Poor Readability Is Losing You Sales

Have you been watching the latest series of The Apprentice? In Week Six, Team Typhoon were heavily criticised for their advertising video, with a particular emphasis on seeing it with “fresh eyes.” This is a perfect allegory for why you should care about readability.

Understand your readers 

You know your product or service inside out (if you don’t, what are you doing in marketing?!) But you need to remember that your prospects won’t have the same level of knowledge. If your content is stuffed with acronyms, jargon, and industry in-jokes, most readers will switch off very quickly.

This is particularly relevant for emails, where you have to grab your reader’s attention before they will begin to engage with your content. Combined with the fact that emails are by nature short, you have a very brief window of opportunity to earn your prospect’s interest. So, make sure your Call to Action is clear, and your links are clearly signposted. It makes no difference how full of useful statistics your blogs are, or how many industry experts have contributed to your whitepapers, your leads won’t be reading them if your emails are dull and hard to read.  

B2B Magazine’s most recent study found that 89% of marketers use email as their primary lead generation channel. Combined with the fact that email is the channel with the highest Return on Investment per pound spent, the email inbox is the most hotly contested battlefield around when it comes to generating new business. An email with poor readability is already at a disadvantage, and it then has to compete with well-crafted emails, leaving its odds of success in a pretty bad place.

Marketers aren’t the only guilty ones

While the marketing department tends to send more emails than Sales, all the advice about readability applies just as much to individual messages coming directly from salespeople, as it does to marketing campaigns which are sent to thousands of prospects at a time. Perhaps even more so, as in CommuniGator’s setup, individual salespeople will take over the conversation when there is already a significant level of buying intent. This means that their emails are competing for a much larger prize than simple interest, they are looking at cash on the table. This is the worst possible moment to come across as verbose and obsessed with jargon. If you aren’t able to explain what your product does plainly and concisely, potential buyers are likely to be put off. As Albert Einstein once said, “if you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Would you buy a product if the salesperson you are dealing with can’t tell you what it does?

Where do you go from here?

Readability still matters for blogs and whitepapers, but prospects will already be engaged when they start, as they have had to click a link or access your website. This is part of the reason you can get away with a higher readability grade, as the reader will be in the right mindset to deal with the material more deeply. 

Need help with your readability? Our new favourite tool, Flesch-Kincaid Readability Grading, will set you on the right path.

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