You might assume copywriting tips would primarily be based on tone, structure, and wittiness, and while these are all significant factors of useful content, we’re going to first focus on copywriting mistakes. Typos may seem like a minuscule problem in the grand scheme of running a business, but consumer research suggests that copyright mistakes in website copy can impact prospective customers’ trust in your company. In fact, in the study of over 1000 UK consumers, 59% of participants said they wouldn’t use a company with obvious copywriting mistakes on their website. Yikes.
But when you think about it, this isn’t unsurprising. When investing your money in a product, you want to be reassured the company in question takes their work seriously and delivers high-quality content – so why shouldn’t that extend to their marketing efforts? If your website gives prospects a first impression, make sure it’s a solid one.
Even the most gifted writers make mistakes, especially when they’ve been looking at the same piece of work for hours on end! Full disclosure – I made typos in this very blog post which my colleague picked up on when proofreading it. This goes to show how important it is to get a fresh pair of eyes on your work even when you think you’ve taken a lot of care! So, we’re sharing five things to look out for when writing copy and our copywriting tips for how to avoid those pesky typos as well.
1. Easily Confused Words
These are some of the words that are most often confused in both spoken and written English, so we’re here to clear them up once and for all!
Less of a non-quantifiable item – e.g. ‘Less water.’
Fewer of a quantifiable item – e.g. ‘Fewer cats’
‘I pay you a compliment.’
‘You receive a complimentary upgrade.’
‘The wine complements the meal.’
It all gets a bit confusing, but:
Incorrect: ‘It doesn’t effect me.’
Correct: ‘That’s a good effect.’
Correct: ‘It doesn’t affect me.’
The word ‘affect’ can also be used to describe a facial or physical expression.
2. Rogue Apostrophes
Unless an acronym is separated by full stops, pluralised acronyms don’t include apostrophes.
Incorrect: ‘There were bottomless G&T’s’
Correct: ‘There were bottomless G&Ts’
Apostrophes make words possessive or replace an omitted letter, so no pluralised word should include an apostrophe! Just to confuse you, the word ‘it’ doesn’t get a possessive apostrophe!
Incorrect: ‘She liked it’s style.’
Correct: ‘She liked its style.’
Incorrect: ‘Its the most wonderful time of the year.’
Correct: ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year.’
3. It’s Not You; It’s Me. Or is it I?
Although it’s rare to write business copy in the first person, it’s easy to get this mixed up. ‘I’ and ‘me’ should be used as though they would if you were speaking of yourself only. For example, a classic mistake would be:
‘They gave the contract to Bob and I’
You wouldn’t say ‘They gave the contract to I’ so the correct version of this would be ‘They gave the contract to Bob and me.’
4. Which Is It?
‘Team’ is a singular noun, but often teams are written about in this way, ‘the team are excited to meet you’ or ‘Zelst are a friendly company.’
The correct way to write and speak of a brand, team, or company would be,
‘The team is excited to meet you’ and ‘Zelst is a friendly company.’
There are a plethora of grammar and spelling tools and copywriting tips out there! If you’re a bit too wordy and need to write in a more concise style, check out Hemingway which addresses surplus words. Our content team uses Grammarly which, when you’re under any time pressure, is great for efficiency. It scans your work and raises any concerns and suggests alternatives from which to choose. We never publish anything without sending it on to a fresh pair of eyes – it’s cheesy but true, teamwork makes the dream work.