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Leniency In Copywriting
Grammar mistakes are almost impossible to avoid entirely but a good copywriter takes time to scrutinize their work and make sure it conveys the message well and in a comprehensible language. However, depending on your audience, you can take liberties with the language and break a few formal grammatical rules to [get your message] across more effectively.
This is often very effective with copy that is designed to speak to an audience informally. In one sense, you are breaking free from the constraints of formal grammar, but if you look at it another way, you're following the grammatical rules (albeit not codified) of the particular slang/jargon/idiolect that you choose to use.
That being said, in the copywriting world, we tend to be a little bit lenient when it comes to the strict application of grammar rules. One reason for this is the need for clarity. Sometimes, strict grammatical conventions like avoiding ending a sentence with a preposition can result in sentences that don’t sound like natural spoken language. You also need to consider your readers.
Sometimes, it is very helpful to break complicated sentences into one-liner phrases ending with a period that shouldn’t even exist if you were to ask a strict grammarian. Other times, it’s just easier to forgo using a semicolon and using a comma instead. Or maybe start a sentence with “and” or “or” like I just did here. It is cringe-worthy for us writers and editors, but it’s almost always easier for readers.
One last point about this leniency is that it allows more inclusivity in the copywriting industry. Many aspiring copywriters don’t use English as their first language so they may commit a few errors here and there. Even native speakers do the same thing. Leniency allows them to focus more on the most important part of copywriting, which is engaging an audience to pay attention, understand a product or service, and take action resulting from that understanding.
Make Communication with Your Target Audience Key
As a general rule, good grammar is important if you want to be credible to the mass market of consumers. They might not know all the grammar rules, but they can usually tell if you don’t seem to be communicating well. However, there are some grammar rules that are often broken, and speaking the language of your audience is more important than speaking the language of a grammar guide.
As much as it pains me to say this, it is often better to write “Who do you love?” than “Whom do you love?” Ouch. One big caveat – if you break a few grammar rules, don’t break this one guideline: write in plain, clear English. Never make your audience work to grasp your message.
Mistakes Are Unacceptable In Copywriting
Although nobody is safe from common grammar mistakes, quality should always be a priority when it comes to writing. Even great copywriters maintain a delicate balance between following grammar rules and writing attractive copy. Therefore, it is not acceptable to make grammar mistakes in copywriting. Such mistakes will only show carelessness and lack of revision.
It Depends on Why You’re Making the Mistakes
Some readers have more flexible criteria to judge grammar and style than others, while others expect a deviation from the status quo. In these cases, readers may appreciate informality and the use of lingo. They provide some license to copywriters to use a more flexible approach towards grammar and style. That said, it's acceptable to challenge grammar rules intentionally to get closer to a specific audience. In contrast, making grammar mistakes due to poor work, lack of proofreading, or laziness, is unacceptable.
Errors are OK if they Connect You with the Reader
In copywriting, following grammatical rules is not always a good idea. Copywriting is meant to persuade or compel the audience [to do] something, and effective copy should cut through the noise to connect with the reader emotionally. Breaking the grammatical rules can provide better ways to play through words and concisely connect with the readers. Therefore, effective copy should ultimately be connecting to the end reader regardless of whether it is grammatically sound or not.
There's No Room for Error
As a copywriter, you simply can't afford the luxury of grammatical errors. Copywriters need to be at the top of their game and this extends to both writing copy that is error-free as well as thoroughly proof-reading their work to ensure that nothing is amiss.
That said, some errors are a lot more serious than others. While missing a comma is still a big deal, it can often go unnoticed by many. A spelling mistake, on the other hand, is bound to turn heads and rub clients and customers the wrong way. The best way to avoid these mistakes is to deploy the use of spellcheck tools that will save you from embarrassment and frustration.
It all Depends on Which Type of Copy You’re Writing
As an experienced copywriter, I think that minor grammar mistakes are totally fine – but in a way that does not affect the reading experience. The grammar of the English language is widely known as one of the hardest to master for both natives and learners, so I think it's nearly impossible for an article or content to be 100% compliant with the grammar rules. However, this statement depends on what type of copywriting you create.
