A little while ago someone posted an article in a LinkedIn social marketing group saying something to the effect that he could show you how to be successful at online article marketing (producing articles that can get published on different websites to boost your recognition and search engine rankings). The title of the post tweaked my interest enough to get me to click on it, but I wasn’t expecting much. I’d seen too many such claims.
What I got was less than I expected. As I expected, the writer gave very little useful information about article marketing. What made the post less than expected was that it was very badly written, full of spelling and grammatical errors. After reading it my thought was that not only wouldn’t I take article marketing advice from this author, I wouldn’t hire this author to provide any services.
My personal reaction doesn’t seem to be eccentric.
- A study in the UK found that 59% of Britons wouldn’t use a company with obvious grammatical mistakes on its website or marketing materials.
- One brand marketer did his own survey of people from various backgrounds and countries asking them whether or not spelling and grammar errors in promotional materials would affect the likelihood of their using, buying, or endorsing a product or service. Almost everyone answered yes.
- If that’s not enough to convince you of the value of proofreading and editing, consider that there is evidence that grammar and spelling mistakes can affect your search rankings.
Good English grammar and spelling is certainly important if you are planning to have your materials translated. Mistakes can make materials ambiguous and even misleading, causing problems for translators and mistakes in translations.
But are other countries with other languages and cultures put off as much by spelling and grammar mistakes? I don’t know of studies, but it’s safe to assume that such mistakes would suggest sloppy business practices in any language. That’s why we advise clients to get translation by professional translators followed by independent proofreading for any materials that are aimed at marketing your products and services to potential customers.
“Good English grammar and spelling is certainly important…” – shouldn’t that be “..grammar and spelling ARE certainly important…”?
Hoist by my own petard! I’ll have to have a talk with my proofreader.
Either IS correct
I have been the author, co-author and reviewer of many IT Whitepapers, Presentations and other written articles. Technical terminology and acronyms are part of the way we communicate.
It doesn’t matter if someone has the best technical skills available, the ability to communicate clearly and without ambiguity are still very important.
I have 3 pass / fail requirements in any document I review; 1) spelling errors are completely unacceptable, 2) poor grammar that causes me to read a section of text more than once to decypher intent versus meaning is a non-starter, and 3) “made-up” words, where a noun and a verb have been combined into a word that doesn’t appear in any dictionary.
Any one of these ‘sins’ is enough to cause me to stop reading. The point I want to make is that grammar and spelling are vitally important to the credibility of the paper and to the author’s reputation.
I most certainly agree PL. Your point and three “sins” are spot on with how I feel about poor grammar. Very direct, great job!
A couple of things to consider.
1. Article marketing and writing “promotional materials” aren’t the same thing.
2. You use a study from the UK, then ask if people in “other countries” feel the same way as we do in the US. The UK is another country. :)
I’m just picking on you there, but seriously, writing styles do vary and it also depends on the purpose.
When I began providing content for companies online in the 90’s, I thought if you can write, you can write anything. I learned an important lesson.
Some people can write great articles, but are not great a blogging or writing press releases and other things.
Technical writers aren’t always very good at communicating. English majors make poor writers for marketing materials in many cases.
The bottom line is; talking about writing in general is difficult when there are so many forms and uses for the content.
The number one thing I look for when hiring writers is whether or not they can communicate their point to the target audience in an easy-to-understand way.
Being too professional can be just a detrimental as not being professional enough. Communication of ideas is the most important thing to consider.
‘Easy-to-understand’ is the key. No rocket science. Your comment was more helpful than the article.
Chris, I totally agree that not all writing is the same, but I’m not sure what that has to do with my point about spelling and grammar. I was not suggesting that a grammar and spelling expert necessarily makes a good writer. However, a good writer, in whatever genre, knows the rules and knows when they can be broken to make a point. Certainly a person will often use a more informal tone for marketing and may use idioms and slang that aren’t strictly speaking grammatical. However, marketing materials are also (or should be) carefully proofread to make sure that there are no unintentional mistakes. I would disagree that copy that is “easy to understand” on its own is good marketing writing.
I was very glad that I noticed this topic. It seems that in the last few years poor grammar in writing and speaking has become more common. On the spoken and written news, on Facebook, LinkedIn and other popular places I hear or see very bad grammar and spelling. I understand if someone is from a non-English background and the person is trying. I do not have very much patience or respect for articles, journalism, or conversations where the verb tenses are wrong, words are misused and/or punctuation is incorrect. Grammar can either help or hinder how people are viewed by others. It can convey that the person cares enough about how they appear to others. With spell and grammar checkers so abundant it is quite perplexing why grammar seems to be deteriorating. (I hope I didn’t inadvertently use poor grammar above!) Cheers, Peter
I agree that effective communication of ideas is the priority but I do tend to stop reading a website or article if there are too many errors (spelling or grammatical). It seems to me that there are two possibilities: 1. Maybe the company or author has a poor attitude to their service or product if they cannot be bothered to ensure the best possible quality at the first stage of meeting their potential customer, so they would be unlikely to provide good quality or service. 2. It might be a a fake website. Some large companies do not realise that they lose potential sales because their websites have several obvious spelling or grammatical errors in them. Maybe it’s just because I was taken in by a duplicate fake site once, even though there were two spelling mistakes in it, and so now I’m extra cautious!
I definitely believe that good grammar will help you get more business, especially if your business is around writing.
I think that schools in the US do so poorly in educating children to write that’s scary to me. I know of a 20 year old kid who is in college saying that she want to be a lawyer, but you would be scared at the spelling questions she ask at time. Like, “is cannot in two words or one?”
Every time I shake my head and think, wow, you’ve got all the way to college with that?
I could not agree more Kathy! Fantastic post! Each day it seems easier and easier to find not only articles, but publications, reviews and advertisements, perhaps even coming from reputable sources, that give little attention to the fact that the intention to sell or market something generally implies writing at a level higher than that of a third grader. I was briefly skimming through a few of the prior response posts here and thought I caught one attempting to justify that with regards to advertising, there is an exception. Respectfully, this sort of justification in reply to the point I believe you were making is weak and full mind the french, complete bullshit. There is a world of difference between creative ‘word play’ with style and somebody writing an article or blogging and using poor grammar full of spelling errors and ridiculous mistakes.
Recently I had posted some bogus music reviews on my WordPress site directly pertaining to similar issues. Reverb Nation, a social media site where bands, musicians, and artists promote their work, had advertised what later appeared to be a scam. Essentially, if somebody paid $5.00, they could submit a song to be reviewed by the public. At first, the idea actually seemed like a smooth opportunity for groups and individual musicians alike to receive honest feedback for their music. However, once the song reviews came back, virtually every single review looked as if it had been written by either a non-native A1+ level speaker, the people writing the reviews were entirely uneducated, or they must’ve flunked out of every English course they had ever been enrolled in. Whether the reviews were positive or negative made no difference because they were so poorly written that no sane person would want to reuse them to promote anything.
The real question is: Is good use of language and proper grammar becoming obsolete with the advance of technology and shortening attention spans? Time will tell..
Thanks again for the post and many cheers!
The title of the post tweaked your interest? Is the correct word not “piqued” instead?
very helpful article!