How much thought do you give to grammar and spelling when you’re creating content for your website, writing social media posts or preparing to send emails to your clients? Do you worry about how your spelling might make you look? And the impression you will leave if it is incorrect?
The fact is, there is no single answer to how important your grammar and spelling is. Your audience has a lot to do with it, as does your business and industry. With that said, aiming for accuracy is best because there are some people in every audience who are sticklers. Here are some reasons why you should be giving more thought to your written words before you hit “Publish.”
1. Confused and distracted people do not buy
If your spelling and grammar make anything confusing or the spelling is so bad that readers can become distracted from your intended message, then you will not make optimal sales. This isn’t because your customer pool is filled with sticklers for accuracy, rather, it is because people don’t makes purchases which confuse them.
2. You want to come across as credible
In the online world it is especially easy to be scammed. How many emails have you got from the Prince of Nigeria or ones which claim to be from a bank in another country asking for help depositing funds? Too many to count, I’d bet. What makes these scams hilarious, aside from their insane premises (unless, of course, you have reason to believe you have a long lost foreign aristocrat in the family), is their command of the English language. Words will be missing, spelling will be butchered beyond all recognition, and capitalisation is often erratic.
As a legitimate business, you don’t want to make the mistake of abandoning grammar rules at the risk of loosing the credibility you’ve worked so hard for. Even if readers don’t consciously or deliberately lump you in with Prince Nicholas of Wh
erever, the general understanding is that if you can’t be trusted to write an error-free social media or blog post, then you cannot be trusted to perform whatever task you might be hired for.
3. Young people may care less, but they still care
Some business owners find it difficult to believe that in the age of the emoji and the selfie that we still care as much as we do about spelling, grammar, and usage. When we add new slang, terminology, and technology to our collective understanding of language we aren’t erasing the old stuff, we are instead building on what already exists. If your audience is younger, pay attention to what they respond to, but don’t abandon the rules entirely. (Think of it this way, Grammar Nazis were young once, too!)
4. Not all errors are created equal
If you aren’t current on punctuation rules or like to pepper your posts with commas, you may be able to get away with making regular mistakes. The errors readers are most likely to notice are also the ones they are least likely to forgive, and these errors pertain to spelling and word choice. When posting online content, typos tend to be the most common mistake – and if readers notice these spelling issues, they often aren’t afraid to mention them. Particularly in social images spelling errors stick out like a sore thumb!
Which brings us to point number 5.
5. Where your clients are from will influence what they perceive to be errors
Where in the world are you?
Are you located in Australia? Are your clients? If you are conducting business online you need to keep in mind that you are working in a global marketplace. If you want to have the broadest reach I would recommend using language that matches your client base. If your clients are in the U.S. things are your favorites. If your clients are in the U.K. or Australia, things are your favourites. The most important thing is to be consistent, even if you are brand new and are not sure where the majority of your clients will be yet. If you feel American English is the standard in your industry then use it, but sure to proof your work for accidental usage of native spellings or slang. Flip flopping back and forth will confuse your readers. (You remember why you don’t want confused customers, right?)
What do you think?
- Did I miss anything?
- What has your experience been, either as a customer when a business made an error OR as a business who realized too late that you had made a mistake?
- Do you proof your posts carefully for errors before you share them? Let me know in the comments.
This issue is a tricky one, so I’d love to hear your thoughts & experiences!