You wouldn’t think that grammar, spelling and punctuation are still important in digital marketing. Text messaging and Twitter depend on taking shortcuts. Grammar is rarely taught in schools. And Facebook is wholly disinterested.
But it is still important, especially for retail websites.
Linger time on most sites being visited for the first time is typically somewhere around five seconds. People look at the Welcome or Landing page just as they look at a book cover. If your website is full of grammatical howlers, spelling disasters and punctuation train crashes, they will not trust you with their money.
Fortunately, even if you were not taught Latin at school, which I was, grown-up help is at hand.
The lady on the left is Jane Penson. She runs an online site for grammar fumblers, and a second site for companies and people who want to be helped in person. The two sites are Grammar to Go and Words Work respectively. I strongly recommend her because first impressions remain important.
Clear English also helps to reduce confusion.
Here’s a tale sent to me by Mary-Jane Watts, one of my paternal cousins.
“A schools inspector observed an English lesson, and criticised the teacher for his old-fashioned insistence on punctuation. The teacher claimed that punctuation was vital, as it can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
When the inspector denied this, the teacher wrote on the blackboard, “The inspector said the teacher is an idiot.”
He then modified the sentence by the addition of two commas, “The inspector, said the teacher, is an idiot.”
No matter what you may feel about grammar, many of your potential online customers have strong feelings about literacy. They might represent, credibly, 20% of your potential sales. So, grammar matters to your sales.
When writing web copy, keep it short and unambiguous. Check for typos. Read it through for sense. And, if in doubt whether or not to use an apostrophe, don’t use one.
Finally give yourself a treat, and buy a copy of the wonderful The Complete Book of Plain Words, or give Jane a call. Or do both.