Correct punctuation, grammar, and spelling are a must on your online content. Sloppy writing reflects on your brand.
You know how hard you work to differentiate yourself from your competitors online. You provide information about your company’s products and services within the context of their benefits and their problem-solving qualities.
You might give away samples or free trials, post how-to’s or tutorials in areas related to your industry, and encourage visitors to interact with you and other visitors. Your web design looks great, and your brand imagery is carried well throughout your site. Your Calls-to-Action (CTA) and contact information are clear and generously displayed.
But your content contains misspellings. You can never keep “it’s” and “its’” straight, or “there” and “their.” Sentences lack the correct punctuation, making them hard to understand.
It’s Not Rocket Science
Believe it or not, this lack of attention to punctuation, grammar, and spelling can cost you sales. Prospects may have truly wanted to explore your product line, but they’re so appalled by your lack of attention to basic composition rules that they don’t make it past the first page.
Poor writing makes a first impression, all right. But not the one you want to present. If you’re not conscientious enough to comb your writing carefully and correct errors, which is a relatively simple task, what must your company’s internal quality control be like? Potential buyers may be wary.
You can lose sales because the competition is better and/or cheaper. Or your products don’t come in the right colors or sizes or technical configuration. Or you don’t offer fast enough shipping options or bulk discounts.
But to miss the mark because you keep forgetting the “i-before-e” rule or you’re prone to run-on sentences or the apostrophes in your contractions are in the wrong place is absolutely avoidable.
Help May Be Needed
Don’t trust your own editorial skills? Enlist the help of a proofreader, whether it’s another staff person or friend or relative. Pay them for this important task so it seems like work.
If there’s no one in your professional or social circle who can do this, find an editorial assistant through online job-matching (freelance) services, like oDesk, Freelance Writers for Hire, and Elance.
When in Rome…
You could make the argument that people are exposed to so much poor grammar, spelling, etc., that they’ve grown immune to it, and that it’s becoming the norm. That may be true for some visitors to your site; they may not be fazed by what they’re already seeing on other sites.
But the point is this: Well-written content makes an impression on many readers, whether they recognize it consciously or not (some may have their own challenges with correct grammar and spelling, so they wouldn’t recognize mistakes).
Framing your message properly is something anyone can do. There are endless resources on the web that can help, like Grammarly, GrammarBook.com, and Merriam-Webster.
Don’t stop with your website. Make sure every brochure, marketing email, white paper, ebook, business card, etc. gets checked and rechecked for errors. The quality of your content will go into the mix with all of the other elements that comprise the perception of your brand. And this element you can control.