My name is Amy McCloskey Tobin, and I am a Grammar Nazi. That trait sometimes bemuses, but often annoys my friends. I can’t stop correcting: them, myself, their kids. Although sometimes I have enough control to do it silently in my mind.
I was raised by my grandmother; she attended East Stroudsburg Normal School (now University) in the early 1930’s. Every syllable I uttered in her house required perfect English. She constantly corrected me and slang was taboo.
All of that grammar hounding was annoying until I got into middle school and watched my classmates struggle in English class while it came naturally to me. As often happens, I have become my grandmother.
In everyday life, I’m regularly asked, especially by teenagers, “why does it matter?”
In social media circles, I’ve been told more than once that “Blogging is different. No one cares. It’s conversational.”
BS. The reality is that consumers do care. Use yourself as a test case. How many times have you read a blog, caught a spelling or grammatical error and thought, “careless?”
Studies prove that consumers care.
Most of the time the people who tell me that I’m too unforgiving about grammar and spelling are bloggers who think they don’t have the time, energy, or resources for proper editing. They tell me the world has become more casual and that this is simply an indication of that shift.
If you don’t believe me, believe the data. Last year AdWeek ran a story where they referenced two in-depth studies that prove my point: bad grammar impacts sales.
Being able to write without error, be it grammar or typos, is an important skill for anyone who wishes to be taken seriously in business,” says marketing consultant Debra Murphy. People form their initial impressions based on what they see online.
The data back her up. A study conducted late last year by U.K. firm Global Lingo found that 74 percent of consumers pay attention to the correctness of the prose on company Web sites, and 59 percent of respondents said they would avoid doing business with a company that’s made obvious errors. A more recent survey—this one published in March by Standing Dog Interactive—revealed that 58 percent of consumers were either “somewhat” or “very” annoyed by the presence of copy errors, with one respondent volunteering: “If … I see a typo, I’ll leave without buying a thing. Yikes.
Think about your own experiences. How do you feel about a company that doesn’t take the time to make sure their language is correct? Does it make you question their other quality controls?
The world may have become less formal, but not to the point that we accept uneducated or sloppy language from people and brands we need to trust. Hiring a proof-reader or editor may seem like an extravagant expense, but it really isn’t when your personal and brand reputation is at stake.
This post originally ran on Blue Sea Content.
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