If you asked me to give you just ONE piece of advice to help you improve your online marketing efforts it would be this:
Hire an editor.
Let me say that again:
HIRE AN EDITOR.
Seriously. Hire an editor.
As a lifelong communications junkie, I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to find third-grade spelling mistakes in a company’s newsletter or social media updates – or to read an article that has no clear structure or uses twenty words to describe an idea when two or three will do.
It’s not just me, either – a recent article from AdWeek cited a study that showed “74 percent of consumers pay attention to the correctness of the prose on company Web sites, and 59 percent of respondents said they would avoid doing business with a company that’s made obvious errors.” (Emphasis mine.)
The article goes on to cite another study that revealed that “58 percent of consumers were either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ annoyed by the presence of copy errors.” One respondent was quoted as saying, “If … I see a typo, I’ll leave without buying a thing.”
I’m not saying you have to be a professional writer or have a PhD in English in order to be a successful marketer – far from it. Marketing communication is far more authentic and effective when it conveys the business owner’s own ideas and natural way of expressing him- or herself.
But when your official business messages include common mistakes such as using “it’s” instead of “its,” “loose” instead of “lose,” or “myself” instead of “me,” you will lose (NOT loose) credibility with your audience.
Here’s why it matters
When I see egregious spelling and grammar errors on a website or in a newsletter, it suggests to me that one of two things are happening:
- The business owner can’t be bothered to put out quality work. I’m guessing that people who often misspell words and fall prey to common grammar errors probably know they’re prone to making mistakes. The fact that they haven’t made the effort to fix those mistakes before publishing their message where hundreds or thousands of people can see it makes me worry that they will extend that same “meh, good enough” attitude to their products and services.
- The business owner can’t afford to hire an editor. Good editors will charge anywhere from $40-$50/hr and up for their services. I understand this isn’t cheap. But having marketing messages that are as error-free, professional, and effective as possible is worth it. When I come across businesses that haven’t made this fundamental investment in their marketing, it suggests to me that they haven’t yet reached a level of success that allows them to hire a professional editor. And that makes me wary of hiring them or referring my clients to them.
I can think of several business owners who are very good at what they do –yet I have never referred any of my friends or clients to their websites because the grammar and spelling mistakes on them are so bad that I’m worried they would reflect poorly on ME.
The bottom line is, their spelling and grammar mistakes are costing them far more business than the investment of a good editor would have cost!
Bad speller ≠ bad marketer
I’m not trying to shame not-so-great spellers into feeling bad about themselves. I know a large number of amazingly intelligent people who aren’t so hot at spelling and grammar. We all have different skill sets and that’s what makes us awesome. (I, for example, can’t draw a stick figure or keep my business papers organized to save my life. I’m sure many of you would recoil in horror if you saw what my desk looked like most days.)
Being a not-so-great speller doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad marketer. It just means that you would greatly benefit from using the services of a professional editor who can polish your marketing messages and make sure they’re as effective as possible before you send them out.
And if you’ve gone to the effort of writing that newsletter, article, or web copy, why not make sure it gives you the best results possible?
Looking for a great editor? Let me hook you up
I don’t offer professional editing services myself but I would be happy to put you in touch with one of my brilliant friends who do. I don’t get any sort of kickback from my referrals – it just makes me happy to connect awesome businesses with talented professionals who can make their marketing efforts even more effective.
You can get in touch with me here.