welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign at sunsetThis week, Brendan Waldron of euroscript International started a LinkedIn discussion centered around an article in Real Business called, “Poor grammar on websites scares 59% away.” The article showcases a study done by Global Lingo on the effects of website grammar and spelling mistakes on sales. Basically, Global Lingo polled 1,029 adults in the U.K. about their buying habits. A large majority, 79% of the respondents, indicated that they notice the quality of the content on a company’s website. A majority, 59%, said that they would not purchase something from a company whose website has grammar or spelling mistakes.

While I find this information interesting, I think that a pool of 1,029 respondents may be a bit small to draw significant conclusions from. So, I went online to do more research.

A couple of years ago, BBC News published an article entitled, “Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales.” In this article, Sean Coughlan cites a less scientific study that looked at the effects of correcting a single spelling error on per-person revenue for the site tightsplease.co.uk. This study showed that the revenue was twice as high after correcting the mistake.

In April of 2013, Adrian Snood of Social Media Today posted a bit of a rant about poor quality writing and how annoying it is. He mentioned a number of mistakes that are extremely common these days:

  • Confusion among their, there, and they’re
  • Confusion between its and it’s
  • Confusion between your and you’re

Adrian’s word to the wise: “What goes on the web, stays on the web.” In addition, he suggests that you read everything you are going to publish out loud. If it seems muddled as you are reading it, then rewrite it. I agree. Unfortunately, if you are really confused between “their, there, and they’re,” reading it aloud is not going to help you.

Adrian’s second piece of advice is to have standards. He doesn’t specify which standards or if those standards should be unique to your company. I think his point is to hold yourself to a higher standard of quality, rather than an admonition to actually create standards.

I agree with the premise of all three of these posts. There is a correlation between the quality of your content and the impression that the content makes on your audience. Poorly written content instills less trust in your company, products, or services. And the correlation between trust and purchase is very high.

In the research paper, “Trust and Satisfaction, Two Stepping Stones for Successful E-Commerce Relationships: A Longitudinal Study,” a group of researchers from three universities found that

“…trust directly and indirectly affects a consumer’s purchase decision in combination with perceived risk and perceived benefit, and also indicate[s] that trust has a longer term impact on consumer e-loyalty through satisfaction.” *

The research paper has six pages of references that were used to create, test, and illustrate the authors’ premise. If you want to do more research, there are plenty of things to read.

The bottom line, though, is clear. If you want to sell more, fix your content. Pay attention to:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Style
  • Sentence length
  • Idioms

Best of all, fixing the quality of your source will result in faster, better, and less expensive translations. Everyone wins.


*Kim, Dan J., Donals L. Ferrin, and H. Raghav Rao. Trust and Satisfaction, Two Stepping Stones for Successful E-Commerce Relationships: A Longitudinal Exploration.

Val Swisher
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