In today’s globalised world, your business has to be flexible and international if you want to expand. Long gone are the days of carving out a tiny niche in your local community. In the past, you could have opened a brick-and-mortar store in your county that would have filled a niche in the market. You might have had to compete against another store, but there was nothing like the competition you see these days. No matter what you’re selling, you have to worry about large multinational corporations that are constantly expanding to new venues, offering cheaper products, and wider selections. The big box stores and online retailers are hard to compete with, in part because they have great marketing. Marketing between the United States and the United Kingdom is similar but not the same. Obviously, citizens of the United Kingdom can understand United States English just fine. However, they don’t always identify with American sentiments. For example, in the United States, a holiday is a specific day on the calendar. Americans would say “vacation” the way Brits say “holiday”. Americans also punctuate their sentences slightly differently; in standard American English, that previous sentence would place the period inside the quotation marks, even at the end of a sentence.
These things are very minor but they will register with your UK and US audiences. Here are some examples.
The minor differences in English use are not very challenging to understand, but they can cause pause. They can create the idea that a company is not local and thus does not understand the needs of local customers. In many ways, focusing on that otherness can help. Certain companies do very well in the United States by focusing on their British qualities. In the United Kingdom, certain companies do very well by being quintessentially American. Certain regions of the United States are especially popular, such as the American South and the Southwest.
Website localisation becomes important if you want to make sure your audience understands exactly what you’re saying. You can search for examples of website localisation in the UK and US by looking at multinational corporations. Often, they will allow you to select your country to be directed to the appropriate website. If your website translation is not carefully tailored, you might run into some serious problems with comprehension amongst potential customers. For example, if you are selling baby supplies, you could run into some confusion. In the United States, certain baby supplies are called diapers. In the United Kingdom, they are called nappies. Many people in the United States are aware of that distinction; however, many are not sure what a nappy might be. So, if they click over to your website and don’t immediately see diapers, they might go to another website that is easier for them to navigate. Also, you have to contend with some differing definitions. Counties don’t exactly mean the same thing in both countries, for example. It’s important to make your website friendly for the local audience.