Joe Degand: The cost of poor grammar

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Sure, crossing your Ts and dotting your Is aren’t things you need to worry about when drafting your marketing content on Word, BUT there are plenty of other important things to keep an eye out for to ensure what you’re putting out is the best it can be – and two of them are grammar and spelling.

Even Lord Alan Sugar gets a bit upset at seeing people make mistakes and rightly so.

On a recent episode of The Apprentice, one of the show’s groups was tasked with selling a flashing jacket for cyclists called a gilet.

The contestant got to planning and created a Crowdfunder page for the product. In it, they said that they were raising money for a gillet that rides around at night, flashing. Lord Sugar was quick to point out that gillet is actually the Scottish word for a ‘loose woman’.

According to an older, but still relevant, BBC article, spelling mistakes cost millions in lost online sales. An article from RealBusiness claims that 59% of Britons would not use a company with poor grammar on its website. But why?

In a day and age wrought with digital fraud and questions of internet safety, proper grammar and spelling is key to giving your company credibility in the digital world. Without it, someone out there will question the legitimacy of your website and company – and, in the end, you could lose sales.

So what are some of the top mistakes to avoid when writing copy for your company’s marketing? Here’s a breakdown

Too many, too few or misused apostrophes and commas: it’s near impossible for anyone, including myself, to wrap their head around each and every nuance for these two tricky-to-use pieces of grammar.

This then leads to underuse or overuse, which could throw up red flags for folks reading through your site. The best thing to do, when it comes to apostrophes and commas, is brush up on your knowledge by browsing the web and refreshing the rules for use in your mind.

Their/There/They’re, Its/It’s and To/Too/Two: similar to apostrophes and commas, these types of mistakes are all too common within websites and on social media.

The worst part is that there are countless self-proclaimed ‘Grammar Police’ ready to point out any and all mistakes, bringing them to the attention of hundreds of others. My advice here is to, again, brush up on the uses of each of these, even it’s just to reinforce what you already know.

Overreliance on spell-check: yes, spell-check works wonders when it comes to picking up errors like chcek yuor speling. The problem is that it won’t pick up chick you’re smelling – so be careful and always read through text one, two and then three times.

Fat Finger Syndrome, or FFS: according to the online world, this cheeky condition is caused by tiredness and laziness and can lead to lack of concentration and making embarrassing typos. This can be especially true when tpying fsat and making errors like the ones I just did. Just like when you’re driving, if you get tired while writing, take a break for your marketing’s sake.

Now, here are a few quick tips to help avoid costly copy mistakes:

  • Proofread it yourself at least three times
  • Read it out loud
  • Read it backwards
  • Look for one type of mistake at a time
  • Take advantage of free sites and services, like Grammarly, Typosaurus, Respelt and checkdog.com, to check your writing
  • Have someone else check it over
  • Take breaks when proofing

Copy is king when it comes to your marketing, especially online, so be sure to maintain a keen eye for detail and, once you think you’ve got it perfect, give it one more once-over.