How Typos Affect Credibility

When we work with groups of presenters, one thing we always emphasize is the importance of being well prepared. If possible, practice in the space you’ll be in, using the same microphone, and running your slides on the equipment you’ll be using.

Being prepared also means double-and triple-checking your slides, because as a recent research study demonstrates, mistakes can cost you in terms of credibility. And in some cases, they can literally cost you money,

We were sent an article by Shira Stieglitz posted on Website Planet, in which she describes a study her group did on the impact of different kinds of typos on response rates to Google ads. They tested ads for number of clicks, but also web landing pages to see how much time people spent there when they clicked through. They tested both for spelling errors and for grammatical errors, both on the ads themselves and on the landing pages. Click here to read the article.

While the findings aren’t really surprising, they are eye-opening. Overall, having a typo in a Google ad led to 70% fewer clicks than an identical ad with the typo corrected, whether it showed a spelling error or used the wrong tense. There were some differences in how English-speakers in different parts of the world responded to the ads—Brits were more affected by grammatical errors, Americans by misspellings. But accurate ads always outperformed ones with mistakes.

But losing out on clicks was just one penalty faced by purveyors of ads with typos. Researchers found another one, which you’re more likely to recognize if you have ever created a pay-per-click ad campaign: an ad that receives fewer clicks will have its position lowered in the standings used by services like Google. These rankings are used to determine where ads are placed on a page and, perhaps more importantly, how much the advertiser will pay for each click. In this particular test, Google actually charges significantly higher ad rate for an ad that includes a typo. That’s not due to any type of judgment by the good folks at Google—it’s just how their system works.

In other words, you get fewer visitors, and you have to pay more for those visitors to show up! And if you have typos on the website that you just paid to advertise, you’ll lose viewers more quickly—web users are 85% more likely to bounce from an inaccurate web site.

So how do those numbers affect presenters? When you’re up in front of a crowd, your credibility is on the line. If you want your audience to take you seriously, take a lesson from this online survey: careless typos will alter how your audience perceives you. Just as they are less likely to click on a sloppy Google ad, you can expect a few eyes to glaze over if they sense that you’re not as well prepared as you could be. And THAT can cost you money!

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