each person feel comfortable with the decision. 

We need to keep in mind, each stakeholder probably feels their reputation and job is on the line. It’s not about our marketing. It’s about their comfort zone. So focus on answering their needs with relevant information, including the know, like, and trust factors. Easily accessible information and answers are the best paths to help them decide to buy.

3 key ways to help your B2B buyer

When we focus on the B2B buyer’s needs, it is all about quickly and efficiently helping them find what they need.  Depending on the type of B2B that you work with, this can be very complex. 

The higher the ticket price, the more information, details, and data are needed to support the decision—and the more people will be involved. It’s a longer, more complex process with higher stakes.

Content – useable, findable, relevant

Buyers need detailed information designed for quick, easy consumption.  They may or may not be the technician or engineer working with a complex piece of equipment.  However, they may be responsible for identifying possible solutions and then sharing them for input before making a decision.  

Keep in mind B2B buyers want content as quickly readable as when they do their B2C shopping. So make layout and content designed for easy reading and rapid assimilation.  Include whitespace, supporting graphics, and bulleted lists.

Offer cross-links and “also relevant” links to help them find additional information.

Be sensitive to what’s happening in the real world.  We’ve been through a lot of turmoil in the last 18 months. Now things with a twang of nostalgia offer comfort and a sense of security.  However, include nostalgia only if it fits and makes sense.  

Be interactive

B2B buyers are looking for instant information. They don’t want to send an email and wait a week for an answer.  The best interaction helps them quickly find what they need, now.

AI, chatbots, and the like can fill in an interactive gap.  Of course, the better they interact and offer more specific answers, the more valuable they become.

Include all the frequently asked questions your customer service team hears.  The more you include, the happier the buyer will be.  

Analyze surveys or questions that have come up on social media. These offer tidbits of information the buyer needs. 

Make the interaction smooth. Create a feeling of ease that includes transfers across support services. In addition, increased seamlessness increases the buyer satisfaction rate.

Retention saves B2B relationships and dollars.

Having a great experience and a trusting relationship make the buyer’s next purchasing decision more straightforward. If there is plenty of retention-focused TLC, you become their trusted resource.

Trust is imperative to keep the buyer coming back. Help them feel valued, respected and that you are there as a team partner to solve problems. 

The results?  A higher customer lifetime value and wins for both buyers and marketers.


Judith Culp Pearson is a result-oriented relationship-building and empathy-based marketer specializing in B2B wellness and information. Reach her at judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

Is Your Website Dated?

Slow, sluggish websites are dated and costing you money

Your business is constantly evolving. If you don’t keep your website on pace with those changes, it leaves customers in the dark—or even misinforms them. Your website is dated.

Your website is not a static brochure. Instead, it is a living document reflecting your business and how you interact with visitors and customers.

Current relevant information?

One of my colleagues has a service-based business in the beauty/spa niche. She has always been super focused on keeping her clients safe and protected before and during the pandemic. I know she has worked hard to exceed every recommendation by the state health department.

Recently, she completed a major expansion, so I visited her website to see what changes she might have implemented.  

I was more than a little stunned to find absolutely nothing about safety precautions on her website. 

Some services include breaking the skin barrier as in skin pigmentation (aka permanent cosmetics or tattooing.) Yet, there was nothing about current policies, extra disinfecting steps, or protocols to keep staff and customers safe. 

Unfortunately, it came across that they either don’t think there are any concerns or that they aren’t doing anything.

A key attribute of what makes her Unique is entirely missing. Despite what I knew, it made me pause to consider how I would feel about going into the business. There were no confidence builders—trust factors. Her website is dated.

Dated website or missing information will cost you $$$

I’ve seen this with many businesses I’ve worked with over the years.  A company creates a website, and then the focus shifts away from it.  The website stops getting attention. It’s no longer a daily, weekly, monthly maintenance component, like ordering supplies or doing a social media post.  

