September 11, 2009

The Typo Test: Do Typos Ruin Online Copy? I’m Going to Find Out

There are two Typo Instincts.

On the one hand: Who cares about a single typo? If someone can’t spell (or run spellcheck), does that really mean they can’t do their job?

On the other hand: Who wants to work with someone who can’t even bother double-checking their first impressions?

I don’t know for sure if typos ruin online sales pitches, but I have a theory, and I’m going to test it.

My theory is that typos don’t turn readers off—they get readers off track. At best, experiencing copy is like taking public transit: you’re going to stop at a predetermined set of points, and you’re going to end up at exactly one destination.

In that case, a typo is a trainwreck.

You’re derailed; you’re not focusing on getting whacked on the head by facts and asides, one after the other. Instead, you’re thinking about the typo. You’re not necessarily thinking anything specific, but you’re thinking about it.

That gives you less mental bandwidth for absorbing a sales pitch, which means, all else being equal, you’re less likely to make the purchase.

Under that theory, a typo doesn’t rule you out. It just gives your competitors another shot.

The Typo Test

I’d like to see how much harm typos cause. I’ve written before about how easy it is to use ezinearticles for SEO, and I’d like to combine that with the typo theory.

Of my next twenty ezine articles, ten will include typos. These will have to be the kind of mistakes that get past an ezinarticles.com editor, and I’ll try to include them near calls to action or hyperlinks, just to make sure there’s an effect.

I’d like to include some pay per click in the mix, but if I do that, we’re talking about real money, instead of just wasted time. So volunteers are welcome, but I’m not exactly worried about getting swamped with replies.

(That said, if you run PPC campaigns for a living, I’d be very curious to see how typos affect your business. Curious enough that I’d be happy to whip up some sales copy for you based on the data we gather. You share your data, I share my copy, we all win a little in order to compensate for embarassing ourselves in front of Google.)

Stay tuned…

I’ll give the Typo Test a month, and it might take nearly that long to get the articles written. So don’t expect to hear about this for a while. In the meantime, happy typing, and don’t forget to spellcheck.

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I’m currently the Co-Founder and CEO of a startup providing equity research and M&A due diligence to investors analyzing online businesses.

  • Suze123456

    Soooo… where’s the follow up on this?