Why Spelling Errors Affect Your Business (and How to Avoid Making Them)
Have you ever gone to a website to browse their products, only to find blatant misspellings or an overuse of commas, apostrophes, or exclamation points? I don’t know about the rest of the public, but that is an instant turn-off for me when it comes to a brand or company. If you don’t even want to take the time to make sure your product and brand are advertised correctly, then what faith should I have that your product is a sound product or even worth buying?
In this day and age, especially with our generation being extremely technology-based, earlier generations are now conditioned to navigate the World Wide Web. They’re “forced” to promote their companies in new and inventive ways, like with social media promotions and blogs. This, in turn, has caused them to hire more individuals to keep up with the many different avenues of advertising but it has also forced them to cut back on traditional positions such as copy editors or general editing teams.
At the time, these cutbacks may seem like an easy fix to a moderate problem, but most businesses don’t realize that they will pay largely for it in the long run. Studies show that a single spelling error can cut a company’s online sales in half. That means you could have potentially had 1,000 sales (as opposed to the 500 you received) had you fixed that spelling error of “staplar” to “stapler.” Companies’ websites, advertisements, and other media outlets provide approximately a 6-second window to grab a consumer’s attention. That means whatever a consumer decides to look at in that 6 seconds needs to be 100% correct. 99% of online sales are done through the written word, so consumers research via the descriptions, the materials, and the available colors to get a general idea of the product. The moment a consumer sees misspellings or other general errors, they begin to question the credibility of not only the product but also the website and company as well.
It’s inevitable that every company is going to have to come into the technology age regarding marketing and promotions. But for those just starting out, like the Mom-and-Pop shops or home-based businesses, it’s important to seize all opportunities to hook clients and maximize profits. Remember, it is better to spend money now to make money later than it is to lose money later because you never properly invested in the beginning. Even established corporations could learn a thing or two from these simple tips!
Tip #1: DO NOT rely entirely on writing program tools! (This includes spell check)
This tip applies to anyone who ever has to type in a word-processing program, whether for work, school, or personal pleasure. It’s a known fact that spell checkers have a limited dictionary; depending on which program or version you use (Mac, PC, 2004, 2010, etc), the dictionary and spell checker will vary. If you are using a program that is outdated by 5-10 years, then it is very likely that you will have documents that appear to be spelled correctly but are actually incorrect. That’s the English language for you — constantly changing! Also, be aware that not all versions of writing programs have a grammar checker in the first place. That means your document may include correct spelling but your grammar could be a 10-car pileup.
Tip #2: Take a break and revisit!
When you’re done writing something, let it sit for 30 minutes or an hour (however much time you can allow). Then come back to it and re-read it. You will refresh yourself with the content and perhaps notice errors you glanced over in your first sitting while you were writing. It is very common for people to glance over errors if they attempt to proof and edit while they are writing because they are so familiar with the content. Give your writing and yourself time to breathe so you can re-approach it and look at it with a fresh pair of eyes!
Tip #3: Four eyes are always better than two.
If possible, always have someone else read over your work before it’s published. Hell, the more people the better, actually. A friend or colleague may have a different way of processing things or just may know things you do not. The more eyes that check your work, the more potential errors will be caught and fixed before it works negatively against you. Also, a third-party reader will not be familiar with the material so they may offer tips to make the information easier to digest or suggest an innovative way to present the material to make it more appealing to a wider audience. The more people you reach, the better! That is potentially more money you stand to make. Truthfully, who couldn’t stand to make more money?
Tip #4: One at a time!
When going back over your work to edit and proofread, try checking for one type of error at a time. This allows you to focus more intently on the problem you are searching for. If you try to stretch your focus and attention over 5 different issues at once, then you are likely going to glance over a lot of mistakes because you simply forgot about it. So, when possible, first proof your document for spelling errors (since this tends to be one of the most common mistakes for everyone) and then check for grammar mistakes (this is a little bit more difficult because there are a million different ways to say something both incorrectly and correctly). Try to find an experienced proofreader (typically, English majors are good at this — most offices have at least one); they will be better versed in possible grammar errors and know how to aid you in fixing them. And, last but never least, is punctuation. Perhaps you forgot to add a period here or a comma there, or maybe you simply forgot that adding a semicolon can often transform a run-on sentence. Whatever the case may be, try to focus on these problems one at a time. Trust me, the benefits will be endless.
Hopefully these tips will aid you in your quest for perfection and do wonders for you like they have done for me. Nobody wants to be the person who cost the company money over the extra “e” mistake. At the end of the day, if we all just take a little more time and effort to look over all that we do, we could ideally save ourselves (and our companies) millions. And that’s ALWAYS a good thing!
Are you a stickler for grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Do you know of any mistakes that cost a company sales?
Image credit to Brian Warren.
Candice is on the web team at QLP. She's extremely family-oriented and enjoys spending all of her free time with her daughter and family. She LOVES to shop and just experience life again through her daughter's eyes. There's nothing better than that in the world for her!