When a website sits static or doesn’t have what viewers are looking for, search engines start skipping it. Lack of activity, updates, or revisions and it starts to disappear. 

A sluggish, slow, dated website discourages visitors, and your business can enter a downward spiral.  

Consider all the components behind the scenes and those that are visitor-facing.  What can you delegate? What do you have time and the skillsets to handle yourself? 

I know I’ll never keep up with daily or weekly behind-the-scenes tasks. I want my web host to handle those. Backups, system and component updates, performance checks

Remember that poor performance, slow-loading images, and dated or missing information each carry a price tag. You may have to pay for it to be there. You will also pay for it not being there.

Consider what concerns your visitors and customers may have specific to your business niche. For example, for restaurants and services, it may be health and safety. 

For others like suppliers, vendors, or manufacturers, it may be product availability.  

Guidelines keep changing and will continue to do so. So we must continue to address these issues and make sure the most up-to-date information is readily available without them having to ask.

Secret:

Nothing happens until it makes your calendar. So the easiest way to keep your website on target is to add web checks and updates to your task calendar. 

I note on my calendar tasks that I need to do and how frequently they need action. For the delegated tasks, you do need to periodically spot-check their completion.  

Consider things like: 

  • Images tagged with alternative descriptions
  • Images optimized for quick loading
  • Videos optimized for loading speed and performance
  • Broken links repaired
  • Backlinks and cross-links to optimize SEO

Treat web updates and optimization with equal importance to any other aspect of your marketing.

Three techniques to improve content

Confidence building pages

There are three vital confidence-building pages—the about you page, the spam protection page, and the privacy page.  

The About page tells your visitors how you help them.  So often, this is misunderstood and turns into a blurb all about the company. It accomplishes much more if it focuses on how the company serves and benefits the visitor and customer.

Your spam protection page shares how you protect visitors from spam and establishes use policies.  Similarly, the privacy page shares how you maintain customer privacy and protect their personal information. 

Some companies share or rent list information. Other businesses set themselves apart by never sharing list data with any outside marketers.

What changes can you share?

People love updates and being in the know of changes and happenings.  When we feel like an insider, we feel like part of a team, a tribe. It enhances our feelings of status, importance, and inclusivity.

  • Share what’s new, exciting, and changing. For example, will you offer live or virtual events, a podcast, a report, or feature a new product?
  • Staff stories are great to share. Include your team member’s achievements and accomplishments. 
  • Share how a new or favorite product or service developed and evolved to offer enhanced value and benefit to the customers. 
  • Today’s customers want to know how you protect your community, staff, and the environment. Share your values and how you give back to impact purchases and loyalty.
  • Don’t forget customer successes. Real people’s stories have the strongest impact on buying decisions. They allow the viewer to see their problem solved and offer hope.

Testimonials are a bonus to every page,

It used to be that testimonials had a dedicated page. Now we’ve learned they can play a significant role and help viewers along their shopping journey when included on every page as appropriate.

For inspiration, check out Amazon. Most buyers don’t just read the product description. They also click on the reviews and see what people have to say—positive and negative. Don’t be afraid to have a weakness or a less a five-star comment. 

Less than stellar reviews are opportunities.  You can learn from them and improve your product. Resolving questions or problems helps the person who puts forth the issue and those considering a purchase.

Reviews and testimonials are a super valuable resource for any business. Free, unsolicited feedback to help you grow your business.  

When I work with clients,

I always do a quick website analysis to identify what might be slowing down—anything from how it operates or creates bumps for the viewer. I help them create a tracking calendar to stay on top of both backside front-facing issues. And I help them continually add new, relevant, and useful value content for their target audience.  www.jculpcreativecopy.com.

Subheads are Powerful Marketing Tools

Subheads are powerful marketing tools that can make or break your great content.

Headlines share the heart or big idea of your message. Subheads are miniature headlines placed throughout the copy.  They make your message more readable and share key points.

