An Editor’s Defence: Why Grammar Still Matters in Content Marketing

We’ve all heard it from time to time—I know I have. Generally I heard it from the mouths of grumbling teenagers who couldn’t tell a preposition from a pronoun. “Why do we need to worry about this stuff, now that we have spell check?”

Since I’m an editor by trade, I’d be out of a job if spell check really was the answer to the world’s spelling and grammar woes. Luckily for me, there will always be those pesky slip-ups that make it past even the most thorough of word processors. So the question when blogging for business is, should you care? Does good spelling and grammar matter in your content marketing?

Don’t Let Yourself be Misunderstood

To show you that you can’t afford mistakes in your content, I’d like to start with an example that has been bouncing around the campaign trail for the last few weeks. A little quote from our president: “You didn’t build that.” As soon as I heard it, I thought of a little note I used to get on my ninth grade English papers, “UPR.” It stood for Unclear Pronoun Reference, and it’s a problem for just such a reason as Obama showed us: if your grammar isn’t spot on, your meaning can be misunderstood, or misconstrued.

In the sentence preceding this misstep (full transcript here), the President cited roads and bridges as examples of government-funded infrastructure that helps business thrive. I’d guess that many editors across the nation grimaced when they heard that UPR—his ‘that’ should be plural (‘those’) to refer to roads and bridges, not business. But as with all things nowadays, once it was said, it was bounding across the internet and soon the news.

Now, most of us blogging for business don’t need to worry about a slight grammatical error becoming the next slogan on our opponent’s political bumper stickers; but no matter which side of the aisle you’re on, you don’t want to be misunderstood. Once you say something on the internet, it’s there for all to see, and you can’t always control how it’s used or interpreted.

Be a Reliable Grammarian

In the world of content marketing, you provide information and resources to consumers, in the hopes that it will lead them to convert and—eventually—buy something! This means that you need to establish yourself as an authority in your field, someone who can provide valuable information to readers. And while the most important part of this is writing content that is valuable and relevant to your readers, you can’t overlook the way you write it.

Think about it: you’ve searched for the answer to a question or problem, and you think you’ve found a blog or page that could offer a solution. But the more you read, the more you trip over a few poorly constructed sentences, and stumble on misspellings. Wouldn’t you begin to doubt the value of the content you’re reading? Readers today equate correct and stylish writing with the accuracy and worth of the content they’re reading, and you don’t want your blog to leave something to be desired.  If you’re not always 100% sure about all things grammar, check out Grammar Girl for help.

Show Them You Care

I came across a blog recently, written by a young woman for professional networking purposes. I won’t make you read it, but I think it highlights an important point. Each post on this blog was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes, and readers weren’t shy about pointing this out in the comments section.

The blog’s author became frustrated and angry with the comments, and complained that no one noticed the content of her blogs. But why would they? If she posts a poorly worded blog full of sloppy mistakes (blogger, meet spell check), she’s sending a message to her readers that she couldn’t even be bothered to proofread, or get a friend to look it over. In blogging for business, this immediately puts readers off from focusing on what you’re writing—or selling. Why would readers care about what you’re writing, if it looks you don’t care enough to write it carefully?

CEM’s own Laura Hancock wrote a great guide about common grammar mistakes that can downgrade your content from amazing to a mess. It’s a good bookmark for anyone who’s ever wondered, “Is it affect or effect?”

You are what You Write

In many ways, you are your product in content marketing. Sure, you might be hoping to sell a few washer/driers in the process, but what you are really selling is your business or company. And if customers buy it, they’ll first build a relationship with your blog, and then maybe your newsletter, and hopefully purchase a service or product somewhere down the sales funnel.

This is great news really—it means that you have the ability to craft an impression of your business for your prospective customers. However, it also means that any mistakes or weak content you produce can reflect upon the quality of your business as well.  If your content is shabby, readers might assume that your products or services are shabby as well. Your content marketing needs to be squeaky-clean to inspire confidence and, eventually, trust, so that you can charm your readers all the way to the purchase page.

Hopefully, this has reinforced for you all the care and editing you put into your already-stellar blog or marketing content. But if you haven’t always been as thorough and meticulous as you could be, maybe this will spur you to new heights of proofreading and grammar checking. Check out 7 Things all Copywriters Need to Know When Polishing a Piece to raise the bar on your own content. And, if you want dazzling content that would make even the most critical editor (yours truly) smile, each and every time, don’t hesitate to contact us at Content Equals Money, to find out how we can help your business to excel where others fall short.

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Emily is the Lead Editor at Content Equals Money, now living in Northampton, MA. She has a BA in English Literature and Music from Smith College, and an MA in English Literature from the University of London. Her love of all things grammatical began in a freshman Latin class, and led her to specialize in grammar and modern language during a study abroad year at University College London. She is a total NPR junkie, and enjoys reading, running, and rock climbing in her spare time.

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Comments

  1. Great post, Emily! You should blog more on CEM!

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  1. […] or online service that threatens to render you obsolete. Last time I wrote, I made the case for why grammar still matters at a time when we can count on Microsoft Word’s spell check feature to spot our misspelled words […]

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