You have undoubtedly heard the term: KISS. Keep it simple and stupid. Well, nowhere is this more important than when you are trying to use words to make a sale.
If you write your own web copy, post on a blog, write sales copies 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 copies) or challenge them intellectually, you’re likely to lose them. In today’s fast-paced world 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.
Huh? What is the FK Score?
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 documents 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.
How to Measure the FK Score of a Text?
To find out your score on something you wrote in a Word document, go to Tools > Spelling and Grammar or simply press F7. After Word takes you through the spell check, you will get a window that shows 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 your overall percentage of passive sentences.
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.
- Use active sentences (Martin read the article in one day) vs. passive sentences (The article was read by Martin in one day).
- Reduce the number of sentences per paragraph.
- Reduce the number of words per sentence.
- Reduce the number of characters per word.
Studies revealed that copies written at lower Flesch-Kincaid levels attract the most subscribers, can lead to a higher SEO rating and generate the best marketing response rates and revenues.
Consider applying the Flesch-Kincaid test to all your written material and look if your conversions and responses will go up.
P.S. Today’s article has an FK score of 7.0.
About the Author
Marketing expert with experience in developing digital capabilities within investment management companies. Certificated expertise in social media, web, email, online advertising and digital performance marketing campaigns, both from a strategy and operational perspective. Also experienced in driving the digital marketing technology investment roadmap including CRM and automation tools. My know-how spans both B2B and B2C in the finance industry.