Have you ever received an email or visited a web page where the copy was one long block? Or did it rambled on in uninterrupted paragraphs?  

They are rather hard to read. I find myself wondering where the writer is going.

What are they trying to tell me?  When will I get to why this is important for me?

And what are they trying to sell me or get me to do?

Even if the message is from someone I enjoy hearing from, it requires commitment on my part to wade through what they are sharing.  

Often, if the reader is vested in the person sharing the message, they are still busy.  They’ll set the message aside to read later.  Only, later may never come. If an email, it may sit getting lost in a cluttered inbox. Worse, it may get filed for future reading or reference.

That’s not what any business wants for their messages. 

What’s in subheads for you?

In my work as a copy and content writer, I see this problem all too often. It’s certainly something I avoid happening with my clients.  

Now, If I could just get those who are messaging me to see how using subtitles can solve the problem—and keep me engaged.

I’ve found it’s hard to stay engaged with a business whose messages aren’t clear and easily digested. Here are some tips you can employ to use subtitles effectively and to your advantage.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind.

There’s an easy pattern for knowing where to place subheads.  If your message is more than 300 words long, you need subheads.  

No section of your message should be longer than 300 words before the next subhead.

When you follow this pattern, you have maximum readability. 

Three tips for compelling subheads.

Every message you share, content, articles, blogs, emails, focuses like a laser on one idea. 

Within that copy, each subhead has a focus. And within the subhead, each paragraph covers one thought and each sentence only one topic. 

Think of creating an outline for your copy.  Your Roman number I shares the promise or core idea in the title or headline. Each of the support pillars is a subset for that idea. 

Those subsets become subheadings in your document.

Subheads keep your readers reading when using the same guidelines you follow for creating titles, headlines, or subject lines. 

Lead your reader forward

In long-form sales letters, each section engages the reader. Regardless of the type of message you’re writing, you want it to do the same thing. You want each part to make them want more.  

Subheads in your message or copy help you do this. 

Doing a brain dump on the first draft is OK to get started. Then the message needs refinement. 

Each paragraph and each section should engage and keep the reader’s attention.

If you are taking a blog, article, or other copy and thin-slicing it into social media posts, each post focuses at most on one subheading. Indeed, each subhead becomes a social post.  

They should stand on their own as a mini-headline to catch attention and engage.

Enticing

Some people only read the subheads. If they don’t exist or aren’t enticing, you’ll lose them. They need to catch and keep the reader’s attention. 

Other people only start reading when a subhead catches their attention. No subheads, and you lose this opportunity for engagement. 

Both groups depend on your subhead to entice them to read.

Subheads create a snapshot of your message.

In today’s world, especially in the US, people tend to scan far more than they read. That makes subheads critical for readers who just scan, to understand your message.

If the reader only reads your subheads, they should “get” your message.

One technique I use is to print out my draft and read through it, looking for snippets. They should be almost like inspirations or quotes. They are a few words that impart an essential aspect of my big idea.  

Each snippet is a subhead. 

Repurposed snippets become a social post—useful concepts in just a few words. 

Including emotion, pain points, or trigger words makes them even more effective.


Judith Culp Pearson is a copywriter marketer who has been helping clients improve their ROI and client retention since 2015. A relationship-building writer, she engages your readers to increase sales and lifetime value. https://www.jucithculpcreativecopy.com

How to Improve Testimonials

It's not just getting testimonials, it's about getting quality testimonials that trigger more sales.

With the explosive increase in the number of people shopping, the online marketplace has become more crowded.  For business, that means the value and the power of great testimonials is a potent tool for sales.

However, sometimes finding the right testimonial is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Has this happened to you?

I was working on a project recently and needed to add some testimonials for the landing page.  I went to the client’s website to see what people had to say.

“Good product.”

“Easy shopping.”

“Quick delivery.” 

“Just arrived.”

“Love the product.”

Those weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  While the testimonials were positive, they didn’t say much about the user experience with the product.  

