Writing errors influence client perception and behavior: a must-read survey

Professionals of the written word harp on this: poor style and error-filled copy have a direct bearing on:

  • A company’s image
  • A company’s reputation
  • The perception of a given product or service’s quality
  • The likelihood that a prospect will respond to a call to action

bulls-eyeIt’s one of my pet peeves. I’ve hammered the message here, here, and here, and again here and there.

Now, thanks to Sue Anderson-Lenz over at Marketing Lure, we’ve got numbers to back that up.

Sue ran a survey with 163 participants – business professionals largely from the US, “although the survey reached people in 16 different countries.” Note: it is not clear how many respondents were indeed from outside the US.

“One hundred percent of the people surveyed acknowledge that writing errors indeed influence their opinions. Nearly eight out of ten people have eliminated a prospective company — in part because of writing errors.

And,

“Write‐in responses to one question reveal the impact that writing errors have on company credibility. Respondents said that errors will cause them to question the company and their leaders who permit writing errors to happen.”

Further,

“More than half of all respondents agreed that one error in any print material could be the kiss of death for a prospective company.
Four out of ten people expressed an extremely low tolerance for errors in electronic articles and books.”

Download a copy of Sue’s report from her blog: it’s a must-read -

For clients, as a needed reminder of the extent to which business success depends on good writing (no, it’s not an expense, it’s an investment).

And for professionals of the written word, as actionable data to support your positioning, dialog, and negotiations with prospects.

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Comments: 7

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  • Thank you for posting these survey results! I am still amazed (and appalled) at the number of translation service providers who have everything from poor style to outright errors on their websites. I can’t imagine that a client would feel comfortable working with such a company. It’s a good reminder to have all of my work edited and/or proofread, whether it is a job or my website copy.

     
     
     
  • Thank you, Patricia, for posting these survey results.

    As a recruiter of technical communicators, I come across many applications and CVs for writing positions that contain grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. I find it amazing that someone who calls him or herself a professional communicator could send a writing sample with obvious errors in it, but it happens quite often.

    We don’t work with people who allow that sort of sloppiness in their work. Poor language is poor quality and we know it won’t sell.

     
     
     
    • Thanks Rachel and CJ for your comments. All the credit for this survey goes to Sue (whom I do not know but applaud for undertaking this). I am contemplating designing a broader, perhaps bilingual, survey to get even richer data. If either of you – or others! – wish to lend a hand, please do drop me a line (contact info is on the left sidebar). The issue is central to our businesses – and our clients’ businesses.

       
  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Dossena, Carrie-Jean Walker, WordTailors, Mickey Farrance, Kelly Rigotti and others. Kelly Rigotti said: RT @lokahiandquill: Poor style and error-filled copy have a direct bearing on a company's bottom line http://bit.ly/aTEfKp […]

     
     
     
  • This is an “incredible but true” website: http://tinyurl.com/32jfuhq.
    Pick your language and enjoy “goofreading”

     
     
     
    • Thanks, Laurent – this is indeed an endless source of amazing blunders!

       
  • @ Laurent and Patricia

    This is an excellent example of the “amusing” results of automated translation.
    Though the reader should be aware that this is an automated translation, and that therefore, any mistakes figuring in it do not reflect the sloppiness of the company but the poor quality of the MT (Machine Translation), I wonder how it will influence it’s perception of the company.
    Patricia, if you indeed run a broader survey, it might be a relevant question.
    Please contact me if you need help for the survey,
    (By the way, my name is Patricia as well, so I used Milatova as a username to leave you the monopoly of your name on your site :-). Yet, please use our name to contact me…)

     
     
     
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