It’s one of those inexplicable things that seems to happen with alarming regularity. You’re scrolling through Facebook, or swiping through Insta, and a post suddenly catches your eye. Great graphics, or a funky video, and it’s promising you the earth. Maybe they’re trying to convince you to buy a new car, or perhaps they’ve got a killer social media marketing offer for you. Whatever it is, your interest is piqued.
You’re an inch away from buying this thing.
You like their confidence, their moxie, the fact there’s an iguana pulling a goofy face at you.
And then: a spelling mistake.
Fair cop, you think, it happens to the best of us. But half a sentence later you stumble into a ‘there’ that should have been a ‘they’re’, followed by a punctuation mark that confuses the shit out of you.
Before you know it you’re fighting an overwhelming urge to pull out a red sharpie and start correcting your screen.
In the blink of an eye, you go from ready-to-buy to cringing and fleeing before the English language is bastardised any further.
You Don’t Need To Be A Good Speller To Notice A Bad One…
The funny thing about this is that you might not be great at spelling yourself.
You might mix up your theirs, theres, and they’res. You might not understand the proper function of a semicolon or have the first clue what parentheses are, let alone how to use them.
I’ve run across more than a few business owners who were incredibly good at what they do, but couldn’t spell for toffee. And they didn’t care.
“People don’t care about that as long as I do a good job”, they’d tell me, “it’s not a problem.” Another common one is, “You’re just being a grammar Nazi. Normal people don’t notice.” And of course, the real corker, “Nobody spells properly online!”.
But the thing is, you don’t need to be a super savvy writer, a grammar Nazi, or even paying attention to notice when shit’s just plain wrong.
And the second you have that feeling about a company’s content, you lose faith in their abilities. That offer you were so keen on learning more about a moment ago suddenly seems dodgy.
You click away.
And you’re not alone.
59% of Brits won’t use a company whose marketing materials contain obvious grammatical errors.
Chew on that for a minute.
Now consider that crappy spelling and grammar will actually damage your content’s ability to rank.
Even Google thinks a business claiming to have professional knowledge of a subject should know how to spell it properly.
There is a correlation between poor spelling and grammar, and a loss of business.
A loss of potential profits.
None of us want that. You may hate the subject and think nobody cares. But you really need to cop on to the fact that you’re damaging your business by allowing spelling mistakes and grammatical errors to run riot over your content.
Here’s why poor spelling and grammar are really bad for business…
Pet Peeves And Grammar Gremlins…
Bad spelling is self-explanatory, but what exactly does poor grammar look like? Some of my pet peeves:
- Leaving apostrophes out of Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Most businesses run BIG promotions around these days and sink a LOT of money into promoting them. But are you really going to buy a card or gift from someone who can’t spell the name of the day right?
- Leaving apostrophe out of your own business name because …I don’t know, you think you own multiple businesses with the same name, instead of one that belongs to you?
- Using the word ‘whom’ in every context because you think ‘whom’ is how clever people say ‘who’. They’re different words with different meanings, they are not interchangeable.
- Using ‘your’ as if it’s the only variation of that word and can be used in any context. (For the record, ‘your’ refers to something that belongs to you, ‘you’re’ means ‘you are’, and ‘yore’ is an archaic reference to times past…)
- Using ‘there’ in a similar capacity. (FYI it’s ‘there’ as in ‘over there’, ‘their’ as in something that belongs to someone or multiple people, and ‘they’re’ as in ‘they are’).
It’s one thing to accidentally miss a spelling mistake – it happens, we all do it, particularly when typing a large volume of copy at speed. But the kind of mistakes I’m talking about here aren’t the occasional isolated accident.
Nobody’s going to boycott your business because of a single missed letter, or one errant word.
But the consistent inability to … ya know … write, is an indication that you simply don’t have a professional approach to marketing yourself. You don’t care to hire a professional to pen the words for you. You don’t even care to get a spell check to clean up the worst of it before you post.
The Problem Isn’t Grammar, Per Se…
A lot of people genuinely don’t understand grammar or how the English language works – usually because their schools didn’t take the time to explain any of it to them in a meaningful way that stuck. It’s not really a problem, unless you’re trying to present a professional product or service and expecting people to pay for it.
Then … well … it makes you look like an imbecile. (Sorry!)
I know some phenomenally intelligent people who can’t get your and you’re the right way around. Others who persistently use ‘their’ no matter what they’re actually trying to say. And still more who call me in a panic asking whether a word needs an apostrophe, and if so, where does it go? Is it before the s? After the s? Should it actually end ‘es’ instead?
This isn’t an issue of intelligence.
People do not expect everyone on the planet to have perfect English.
Rather, customers expect the companies they entrust with their hard-earned cash to have a level of professionalism.
And the inability to so much as run a spell check before hitting publish screams ‘amateur’.
Poor Spelling And Grammar Are Bad Business…
Poor spelling and grammar are genuinely not a reflection of intelligence. It may be a reflection of your level of education. But most often it’s a case of the level of thought you’re putting into what you’re writing, and the level of care you’re giving to checking what’s been written after the fact.
I’ve been known to use the wrong your on occasion when I’m firing off a text or replying on Facebook. It’s not important, I’m not giving it my full attention.
Marketing materials, however, are not the same as chatting with your friends online.
And here’s the thing. Mistakes may be understandable. They may not make you an idiot. And they may not bother 41% of the people reading your words. But what about the other 59%?
Are you really willing to lose 59% of your incredibly hard-won leads simply because you couldn’t be arsed proofreading your copy?
Because that’s all we’re talking about here, that’s all you need to do:
Check your work.
Have someone else check it.
Get a Grammarly subscription to check it for you. (Sidebar, it’s not infallible and frequently tells you to do unnecessary things, while missing other problems, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing!)