If you’re shopping for a product or service that takes time to get the desired result, you’re looking for more information. You want to know what kind of results were achieved, what it was like to use, and how long it actually took to get there.

You’d also like to know what the company is like to interact with should you have questions or need customer service.

Why use testimonials? 

We know testimonials play an essential role in helping shoppers make a decision.  But just how important are they?

Here’s what the market analyzers say:

  • 92% of people read reviews before buying
  • 72% say positive testimonials increase their trust and make buying more likely.
  • Most people, 73%, read six or less. They like to see lots of testimonials but often read just a few before making their decision.

The quality of testimonials can outweigh how many you have. If you have five good positive testimonials, it can increase your conversions by 270%.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind.

You need to ask for testimonials.  Most people don’t write a testimonial or review without prompting.  

The best time to ask is shortly after they’ve received their purchase. Give the purchaser time to try the product/service before you ask. For products that take a while to get results, touch base with them again to see how it’s going.

If you’re offering supplements or, say, weight loss techniques, a review after three days of use isn’t going to tell you much. Use the shortly after receipt message as an opportunity to answer questions on use.

A second follow-up in a month or later might make more sense to see how it is performing.

Three tips to maximize testimonials

Here are some simple ways to maximize your testimonials and their use. 

Enhance how you ask. 

I find including simple questions in the review process can improve the kind of testimonials received. Questions that help you get beyond the yay or nay to the why.  

Amazon has this type of helpful process established right on the review screen. At the top of the screen, it identifies the specific product. They ask for an overall star-based rating and three feature ratings. Then a place for your headline and review. Simple.

Make it easy to respond. There are various apps out there to help you gather testimonials. Select one that allows you to guide the purchaser in writing the review.

Send the request via email and a link to where/how you’d like it submitted. 

Open the email by thanking them again for the item they purchased, mentioning it by name.  Then, tell them you’d love their feedback and share the link.

In your review template, include helpful questions.  

  1. What’s your favorite thing about the product you purchased?
  2. How do you use the product?
  3. Did you have any hesitations before you purchased?  Did the product resolve them?
  4. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Be sure to get their permission to share the testimonial in your marketing to help other shoppers.  A simple tick box can handle this.

Edit them 

It is perfectly acceptable to edit testimonials as long as you don’t alter the meaning or intent.

Always only use real testimonials by verified buyers. Fake testimonials can destroy a company quickly and are easily spotted. 

You don’t have to use the quote verbatim. Help it read more clearly by breaking run-on sentences into shorter ones. Remove spelling errors. Look for ways to clarify the wording.

If possible, include an emotional trigger word to help a reader make a decision.

Just don’t change what the message is saying.  

Select targeted testimonials

Choose the right testimonials for how you want to use it. A collection of raving testimonials about socks won’t help you sell shirts.

Use the right message and emotionally connect with the product/service.

Some testimonials are more general and not specific to a product. If the customer had a positive experience with you and your team, they can be gold.  They work well on your homepage as trust-builders. 

A testimonial extolling your fabulous customer service and their help in finding the right product could go multiple places.  

If you offer a variety of products, put the testimonials where they will do the most good. You can have a general customer testimonial page. 

If you put sock testimonials on the sock page, it increases conversions for sock purchases.

When I work with clients…

We focus on gathering useful testimonials.  I encourage them to allow reviews via the product purchase page.  

Many e-commerce platforms notify you of a new review and let you view it before publishing it. Amazon does this. The seller can respond to a negative review and problem-solve. It also allows screening for spam.  www.jculpcreativecopy.com.

Readable Quality Enhances Sales

Long sentences, complex words or long paragraphs, make your content less readable.

Everything you put out there to attract more business is a message. The success of that message is getting someone to read it.  Much of the time, it misses the mark. It doesn’t get read because it’s hard to read.  Readable quality is critical for sales.

When a message is hard to read, it actually causes brain fatigue. Most of us have a built-in auto-fix—the delete key.

