Online Conversion Rate: The Readability Factor

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WE ALL KNOW that sizzling copy and the words you use to craft your marketing message are vital to enticing visitors – and getting them to convert into customers. But did you know that how you format your copy also plays a big role in increasing your website conversion rate? Your website visitors are impatient creatures. If your web copy looks more like book copy, you can kiss your online conversions goodbye.  Here are a few insider tips to help format copy for the web. A few simple considerations, and you can keep visitors engaged — with reading comprehension at its peak.

font example from book
via Josh Mishell

Format for scannability to increase online conversions

Internet reading is very different than any other medium.  Most visitors want to quickly ascertain your marketing message. They don’t really read online – they scan. A study by usability expert Jakob Nielsen shows that people only read 28% of the text on a web page.  That percentage decreases as the amount of text increases.

There are 3 types of website readers:

  1. Those who will only scan the main points of your marketing message.  Make sure that the gist of your entire marketing message is conveyed in these highlighted points. Your conversion rate will depend on hooking the reader with your main points.
  2. Those who will scan the main points and then read further where their interest is piqued.  Once you’ve grabbed them, keep them interested with a clear route to your call to action.
  3. Those who will read the entire copy. You job is to avoid confusing these readers or giving them too many options.

Consider each of these readers in your copy. Make sure each can be served on your website. For maximum conversion rate, it is important that the gist of your marketing message is in the scannable pieces. Basic components to use are: headlines, bullet points, text color changes and bold or italicized font.

Chunk your message for maximum online conversion rate

The Reader by Manet
The Reader (Public Domain)

Readability studies also show that not only does long drawn-out copy bore your readers, but it reduces reading comprehension. To make sure your readers remain engaged with your marketing message and experience the highest levels of reading comprehension, it’s best to break up the copy into digestible chunks. Line lengths of 100 characters per line, or 500-600 pixels wide, are read faster & more consistently by visitors. Also, people have a tendency to read through to completion when chunks of copy are broken up into segments of three lines.

Provide Adequate White Space

Researchers found that reading comprehension and speed were affected when margins were manipulated, in a study called “Reading Online Text:  A Comparison of Four white Space Layouts.” Margins help give your copy room to breathe and make it easier for readers to absorb your material. The layout of your copy can be a powerful influencer on landing page conversion rate. You can test this by allowing for different margin parameters.  Providing enough white space is not only necessary at margins – but it’s also important between paragraphs.

Choose Your Fonts Carefully

The font you choose affects readability. Some fonts are more difficult to read than others – therefore reducing reading comprehension. It’s OK – if not desired – to use the more stylish fonts in your headlines to grab reader’s attention.  But for the long haul content, choose a font with the highest readability levels. Fonts that are most readable on the web include these characteristics:

  • Tall X-height
  • Wider em width – not extended or condensed
  • Lack style
  • Use serifs for larger type – san serifs for smaller type

Serif fonts have attached horizontal lines. Times New Roman, for instance, is often used in textbooks. The horizontal line adds to the flow of reading. This, however, seems to have the opposite effect on the web. Sans serif fonts are without the added horizontal design. Georgia, Arial and Myriad are top performers when it comes to readability on the web. Verdana was designed, specifically, for the web.

There is more to internet marketing conversion than word choice

Not only is it important to craft copy that pushes your visitor’s “Buy now” buttons – but how you present those words has a large impact as well.  You put a ton of hard work into your marketing message. Make sure it is fully absorbed and comprehended for maximum website conversion rates.

Maximize your landing page conversions. Call 888-659-2680 for a no cost, no obligation consultation with the Conversion Max team.

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Marie Dean

Marie Dean has spent the last 10 years enthralled in user research studies and implementing the statistics found into creating better website user experiences. Starting in the field in 2003 with her own ecommerce website, she believes that leaving money on the table is never an option and guides businesses in lifting their conversion rates. She speciallizes in shopping cart optimization and reducing cart abandonment.

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