And if all that sounds like far too much effort, hire a professional writer to do it all for you.
How Bad Spelling Ruins Your Business…
You want specifics, I know. It’s not enough that some statistic is telling you that spelling stuff wrong is ruining your business. So, here are the very specific ways that putting out content littered with errors is screwing up your marketing efforts:
It Creates A Negative Impression That Sticks…
You’re coming across as unprofessional. It can ruin your reputation. You’ll become the cautionary tale, the screenshot shared in group chats so everyone can have a good laugh at the ineptitude of your marketing.
You’re Losing Money…
Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors could cost you so much money. 59% is over half your customer base.
Just think about that for a second.
If you’re losing almost 60% of potential customers because they’re sick to death of your syntax, how much more money would you be pulling in right now if you just sorted out your homophones?
Crappy Spelling Destroys Trust…
Mistakes destroy trust. Instantly. This is frequently not even conscious on the part of the reader. It’s just a gut reaction people have when deciding whether or not they’re going to try a product or service. Do I like these people? Are they genuine? Can I trust them to do a good job?
How can anyone trust you to do a good job of managing their social media when you can’t spell Instagram right?
When you don’t even misspell it on one post, but multiple times, giving the impression it’s not actually a typo at all, you just don’t know what the platform is called! Whether this is true or not doesn’t matter. That’s the appearance you’re giving – that you’re a marketing company claiming to be able to promote you on the Gram, while thinking it’s called Intergram
If you can’t get the name right it’s not likely you know how to effectively game the algorithms.
It Will Ruin Your Ability To Rank Well On SERPs…
Genuinely, poor spelling and grammar will affect your website’s ability to rank well. Content that would otherwise have been sitting pretty towards the top of page 1 will languish pages further back because the content has been flagged as bad.
Poor Grammar Is Skewing Your Customer Data…
How much time, effort and money have you invested in figuring out who your ideal customer is, what they like, what they dislike, and how best to attract them? You do this based on the conversion data you have.
Wouldn’t it be an absolute bitch to discover everything you think you know is wrong and the actual answer is ‘Only people who don’t mind the fact we’re illiterate will work with us’?
Why You Need To Clean Your Data…
It’s not just spelling mistakes skewing your customer data you need to worry about. Your data might be just plain wrong. Consider the effect of a spelling mistake in an email address. No joke, this genuinely happened a few weeks ago. I sent a proposal through to a prospect who had, up to that point, been very keen to sign up.
Unfortunately, his email address had a spelling mistake in it. He never received the email and, by some freak coincidence, we never got a bounce back to say it wasn’t delivered because the mistake was a real email address – just not his! By the time we realised the error, it was too late: he’d grown impatient waiting.
I’m in no way alone on this one. 58% of data errors occur because of a typo!
The moral of the story? Clean your data regularly!
Blame It On The Panda…
If the notion that bad spelling can tank your rankings is addling your brain, let me explain. See, way back in 2011 Google rolled out the infamous Panda Update.
Prior to this, ranking was far less complicated. Once Panda came along, however, search engines were able to filter out sites that had bad content and stop them from showing up on the SERPs.
Bad content now means you can’t rank.
How does the filter decide what constitutes ‘bad’ content? Glad you asked:
- Thin content – i.e. a page with so little written content the only thing to be found there is tumbleweed swooshing between headers.
- Duplicate content – swathes of text you’ve clearly copied and pasted from elsewhere.
- Spun content – you know the type; it’s sort of English but there’s something off about the way it’s put together. That’s because it was put together by a machine that took one piece of (possibly) well written content, cut it up and put it back together a hundred different ways to create lots of pages where previously there was only one. The notion behind this is that more pages means you will rank better, and spun content is infinitely cheaper than the creation of that many original pages. Panda put a stop to this shoddy tactic (and the world rejoiced).
Since then, algorithms have focused more and more on quality. High quality content is what it’s all about. If you can afford to create 10 mediocre posts or one really good article, go with the article. It will have a far greater SEO value.
The same year Google rolled out Panda, digital entrepreneur Charles Duncombe proved that spelling mistakes were costing the UK economy millions, and ran a particularly enlightening test that doubled one eCommerce site’s revenue simply by correcting a single spelling mistake.
With the algorithms now capable of using LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) and other clever tactics to identify what your content is about and how good it is, poor spelling and grammar really are damaging your ability to rank.
How To Avoid Costly Spelling Mistakes…
Here’s the thing, spelling mistakes happen. Grammatical errors happen. I’ve yet to meet a professional proofreader of any calibre who will guarantee zero errors after they’re done.
The hacks will try to convince you that this will be the outcome, but the truth of the matter is that even proofreaders are fallible.
The odd mistake will slip through the net here and there.
That’s just a reality.
But it’s a reality that people understand and accept. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the problem of every single piece of content you put out consistently containing multiple errors.
Even if it’s a short social media post with a single line of text.
Somehow, it’s still wrong, even though there were only a handful of words to contend with!
That’s not happenstance. It’s not down to human error. It’s not understandable.
Instead, that is indicative of a company who have no system in place to ensure they are producing quality content. It’s endemic of a company who isn’t willing to invest in itself. Who doesn’t care if the impression it gives is one of ineptitude.
You have two choices when it comes to fixing this:
- Ensure the person who writes your content has the training and tools needed to effectively craft and check their content for errors before it is published.
- Outsource your content to professionals who have all that training, all those tools, and years of experience to boot.
We offer a range of content creation services to ensure everything from your website copy to your blogs, social updates, Tweets and TikToks are always perfectly phrased and expertly crafted. Book a free consultation below to find out how we can help eliminate the very costly spelling mistakes that are costing you more than half of your potential clients and sales…