Here’s an example of poor readability:

Infectious diseases caused by pathogens and food poisoning caused by spoilage microorganisms are threatening human health all over the world. The efficacies of some antimicrobial agents, which are currently used to extend shelf-life and increase the safety of food products in food industry and to inhibit disease-causing microorganisms in medicine, have been weakened by microbial resistance. 

That little gem, written by a scientist, is written at an FK post-graduate level 14. It has all the earmarks of being hard to read. Most people will read a few words and skip the rest.  

Often in health, finance, or science, we need to share complex ideas. Making them more readable is all in the editing process.

If we change the above message to read:

Around the world, diseases and food spoilage threaten health. Pathogens constantly change. They morph into a variant. Current antimicrobials are less effective. We need to discover new ways to kill these strains.

The reading level drops from a 14 down to level 7. We are saying the same thing, but in a way that takes less brainpower to understand.

Outcome? Your reader stays with you.

Why you need to ditch what your English teacher said

Schools teach writing rules. Those rules are great—to get you through college and be able to write the kind of reports that met a standard.  

Those reports weren’t marketing. They were academic standards.

Science has proven that our brains trust simple words over complex ones. That’s why many of the great novelists wrote using FK scores of 4-7.  They didn’t write simple books. They wrote books that were easy to read.  Of Mice and Men was an FK 3.4. To Kill a Mockingbird a 5.9 and Gone With the Wind a 7.0. Ernest Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea comes in as a 4.

The scoring system, FK, Flesch-Kincaid, is easily related to US school grades. So a 4th grader could read and understand Hemmingway. 

When marketing products or services, we need to write conversationally.  As a copy/content writer, I trained in the art of persuasive writing. It has to be friendly, engaging, and easily readable.  

The younger the audience, the shorter their attention span.  The message has to get the reader’s attention quickly and hold it. Hard-to-read material doesn’t do this.  

One thing to keep in mind…

Readability won’t fix a poor message.  It just makes it easier to read. Start with the best content for your target audience. Focus on content first and get the copy crafted.

Once you have it written, then go back and edit it for word choice, passive voice, and structure.

3 Techniques for getting readable

Shorter sentences, simple words, shorter paragraphs all combine to make your message more readable.  

  • Newspapers or magazines score between a level 5 and 10. 
  • Anything above a 10 is considered very hard to read. 
  • Good copywriters stay at 8 or below.  

Shorter sentences

The first thing to look for is long sentences.  The more words in a sentence, the harder it is to read. Look for ways to break long sentences into shorter ones.  

If you’re not sure whether a sentence is too long, here’s a simple trick. Read it out loud.  If you run out of air and need to take a breath—shorten it.  You can also use ellipses or dashes to break a sentence.

Word choice

The more letters or syllables in a word, the harder it is to read.  Look for a shorter synonym. Efficacy has four syllables.  Power, success, or use are all better options. 

Keep in mind that 50% of US adults have a reading ability at grade eight or less.  Maximize your marketing efforts with a message at an FK 8 or below.

Shorter paragraphs

As with words and sentences, paragraphs need to be kept short. Look for sections that involve more than one idea. Break them into shorter segments.  

In web content or anything to be read on an electronic device, keep the maximum number of paragraph lines to five or less.   

Don’t trust your big screen desktop to give you an accurate line count. Use an edit option to view your copy on a mobile device.  What looks great on the computer screen may be hard to read on your cell phone.  

Shorter paragraphs create white space—the gaps between paragraphs. They let the brain relax and reduce fatigue.

Long paragraphs are like a monologue, and people stop reading.

When I work with clients

Even before I start working with a new client, I visit their website and look for how readable it is.  I use one of the popular readability checkers and copy-paste content and see how they score.  On our first visit, I share tips with them to improve the return on their marketing investment. 

Getting your quality content readable is an evergreen investment that improves sales.  https://www.jculpcreativecopy.com.