Did video kill the copywriting star?

I received an email from someone asking:

“Since videos do so well in search results, why not just produce videos. Why do you even need words on the page?”

Interesting question, and one that gave me pause. Because the thing is, video marketing (when it’s done right) can be incredibly powerful. Plus, videos are easy to produce. What may have taken a company back in the day many hours and thousands of dollars can now be done with a Flip camera and good editing software. It’s not perfect, but it’s “good enough for Google.”

But here’s the thing: Video marketing can drive rankings, traffic and conversions. But I wouldn’t chuck your SEO content campaign out the window just yet. Here’s why…

  • Studies show that text still has power.  In an multimedia versus text eyetracking study by the Poytner Institute, people recalled slightly more facts when the information was presented in text.
  • Steve Rubel in his blog Micro Persuasion points out that text is more scannable, easier to distribute and easier for mobile users and cubicle-dwellers to view (He believes that “Watching videos [even work related vids] screams ‘slacker.'”)
  • Jakob Nielsen in a 2005 post asserts that “talking-head video is boring,” indicating that attention wanders when people are watching video online.

So does this mean that you should chuck video in favor of all text, all the time?

Heck no. But on the flip side, you shouldn’t rely 100% on video either.

I’m one of those folks who doesn’t like people “talking at me.” I can’t listen to talk radio, I have a hard time sitting still for two minutes. Watching online video drives me nuts. I want to know what I want to know NOW – and I don’t want to sit through a video, hoping my question is answered in the first 30 seconds. Will I watch videos? Yes – but not when I’m in information-gathering mode. I read too fast and I’m too impatient.

At the same time, video testimonials and mini-broadcasts are powerful, powerful stuff (and yes, I’ll have to bite the bullet and do this myself.) Video gives us “real person” insight – we can watch and listen and see the story unfold. In terms of the consumer psychology benefit, when we see a video testimonial, we can immediately connect with that person and think, “Hey, she’s just like me. And this company was able to help her. Wow, maybe they can help me too.”

The key is, you want to appeal to both folks. The people like me, who want their information now – and in text form. And the other folks who “connect” with a more visual medium.  So, for instance, if you’re planning a product page, you may consider offering both video and text and cover your bases. That’s what Brookstone does for their product pages – and it’s a powerful strategy.

The beauty of the interwebs is you can give your prospects the exact information they want, when they want it. For some folks, that means text. For others, it means video. Both are good.

Video didn’t kill the copywriting star. It just added a new dimension to how we collect and process information.

(P.S. If you’re interested in video marketing, Greg Jarboe’s book, You Tube and Video Marketing: An Hour A Day is a must-read. Buy it! Buy it now!)

SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting Certification Training

5 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple
    Amy C. Teeple says:

    Great point Heather. Video doesn’t have to replace text, but it can be a great supplement.

    It’s so true that some people can’t – or don’t want to – watch videos. Plus, sometimes you just want to scan a page for your answer, not sit through a video hoping your answer is in there.

    Many times, if I need to sift through videos for info, I tend to start the video and then open other tabs/windows on my computer and start working on something else while I try to listen – my A.D.D. (OK, not diagnosed as such, but I feel it!) kicks in and I get bored. I feel like there is something else I should be doing.

    I’ve even read a Tweet from someone who said if she clicks on a link and it turns out to be a video, she closes the window and doesn’t even give it a chance.

    That being said, I know there are a lot of people – especially the younger generation who 1) never knew life before MTV and 2) probably didn’t get the song reference in your title – who want to be given their information in videos. However, they probably want a lot more than a talking head. (I have yet to see a talking head video go viral.)

    One last thought – people need to produce videos that are helpful – not just have a video for video’s sake. For example, if I’m on a website for a weight loss/bariatric surgeon (I’ve written a few), I might want to see videos that include testimonials (but not drawn out), before and after transformations, procedure information, and even some educational videos, like “how to measure portion size when you are at a restaurant.” I wouldn’t want to see just a “welcome to my website” talking head video or a video where the doctor is telling me how great he is.

  2. Heather Georgoudiou
    Heather Georgoudiou says:

    Great post. You cannot deny the power of video marketing. We recently did a contest and combined an informational video with email and social media posts. The promotion worked out well, people clicked through to watch the video but also looked at our social media sites and website. Video marketing may bring people to your site, but it’s the copy that will move your product! Yeah copywriters!

  3. Ryan Boots
    Ryan Boots says:

    Good points all around. Two other thoughts:

    -Trying to get videos to rank for long-tail keywords – which is where the action tends to be for conversions – can be a significant challenge. Copy, particularly blogging, is a much simpler and quicker route to success.

    -Videos are expensive to produce. Yes, they can be repurposed for other venues, such as trade shows and the like, which helps to amortize the costs. But smaller businesses, which generally don’t do those sorts of events (because, well, they’re expensive!) will find that a good, high-quality video is just out of reach.

  4. Marjory
    Marjory says:

    Nothing irks me more than when I’m looking for a quick answer, I have to watch a video – with a minute and a half of ads at the beginning. But you’re right in that sometimes a video is important – particularly if it’s a how-to or tutorial. Video will never kill text – not unless we all suddenly get a lot more spare time.

  5. Jewel
    Jewel says:

    So many excellent points made. I, too, frequently avoid videos like the plague! I find that many of them just don’t get to the point I’m in search of quickly enough.

    It’s easier to scroll down a page than skip back ‘n forth in a video, looking for just the snippet I need.


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