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7 Practices for Maximizing Audience Comprehension of Complex Topics

7 Practices for Maximizing Audience Comprehension of Complex Topics - D Custom

If you work in marketing, you know how often industry jargon gets thrown around. A/B testing, KPIs, retargeting… it can all become a bit overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with these complex topics.

Now consider how much highly technical language is used in industries like medicine, technology and business. At D Custom, many of our clients work in highly complex industries and are familiar with the business-specific concepts and lexicon they navigate daily. Words that make perfect sense to industry insiders are completely meaningless to the average reader.

When these businesses attempt to create sales or marketing content to attract new customers or communicate with existing ones, it can often be a challenge to shed that jargon and speak in straightforward language their customers can understand.

At D Custom, we create content for clients in industries including medicine, pharma, technology and higher education, all of which require a superior level of knowledge and understanding of those industries and the language they use. It’s our job to help these clients differentiate between complex marketing content that is speaking to an internal versus an external audience and tailor both kinds of content to their respective readers.

Today, we’re exploring the strategies we use to help clients break down technical, complex topics and language into something their external audiences can easily digest and comprehend.

Understanding Your Audience: A Crucial Foundation

Before we dive into the strategies, we first need to underscore the importance of knowing your audience. Often, we’ll help build content targeted both to a business’s internal employees as well as external customers, partners and prospects.

If an internal audience is your target, you can easily assume a higher level of technical industry knowledge among your readers. Feel free to use industry-specific terminology common among internal stakeholders and provide in-depth explanations and technical detail relevant to your unique audience’s expertise.

When you’re writing to an external audience, however, it’s important to recognize the varying levels of technical knowledge among external readers to create content that resonates with them.

As you begin to develop your external-facing content, assume a limited understanding of industry-specific jargon. Use plain language, avoiding unnecessary technical terms or acronyms and offer concise explanations without overwhelming your readers with excessive detail.

7 Practices to Help External Audiences Digest Complex Topics

1. Conduct a Thorough Analysis of your Audience(s)

Once you’ve defined your audience (or audiences— we often create content targeted to multiple segmented audiences for a single client), it’s important to conduct a thorough analysis of those target audiences before you even begin outlining your content. To better understand our client’s audience, we often employ strategies such as surveying or interviewing members of the target audience and creating highly detailed personas to represent different audience segments.

2. Define and Explain Technical Terms

Don’t assume your external audience understands industry terms that may seem obvious to you or your internal colleagues. Clearly define and explain any technical terms within your content upon first mention. Make these explanations concise and accessible to the average reader.

However, it’s important not to condescend to your audience, either. Speak to them as you might a respected colleague or customer who works in a different industry from your own.

To further enhance reader comprehension of complex information, you can also include a glossary with the content for quick reference or hyperlink technical terms to a more detailed explanation or glossary page. 

3. Use Helpful Metaphors and Analogies

Analogies and metaphors, when employed strategically, can help bridge the gap between technical concepts and everyday experiences your audience already understands. Choose analogies that resonate with your specific audience and ensure they accurately represent the technical concepts you’re trying to convey. You can also include visual aids alongside your analogies to encourage better comprehension.

4. Incorporate Visual Aids

In that vein, employing visual aids throughout your content, such as diagrams, charts, illustrations and interactive elements can significantly enhance reader comprehension. These devices make it easier for your audience to visualize abstract or complex concepts. Infographics, for example, are excellent visual tools for simplifying data and processes. You can also take things one step further and create interactive online tutorials or simulations to facilitate deeper comprehension and engagement.

5. Provide Examples of Concepts in Action

Offer your audience plenty of real-world examples of complex topics. For instance, you might demonstrate the power of a technology platform by providing actual case studies summarizing how it’s been used to solve problems or maximize efficiency. Real-world success stories can put abstract concepts into context for the reader, showcasing how theoretical knowledge works in practical situations while also highlighting how your business can provide positive outcomes. To connect with the broadest possible audience, use a diverse array of examples and case studies to which your readers can relate.  

6. Use Plain Language

Wherever possible, use simple, straightforward language free of jargon without compromising accuracy. If you must use industry-specific terms, be sure to define them parenthetically or by linking to a glossary or definition. Aim for clarity and simplicity in both your word choice and sentence structure to facilitate a reader-friendly experience.

To test the readability of your content, you can employ readability tools such as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, a metric that calculates how difficult a text is to read based on the length of words and sentences. You can also have a variety of readers (both internal and external) review your content before publication, gathering their feedback on where your language might be vague or confusing.

7. Seek Feedback from External Audiences

Even after you publish your content, you can continue to request feedback from external audiences to gauge the effectiveness of your communication efforts. Using strategies such as surveys or feedback sessions with your audience and monitoring social media for reader reactions, you can better understand your external audience’s challenges, identify areas of confusion that need further explanation and use their input to further refine your content creation strategy.

By integrating these practices into your content creation strategy, you can help your customers better understand your products, services and differentiators — and, in turn, better understand their own needs, desires and motivators.

As your industry and our world continues to evolve, the ability to decode complexity and communicate effectively will remain a cornerstone policy for building lasting connections with your readers. Successfully navigating the transition from internal technical language to plain language for external audiences requires a thoughtful, strategic approach that prioritizes the reader’s experience.

Our strategic approach involves taking a deep dive into our clients’ industries, learning to speak your language and translating it to your target audience to build understanding and affinity. Let’s talk about how D Custom can help you get the conversation started.