How To Make $801,732 By Speaking Like A 12-Year-Old

Fergal McGovern

CEO & Founder

3 min read

In 2004, the Department of Revenue in Washington decided to make their language so simple, a 12-year-old could understand it. From their website to the letters they sent, they rewrote all content in plain language.

No jargon, no acronyms, just content so simple any 7th grade student could understand. They did it initially as an experiment.

Could Speaking Like a 12-year-old Earn The Government More Tax Revenue?

Two years later, the experiment results were out, and they were a huge success. By simplifying the copy of just one tax letter, using plain language guidelines, they were able to:

  • Claim an extra $800,000 in taxes.
  • Triple the number of businesses voluntarily paying tax from 3% to 9%.
  • Exceed their goal of $1.2 million extra revenue in their first year by 66%.

All this for the cost of 1 cent for every dollar collected.

The Power of Copywriting

From million dollar sales letters to online landing pages that have built companies, good copy makes money. If you think about the copy that’s written in famous landing pages, what’s great about them? It’s the fact that they are:

  • Written with the target audience in mind.
  • Written with the product benefits stated in plain English.
  • Obvious call to actions tell the customer what to do.

Now imagine every business writing their blog posts, customer service emails and sales emails with these plain language guidelines in mind. If every touchpoint was easy to understand for the customer, what would happen?

Marketing results:

  • Landing page conversions would go up.
  • CPL would go down.
  • Marketing ROI would increase.

Sales results:

  • Volume of sales would go up.
  • Conversion rates would go up.
  • CPA would go up.
  • Revenue would increase.

Customer service results:

  • Number of self-serving customers would go up.
  • Number of calls coming in from customers would go down.
  • Gross profit margin would go up.

All because you made sure that the copy on your website was easy to read, even for a 12-year-old.

The Big Win Businesses Can’t Win

Making sure your copy is clear, simple and speaks directly to your customers is difficult. It’s also one of the few ways to improve every aspect of your business at once. But how can you do this at scale? What metrics do you use?

This is where VisibleThread’s Cloud Service comes in. VisibleThread’s Cloud Service scans entire websites and gives each page a readability score.

It can do this with 50 pages or 50,000 pages.

From there, VisibleThread’s Cloud Service creates a report showing the most poorly written pages. There’s a lot of copy to be scanned, with 3.5 billion web pages hosted by WordPress alone. Let’s run through an example.

How It Works

First, you enter your website. The Cloud Service then scans the website for four things:

  1. How many long sentences it uses.
  2. The average sentence length.
  3. The amount of passive language.
  4. Readability.

If you tweaked just these four metrics you could improve your copy (and your business) overnight.

Let’s see how this would work.

Step 1:

First, we scan the entire website for readability. The report looks like this.

Sample Website - plain language guidelines

Step 2:

We then look at every URL on the website and give it an individual score.

Website results - plain language guidelines

VisibleThread can scan as many webpages as you need so the report can go on for a while. The picture above is just a tiny snippet.

Step 3:

VisibleThread shows you exactly where the problems are in your web copy. Now you can edit the copy on these problem pages and improve their readability.

VisibleThread - plain language guidelines

We even put this article through the VisibleThread as part of the editing process.

Best of all, once the writers make the copy edits, you can measure the impact by using VisibleThread again afterwards. This will help you prove the ROI of using the software.

Find out more about how VisibleThread’s Cloud Service could help your CMS users maximize their ROI from using your platform. Contact our sales team here.

VisibleThread Cloud Service

VisibleThread’s Cloud Service helps your users manage their content at scale. Our API integrates with your product in minutes, and our revenue share option means it’s great for your customers and your bottom line.


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