- So what if my copy has a typo or two? What’s the big deal?
- Effective copywriting lulls people into a spell—but errors ‘bump’ them out of it
- No one notices grammatically correct writing, but someone will notice errors—always
- Error-filled copy affects your brand image (professionalism)
- Error-free copy can help with SEO rankings
- Brands have ‘broken’ grammar rules—but on purpose
- Proper grammar helps with clarity
- In a nutshell, that’s why error-free copy is always better
As an English copywriter and proofreader, there are many things I must do to satisfy my clients. But there is one thing anyone who creates written content should strive for—error-free copy. Is grammatically correct writing the most essential aspect of effective copywriting? No—but it’s the bare minimum.
I’ve seen a lot of posts recently about how you don’t need to be a native-English speaker to be an effective copywriter. And I 100% agree! Grammatically correct, error-free English alone does not equate to copy that converts. Effective copywriting that converts involves a lot more than that.
I recently saw a post by a non-native English-speaking copywriter. They were trying to establish themselves as an authority on copywriting. But this person didn’t understand why commenters were flagging their use of “to write a great copy.” As I’ve written about before, copy is uncountable when used to refer to text or dialogue. You can’t add an article before it or add ‘s’ to it.
One commenter even wrote,
Though I found the delivery of the comment a little harsh, I agree with the sentiment. The bar may be higher for copywriters and editors, but error-free copy applies to all businesses.
So what if my copy has a typo or two? What’s the big deal?
There’s a chance a typo or two won’t significantly effect the affectiveness of your copy. Or, to write it correctly, it won’t affect the effectiveness of your copy.
But can you afford to take that chance? In today’s competitive world, can you bank on no one noticing a few mistakes? If they do notice those mistakes, are you okay with that?
Here are six reasons why error-free writing is always better than copy full of mistakes.
1. Effective copywriting lulls people into a spell—but errors ‘bump’ them out of it
Well-written copy takes readers on a journey. It nurtures them along. It has them nodding their head in agreement. They’re hooked and are about to click your “Buy Now” button. But then they read, “Our product will effect your bottom line like no other product.”
Effect? Shouldn’t that be affect? Spell broken. The reader is distracted. They may even end up Googling grammar rules to confirm their suspicions. Regardless, once that spell is broken, all the great work you did until that point was for naught. They’re gone. You’ve lost them.
It’s like a musician playing a wrong note. Depending on how out of key it is, casual listeners may or may not notice it, but seasoned musicians will. One minute, the audience is swaying along to the music. The next, there’s noticeable discomfort as the audience starts looking at each other, wondering, “Did you hear that? Did it sound right to you?” Spell broken.
2. No one notices grammatically correct writing, but someone will notice errors—always
Very few people will applaud you for having error-free writing. But someone will always notice a mistake. And if they find a couple of big ones, they’ll start looking for more. I know I’ve been guilty of that on several occasions.
While reading blogs about copywriting, once I notice a couple of glaring typos or grammatical errors, it’s game over. I start focusing on finding errors rather than digesting the information. I also doubt the blogger’s authority and the integrity of their message.
Your boss may not notice the 97 times you’ve shown up 10 minutes early. But show up late once, and they’ll notice. They’ll also notice the next time you show up 2 minutes early and think to themselves, “Not technically late, but she’s cutting it close.” It’s human nature not to notice the good but to always notice and focus on the bad.
Once a musician plays a few bad chords or notes, the audience, who was enjoying the performance, will start anticipating the next mistake. They’ll begin noticing minor mistakes they may have glossed over if they hadn’t started listening for mistakes.
3. Error-filled copy affects your brand image (professionalism)
Per my example above, the person posting about copywriting tips immediately lost credibility due to an error on their first slide. Glaring errors on your website and in your posts undermine your professionalism and detract from your authority. It didn’t matter that their other slides had some excellent tips. A commenter stated they didn’t even look at the other slides due to the error on the first slide.
