You might be surprised at just how important proper grammar can be. It didn’t seem so essential in elementary school when we were learning the difference between a noun and a pronoun, a verb and an adverb, and when and where they should be used.
However, in a world where the written word holds such a strong influence in our decisions, it’s more important than ever to have proper grammar.
It’s easy to feel like you don’t need to worry about it all the time – after all, it was just a text message to your boss. You only need to worry about grammar when it comes to your blog, sales copy, and reports, right?
These days, that thinking is wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s an instant message on LinkedIn, an email, or a book – proper grammar makes more of a difference than you think.
First Impressions Are Everything
The main reason that you want to have great grammar, no matter what you’re writing, is because first impressions are everything. Showing that you can communicate clearly and effectively is important in any business relationship.
It’s the same whether you’re selling a product to the masses or supplying services to a handful of clients – the way you conduct yourself online will always impact your sales.
Consider the fact that on your website, literally anything could be that first impression with a potential customer. If you’ve utilized SEO properly, your pages, products, and blog posts are all hopefully showing up in Google searches for certain keywords.
If that’s the case, any page on your website could be your initial contact with a customer or client – so start treating it that way when you publish new content. Every blog post, product description, and FAQ page should be carefully reviewed for spelling and grammatical errors ahead of time.
Otherwise, you might run into problems down the line because of something as simple as a misplaced or forgotten comma.
Avoid Miscommunication with Customers
One of the biggest problems with poor grammar is that it creates misunderstandings between you and your potential customers. This is especially true when these errors exist on a product or services page. If things aren’t clearly outlined, if your customers can’t easily tell exactly what they would be paying for (and often, how much it will cost them), they won’t remain interested.
While some people might stay on your website – or have decided to remain on the site due to finding something useful or interesting on another part of your site – others will simply move on to your next competitor.
Don’t expect that people will reach out through your contact info to let you know about an embarrassing typo or grammar mistake – more than likely, you’ve just lost a sale instead.
Grammar Is Important in ALL Writing
There are obviously some places where grammar is more vital than others. For example, a Portland-based company called Oakhurst Dairy had to pay their milk truck drivers more than $10 million because of a missing comma in a legal clause. The lack of that single comma was enough to – technically – change the entire meaning of the sentence.
Of course, a legal document isn’t the only place where you could find a simple mistake costing you thousands. You could easily find yourself having trouble all the same from something as simple as a hard to understand product description.
Maybe you copied and pasted the same thing for the same product that comes in two different sizes, for example. You could have customers complaining that you are misrepresenting the cost of your product or service because you forgot to change the price for the larger sized product.
Put Yourself Ahead of the Competition
Even if you’ve checked out your competition and realized you have clearly superior content, don’t expect that to always be the case. You never know when a new competitor will crop up and put in just that much more effort into their website copy or their blog posts.
Being more aware of the quality of the content you’re publishing from the get-go will help keep you ahead of the game when it comes to having the most impressive online presence in your industry.
After all, getting the customer is about being better than the competition in every aspect – this doesn’t just include the product or service you’re providing or the price you’re providing it at. In fact, the more professionally you represent yourself to your potential customers, the more they are likely going to be willing to pay.
Everything from common spelling errors like your and you’re to punctuation errors like inconsistent capitalization of the name of your company could drive away potential customers in seconds.
In the digital age, where people have shorter attention spans than ever, you only have seconds to grab your potential customers’ attention with a chance of keeping it.
Prevent Publishing Content with Poor Grammar
You might think to yourself – “there’s no way I’m making that many grammar errors.” However, the truth is, we all make simple errors all the time. The important thing is that we take the time to re-read things before we hit “send” or “publish” and make sure that what we are putting out there is the best it can be.
There are a few ways you can go about preventing publishing a blog post, white paper, or landing page filled with spelling and grammar errors. You can even utilize some of these same techniques on your emails to make sure that every business email you send is as professional as possible.
The first and probably most obvious thing you can do is proofread everything multiple times before hitting “publish.” If you’re going at it by yourself, it helps to take breaks – at least half an hour – and come back to your content with a fresh mind and perspective. It will help you to catch things that you might’ve overlooked when it was all forefront in your mind.
When you’re proofreading, try switching the view – if you’re in a Word document, try reading a .pdf version of your content; or if you’re writing in a WordPress editor, proofread in the Preview mode.
Get a Second Opinion Before Finalizing
If you have a second set of eyes, you’re even better off. Chances are, someone else is going to notice all the things that your brain is skimming right over. Editors are amazing for publications – they ensure that anything the writer missed gets caught before publishing. If you don’t have an editor to work with then ask another writer, friend, or family member to proofread for you.
However, an editor or a fellow writer is always going to be preferred to a friend or family member who might not be as knowledgeable of spelling and grammar rules. After all, you need someone who will not only notice that you have a typo that spell check didn’t get – but you also need someone who will notice that out-of-place apostrophe.
Now, not everyone has an editor, writer friends, or someone else who might be willing to be a proofreader. However, in this digital age that is not something that should stop you. While Microsoft Word and similar word processors have a built-in spelling and grammar checker, they don’t catch everything, but there are other software options that are specifically designed to provide additional editorial help.
ProWritingAid, of course, is one great example of a program that was developed with the complete intention of catching these errors. Even using free version of a product like this is going to catch more than your normal word processing app.
For many people, this cuts out the cost of hiring an editor or proofreader and saves them from feeling like they are pestering someone else by asking them to review all their content. Most editing apps have add-ons for your web browser and email client as well – which will save you from some embarrassing typos in important business correspondence.
Don’t Neglect the Editing Phase, You Won’t Regret It
In the end, no matter what you are writing, editing is essential. Never call your first – or even your second – draft your final copy. There’s no reason to rush perfection – you should always take the time to review your content before sending it out, whether it’s to one person or all the internet.
You’ll save yourself all sorts of problems – from potential lost clients to avoiding legal challenges and keeping things clear between you and your customers, a grammar check beforehand will save you in many ways.