Could Writing Blunders Cost Your Business?
A 2013 study conducted by a U.K. communications firm indicated 59 percent of respondents would not do business with a company that made obvious errors in its marketing content. With that in mind, below are four examples of seemingly small errors that resulted in massive damage. Two are software errors rather than content errors, but they illustrate just how wrong things can go with something as simple as a typo. Don’t let errors like the ones listed below hurt your business, too.
The Explosive Omission
The blunder: One missing symbol
The result: $80 million loss
In 1962, a coding error impacted NASA in an explosive manner. The mission? Send a spacecraft, the Mariner 1, to fly by Venus to gather data. A coding error (a common theory is a hyphen was missing) sent the spacecraft off course, resulting in an ordered explosion a few minutes after it took off. The mistake cost NASA $80 million.
The blunder: Listing the wrong airfare
The result: About $7.2 million of lost revenue
In 2006, Italian airline company Alitalia mistakenly listed flights from Toronto to Cyprus for $39 — the actual price was $3,900. Before the airline company could correct the mistake, about 2,000 people booked flights using this too-good-to-be-true deal. Alitalia decided to honor the $39 price in an effort to keep its reputation intact, resulting in an estimated $7.2 million in lost revenue.
The blunder: An extra character
The result: $1.4 million mistake
A bookkeeping typo caused New York City’s Department of Education to get a duplicate transfer from the city’s general fund for spending on transportation. A June 2006 audit report by then-Comptroller William Thompson said the mistake was due to an extra character being entered into a fund transfer document, which caused the transfer to not be recognized as a duplicate by the city’s financial management system. This error meant that $2.8 million was transferred into a fiduciary account for transportation funds instead of $1.4 million.
A Nasty Snag
The blunder: Misspelled word
The result: 80 percent increase in conversions after correction
A former e-commerce company misspelled “Tights” as “Tihgts” on its landing page selling tights. One can infer that the spelling error made prospective customers second-guess purchasing tights from a company that couldn’t correctly spell the word for one of its core products. After it fixed the error, the company reported that conversions increased by 80 percent.
From missing hyphens to misspelled words, these errors suggest no company or organization is exempt from a mistake. Lesson learned: An extra letter here or a missing comma there could snowball into monster problems.
To prevent such issues from hindering your business, don’t underestimate the importance of being detail-oriented. Double- and triple-check content. Hire an experienced editor. Have a second set of eyes proofread your copy. This will help ensure your business’s content is as flawless as possible, saving you from losing valuable leads and revenue, and a tainted reputation.