This is especially true for copywriters and proofreaders like me, so I go to great lengths to produce error-free copy. But mistakes and typos still slip through. When someone points them out, I thank them for their eagle-eyed attention to detail and make the change. Hey, one less mistake on my website or in my social media post, right? I can’t do anything about the people who’ve already seen the mistake, but I can ensure future visitors don’t see the same mistake.
Suppose a fellow musician points out that you’re playing a lick wrong. In that case, you’d be a fool to ignore their advice and continue playing it incorrectly. No one’s perfect, but when someone can help you improve, accept that help.
4. Error-free copy can help with SEO rankings
Typos and mistakes in your targeted keyword phrases will hurt your SEO. You won’t get as many hits as had you used the correct grammar/spelling.
When I first started posting on Instagram, I used the hashtag #커피 for “copy.” But I should’ve been using “#카피.” #커피 means “coffee.” Thus, while trying to target people searching for “copy” in Korean, I was reaching people searching for “coffee.”
I doubt it had a detrimental effect on my social media efforts, but it didn’t help. When a Korean follower informed me of it, I thanked them for pointing it out, fixed it and then wrote a blog post about it.
Let’s say you upload your latest song to Spotify. If under genre you enter “indy,” far fewer people will find your song than if you’d listed it under “indie.”
5. Brands have ‘broken’ grammar rules—but on purpose
All writing should be tailored to the audience and the context. Academic English isn’t likely to connect with 13-year-old skateboarders who communicate via emojis and chat slang. But in most marketing copy, you’re better off writing with proper grammar.
When Adidas wrote “Impossible is nothing,” they didn’t write “Nothing is impossible” incorrectly. They made a choice designed to draw attention. Unintentionally incorrect grammar may have the same effect (or is it affect? No, it’s definitely effect.), but it’s more likely to come with negative attention.
Some people include errors in their copy to draw attention. It’s a risky strategy, and I don’t have any research indicating whether it’s effective or not. My gut instinct says it rarely pays off.
I SEOUL U was widely panned as a city slogan for its nonsensical nature. It got lots of attention—but not the good kind. It got so much negative attention the slogan got changed, but maybe not for the better.
Professional jazz musicians often play an out-of-key note for effect—on purpose. But they know the theory behind their choice and consciously decide to play that note for a reason. The amateur musician may get away with the occasional wrong note, but more often than not, it’ll just sound wrong—and bad.
6. Proper grammar helps with clarity
When you write with proper grammar, your message is clearer. That’s one of the reasons we hyphenate compound adjectives. If I were to make the claim that I produce “error free copy”, there may be confusion about whether I’ll charge for my services or give clients “free copy”. But “error-free copy” makes my statement much clearer.
When you use the incorrect form of there/their/they’re, it makes it harder for your reader to determine your intended meaning. Adding an unnecessary apostrophe to a plural (the student’s play vs. the students play) makes your writing more difficult to understand. Are you talking about a performance by students or the students in the playground?
Using the correct scale or mode while soloing will help you create the intended feeling or emotion in your music. Mixing modes by mistake may confuse the listener, making it harder for the audience to connect with your music in the way you intended.
In a nutshell, that’s why error-free copy is always better
Those are the reasons I strive to deliver error-free copy to my clients. There is a lot more that goes into effective copywriting. I also try to understand the client’s brand, audience, and value propositions. I use emotional triggers, personalisation, and statistics to craft compelling, persuasive copy.
But I go to great lengths to ensure that copy doesn’t contain any errors or typos. Error-free writing will not guarantee my copy is effective. But error-filled copy will increase the chances it will be ineffective, regardless of how good my messaging is.
I believe a lot of people who argue against the need for grammatically perfect copy find English grammar cumbersome—and it is. Many times, they don’t want to put the effort in. But luckily, that’s what I’m here for.
If you want error-free copy but don’t have the time or the necessary skills to make that happen, contact DC CopyPro. I create error-free copy daily, and I’d be more than happy to do the same for you. Send me a message below to get started.