To increase your conversion rate write your ad-copy for readers at an 8th grade level reading proficiency.
In 2003 the US Department of Education conducted a large scale assessment of adult reading proficiency – and concluded that the “average” American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level.
Consistently writing your ad-copy to meet this criteria will help with your landing page optimization efforts, as supported by hundreds of our own tests, and there are simple formulas to help you stay on track.
Our favorite test is the “Gunning Fog” method – the formula is a good primer for keeping your writing simple:
Run that formula against your ad-copy and the resulting number will tell you roughly how many years of education a reader will need to achieve full comprehension of the text.
While Gunning Fog has its fair share of critics, when we average under 9 points we see better conversions, and the equation is useful as a measuring stick and a good rule of thumb as you work on your website optimization.
Many free tools exist to help you check the comprehension level and no doubt your resident LAMP expert could build you something quickly for your internal toolsets with the wikipedia blueprints.
UPDATE – Click here to test your website with our online readability tool!
Incidentally the FOG index for this article rates in at an 11.94 – talk about not eating your own dog food!
PS – An interesting exercise is to compare similar news articles between “intellectual” and “mainstream” publications. Try finding a story at USAToday.com and comparing it to a similar topic at Economist.com or WallStreetJournal.com.