Are your grammar and spelling killing your credibility?

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Whatever type of business you run, you’ll probably use the written word a great deal. From shop signs to top-level proposals, from business cards to customer service emails, most businesses depend on text as part of the way they get their message across. Every time you and your customer come into contact, it’s likely they’ll see something you’ve written. Whether that’s a discount sign, a catalog, a Tweet, or a welcome email, it’s important you make a good impression. But just how important?


Do consumers really care?

You might think that consumers would give companies the benefit of the doubt when it comes to spelling and grammar. After all, it’s products and services being sold, not English lessons. But studies show that’s not the case – consumers do care about the companies they trust getting their wording right.

Disruptive Communications asked over 1000 UK consumers which social media mistakes brands made irked them the most. Poor spelling or grammar was the runaway winner with 42.5% of respondents reporting they hated it. In comparison, ‘salesy’ updates were derided by 24.9%, and posting too much was the pet peeve of 12.8% of respondents.

How does that affect sales?undefined

So we know poor spelling and grammar annoys nearly half of consumers. But what effect does this have on the bottom line? Do potential customers really hesitate to pull out their credit card simply because of a typo?

To find out, British online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe made an analysis of website figures. After a single error was corrected on one of his websites, he found that conversions on the site jumped 80%. “If you project this across the whole of internet retail, then millions of pounds’ worth of business is probably being lost each week due to spelling mistakes,” Mr. Duncombe says.

Shady online business?undefined

Probably the worst place to have sloppy spelling and grammar is in your marketing communications, especially those that are online. This is because there is more to prove – in terms of gaining customer trust - on the internet than in person. With a bricks-and-mortar business, a consumer can walk right into a store and see you are a genuine operation. With the internet this is impossible, meaning that consumers have to find other ways to verify you’re not a scammer or spammer or trying to phish their data.

William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute says, “When a customer might be wary of spam or phishing efforts, a misspelled word could be a killer issue.”

Hurting your promotion prospects?

It turns out it’s not only customers who won’t take you seriously unless you’ve got your grammar in check. It seems your bosses might, too. By investigating LinkedIn profiles, Grammarly found out that ‘fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions’. Professionals who didn’t make it to director level within 10 years of starting their careers made two and a half times more grammar errors than their director level counterparts. So if you’re angling to step up a level in the workplace, it might be wise to keep an eye on your spelling and grammar.

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