The readability score of the content you write is one key to the effectiveness of your marketing materials. A common measure of the readability of copy is the Flesch Readability Score. You can check the score of your writing by using this link to a number of readability measures.
The Flesch score is based on the average number of words per sentence. In general, shorter sentences make content easier to read. Long sentences can have the effect of “losing” readers as they struggle with digesting the content of each sentence. While long sentences are effective for novels (i.e. Ernest Hemingway) they dont really work in sales and marketing copy.
Long sentences can interrupt the flow of your sales/marketing copy.
The best way to use the readability score metric is to check it AFTER you follow your regular copy writing process. We covered the process in The Art of Persuasion post. A recap is below:
The classic persuasive request is divided into four main steps:
- Get the target’s Attention
- Develop their Interest
- Create a Desire
- Include a Call to Action
So let’s say you have done your background work, and you have created your personas, employed the “Art of Persuasion” and you believe you have pretty good copy to publish. Now you run it through the readability checker, and you get a relatively low score (less than 70). You can leave it as is, or you can try to re-write the copy. Think about breaking it into smaller sentences. After you make your changes, try reading your copy out loud. If you struggle reading it our loud (breathing mid sentence) it may indicate the need for a smaller sentence.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide the reader (target) with a compelling reason to consume your content. A great Flesch score wont help you if in general your content does not “ring the bell” for the reader.