Readability: Why It Matters: Advice from WordsbyErynn on how to create content geared for your specific audience

Readability: Why It Matters

As a copywriter, I follow specific parameters on different projects depending on client needs. As a business owner, you will find that your copy has the potential to entice new customers, or drive away potentials. The rules of that copy are completely up to you. So why should you consider readability an important component in your copy guidelines?

You’re aiming for a specific audience.

Your audience might be doctorate program peers or a middle school class. Either way, you have a target in mind when you begin writing. To effectively deliver the information that a certain population is looking for, you need to meet them where they’re at.

With your doctorate peers, you want to sound educated and intelligent. This will require a higher level of writing than that presentation to middle school kids. That audience would likely be intimidated by more formal and elaborate writing.

You want to be understood.

If you’re writing to a higher level of understanding than the majority of your audience, they won’t get you. If they’re scratching their heads and thinking maybe they should Google some terms, then you’re not holding up your end of the communication bargain. Remember, our job as communicators is to do our best to get our message across clearly.

I know it’s tempting to use fun words like snafu and expeditious, but don’t use them unless you’re absolutely positive your audience will be receptive. On that same note, don’t use slang or abbreviated terms if your intended audience is made up of college professors or literary geniuses.

[bws_pinterest_pin_it type=”any”]

You don’t want people to get exasperated or bored.

I read at a fairly high level, and apparently write that way too. That said, I have visited blogs and business webpages that had me questioning the need for a dictionary by the second paragraph. If you’re using big words just to sound pretentious, knock it off. Normal people don’t like that (not that I know any personally, but that’s what I’ve been told!).

Most normal people click away from boring content (and don’t think it’s fun to evaluate it like I do), so you’re losing readers if you don’t cater to their expectations. People aren’t visiting your site or shopping for your product because they want a mental challenge, they just want to know what you’re about and why.

Cater to your people, because…

You want to keep people around.

Your readers are what makes your content special! You know your readers are vital, so take the necessary steps to cater to them. Your readers feel at home when you’re clear and honest. You don’t want them to feel like they’re being tricked or purposely uninformed.

The more you concern yourself with how your readers interpret your message, the more you’re able to see things from their perspective. We write for other people to consume our writing. This is true whether it’s a career choice or a necessity through a school project or job.

Being able to produce desirable content + speak in a voice that is relevant to our readers is a formula for writing success. Keep this in mind when writing, and your readers will love you for it!

If you’re a blogger, the Yoast plugin makes keeping an eye on your readability super easy. If you’re using Microsoft Word, it’s simple to activate the built-in readability stats. Navigate to File –> Options –> Proofing and check the box for “Show readability statistics.” Then click for a spelling/grammar check and Word does the evaluation for you. 

Email Tips Classy Words by Erynn

9 Email Tips for Classy Professionals

If you’re not putting your best professional image in every email you send, you’re shortchanging yourself! All forms of communication influence others’ opinions of us, and email is no exception. It’s especially important if email is your first or only method of contact. If the receiving party of your email has never seen your smiling face, you’re at an immediate disadvantage.

So, how can you write to impress in your emails?

First, greet your addressee.

Definitely say hello, or depending on the time zone, good morning, good evening, or the like. Jumping right in to the main point of your email can be a little off putting, particularly if you don’t know the addressee personally.

On that same note, I advise against using “dear” because we’re not writing a diary entry, we want a conversation. Snail mail etiquette isn’t always suitable for email, so the word dear can be nixed from our digital communication files.

Also, address your addressee appropriately, using Mr., Mrs., or Ms. as applicable. If you don’t know enough about this person to address them correctly, off to Google with you!

Acknowledge that they’re a human (before getting down to business).

A short sentence addressing the CEO’s recent vacation, or a reference to your client’s stunning website photography goes a long way in showing a person that you care. Because your client is not just a pocket book, and your vendor is not just a means to getting a project completed.

You don’t have to spend nine paragraphs describing every detail of your past meetings, but a short reference to a common experience or something relevant in their lives shows people that they matter to you. And they do, or you wouldn’t bother to send them this classy email in the first place!

Get down to business.

No one likes a conversational, friendly email that sounds like just catching up, only to receive a flat sales pitch in response to their note back. If you just want to catch up with someone, make that clear. If you have business to take care of, take care of it!

Being friendly and personable should always be a component of your email, but fluff has no place here. We’re all busy people, so make sure you get your point across! Also give the recipient a heads up if you require feedback, or ongoing support during a project.

Be cognizant of time differences.

Note your intended recipient’s time zone; know if it’s past their bedtime, or the middle of their weekend, before you hit send. A safe bet is sticking to standard business hours and workweek time frames. Monday through Friday between 8am and 6pm is fairly standard, depending on business specifics.

Sending emails at 2am on a Saturday might work if your contact is a guitarist who plays late shows in a rock band, but isn’t so effective if he’s a CEO that clocks out for the weekend.

The less accommodating you are to your contact’s schedule, the more likely your email will be pushed down on her list, or missed completely. So play to her convenience, and aim for daylight hours.

9 Email Tips for Classy Professionals... WordsbyErynn.com
Write to impress by following these 9 email tips for classy professionals.

Use spell check before sending, every time. 

There is nothing more damaging to your reputation as a savvy business person than an email riddled with preventable spelling errors. Outlook has an option to automatically check spelling and grammar before sending an email. Use this!

If you have a really tough time with spelling and punctuation, forward your email to an assistant, or if you’re lacking in office support, borrow your mom or close friend!

You don’t need a professional email editor, since another set of eyes not familiar with your content will pick up more errors than yours will. Plus, if you’re sending a long email with lots of details, you might skim over those while mom will read more for information, and catch any typos.

NEVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS!

If you have any experience online, you know this equates to yelling at your contact. This is never a good idea, particularly when your message could be misconstrued upon arrival. The number one rule of communication is doing your best to make your message clear and concise.

We can’t guarantee that our readers will satisfactorily comprehend our messages, but it’s our job to make it as clear as possible. Yelling does not help them understand. Plus, all caps is distracting, and makes you look like a novice (when we all know you’re a savvy biz whiz!).

If something is super important, flag it, or note the urgency in the subject line, but please lower your voice.

Don’t use slang.

Hey man, I’m just dropping a line to see if you wanna book me for a gig sometime. Hit me back if you’re interested.

No. Just no. Stay proper and professional, even if your email is addressed to that rock guitarist. Never assume your addressee knows the industry lingo, either, unless you work in the same field.

When addressing someone whose background you have no clue about, it doesn’t hurt to stay simple and proper, especially because professionalism is always admired.

Don’t sign off abruptly.

Wrap up your message with a closing statement, If you expect action back from the recipient, note that you’ll be awaiting their direction on the issue. If you’re sending an FYI, make that clear by referencing the relevant case or appointment and that you’re providing follow up for informational purposes.

Don’t leave them guessing as to what your point is, make it obvious.

Establish a proper signature.

It doesn’t have to be something fancy, and actually shouldn’t be so crazy that it’s difficult to read or burns your eyes. You should provide your basic contact details, your title, and a website link if possible.

Quotes from idols or industry heroes are cool, just make sure they’re legible and don’t overpower the influence of your own stats. Steve Jobs might have some great words of advice, but your contact doesn’t need to know them until after they’ve read and digested your message and taken note of who you are and why you matter.

Now get to work answering that pile up of emails in your inbox. I know it’s not fun, but it’s a necessary evil of the business world- and you’re going to rock it.