Sloppy English Grammar Can Lose You Business

Poorly written promotions backfire

Sloppy English Grammar Can Lose You BusinessA browse through the site Engrish.com will highlight the frequently amusing mistakes foreign companies make when trying to tackle English in their promotional material. The many Far-Eastern production companies that Engrish.com derides are owned and staffed by non-English speakers who have no knowledge of their translators’ abilities and qualifications. British, American, Canadian, New Zealand, and South African companies, however, do not have these disadvantages and should take care that their written communications are properly spelled and grammatically correct. Poorly written articles and advertisements cause businesses to lose customers, and this can diminish a company’s profit line.

Who notices

A 2013 study by Global Lingo found that 59 percent of British speakers disregarded the products of companies that had spelling mistakes in their advertising and on their websites. In the Global Lingo survey, 74 percent of respondents said that they noticed spelling and grammatical errors on webpages. The survey found the commercial impact of poor spelling and grammar was particularly severe for foreign companies that posted badly translated copy, with 82 percent of respondents ceasing to browse on poorly translated websites.

In May 2014, the UK’s Office for National Statistics estimated that the UK’s weekly online sales were 716 million pounds. In 2013, Statistics Canada estimated total online sales in Canada to be 136 billion Canadian dollars; similarly, retail e-purchases in the USA topped 210 billion dollars. Any business that thinks it can get away with poorly spelled web copy should wake up and smell the JavaScript.

Poor spelling and grammar undermine credibility. Shoppers are less prepared to trust their credit card details to people with low standards. Company websites riddled with spelling errors create distrust in the company’s ability to keep private credit card and personal information secure. Online daters are also among those who value good grammar. A study found that 43 percent of people who used online dating websites found bad grammar to be off-putting, with 35 percent considering good grammar an attraction. So, it seems grammar is crucial to both your business and personal relationships.

Poor grammar

Karen Ashford, Marketing Manager at Scribendi.com, observes, “The basic grammar training taught in schools and colleges is not up to snuff, and with the change in our communication landscape, it’s more important than ever to ensure staff are trained properly in the workforce.” Ms. Ashford knows what she is talking about—Scribendi.com is a successful online editing and proofreading service based in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada. Her opinion of the standards of grammar in the schools of the English-speaking world is reinforced by a study by the UK’s Confederation of Business and Industry. A survey of their members found that 42 percent of employers were not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of their employees, with almost half reporting that they have had to invest in training to get their staff’s skills up to a satisfactory level.

Solutions

Online retailers put their staff under pressure to produce cost-effective copy. Many may balk at the cost of sending staff to training courses to improve the standard of their written English. The lost man hours alone are a disincentive to enroll staff in training. There are, however, a few alternatives that businesses of different sizes may find viable for their specific needs and standards.

Companies with small or highly elastic volumes of written output might better utilize their budgets by outsourcing all their editing and proofreading needs to an online service. These services can be accessed from anywhere in the world without having to rely on the postal service.

Alternatively, companies can train staffers in grammar, editing, and proofreading so they can write more effectively from the start. These workers would not need to take time out of their regular working life to travel away to a training college; they can enroll in an online grammar course. The courses offered by this site cost just 39 USD dollars per person, with discounts offered to corporations based on volume. Staff members can access the training from their regular office desk without having to excuse themselves from the business for days at a time.

If your company has not started to improve the grammar skills of its staff, it is probably losing online sales and damaging its credibility. The World Wide Web is your company’s shop window. Do not leave it streaky.

Image source: RawPixel/Shutterstock.com

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