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Is Your Copy on The Right Track? 4 Proven Tests to Validate Your Copy for Maximum Impact


Schitts Creek I passed

Everyone goes on about Clarity and relevance -  We listen to our customers, we mine their reviews. But even then when we think we are ticking all those boxes our message and copy still miss our intended audience.


We're often too close to our words, and our projects to see it from our audience's view.

 

Being a writer means we should always be testing. 

We treat every ad, every email, and every sales page as a learning opportunity - some things will work - some won't.


Testing our copy creates another layer of separation between us and our work, especially during the editing process.


Here's how you can validate your copy


1/ Read it out loud

If your copy feels wrong, and you don’t know why, reading it out loud will usually catch the problem.

 

Reading out loud forces you to slow down and pay attention to each word. It creates a rhythm and shows you exactly where you’re losing your way.

 

You can spot grammatical errors, typos, and let's you correct your tone, and identify awkward sentences and phrases.

 

Even better get someone else to read it out loud.


2/ The 5-Second Test for Your Website Copy

5 seconds is usually enough for your site visitor to determine if they are going to stay or go.

 

The 5-second test is a qualitative research method that you can use to measure first impressions, and recall of your message (sticky copy) as well as evaluate how well you're communicating your message's purpose.


A visitor will stay longer on your website only when you deliver the following information in 5 seconds or less:

  • Who are you?

  • What product or service do you provide?

  • Why should I care? What is in it for me?


You can test things like your headline, subheadline, value prop, or your email subject lines. However, you can’t test big blocks of copy.

 

  • Place an image of your website in front of your testers for 5 seconds.

  • Remove the image and ask a few simple questions

  • For example to find out what stands out and what's being ignored.


 You can ask: "What do you think was the main message?"

"What does the company do?

Who do you think the website is aimed at?

“Where was the phone number?”

 

If you get a lot of “I don’t know” responses this can indicate your copy lacks clarity. 

While getting too many “I can’t remember” could mean your copy is not memorable.

Then Make the Necessary Changes To Your Copy and Test It Again

 


3/ The Cloze Test

A cloze test measures your visitor's comprehension - how well does your readers understand a piece of text through their previous knowledge and context.

 

This test works best for text 125 to 250-words.

 

Test your copy with real users from your target audience.

 

Remove one word every 5 or 6 words and replace it with a blank line.


(For good feedback, aim for at least 25 blanks but no more than 50).

 



Ask your tester to insert the missing words in the blanks relying on context and their prior knowledge of the subject.

 

You can either present the answers as multiple-choice answers ie: you provide a list of options for every blank for them to choose from

 

Or an open test, where your participants enter words in the blanks that they think might fit.

 

Finally, score the answers by counting the number of correct answers and dividing it by the total number of blanks.


Your results:

  • 60% or above - GOOD. This means your content is relatively easy for your participants to understand.

  • 40%-60% - Your reader may have some difficulties understanding the original text.

  • Less than 40% - Your text will frustrate your readers and should be rewritten.


4/ The Highlight Test

The Highlight Test is often used for UX and aims to see how your copy resonates emotionally with your readers.

  

Ask your tester to highlight the content that makes them feel confident in one colour (for example, blue) and the content that makes them feel uncertain in a different color (yellow).

 

This lets you visually assess the parts of your copy that are confusing your reader and needs to be rewritten.

 

The Highlight Test works best with some follow-up questions to learn why some copy is causing uncertainty


As a final Takeaway - Always take your results with a grain of salt. These test while you can learn a lot from them and allows you to catch things that you might miss aren't perfect - your tester is often not your target market.

 

Whatever your editing process, taking a few steps back gives you the space to listen to what you've written from a different perspective.

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