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Why Editing Matters (and How Mistakes Could Cost You Clients)

Tara Hall
November 23, 2015

First impressions matter, and when it comes to marketing, every effort you put forth has the potential to be a “first impression” to someone. Whether it’s an email newsletter, a blog post or a social media update, each individual engagement can make or break client relationships. Talk about pressure!

How do small business owners put their best foot forward? Appeal to the right demographic, provide useful content or commentary, and ensure your spelling and grammar are correct. That’s right, editing matters.

Did that last point catch you off guard? Many small business owners either accidentally overlook or intentionally dismiss the importance of editing and proofreading, and it’s to their own detriment. Errors, however trivial, subconsciously influence our beliefs. [Tweet This] Taking your marketing efforts seriously means valuing the investment of time, money or both to ensure content is factually accurate and grammatically correct.

Think that’s a waste? Here are three serious effects your business can face with a lax (or nonexistent) editorial process:

Clients may be instantly turned off by a mistake.

According to a 2014 survey by Standing Dog Interactive, 58 percent of consumers are bothered by website copy errors, with one respondent revealing, “If … I see a typo, I’ll leave without buying a thing.” A potential sale down the drain, just like that.

Think that opinion is just one extreme? Let’s put it in perspective with a real-world scenario: A plumbing issue arises in your recently purchased home, and you don’t have a plumber on speed dial. Your neighbor mentions a local company they’ve used once before, so you head to their website to find the phone number. You read the banner on the home page: “Joe’s Plumbing — Our experienced proffesionals are ready for your call!” Ouch.

Does a misspelled word mean Joe’s Plumbing shouldn’t get your business? Not necessarily, but you may second-guess calling them. Though we all know mistakes happen, we don’t always give those we’re unfamiliar with the benefit of the doubt, particularly when our money is involved.

Errors discount credibility.

Businesses thrive by exhibiting expertise and selling it to clients who can benefit. Having that hard work undermined by a careless mistake is a painful consequence, particularly when you hear that 59 percent of respondents in a recent U.K. study reported they won’t do business with a company that has obvious spelling or grammar mistakes on either marketing material or a website.

At the most basic level, a client’s thought process is often this: If you can’t catch a spelling blunder, can you really be trusted to do more detail-oriented work? The client has to decide if it’s worth the risk or if it’s safer to move on to the next company.

Don’t put yourself or your brand in this position. Create an editing process for all of your marketing needs, whether you outsource it or tackle it in-house. The extra time or expense is worth it; you not only prevent loss, but you can actually increase your reach with targeted attention.

Mistakes slow readers down and distract them from your message.

Let’s return to the Joe’s Plumbing example. You initially searched for the plumbing company to get your hands on the phone number and make an appointment. Thanks to that spelling mistake, you’re now distracted. If you do manage to keep reading, you’re probably on the lookout for the next mistake, whether you realize it or not.

Let’s say you decide to give Joe’s Plumbing a try despite the slipup. Hopefully, they’re bringing their A game when they pick up the phone and answer your questions; if another problem arises during your interaction, you’re much more likely to give up and go with another plumber.

See how that one misspelling turned into a psychological mess? Your best defense against losing potential clients in this way is with an editorial offense. Make proofreading and editing a regular part of your marketing creation process to avoid these damaging pitfalls.

What can small business owners do to minimize mistakes in marketing content?

We understand that your expertise falls in your own industry, not with the ins and outs of mixed modifiers, subject-verb agreement and punctuation. That said, adults across industries understand when something sounds off, and they can spot obvious spelling issues a mile away, so don’t throw caution to the wind and overlook this important step. If you don’t have the time to focus on things like grammar and spelling, hire an expert who does. But if you are tackling it yourself, take these pointers and put them to use for all aspects of your business’s marketing strategy.

  • Give yourself some space, and then check it again. Once you’ve typed out your message — be it a blog post, email or tweet — focus on something else, even if only for a moment. Then come back and reread your message. That quick break can be just enough time to see your message and any potential issues with fresh eyes.
  • Proofread, and don’t rely on spell-check. Though spell-checkers can be useful, you shouldn’t trust them to pick out all the issues. Spell-check will knot highlight words that are spelt correctly butt miss used. (See what we did there?) Online tools like Grammarly detect not only spelling errors and grammar concerns but also potential cases of plagiarism.
  • Read it aloud. This may sound silly, but reading words aloud can help find mistakes. You can pick up on duplicate words, awkward phrasing or sentences that don’t quite fit, not to mention test out the pace and rhythm of your work.
  • Get more eyes on the copy. Don’t depend on your own eyes to find mistakes in your writing. Others have a better chance of catching typos and errors in your writing because your brain is already too familiar with the words and will see what you meant to write, whether you really did or not.
  • Hire professionals to tackle the writing and editing for you. You have many options here. You can handle the writing yourself and have an editor check your copy, or you can go all in and leave email marketing and social media to a team of industry experts. (That’s what OutboundEngine does!)


Marketing is all about making a positive impact on past, current and future clients. If you’re not putting your best foot forward, your efforts can work against you and your small business. Whether you’re handling your company’s newsletters and social media posts yourself or outsourcing them to marketing pros, editing should be a part of the process. Spelling mistakes and grammar issues undermine your credibility and push clients away. To avoid this, take steps to ensure that everything that goes out with your name on it is as error-free as possible.

If you’re interested in turning your email marketing and social media strategy over to a team of experienced marketers and in-house editors, learn more about what OutboundEngine has to offer.


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