Rumor has it that the average American adult reads at the 8th grade level.
True or not, the fact is that the readability of your landing page copy is critically important.
If the prospect that is reading your copy can’t understand it, it will have zero chance of converting them into a customer, donor or subscriber.
While readability is a somewhat subjective term, there is a way to apply some science to it. Formulas, such as Flesch-Kinkaid and Gunning-Fog, have been developed to approximate the reading level of text.
Most readability formulas judge the reading level of a text using some mixture of the below variables:
- number of words with multiple syllables
- length of sentences
- number of characters in words
These readability formulas certainly have their limits and should not be used to make the final decision about the readability of your landing page.
But these tools, combined with common sense, can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your landing page.
Consider Your Audience
Before you go changing your landing page copy to read, “I am Sam. Sam I am.” make sure you understand your audience.
Your audience will have a particular set of demographics including:
- marital status
And, yes, reading level.
For example, the Wall Street Journal is certainly catering to an audience that is, often, well educated.
The reading level of their landing page suggests that they are aware of that with the average reading level score of their copy being nearly the 11th grade.
For a more general audience, the copy on this page might be too difficult, but for the WSJ perhaps they are right on target.
|Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level||9.8|
|Automated Readability Index||9.5|
|Average Grade Level||10.4|
On the other hand, the copy on this landing page for Safeco Insurance might need to be simplified a bit.
Safeco Insurance is aimed at providing low-dollar insurance to people that have been turned down by mainstream insurance companies because of traffic tickets, accidents or lapse in coverage.
Safeco’s target market is, at the risk of being stereotypical, less educated.
With an average readability score above that of the Wall Street Journal above, there may need to be some editing done to this landing page copy.
|Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level||10.2|
|Automated Readability Index||9.4|
|Average Grade Level||11.1|
Google + is aimed at the masses.
Although they may skew towards the younger and more educated set, Google + needs to appeal to individuals at all ends of the spectrum if it’s going to compete with the indiscriminate Facebook.
It would appear that Google is aware of this fact with their average readability score sitting comfortably at the 7th grade level.
|Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level||5.7|
|Automated Readability Index||6.9|
|Average Grade Level||6.9|
While you could make the argument that the iPad appeals to the more educated among us, it is clearly an item intended for the mass market.
Apple’s iPad landing page copy is both simple and persuasive.
With an reading level of the 7th grade, Apple copywriters ensure that the bulk of their market is able to understand the compelling copy they have written.
|Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level||6.2|
|Automated Readability Index||4.9|
|Average Grade Level||7.1|
The Tool I Used
While writing this post, I played around with a number of free readability tools. The one I found to be easiest is called simply Readability-Score.com. It’s simple and intuitive and has a nicely designed layout.
Consider giving a donation to the creator of the tool if you find it helpful.
A quick Google search of ‘readability calculator’ will result in a number of free tools you can use to check the readability score of your landing page copy.
Whichever tool you use, make sure to couple it with some common sense and a good understanding of your target market.