Minor grammar mistakes are acceptable for blogs or social media posts that allow a more casual tone of writing. However, it is a different case for content like a business website or press release, which require a more professional tone of writing. Copywriters should ensure the grammar and sentence structure for this business content are free of errors to showcase their professionalism.
It’s a Balancing Act
Grammar changes over time as people break the rules in systematic ways. Rules like never ending a sentence with a preposition simply make writing harder and less enjoyable to read. For academic texts, these rules can be enforced by the editors of academic journals, but for things like social media posts or blogs where people want quick and simple information, they're not looking for academic writing. Copywriters should find a balance between breaking the rules and providing clear information for their audience.
Proper Grammar Reflects on Your Professionalism
The purpose of copywriting is to convert readers into paying clients. As long as your copy has successfully done that, then technically you've done your job. However, as an editor myself, proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling are very important for copywriters. It shows the level of professionalism in your brand and ultimately, that is passed on to your reader (and client), which can make or break a sale.
Minimize The Errors to Match Your Audience’s Needs
It depends on what you're trying to achieve and the type of mistake you’re making, but I would say sometimes yes. You have to speak as your target audience does, so there’s no need to stick to outdated rules like, for example, no prepositions at the ends of sentences. On the other hand, you need to know the rules to break them effectively. Keep in mind that too many grammar and spelling mistakes can make text unreadable or annoy your audience, so it’s best to keep them to a minimum.
Copywriting Need Not be Perfect
The grammar is constantly changing so there can never be a truly ‘perfect' use of it. Copywriting isn't about grammar. It's about creativity! It's all about energy! It's about breaking the rules!
Copy-writing should not be perfect, but seductive. You don't have to flip through English textbooks to write decent copy. Copywriting does not require a degree in linguistics or literature. The goal here is to write copy that would entice readers [and] sell your products. Copywriting is all about seduction through prose; it involves manipulating words into attractive, irresistible writing.
Casual Grammar Gets the Reader’s Attention
Sometimes in the pursuit of churning out an attractive, catchy statement, a copywriter might have to bend the rules of grammar just a tad bit, and that's OKAY!
No matter whether communication or interaction is oral or written, grammar facilitates both. To prevent ambiguity and emphasize the importance of context and structure, the goal is to avoid ambiguity.
However, that does not mean it is set in stone. Grammar, like anything else, gradually evolves. New definitions and contexts emerge as linguistic patterns, etymologies, jargon, and societal trends change over time.
You can establish a content voice not by how you follow rules, but by how you break them. An informal voice is easy to read because of casual grammar, and a casual voice is easy to understand. Casual grammar lends a sense of style and flavor to text that would be unobtainable without it, retaining and enticing the reader's attention.
Double Check your Work
Grammar mistakes are not acceptable in copywriting. Specifically, even though some copywriting teams have an editor, you should perceive your work as a final edit that will go live immediately. Specifically, I recommend revising + double-checking your work a couple of hours after finishing. This will ensure that you have some separation from the task and are fresh and rejuvenated. I also recommend using a tool like Grammarly, which can help you quickly identify errors and show you how to fix them.
Grammar Mistakes Can Alter the Message
As a copywriter, grammar mistakes are not acceptable. Being a copywriter is not only about writing engaging messaging. It also involves having strong proofreading skills. Grammar mistakes often alter the messaging and make it challenging to read.
Although we are not above mistakes as humans, we must strive to do the best writing possible. I suggest using editing software like Grammarly and Hemmingway Editor before publishing or getting feedback from someone. Lastly, you can read your words out loud – it helps to verify the tone and flow of text.
Grammar Errors can be a Dealbreaker
Grammar errors are not acceptable for copywriting because of the mistake's ability to change how the readers interpret the sentence. For example, there is a significant difference between “Let's eat, Grandpa” and “Let's eat Grandpa.” Some readers may not notice this subtle difference, but those who do will remember the copywriting for the wrong reasons. This lack of attention to detail may upset potential clients and be a dealbreaker when deciding if they should purchase a product or service from the business.
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