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Spelling mistakes cost businesses millions, says entrepreneur

Graeme Parton

Spelling mistakes and proofreading errors are costing banks and business in the UK millions of pounds in revenue, according to web entrepreneur Charles Duncombe.

Duncombe owns a number of internet firms, including mobile phone, clothing, and travel retail sites. The tests carried out by his company found that language errors could significantly damage conversion rates; with a potential 50% reduction in the number of visitors choosing to buy at the end of their browsing session.

The businessman’s concerns were reiterated by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which suggested that flaws in both writing and literacy were proving to be costly for its member firms. The group also said that companies were being forced to invest heavily in literacy training for employees as a result.

Speaking about the importance of quality content in the digital age, Duncombe said:

“I know that industry bemoaning the education system is nothing new but it is becoming more and more of a problem with more companies going online. This is because when you sell or communicate on the internet, 99% of the time it is done by the written word.”

However, it’s not only private businesses that invest in literacy programmes and proofreading services. Many government departments and non-governmental organisations also have separate funding to ensure their published content is of a high quality.

In the past, high profile spelling error incidents have increased awareness when it comes to the importance of polished content. In 2010, for instance, the managing director of the Chilean mint was relieved of his duties after more than a million coins were distributed with the country’s name spelt ‘CHIIE’.

In the business world, such mistakes can cause customers, both potential and existing, to lose their confidence in a brand and, as Duncombe has suggested, this can significantly damage a firm’s profit-making ability.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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