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Aug 27, 2007
Blog Post

Proofreading Starts With Your URL - the Pain of Typos

SUMMARY: No summary available.
By Anne Holland, Content Director

Admittedly, our B-to-B Marketing Summit Brochure was brochure-from-hell from a proofing standpoint. The marketing department had to get 29 different speakers' names spelled properly (this must be very easy in places, such as Sweden, where you have a limited pool of names to deal with, but in multicultural America you always have to double-check.) And we had to make sure the right headshot went with the right speaker, which can be easier to screw up than you think.

Plus, there were 500+ past attendee company names to spell correctly, including some with caps in the middle (Sherpa included, unfortunately) and some without, which also makes guessing impossible.

And, of course, all those session times ... for some reason putting sessions into the proper slots is also always harder than expected. Like children, they wiggle about and bump into each other instead of lining up in a nice, quiet, orderly fashion.

So, when the marketing team proofed the blue lines the printer sent over for our big August campaign, they had a lot to review.

Which explains how everyone totally forgot to proofread the response URL. So, we ended up with tens of thousands of brochures that read, Go to "http://www.vanityurl.com," which was typed in as a placekeeper copy early in the process and never updated.

When the team alerted me about this, I said, "No problem, just go buy VanityURL.com and redirect from it!" Which would have been lovely except for the fact that NutriSystem already owns it.

They must have a marketing department very much like ours.

This actually made us feel much better about having to trash the printed brochures and start again; we were not alone in the world in being imperfect at proofing. In fact, when I mentioned the snafu to a few friends in the Net marketing world, they laughed and told me their own horror stories. (The worst was when a major news media article misspelled an ecommerce domain in a big story, and it wound up sending traffic to a competitor who had been canny enough to buy every typo in sight.)

My three lessons learned:

#1. When you are proofing marketing copy or ad creative, ALWAYS check the URL first. Even typos in the headline are less important.

#2. If you are speaking with a reporter on the telephone, ALWAYS spell every letter of your domain out loud verbally even if it seems obvious and easy to spell.

#3. If your online ad campaign uses a redirect or tracking system that changes URLs behind the scenes, you should BOTH handtype the visible URL and click on the working link to be sure both are correct.

Hopefully, we'll never have this problem again -- but in the meantime, my hat's off to NutriSystem, with a capital S in the middle!



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Comments about this Blog Entry

Aug 05, 2009 - Kirsti Scott of Scott Design Inc says:
When creating any materials with placeholder copy or images, it's good practice to use something that looks obviously wrong. A URL such as XXXXXXXX.com is much more noticeable at a glance than vanityurl.com. Do the same with phone numbers (we've done the 800-123-4567 thing and missed it--try 800-XXX-XXXX insread). And, stick a big "FPO" on any images that are "for placement only" and you'll save yourself lots of headaches. Thanks for the great post!



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