Office Life

Why Spelling Errors Affect Your Business (and How to Avoid Making Them)

Have you ever gone to a website to browse their products or read a business blog and found nothing but spelling or punctuation errors? Yikes! These mistakes can easily change a writer’s credibility. If a business doesn’t take the time to ensure their product and brand are advertised correctly, then what faith should we have in the quality of their product?

You wouldn’t read a book that has misspellings or run-on sentences, would you? So, why would you settle for spelling errors in your advertisements? In the age of digital advertising, consumers are exposed to a minimum of 300 marketing messages per day. This includes the overload of ads you see on social media, the Internet, and gaming apps on your cell phone.

Every business from a basement startup to a Fortune 500 company is trying to get their content and product to stand out. This process can be time consuming and tedious, and more often than, not spelling and grammar will get put on the back burner. However, as it turns out spelling and grammar do matter in the eyes of consumers.

Studies have shown that just one spelling mistake on a website can cut a company’s online sales in half. That means a business could have potentially had $1,000 in sales (as opposed to the $500 in sales received) if their website didn’t contain a misspelling. Other studies state that more than half of consumers spend 15 seconds or less on a company’s website or looking at an advertisement. The window to make a good first impression is so tiny that you could lose a customer in the blink of an eye with poor grammar and spelling.

No matter what your business is, it’s important to seize all opportunities to hook clients and maximize profits. It’s better to spend time and money now in order to build a stronger brand rather than lose money later because of an avoidable error. Even established corporations might learn a thing or two from these simple tips!

Tip #1: Don’t rely entirely on spell check

The idea of spell check sounds great in theory, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your text is foolproof. For example, let’s look at a small ice cream shop that wants to advertise a special on their ice cream. The shop decides to hang a banner that says: “Buy one, get one free Sundays.” Technically there are zero spelling errors in this message. However, from a consumer standpoint, the customers might think all menu items are buy one, get one free on Sundays. What the ice cream shop really meant to say though is, “Buy one, get one free sundaes.”

Spell check simply makes sure that the words you typed are spelled correctly, not that the words make sense. Not to mention, spell check has a very limited dictionary and can become outdated easily. This means you could be spelling something right, but spell check is telling you that it’s wrong. Plus, not all versions include grammar checkers. Therefore, your spelling could look fantastic while your grammar is sloppy. Spell check is a great start to editing your work, but it should never be the only or last step before hitting send or publish.

Tip #2: Take a break and revisit

When you’re done writing something, let it sit for at least thirty minutes then revisit it later. This will allow you time to disassociate yourself with your work. Rereading what you wrote after a mental break will allow you to notice errors you might have glanced over while writing. It’s very common for people to glance over errors if they attempt to proof and edit while writing because they’re so familiar with the content.

This tip is actually recommended by many writing centers, professors, and authors. Coming back to your content after a break helps you clear your mind and look at your work more critically. Not only is this good for editing, but it is also great for mental clarity and preventing writer’s block. So take a break! Answer some emails, go to a meeting, take a walk, or enjoy your lunch before you start the editing process.

Tip #3: Four eyes are better than two

If possible, always have someone else read over your work before it’s published – the more people, the better! A friend or colleague may have a different way of processing information or offer a different perspective you never thought of. When you have many editors, your potential errors are more likely to be caught and fixed before the final publishing stage.

A third-party reader that isn’t familiar with the material or industry you’re representing is a great resource to have edit your work. This is because they may have suggestions to make the information easier to digest or suggest an innovative way to present the material. Another tip would be to read the text out loud. It’s easy to skim or overlook something when you’re reading quietly to yourself. By reading aloud, you’re limiting yourself from skipping over a word.

Tip #4: One at a time

Here’s the truth: Sometimes the most savvy marketing managers and social media specialists aren’t master editors. Even old pros at proofing have an off day from time to time. But we’ve got a no-fail, expert-approved method for editing.

When going back over your work to edit and proofread, try checking for one type of error at a time. This allows you to limit your focus and more likely to catch your mistakes. If you try to stretch your attention over five different issues at once, you’re most likely going to glance over more mistakes because you’re looking for too many things.

Follow these steps when proofreading your next project:

  1. Check for spelling errors.
  2. Check for grammar – this includes commas, semi colons, and anything else that has to do with the structure of your sentences.
  3. Check for punctuation – this would be your periods, question marks, exclamation points. Ask yourself, is the sentence a statement (period), a question (question mark), or something exciting (exclamation point)?
  4. Check for accuracy. If you have dates, important names, or historical references mentioned in your article, double check to make sure the information you have is accurate.
  5. Read out loud to check flow, tone, and subject-verb agreements.
  6. Repeat as needed.

We know that deadlines can be stressful for everyone, but proofreading documents in the aforementioned steps shouldn’t add extra time to your overall editing. In fact, checking one issue at a time can actually benefit your proofreading because your brain isn’t trying to digest every possible problem all at once.

When it comes to creating content that will shine in a sea of competition, these tips will aid in the quest for content perfection.  Let’s face it, nobody wants to be the person who cost the company to lose money over a spelling error, whether it’s on their website or a promotional product. You know you’ve got a great product, so go out there and create some excellent, error-free content to match!

Are you a stickler for grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Do you know of any mistakes that cost a company sales? Let us know in the comments below!

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Image credit to Brian Warren.