Real Data: How Poor Spelling is Costing You Money
If you’re one of those folks who has creativity and drive, but less-than-excellent spelling and grammar, it’s costing you big time. Here’s why it’s so important to mind your p‘s and q’s, with the data to back it up.
*Disclaimer: It’s inevitable that any spiel declaring the need for editing will have at least one error. Just so you know.*
You may be rolling your eyes skeptically, which I totally support. But here are some studies to support my claim.
1. Website Planet ran their own A/B tests, hypothesizing that Google ads and landing pages with more errors would result in fewer clicks and conversions (purchases). They found that clicks were reduced by up to 70% and bounce rate (leaving a site after viewing only one page) was increased by up to 85%.
2. A study by Global Lingo, cited in a RealBusiness article, found that 59% of British respondents said they wouldn’t buy from a website with obvious spelling and grammatical errors.
3. CXL reports that tightsplease.co.uk noticed a misspelling of the word “tights” on one of their web pages. When they fixed the error, conversions jumped by 80%. While not conclusive evidence, that would be a pretty big coincidence.
4. Grammarly reviewed 100 LinkedIn accounts, and found that professionals who failed to progress to director level made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as those who had been promoted in the same time period.
Here’s why errors have such a negative impact on your bottom line.
1. Your prospects are judging you – This may be hard to believe, but people judge other people. I know, it’s shocking. And one of the things they look at is spelling and grammar. I don’t mean the occasional missed comma; I mean repeat and obvious errors. According to BBC Worklife, a 2016 study showed that 39% of Match.com respondents “judged the suitability of candidates by their grasp of grammar.”
2. You seem sketchy: After the whole Russian-bot-election debacle, people are more aware than ever of cyber scams. Improper spelling, grammar, or word usage on a website, ad, or email is a huge red flag. If someone feels unsafe, they’ll to make a run for it.
3. You seem lazy or uncaring: When all you have to do is run a quick program and fix 80-90% of your errors, readers assume you don’t care enough to take the extra time. Would you want to work with someone like that?
4. Your point is unclear: In marketing and sales, lack of clarity means your message will be ignored. In the workplace, your reader may be irritated or underwhelmed. Additional communication will be needed to clarify, and time is money.
5. Your message is misinterpreted: There are some hilarious examples of this. Some editor favorites are “Let’s eat Grandma” vs. “Let’s eat, Grandma,” and “I like baking children and dogs” vs. “I like baking, children, and dogs.” But even less-extreme instances can cause issues.
6. Mistakes are distracting: Your reader should be focused on what you’re saying, not how you’re saying it. If they’re noticing errors, their focus will be diverted from your message.
Should I be worried?
Here are some of the people who should be most concerned with these issues.
1. Business owners and sales reps: If you’ve heard of the “Know, Like, and Trust” principle, correct writing falls into the “Trust” category.
2. Upper management: You can’t afford to look lazy or uncaring, but you also don’t have a lot of time, which tends to result in typos.
3. Marketing managers/directors: Marketing is often viewed as a cost center. You don’t want anything, especially easily-fixed things, to reinforce that misconception.
4. Editors: Lead editors especially have so many simultaneous pieces that require content focus, you don’t have as much time for the details—but they’re no less important.
5. Publications: Magazines and blogs similarly have constant output, multiple pieces, and tight deadlines. But the numbers don’t lie, and your publication is just as susceptible to lost business from errors.
At this point, you probably won’t be surprised when I suggest you hire a freelance editor to handle all this for you. Yes, you can use programs, but there is quite a bit they won’t catch. And nowadays, many freelancers do both writing and editing, which is especially useful as a time-saver for upper management & business owners. Here are a couple of options:
1. Hire me, or a member of my team (you knew that was coming).
2. Check out the Editorial Freelancers Association for qualified candidates.
3. Fiverr has a freelancer marketplace, with some reasonable prices, but be careful of suspiciously cheap offers . . . you get what you pay for.
In the age of AI, with free, easy-to-use programs like Grammarly and ProWritingAid, your writing should be at least fair-to-middling in terms of correctness. But with a professional editor or writer, you can make your business communication excellent—and make sure you’re not losing money.