Anything you write should be spelled correctly, but this is particularly important with content you use to market your business. A statistic used by entrepreneur Charles Duncombe in a BBC interview is that a single spelling mistake on a website can cut your online sales in half.
That may sound shocking, but here are some of the different ways bad spelling can affect your marketing:
Trust and reputation
If you can’t get your spellings right, how can anyone have confidence in you? They might think that if you don’t even bother to check your spelling, you’re either careless or always in a rush, which doesn’t bode well for your professional standards.
Is it a scam?
You’ve probably noticed that most scam emails you receive are littered with spelling errors, possibly made by writers whose first language isn’t English. It’s a good indicator that something isn’t right – you don’t want your writing to give that impression too.
An infamous spelling error made by Penguin Australia was reported widely, including in the Guardian. In The Pasta Bible, a recipe called for ‘freshly ground black people’ rather than black pepper. The problem was apparently spotted by a member of the public. The publishers apologised for any offence caused, but 7,000 copies of the book had to be destroyed at a cost of $20,000.
In addition to the traditional problems caused by spelling mistakes, on the internet they can cause technical difficulties too. Search engines look for strings of characters in sequence, so spelling errors in key words can affect where your site ends up in the listings.
Charles Duncombe told Practical Ecommerce that when his team noticed and corrected the prominent spelling error of ‘Tihgts’ on their website www.leggingsfordays.co.uk, conversion of visitors to the page jumped by 80 per cent.
And it’s not only on web pages that good spelling is important – a study by email scheduling company Boomerang looked at how subject lines affect response rates, and found that just one typo in the subject line can decrease response rates by 15%.
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How to avoid costly spelling mistakes
Spelling mistakes aren’t inevitable; you can avoid them by taking your time and double checking everything before you publish.
Don’t rely on your computer’s spellchecker. It may pick up incorrectly spelled words, but it won’t notice if you use the wrong word. For example, a spelling checker wouldn’t bat an eyelid if an estate agent offered a ‘semi-detached horse’ for sale – but their potential clients might.
A stitch in time…
To make sure you spot your own mistakes, once you’ve written your document, go away and come back to it again later. If you just keep looking at it without a break you’ll tend to see what you expect to be there, not necessarily what is there.
When you’re proofreading, don’t read your draft as a customer would; check it systematically for spelling, grammar, accuracy and consistency. Reading it slowly out loud may also help you look at and hear it differently. It can also help to hold a ruler or piece of paper under each line of text as you proof it, as this helps keep your eyes and mind focused on exactly what’s in front of you.
Finally, ask someone else to check it too. A second pair of eyes can bring a totally fresh view and help catch mistakes that you’ve missed – and that includes phone numbers and email addresses too. You could ask a friend or colleague to help, or you might consider paying for a professional proofreading service to make sure your words (and numbers) are just right.
Time spent editing and checking content is nothing compared to the potential cost of getting something wrong and the time needed to put it right later.
At Sorted Communications we offer both editing and proofreading services that will not only save you time and money, but could also help keep your reputation for accuracy and professionalism intact. If you could use a little extra capacity, contact us today.