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What is Readability? How to Improve Readability for a B2B Audience

Michael is the Content Strategist at Atomic Reach, a content intelligence platform used by marketers to generate more leads from their text-based content.

He is on a mission to empower marketers with actionable data so they can make more informed decisions about their content strategy.

If you’ve been around in the content marketing and blogging industry for a few years, you must have released the power of readability.

Readability is not a myth - it’s very real and it’s one of the challenges content marketers are constantly up against.

The success of every text-based content asset largely depends on its readability. If your audience struggles to read your content, they will move on and your campaign will fail to generate any traction. It’s as simple as that.

According to a research by Nielsen Norman Group, only 16% of your audience reads your content word-by-word. It also found a whopping 79% of the audience would always scan content. In other words, content readability is a significant part of positive user experience which dramatically affects user engagement and brandability.

Content Readability: Conventional Method vs. Modern Approach

The content of readability on the web is hardly new; in fact, it’s been around for over a decade. The conventional method of measuring readability uses Flesch reading ease, a key indicator to determine how easily your target audience can read and process information on your website. A higher score indicates your content is more easily readable while a lower score means you should revisit your content and make it easier for your audience.

The most popular WordPress SEO plugin, Yoast SEO features Content Readability as an important component of their SEO tool in order to help users measure readability score.

While Flesch Reading Ease is an effective metric to understand how your target audience is likely to interact with your content, it doesn’t take into account the modern challenges in the B2B industry.

Developing content for an audience in the B2B industry is a different ball game altogether. There are different types of decision makers having varied comprehension skills and unique reading environments. Moreover, the way they interact with your content also changes depending on the time of the day. All these factors influence how they read and engage with your content from the get go. Arguably, evaluating and optimizing readability of the modern B2B audience is not the same.

Therefore, content marketing tools such as Atomic AI lays emphasis on the readability of content with a brand-new approach: machine learning.


How to Improve Readability for B2B Audiences

Use Specialized Terminology

Readability experts suggest “speaking the user’s language.” While this sounds pretty straightforward on the surface, it’s actually quite complicated. Content marketers should understand who their actual audience is and optimize their content’s readability accordingly.

For example, there’s a difference between writing for experienced professionals and trainees even if they belong to the same industry.

Contrary to the conventional advice, using specialized terminology actually makes your writing concise and easily comprehensible for niche industry professionals. Similarly, using jargon and industry-specific words can also make your texts easier to read.

Apart from helping readability, using specialized terminology also helps your SEO metric as you tend to use industry-specific keywords, making your content relevant to related search queries.

Employ Inverted Pyramid Writing Style

Using an inverted pyramid writing style is a popular approach to improving content readability. You begin with a paragraph that acts like an overview or conclusion while drawing your audience in to read further and in detail. When combined with storytelling, this approach can be very effective in improving the readability of your content.

Minimize Cognitive Load

Much like computers, human brains can only consume and process a limited amount of content at a given point. Therefore, when your content challenges that limit, your audience may experience “cognitive load.” To reduce cognitive load, you take advantage of the existing mental models, i.e, using words, phrases, style of writing, and layout that your audience is already familiar with. Similarly, keeping in mind that devices of your audience can help your writing content that easily readable.

Final Thoughts

Improving the readability score of your content often boils down to keeping your readers’ priorities in mind. While writing a sales copy, focus on the benefits rather than the product. For guides, develop a story your audience can easily relate to building your narrative around the story. Keep your paragraphs short and sentences shorter. Use the language your audience is familiar with and employ industry jargon only when you’re speaking experienced professionals. You should also consider the visibility of your content above the fold on all devices.

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