Is bad grammar bad for business?

I recently conducted a survey to gather information about people’s attitudes to English and how they use it themselves. In the survey I asked this question:

“How important is it to you that what you write is 100% correct?”

And these were the responses:Survey stats
Now for me, as a proofreader, it’s encouraging to know that almost half of these people acknowledge the need for my services, at least in theory. But how about the other 54% who think that good grammar and spelling are just not that important? As some of these people said that they just use English for social media or chatting to family, I can understand that accuracy may not be so important to them. However, 63% of people who said that mistakes don’t matter to them also said that they use English for business.
Using English in business
I was surprised that this figure was so high so I decided to find out more about how people perceive companies based on their level of English, and whether accuracy really is important.

Is bad grammar bad for business?

From my personal point of view the answer is, without doubt, “Yes!”. Let me give you an example. I’m on the mailing list of a business coach who regularly sends emails about marketing strategies and running your own business, and of course she promotes her own services too. The problem is that her emails are full of grammatical errors and long sentences that I often find very difficult to read. These extracts are all taken from one email I received:

“The thing is though Amanda it didn’t happen over night and I got it wrong quite a few times, I took the experts advice and it still didn’t work.”

“You won’t get it right the first time there may be some changes you need to make, but you have to be willing to stick with it and persevere even when you feel like your wasting time.”

“It’s vital that your consistent with it and that it gives off the look and feel that you want!”

Do you see what I mean? These mistakes really made her and her business lose credibility with me.

Now, I acknowledge that I may be particularly picky about this kind of thing and perhaps her average client doesn’t care about good grammar as much as I do, but I also know that I’m not the only one out there.

Here is another perfect example of bad English putting people off your business:

Ad for lawyer with bad English
Would you trust this company to write you a contract in English when they can’t even manage a two-line Facebook ad? The person who commented certainly won’t be using them.

“If there are spelling and grammatical errors [on a website], assume that the same level of attention to detail probably went into the gathering and reporting of the “facts” given on the site.”
Randolph Hock, The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook

Research on the impact of bad grammar

A survey recently conducted in the UK showed that 59% of Britons would be put off using a company that had bad grammar or obvious spelling mistakes on its website. Respondents said that they wouldn’t trust the company and would consider it unprofessional. After all, if a company doesn’t take care with details like this on its website, how can you be sure it will take care of you as a customer?

The survey also found that a huge 82% of people wouldn’t use a company that had not properly translated its material into English from another language. This figure surprised me – I had thought there would be a higher level of tolerance where English was not someone’s first language – however, it seems that when it comes to people spending money, they are not prepared to compromise on good English. I suppose that a badly translated website may give potential customers the impression that they will have trouble communicating with the company in the future.

Another survey on this matter backs up the need for good English whether or not it’s your first language. Here are some of the quotes collected in this survey:

“If a company lacks attention to detail in their promotional material, it speaks volumes to me about their attention to detail in other areas.”

“Grammar and spelling errors are lazy, unprofessional and inexcusable.”

“If you’re going to go to the trouble to publish something, go to the trouble to check it.”

“I give no credit to any source that doesn’t bother to proofread their material, no matter how much I am interested in their product or whatever it is what they are selling/promoting.”

“I have to admit I will stop reading a website if I notice grammatical errors, and I actually become much more critical about the opinions of the site. That is how much it bothers me.”

Taking all of this into account, do you think you and your company can afford to do without a proofreader?

I couldn’t finish this article without reminding you that this is what I do! The core of my business is checking other people’s writing to make sure it’s grammatically correct and easy to read before they print, send or publish it. If you accept that your writing isn’t perfect and you don’t always have time to check it yourself, then our proofreading services could be exactly what you need to give you the confidence that bad grammar is not losing you business.

You can request a quotation now with no obligation to buy. It might be cheaper than you think to ensure you’re not losing credibility, and money, because of bad English.

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