When it comes to poor writing, which includes poor grammar and spelling, I see three types of people on the Internet:
- the felon,
- the police,
- and the silent sufferer.
It’s common to be assaulted with misspellings, the use of its for it’s, your for you’re, and their or there for they’re – offenses sometimes unapologetically committed by the grammar felon.
And then, there’s the grammar police, people who make it their mission to highlight the mistakes they encounter, people often branded as “shallow,” the “grammar Nazis of the world with too much time on their hands.”
People attribute this to the informal language pervasive in text messaging, emails, and on social media platforms like Twitter.
Perhaps the reason why this advice for bloggers, albeit a tongue-in-cheek one, came to existence:
“If you want more comments on your blog posts, insert strategic grammar mistakes here or there.”
The Internet is also home to people who heave unhappy sighs while keeping their itching fingers from typing mile-long rants, instead of engage in a discussion that may escalate into a battle of wills, to name-calling and general nastiness.
They may not be as proactive as the so-called grammar warriors patrolling even the innermost recesses of the Internet, but they’re there.
Grammar gaffes, however, aren’t exclusive to the English language. In my native Tagalog, for example, some people habitually use ng for nang or din for rin, and vice versa.
Poor writing affects your brand’s image
Last night, I logged a ticket with a company whose online editing functions weren’t working.
An hour later, I received two emails – a standard “thank you” helpdesk email and this one from a customer service rep named Don:
Below were the events that followed:
- I stared at the message in stunned silence, not expecting the reply from any of the brand’s customer-facing representatives. It was a big-name brand, for crying out loud!
- That one email led me to harbor doubts. If they couldn’t be bothered to send professional-looking emails to their users, could I trust them to address more pressing issues? Would I recommend them to people I know?
Prior to this incident, the answer to the recommendation question had always been a “yes.”
And then, there was the guy named Jeremy.
Who was Jeremy again?
The technical service rep he said he would refer my issue to, perhaps?
Or was the email just copied from another email he sent to a customer named Jeremy?
Poor writing hurts your bottom line
There’s no other way to say this:
Poor writing can kill your business.
David Speaker of Probizwriters presents a strong case:
Carly Stec of Impact Branding has this to say:
A marketing agency’s survey on how poor spelling and grammar affected the public perception of a business yielded this result:
Jayson DeMers, a Forbes.com contributor, makes a fair point:
Research by GetData, GetApp’s SaaS and SMB research arm, reveals that poorly written content is what annoys Internet users the most, followed by sensationalist headlines.
(Full disclosure: I’m an external writer for GetApp although not a member of the GetData team.)
If you haven’t yet checked how your customer-facing employees represent your brand in the way they communicate, do yourself a favor and find out.
Your hard work being trumped by writing mistakes that can easily be rectified is hardly a risk worth taking.