Brits Vs. Yanks - A Conversion True Story
There seems to be some debate about who said it first, but whether it was Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw the quip still holds true that England and America are “two countries separated by a common language.”
But even when the language is the same, the accent used to express it can vary widely, and our response to that variation may impact our willingness to listen to the message being delivered.
We have long been interested in testing the impact of different accents. We usually do not change the content of a video for British or American audiences, but the accent in the voiceover is a different matter entirely.
Ginger Software markets a product aimed at improving your written English. It identifies spelling and grammar errors and is particularly useful for students, people with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, and business people for whom English is a second language. Once we had proven that the inclusion of video on Ginger’s site increased their conversion rate, we decided to test whether there was a difference in conversion when the audience heard an American or a British accent delivering the voiceover. Given that the product is tied so closely to people’s perception of correct English, we thought this would be real grudge match between two great nations. And the results didn’t disappoint.
We ran an A/B test where 50% of the global audience saw the video with a voiceover in a British accent and 50% saw it with the voiceover performed with an American accent. The conversion goal for each version of the video was to get visitors to download Ginger’s software.
Looking at the global population, we saw that the British voiceover was 4% more effective at converting visitors into downloaders. On its own, that would be interesting enough, but we wanted to look further into what was happening in each country.
It seems that the often-heard comment by Americans that things sound smarter with a British accent actually translates into action. For US audiences, the conversion rate for the British accent was 5.5% higher than the American one – above the global average. In Canada, the British accent still outperformed the American, but by a mere 1.5%.
Irish viewers watching the British version converted 12% more often than those hearing an American voice while the response of the Australians was even more extreme. Viewers “down under” converted 32% more often when pitched with Pommie tones than with an American twang.
The Brits didn’t have it all their own way. In India, the American accent was 12% more effective at converting visitors. But the most surprising statistic of all came when we looked at the comparative performance of the two accents in the UK. For audiences watching the video in the UK, the voiceover with the American accent was 8% more effective at making visitors download Ginger’s software than the British accent, representing a significant swing away from the global trend. This was a wonderfully counter-intuitive response to the test that really drives home the importance of knowing your audience and optimizing your video geographically to ensure you get the best results.
There is nothing to say that the results obtained here would be replicated for other videos on other sites, but there is no denying the value of testing to ensure you get the maximum revenue from your traffic wherever it comes from.