You’ve undoubtedly heard the term: KISS. Keep it simple stupid.
Well, nowhere is that more important that when you’re trying to use words to make a sale.
If you write your own web copy, post on a blog, write sales copy or send emails and you want prospects to read and take action, you must make it easy for them to understand.
The simpler the better! Research shows that most people read at a seventh or eighth grade level. Intelligence isn’t the issue. It’s a matter of clarity. Getting your message across is much easier when it is simply and clearly written.
If you confuse your reader (a huge problem for many marketers when they write copy) or challenge them intellectually, you’re likely to lose them.
In today’s fast-paced world of “whaddya mean I have to wait another 30 seconds if I want fresh steeped tea”, you have to connect with your reader – immediately.
So, how do you go about writing clear copy that gets your message across?
By making sure your FK score is where it needs to be.
Microsoft has a tool in Word you can use to actually measure the reading level of something you write. It’s called the Flesch-Kincaid (FK) readability index and it calculates the reading level of your copy.
The Flesch Reading Ease component of the index was devised by Rudolph Flesch and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade level component was developed by J. Peter. Kincaid for the United States Navy in 1975.
Its purpose was to make technical docs understandable.
The Flesch-Kincaid index is easy to understand. A result of 8.0 means the readability of your work is at an eighth grade level. Most direct response copywriters aim for a score of 7.5.
To find out your score on something you wrote copy you wrote in a Word doc, go to “Tools”> “Spelling and Grammar”. After Word takes you through the spell check, you will get a window that has your readability score.
It will also break down the structure of your copy so you can see if you’re using too many long sentences or $25 dollar words etc.
When you put your first piece under the FK microscope, don’t have a heart attack if your score comes in at 13.5.
(And whatever you do, don’t start doing the math thinking about how many prospects bailed because they didn’t “get” what you were trying to communicate.)
Here are some ways to lower your Flesch-Kincaid score and improve readability:
• Make you writing more conversational. Pretend you’re face-to-face with a prospect.
• Use stories wherever possible. People love stories. And stories are easy to follow. (except if one of the guys I golf with is telling it)
• Use active sentences (Sally drove) vs. passive sentences (Sally was driving).
• Reduce the number of sentences per paragraph.
• Reduce the number of words per sentence.
• Reduce the number of characters per word.
Study after study found has revealed that copy written at lower Flesch-Kincaid levels attracts the most subscribers, generates the best marketing response rates – and the most revenue !
Consider applying the Flesch-Kincaid test to all your written material. Your “huh?’ rate will drop and your response will go up.
This blog post has an FK score of 6.6.