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Spell Yeah! Getting Your Spelling Right Can Make You More Money

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/18/2011

Bad spelling on your webpages could be noticed more than you think. Not only that, but it could actually be putting off would-be customers from making a purchase. Would you be surprised to learn that there is evidence to suggest that bad spelling is costing online companies literally millions?

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    Bad Spelling Can't Really Be Costing Me Money

    badspellstop Can it be true that something as basic as spelling is really costing you money? Well, actually all the evidence seems to point that way. The BBC recently reported that not only does good spelling make a difference, the lack of it could be costing online companies millions in lost revenue. So to you it might be small, but if there was a simple way to increase your revenues with little effort or cost then you'd take it right?

    Online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe has seen the evidence for himself. His sales figures clearly indicate that spelling incorrectly actually puts consumers off from giving you their business. After spotting a typo on one of his websites he closely monitored the sales after it had been fixed -- the revenue was twice as high.

    And it isn't just one sale you are missing, or even all the sales today -- it's costing you future sales too, as would-be consumers become concerned about your credibility as a company.

    Still seem like a small issue? Let me put it this way: where do you often see bad spelling and grammar mistakes online? Those wonderful scam emails that we've all received over time always have bad English, so you can see the link. It's a red flag to a potential customer, and that flag says: "Stay away from this company. They aren't professional so how can you trust them with your money?"

    The problem is that if you work in an especially competitive market and your competitors have a well-presented site with no typos or spelling errors, this could be the difference in them getting the business instead of you. Consumers nowadays will shop around, and especially so if your webpages are full of errors. Even if your store is on eBay, this is still important -- in fact it could be more crucial as potential customers can easily compare listings and descriptions side by side. You've done your price research and have good feedback, but if you don't present yourself professionally, people are likely to assume something is amiss.

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    Losing Revenue Isn't the Only Issue

    If you think that this is a simplistic way to look at things, and are still convinced that tightening up the grammar belt won't make a difference, then remember that bad spelling in relation to direct revenue is not the only issue.

    How do people find your website in the first place? I'd wager a large percentage sail in from a search engine. If you can't even get the spelling right, then it's likely your customers won't even find you to begin with. Search engines are forgiving to searchers -- Did you mean clothes? when you've typed in clohtes -- but they won't be so forgiving to websites.

    Even when your text has passed the spell check, you can still be left with words that can often have a completely different meaning -- sometimes detrimentally so, that could even cost you money in lawsuits.

    As a company trying desperately to recruit new staff, this might also turn excellent candidates off from applying to your company if they get an opinion of a shoddy outfit from the website.

    Bad spelling also puts of employers. If you are a web developer working freelance or on a limited-term contract then the websites you create form your portfolio -- not so impressive to a potential employer if there are spelling mistakes in there, even if everything else is perfect.

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    Can We Blame This One on Education?

    Finding people who can spell is apparently becoming difficult, according to many employers, and the CBI (Confederation for British Industry) agrees. Research conducted showed that young employees were sadly lacking in many employability skills including spelling. In fact some 44 percent of companies are having to invest in literacy and numeracy tuition so their employees can perform basic tasks. After years of employers complaining that school-leavers weren't wise in the practical skills needed for the world of work and thinking that academia was enough, it seems that somewhere along the line education has skewed off course to forgetting even the basics.

    Your website might be cutting edge and you probably have excellent technical skills, but old-fashioned skills like spelling are still important. In fact, lack of it could be ruining the efficiency of your company, as most of your communication will take place using the written word. If training your staff is what's needed, then it might need an investment on your part in the beginning, but in the long-term it will end up making you more money.

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    Language Is Changing All the Time - It Can't Be That Big a Deal

    If you are one of those people who argues we shouldn't get so hung up about a misplaced letter, and that language is always moving on anyway, then you may be unconvinced by this argument. It's true that language is constantly evolving, one look at a page of Shakespeare is enough to confirm that, but that isn't what this is about. I agree that variants in spelling should be acceptable, especially in Internet-World where we communicate across continents that have different spellings for words anyway. I'm not going to worry if a site uses "judgement" or "judgment", but I don't think bad spelling should be accepted.

    A few years ago, a lecturer at Bucks New University argued that after so many years of correcting the same mistakes in his students work, shouldn't we just let it go and let common mistakes become variants. Well, by that logic, although stealing is wrong, we should all just leave our houses unlocked and let the thieves help themselves! Language will always move on, but that doesn't mean we should accept obvious cases of bad spelling.

    What do you think? Is getting hung-up on bad spelling archaic, or is it still an important skill to have? Do you think that bad spelling could really cost you money, or do you think customers don't really notice? Let us know.

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