The cost of poor writing
The results of a recent study by Linguix about whether typos in correspondence affect a business may surprise you. In particular:
- Almost 25% of recipients won’t even open an email with an error in the subject line.
- Over 25% will not respond to emails containing grammar mistakes or typos.
- Over 50% will not spend money with a business that sends emails containing grammar mistakes.
And that’s just email. There are plenty of other opportunities to make a good—or bad—impression in writing, including marketing materials, social media and blog posts, website content and more. An article from ThinkGrowth.org estimated that bad writing costs U.S. businesses close to $400 billion every year. According to an article from MarketingProfs, the main culprits are too long, poorly organized and unclear content, with poor writing:
- Forcing employees to spend extra time on clarification
- Preventing potential customers from making purchases
- Perplexing readers and distorting the intended message
What can your business do to ensure it’s not losing money—directly and indirectly—because of poor writing? Here are four suggestions from MarketingProfs:
- Use straightforward language. Complexity should be avoided. Be clear and concise, eliminating lengthy sentences, academic phrases and any ambiguity.
- Use a style guide. Creating a set of rules for how to write for your business is invaluable for your internal team and any freelancers you hire.
- Write and rewrite. Working with urgency is why many errors slip through the cracks. Make sure you have time to review and possibly rewrite your work—ideally after putting it aside for a bit.
- Have someone else proofread. It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, so ask another person to look through what you’ve written before it goes out. A professional editor is ideal for this (of course!) but lacking that anyone you trust will suffice.
Something to think about
Consider the phrase as soon as possible. Do you think it means quickly or right away? Most people do. But a former boss of mine made me look at it in a whole different way—as soon as possible really means whenever you can get to it rather than immediately. What do you think?
Less is more
Eliminating unnecessary words is an important part of any editor’s job. For instance, this phrase had me reaching for the delete key: our upcoming seminar on September 22. The villain? Upcoming. It’s only necessary to use that word if you aren’t providing the specific date, as is done here.