There are some times when we’re a little too in love with our own copy.
As a consultant, I’ve had to gently tell clients why their baby (their site copy) is ugly. Some nod and tell me that they already know. Others are amazed I’d feel that way. Their website could have the most boring B2B content in the world and I’d still hear, “It can’t be that bad. Can’t you just fix it up?”
No. No I can’t.
Whether you work in-house or freelance, you’ve probably faced the same situation. The challenge is, sometimes clients don’t listen to your recommendations. They need proof that their content may not be the best.
These three tools will help provide the proof you need.
I learned this tip from the ebook Going Beyond Google: Gathering B2B Competitive Intelligence Information from the Web. Wordle lets you generate “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently.
Using Wordle is simple — simply paste some text and click “go.” For instance, here is the word cloud for the Lenova Yoga 3 Pro landing page:
Compare this to a word cloud for the MacBook Air:
See the difference? The Lenova copy is filled of geeky features (features is even one of it’s more relevant words!). Words like “processor,” “bluetooth” and “graphics” are represented. Yet, there are hardly any benefit-oriented words, other than “save.”
On the flip side, the MacBook Pro copy focuses on fun, including words like “creative” and “play.” The content’s voice is less formal, too. If I was trying to tell Lenova’s marketing department that their content was too features-oriented and not reader-friendly enough, this is one of the tools I’d use.
The Customer Focus Calculator
Once upon a time, there was a fantastic calculator called the “We We Calculator” that was developed by Brian and Jeffrey Eisenberg. After typing in your URL, you received a score that indicated how often you “we we’d” all over your copy (that is, wrote about your company more than you wrote about your customer).
It was a brilliant idea.
Although Brian and Jeffrey have moved on to other things, their We We Calculator lives on in the form of the Customer Focus Calculator. Simply enter in a page’s URL and the company name. You’ll instantly receive an analysis that shows the percentage of the time your content focuses on your company versus focusing on your customer. If you see a low customer-focus percentage, you’re encourage to think of ways to adjust your wording.
This tool is especially good for B2B companies that write extensively about their company, their warehouse square footage and all of the awards they’ve won — but don’t mention a thing about their customer or benefits. Since many people think that good copywriting means showcasing how their company is bigger and better, this tool can be a real eye-opener.
Microsoft Word (really!).
Have you ever had to break the news about a client’s F-K score? I have. And no, I’m not talking about the dreaded “F” word. I’m referring to the client’s Flesch-Kincaid Score.
The Flesch-Kincaid Score tells you what grade level you’re writing for. Shorter sentences and sentences with fewer words would receive a lower F-K score (and yes, lower is considered better.)
This is where things get tricky. Some companies believe that they should write exceptionally high-level content because their target audience is “different.” They’re smarter. They’re more educated. They’re (fill in the blank here.)
They may be right. However, writing to a lower grade level may be a better move.
James Altucher wrote a great post detailing his own F-K score research. After compiling a list of 30 popular articles, he found “…on average, of the 30 articles: all written by bestselling authors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, great communicators, were writing at an average of an 8th grade level.”
Microsoft Word has a feature that allows you to check your Flesch-Kinkade score. It’s not automatically activated (at least it wasn’t for me – here’s how I made it happen), but it takes about 30 seconds to set up. Once you do, it’s easy to write copy, check the score and make any necessary modifications.
If you’re writing in WordPress, there are some plugins that will check your score (I’d love to hear some recommendations) and there are sites like Readability-Score.com where you can paste in your text and get your score.
What if a client kicks back and refuses to believe their baby is ugly? Pit two versions of a page against each other and test the results. That way, you can be 100% sure that their company-centered, high F-K score copy doesn’t work — and you can focus your efforts on writing content that does.
As a side note, it couldn’t hurt to run your own site copy through these tools, too. You may be amazed by what you find… :)