“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”
This is advice deemed clever the first time you hear it, and gospel the second you’re doomed by ignoring it. It is difficult to change a negative first opinion and yet so many websites – not to mention brochures, flyers, introductory letters and so on – greet prospects with typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. As this is often the first impression a prospective client (or employee) has of your business, are you willing to chance getting a second look?
A single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half according to recent analysis of website sales by online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe:
“Poor spelling is costing the UK millions of pounds in lost revenue for internet businesses”, stated Mr Duncombe in a recent BBC News article. 1
He went on to explain that it is possible to identify and quantify the specific impact of a spelling mistake on sales. He measured the revenue per visitor to the tightsplease.co.uk website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected.
“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 simple spelling mistakes.”
While Duncombe’s research and analysis doesn’t appear to be particularly far-reaching, the very fact that the BBC saw fit to run this headline highlights that it is a legitimate concern.
Major corporations are not exempt from the embarrassment (and monetary cost) of failing to proofread their content carefully. Capcom’s first production run of the Resident Evil: Revelations game for the Nintendo 3DS consoles in the US market read “Revelaitons” on the spine. In the United Kingdom a few years ago DDS Media had to destroy 10,000 DVDs because celebrity Eamonn Holmes’s name was misspelled – on the cover of a spelling game!
Spelling mistakes play poorly in politics as well. David Parker’s “Vote Banks – Get Both Dopes” sticker gaffe in the 2011 New Zealand election campaign was humbling to say the least; spelling “parliament” without the second “a”, he received an “F” grade for it in a wave of jibes via Twitter. Every vote counts. If your brand is new to a market or to a prospective client, are poor grammar and misspellings “revelaitons” that are ruining your reputation? Will your website get a second look? Even if your reputation is impeccable, is this a game you can afford to play?
Many people believe erroneously that spell-checker software will detect and correct all their mistakes. While these programs cover many cracks, sometimes their proposed changes can have hilarious, or worse, downright embarrassing, outcomes. In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, E. S. Gaffney wrote that when she worked for a Department of Energy laboratory, she submitted a proposal to someone with the last name Prono. The spell-checker automatically changed poor Mr Prono’s name to … well, you can probably guess. The mistaken correction went unnoticed and the proposal failed.
Spell-checkers don’t discriminate between “fat and accurate typists” and “fast and accurate typists”. Even if the former is true, the latter is probably the better first impression on your job application. I personally worked in an office where a colleague’s email informed three hundred other colleagues that the lunch that day would include – horrifyingly – “roast aborigine”. Fortunately “roast aubergine” was also available for all of the vegetarians! These typos will go unnoticed by most spellcheck and grammar programs.
Of course, it’s also possible to miss errors in a sentence that reads well unless the reader is well read. One recent edition of Hamlet dropped the “not” from “to be, or not to be,” one of the most famous quotes in English literature. Who got fired for this publishing nightmare? That is the question! No matter if you’re writing for your hamlet’s weekly newspaper or going global with a product launch, it’s always worthwhile to have a few sets of discerning eyes check your work.
We are increasingly inundated with marketing messages in every form of media – from newspapers, magazines and television to websites, emails and social networks. Our brains are constantly filtering all of this information to keep us from overloading the circuits. Doesn’t it make sense that punctuation, spelling and grammar may form one of our subconscious filters in this process of selecting what we give our attention to? When choosing which website to visit, which blog to read, or which ad to click on, we make use of all the filters we have at our disposal, even if we don’t consciously register that this filter is at work when we make our decision.
Don’t learn from your mistakes – earn from your retakes. Show the world the picture of you that’s most flattering – no matter how many times you need to reshoot it before publishing it. Some people will say that these types of mistakes don’t matter, but subconsciously they are probably making the same judgements as those who find them offensive before moving to the next suitor. Most people will notice them on some level and form impressions accordingly. For some it raises red flags about how much they can trust your business. Is this a real site or a phishing scam? If they notice an error, they aren’t thinking about your sales message, they are thinking about the typo. Allow a fat typist to cannibalise your reputation and you’ll be the next item on the menu!
VaVaZoom loves those admin jobs you hate – like editing and proofreading! From a quick editorial review of your flyer before you get it printed, to a comprehensive review of your website, we’ll help you avoid those embarrassing typos that impact on your reputation, credibility and even online sales. Talk to us today about how we can help you.
1 “Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales” by Sean Coughlan, BBC News Education Correspondent. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14130854
2 “Spell check! ‘Shcool’ blunder erased” by Jessica Simeone and Jennifer Fermino, New York Post.