Save money, make money and more with readable messages
What are the benefits of making your message measurably easier to read and understand?
1. Increase reading.
Readable writing gets read, writes plain-language advocate William H. DuBay:
- Articles written at the 6th-grade level get 18% to 60% more readership than those written at the 9th-grade level, found Donald Murphy, editor of Wallaces Farmer, in a split-run test.
- Wire service stories with Flesch scores of 8th grade and below got 67% more readers than those with Flesch scores of 9th grade and above, found Bernard Feld in a readership survey.
- Local stories with Flesch scores of 8th grade and below got 75% more readers than those with Flesch scores of 9th grade and above, Feld found in that same test.
Why do the hard work it takes to increase readability? Because making your copy easier to read can convince people to read more of your message, understand it faster and remember it longer.
2. Get shared more often.
The lower the reading grade level of the article headline, the more likely it is to get shared on Facebook, marketing scientist Dan Zarrella’s research shows. Headlines written at the:
- 5th-grade level got shared 15% more often than average.
- 9th-grade level got shared 10% more often than average.
- 15th-grade level got shared nearly 20% less often than average.
Want your post to travel the world instead of staying home on the couch? Make it more readable.
3. Save money, make money.
Bad writing causes 40% of the cost of managing business transactions, estimates DuBay. He cites:
- Newsletters that reach only a fraction of the targeted audience
- Press releases that never make the news
- Websites that fail to inform and motivate readers to act
Legal scholar and plain language advocate Joseph Kimble shares case studies of organizations that have saved time and money and otherwise improved business practices by making their copy easier to read. Among them:
- Save money. FedEx saved $400,000 per year by rewriting operations manuals to make it 80% less time-consuming for users to find the information they were looking for. That doesn’t count the costs of mistakes when users couldn’t find the right answers.
- Move people to act. When the U.S. Army rewrote a memo to 129 officers, suggesting that they perform a specific task, those who got the more readable memo were twice as likely to act on the day they received it.
- Increase productivity. The U.S. Navy learned that it could save $27 million to $37 million a year in officer time by rewriting its business memos. Officers were able to read the revised memos in 17% to 27% less time.
Want to increase the ROI of your channels and boost your organization’s bottom line? Improve your readability.
How long should your message be?
Readability helps everyone — those with high literacy rates as well as low, according to new research by the Nielsen Norman Group.
Master a seven-step system for making every piece you write easier to read and understand at Catch Your Readers, our persuasive-writing workshop, starting on May 16.
You’ll learn how long your paragraphs, sentences and words should be. And you’ll leave with a free tool you can use to measure, monitor and manage readability.
Save up to $100 with our group discounts.