Proof Positive: Spelling Mistakes Cost You Money

ImageI've long longed for hard evidence that spelling errors — not to mention crimes against grammar, syntactical atrocities, malapropisms and the rest (R.I.P. Sherwood Schwartz) — do more than just offend. I've habitually hazarded, "If only I had incontrovertible corroboration that misspellings impugn the credibility of whatever product or service you're offering and thus ultimately result in lost sales."

Finally, from across the pond, proof: an article entitled "Spelling Mistakes 'Cost Millions' in Lost Online Sales."* In this smoking gun, BBC News education correspondent Sean Coughlan introduces Charles Duncombe, who presides over various travel, mobile-phone and apparel websites.

According to Coughlan, Duncombe "measured the revenue per visitor to the website and found that the revenue was twice as high after an error was corrected."

I like to think this is attributable to widespread disdain for spelling errors, but it's not; it's attributable to shoppers wary of fraud. A spelling error is frequently construed as a red flag warning you that the website to which you are about to surrender your most personal digits is a fake (and a poor one at that); it positively screams "fly-by-night operation."

Have you noticed spelling errors on the websites of major, legitimate retailers and/or service providers? The answer is almost certainly "no" (if you have noticed such a mistake, please send it to me so we can enshrine it in the hall of shame known as Not Our Clients).

My inclination was to start this next sentence with "Needless to say," but since I fear that the following statement does indeed need to be said, I'll just say it: If you're selling something online, make sure to spell-check your promotional text AND proof it on hard copy before you post it. Your bottom line will thank you.

*Since we're talkin' gratitude, special thanks to the unusually eagle-eyed graphic designer Rob Mitchell, of Graphics 101, for bringing these most welcome words to my attention.