magnifying glass checks grammar and style

6 Grammar and Style Mistakes That Affect Email Conversion Rates


Effective, highly converting email copy is about more than figuring out what story to tell. It’s also about how you tell that story.

If you share an engaging story but your email is riddled with grammar and style mistakes, your email won’t convert as well as you’d like. It’s as simple as that. These types of errors undermine your professionalism and effectiveness, making your customers less likely to take action — no matter how compelling your story is.

In this article, we’ll cover six key grammar and style mistakes that might be affecting your email conversions. Let’s dive in!

Why Grammar and Style Matter

When sending an email to a customer, you only have a few seconds to make a good impression. If your customer catches a grammar, spelling, or style mistake in your email, they’re likely to disengage.

Grammar and spelling mistakes make your writing look unprofessional and give off the impression that you don’t care much about your work. Style errors, on the other hand, can get in the way of your customers’ understanding and make your emails needlessly difficult to read. Both types of mistakes can create a serious problem: lower conversions.

Let’s take a look at some common grammar and style mistakes that we often see in emails.

1. Using the Wrong Homophone

Homophones are words that have the same pronunciations but different meanings. Here are some common examples:

  • they’re (contraction of they are), there (adverb used to indicate a place) and their (third-person pronoun meaning belonging to them)
  • see (verb meaning to sense with the eyes) and sea (noun meaning a large area of saltwater subject to tides and waves)

When you write quickly, it’s easy to use the wrong homophone. And since homophones are real words, they won’t always flag as wrong in your average spelling or grammar checker. However, misusing a homophone can make your writing look amateur, leading to fewer customer conversions.

2. Writing in the Passive Voice

When you’ve written a sentence in the passive voice, you’ve placed the object of your sentence before the subject.

Here’s what I mean:

“The call was taken by Joe.”

In this sentence, Joe is the one doing the action—he’s taking the call. But he comes all the way at the end of the sentence. You can make your sentence much clearer and to the point by saying this instead:

“Joe took the call.”

Passive voice isn’t technically grammatically incorrect. But using the passive voice makes your writing clunky and hard to read. You only have seconds to grab your customers’ attention when they open an email: don’t waste it by using an ineffective sentence structure.

3. Overusing Jargon

Many writers overuse jargon in their emails. While not technically grammatically incorrect, jargon can alienate your audience. It can also be hard to spot: often, as writers in a particular industry, we’re so used to a term that we don’t recognize it’s new for our readers.

For instance, did you realize the term “win-win” is actually jargon? Overusing phrases like these can make our readers less likely to engage with what we’re saying, resulting in fewer customer conversions.

4. Using Adverbs Instead of Strong Verbs

Verbs are the action words in writing and as such they should have lots of power. Many writers, however, rely on adverbs to make weak verb stronger. For instance, instead of saying, “I am thrilled to announce the new sale,” writers may say, “I am very excited to announce the new sale.”

This change might seem small, but relying on adverbs to prop up your weak verbs often makes your writing less evocative and effective. While adverbs are technically grammatically correct, they’re a bit lazy. Your email copy needs to be as strong as possible to get your customer to take action, so skip the bad adverbs in favor of more powerful verbs that’ll do a better job of conveying your meaning.

5. Having Too Many Sticky Sentences

There are two types of words in every sentence: glue words and working words.

Working words are the words that carry all the meaning in the sentence: your nouns, adjectives, and verbs. You can’t change them, or the meaning of the sentence would change. Glue words, on the other hand, are words that make your sentence stick together and make sense. Here are some examples of glue words:

examples of glue words for email grammar and style improvements

Both glue words and working words are essential to help your sentences make sense. But if you use too many glue words, your sentences will be overly wordy and hard to read. Here’s an example:

Sticky Sentence:

Jane went over to the backyard over the school to check to see if she could find a new bike that she could use in class.

A bit of a mouthful, right?

Here’s a better version:

Jane checked the school’s backyard to see if she could find a new bike to use in class.

Much clearer!

Reducing glue words is especially important in email, where every word counts. Don’t waste valuable space in your email with words that don’t carry a lot of meaning. We recommend keeping your glue index (the percentage of glue words in your sentence) under 40%.

6. Targeting the Wrong Readability

The best and most effective writers make their writing easier to read, not harder. If your language and sentence structure are too challenging for your audience to understand, you’ll lose them. Effective email copy worries more about getting meaning across clearly and concisely than using fancy language to dazzle readers. It’s better to be accessible than impressive!

When writing email copy, you should aim for a readability score of 7th grade or lower. That means that the language in your email could be understood by someone twelve years old or younger. If your readability score is higher than 7th grade, try eliminating jargon, reducing your sentence length, and choosing easier words to make your writing more readable.

Improve Your Grammar and Style with ProWritingAid

Improving the grammar and style of your emails can make them more effective and likely to convert customers. But your average spelling and grammar check won’t be able to spot most of the mistakes highlighted in this article.

That’s where ProWritingAid comes in. ProWritingAid offers world-class grammar and style checking combined with in-depth reports on areas like readability, jargon, sticky sentences, and more. ProWritingAid’s Chrome extension lets you edit where you write, including right within the Email on Acid platform. That way, you can catch errors before you hit send.

By using ProWritingAid with Email on Acid, you can ensure your emails are customer- and conversion-ready.

Final Thoughts

Improving the grammar and style of your emails can make your writing sharper, clearer, and more effective. The better your writing, the higher the chance your email will convert.

Good writing isn’t just about having engaging ideas: it’s about setting up your sentences in a way that will let those ideas shine. By following the advice outlined in this post, you can ensure your emails are reader (and conversion) ready.

Don’t guess, test

Email clients are constantly changing, which is why it’s important to test your email every time; what worked yesterday might not work today. Email on Acid offers unlimited email testing in major mailbox providers and the most popular devices. That means you can make sure your email looks good before it hits the inbox. Want to see for yourself? Take advantage of our free, seven-day trial.

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Author: Hayley Milliman

Hayley is the Head of Education at ProWritingAid. Prior to joining this team, Hayley spent several years as an elementary school teacher and curriculum developer in Memphis, TN. When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink or hiking with her dog.

Author: Hayley Milliman

Hayley is the Head of Education at ProWritingAid. Prior to joining this team, Hayley spent several years as an elementary school teacher and curriculum developer in Memphis, TN. When Hayley isn't hunched over her keyboard, you can find her figure skating at the ice rink or hiking with her dog.

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