Smart entrepreneurs know that any sign of sloppiness can destroy a customer’s interest in buying. It doesn’t matter whether the problem area is directly related to the business’s primary focus; the public doesn’t trust unswept restaurants to serve healthy food, or unshaven pharmacists to mix prescriptions correctly. Likewise, an e-advertisement full of typos makes recipients suspect that the advertised product is put together equally carelessly.
The most frequent causes of sloppy writing are:
Putting blind faith in a word processor. Few spell checkers can tell the difference between “its” and “it’s,” or between “twenty-four suppliers” and “twenty for Suppliers.” Nor can a spell checker recognize every proper name (and nothing alienates a potential customer like seeing his or her own name misspelled). Moreover, automatic formatting can actually create a sloppy appearance: “correcting” something that wasn’t wrong; misaligning bulleted lists; turning e-mail graphics into jumbles of symbols.
Solution: Assign a human eye to re-read everything. Ideally, let every e-advertisement sit unviewed for at least twenty-four hours before the final edit. And with e-mails, include a link or attachment for the benefit of anyone whose inbox can read only plain text.
Assuming that “anyone” can easily write a decent e-advertisement. Never just assign the writing to whichever employee can squeeze out twenty minutes to throw something together. As every professional editor knows, passing high school English doesn’t qualify a person to write something others find worth reading. And actual mistakes are only part of the problem; even a grammatically flawless and typo-free advertisement won’t accomplish its purpose if recipients find it boring or irrelevant.
Solution: If no one on your staff has formal writing education or writing-for-publication experience, hire a qualified freelancer to prepare the text. Improved response will be more than adequate compensation for the investment.
Letting something get lost in translation. Inter-language advertising had perils long before the days of e-mail and Web sites. One misplaced letter or accent mark can turn an effective advertisement into something totally hilarious or seriously offensive. Even experienced translators make mistakes, particularly with slang and colloquialisms. At best, many translated pieces come out rather stiff, without the liveliness of the originals.
Solution: Either find a translator who is thoroughly fluent in both languages, or get a native speaker to critique the translated version. (Native speakers aren’t hard to find in the Internet age.)
It can’t be emphasized enough: if your software advertisement doesn’t get all its letters in the right places, people will wonder if the software’s programmer did any better. The best-written e-advertisements bring in the best responses!