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“Little” Mistakes That Can Cost You Big-Time

 

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When you visit a new website, how long does it take you to get a sense of whether you like it or not? Five minutes? Two?

 

Try less than ten seconds – and if you believe some studies, it could be as little as 50 milliseconds, or just 1/20 of a second (read more here or here).

 

That’s all it takes for a new visitor to form an opinion that keeps them reading – or has them hitting the “back” button on their browser.

 

While website design plays a huge role in people’s first impressions, content is still critical for building trust and credibility, and ultimately for converting those new visitors into customers.

 

It’s Not Just What You Say – It’s HOW You Say It

Sure, that might be something your overly-emotional girlfriend used to throw at you during fights in high school – but it’s true for websites too.

 

The thing is, it doesn’t matter whether what you have to say is utterly brilliant and life-changing – if you’re saying it with typos, grammatical errors, and head-scratching punctuation, you’re gonna send visitors away in DROVES.

 

In other words, spelling, grammar, and syntax sins will cause your conversions – and ultimately, your bottom line – to suffer.

 

Three Ways Sub-Par Spelling and Grammar Hurt You

Not convinced? Here are three ways these “little” mistakes can cost you BIG-time:

 

  1. Your website won’t show up in search results. The sad truth is that most folks can’t spell these days. Luckily for them, search engines tend to automatically fix their mistakes. So when they search for a certain keyword or phrase, it’s spelled correctly. That may not sound like a problem, but if your website has that keyword spelled INCORRECTLY, guess what? It’s not going to show up in the search results, and that potential customer who’s looking for your business? They’re not gonna find you.
  2. People will associate your website with SPAM – and I’m not talking about canned meat here. (Although that association would be equally undesirable.) Spam and phishing sites share a reputation for unbelievably awful writing that’s littered with tragic typos, misused homonyms, and atrocious grammar. So if your site has some obvious mistakes, people are automatically going to associate it with online scammers – and you can wave buh-bye to their business.
  3. You’ll look like a hack. Not being able to spell simple words or use commas correctly will cost you credibility, which is a HUGE part of building up trust with potential customers. It comes down to this: if your visitors don’t see you as credible, you’re not gonna see their dollars.

 

How Many Customers Can You Afford to Lose?

STILL not convinced? Maybe this will grab your attention: an online entrepreneur in the UK, Charles Duncombe, found that poor spelling could cut a website’s sales in HALF – and he wasn’t talking about a website riddled with typos. That result was from a SINGLE spelling mistake! In fact, another poll (also in the UK) showed that 74% of Brits said they absolutely notice when a website has spelling or grammar mistakes, and 59% of them wouldn’t give their business to a company that has poor grammar on its website. Fifty-nine percent!!

 

I can’t say I disagree with them, and really, it’s kind of tragic. Time and time again, I’ve come across online entrepreneurs who have the most amazing, brilliant, life-changing products and services to share with the world.

 

And then, I take a look at their websites and get assaulted with typos, grammatical errors, awkward phrases, repetitive phrases, misused and abused punctuation marks, and more.

 

And let me tell you, as a potential client, it turns me off. Like, IMMEDIATELY.

 

What sloppy copy tells me is that, while those entrepreneurs may care about what they do, they don’t quite care ENOUGH to ensure they’re delivering the very best writing to their visitors. It tells me they don’t pay attention to detail, and that maybe they’re not willing to invest in their own businesses.

 

And it makes me wonder, if they can’t even bother spelling things right on their website, how can I be sure they’ll treat me right as a customer?

 

Save Yourself! Five Ways to Avoid These Little Costly Mistakes

Ok, I’ll admit it: checking for spelling, grammar, and syntax mistakes is one of the LEAST sexy things you’ll do as an online entrepreneur – but I can’t stress enough how critical it can be to your business.

 

You’ve GOT to invest time into checking your writing – and not just in the few seconds before you hit the “publish” or “print” button. Build this step into your blogging, publishing, or marketing schedule and treat it like the serious deal it is.

 

How can you clean up your writing? Here are five simple strategies:

 

  1. Use online tools like CheckDog or Ginger, or even MS Word’s spell-check function, to correct any obvious mistakes.
  2. Learn the most common writing errors, so you can spot them and fix them – or better yet, avoid them in the first place! This checklist from my friend Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living is seriously spot-on.
  3. Step away from the computer – take a break from your piece and come back to it an hour, a day, or even a week later. The more time you can get away from it, the more quickly you’ll home in on any mistakes in your writing.
  4. Have someone else read your work – ideally, this would be a professional copy editor, but at the very least, have a friend or business partner review your words.
  5. Slowly read your writing, word by word, OUT LOUD. (Note: I don’t recommend this method when you’re working in, say, Starbucks.) Your brain is pretty magical – when you read silently, it tends to overlook mistakes, fill in missing words, and correct errors (brains are so helpful that way!). Forcing yourself to painstakingly read every word aloud will help you catch errors right away – and kick ‘em to the curb.

 

The bottom line here is, if you care about your customers and your reputation, prove it by taking some time and care with your writing. If you don’t, you could seriously harm your business.

 

And that’s one mistake you definitely can’t afford to make.

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Your turn – tell me what you think!

Are “little” mistakes like typos and poor punctuation no big deal? How do you react when you visit a website with grammar and spelling errors? Do you give them the benefit of the doubt, or do you move on to another site? Share in the comments below!

 

5 comments

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  1. Farnoosh Brock (@prolificliving)

    Excellent job on one of my favorite and most passionate topics, Jenn. Now I know I’m not alone in this fight ;)!

    1. Jenn

      Never fear, Farnoosh, you will never be alone in the fight!!! :) It’s something I’m super passionate about, too – between being a life-long avid reader and completing a communication-focused honors track in college, I just can’t look at anything in the written form without seeing (and correcting) any mistakes. You should hear me on road trips – when I see a huge billboard with a glaring (to me, anyway) error, my poor husband has to hear me rant and rave about it for ten minutes! LOL

  2. Richard

    Jen – you are absolutely correct… many times I’ve been reading something and when I see poor grammar, misspellings, etc. I automatically form a negative opinion of both the writer and the source.

    1. Jenn

      Yes, and it’s such a shame when that happens! Even if someone’s forte isn’t writing (or editing), they can easily hire someone to do the job for them, and it makes such a difference! Just giving their website or promotional materials that professional sheen can go a long way with prospects! Thanks for reading!

  3. Andre

    I’m convinced!

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