The true cost of spelling mistakes

Posted on September 30, 2015


It may sound hard to believe, but a single spelling mistake can result in a drastic reduction in sales. Back in 2011, online entrepreneur Charles Duncombe famously said in an interview with the BBC that just one spelling error could reduce online sales by half.

Duncombe measured the revenue per customer on a website selling tights and found it doubled after correcting a spelling error. He attributed this drastic difference to customer concerns about online safety and fraud and highlighted the importance of not making basic errors that affect credibility.

William Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University backed this up by claiming that while people might be forgiving of spelling and grammatical errors on social media, this does not necessarily extend to websites where trust and credibility are factors. When it comes to these, he said:

“In these instances, when a consumer might be wary of spam or phishing efforts, a misspelt word could be a killer issue.”

When it comes to a website news feed, fraud is rarely an issue, but credibility (and by extension, spelling and grammar) is still important. Internet users have a vast selection of news providers to choose from, so they’ll inevitably discard any they consider untrustworthy or unprofessional.

While the above interview took place in 2011, Duncombe’s comments are as relevant today as they were then. In fact, recent updates in search engines like Google mean that poor user experiences are also now reflected in lower search rankings, making spelling and grammar more important than ever.

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