Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 9:50 AM

BBC News online ran an interesting article the other day about how spelling mistakes on websites can lead to lost sales.  According to online entrepreneur, Charles Duncombe, an analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.

I actually find it heartening in a way that correct spelling and grammar still matter so much to people, and that they are seen as an indicator of trust.

Mr Duncombe believes bad spelling makes people doubt a website’s credibility, ‘When there are underlying concerns about fraud and safety, then getting the basics right is essential,’ he says.

It’s a good point. I also think it says a great deal about a company’s attention to detail. If they can’t get the details of their own communications correct, then what will their product and customer service be like? (I’m now panicking like mad that there may be glaring typos in this article!)

I picked up a blog post in a similar vein from a link on Twitter. In ‘Why spelling and grammar matter in marketing’Kara Sassone cites an instance of how the English language frequently trips us up with words that sound similar, have similar spellings, but have different meanings.

Apparently, the  NBC-owned @BreakingNews Twitter account tweeted that the President would have a ‘personal’ statement on Monday. Naturally, people began to speculate about what that statement might be. And those who wondered if it was a typo were spot on; it should have been ‘personnel’ statement. Nice to know it happens to the best of us.

I’m going to admit something here that may surprise (and even disappoint) you. Spelling is not my very best subject. There. I said it. But because I know that, I’m doubly cautious.

I know if a word doesn’t look right even if I don’t immediately know the correct spelling, but I make good use of my dictionary and online tools.

I’m also very cautious with Word’s spell-checker because of the US English default. I’m always banging on about the need to keep your audience in mind when you write, and there’s no doubt that some Americanisms and American spellings really do grate with UK audiences. And if you did have any doubts take a look Matthew Engle’s article on that very subject.

A guide to British v American spelling

I found this handy (rough) guide to the main differences in spelling between British and American English and I hope you find it useful too.

It comes courtesy of the Westfield House of Theological Studies, Cambridge


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Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

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