Is video better than text?
If you’re creating marketing content in video, you’re in good company. As of 2018, 81% of businesses were already using video as a marketing tool, and it’s easy to see why. In situations where people could use video or text to learn about a product or service, 72% would prefer to watch the video. Video is increasingly common and seemingly preferred over written content.
Why is this the case, and how should it influence your content production?
Since 65% of the population are visual learners, it would be a mistake to ignore video in your content production. The landscape is clearly shifting in video’s favor. Half of all mobile traffic, after all, is video—and by 2021, projections estimate that figure to be 75%.
What is it that makes people prefer to watch a video rather than read written content?
With audio and visual information together in a video, the audience experiences heightened engagement. 27% more viewers watch videos than click banner ads, and a strong video will get them to watch until the end.
That end, where most videos have their call to action, is the most important part for the audience to see. A call to action (“Improve your home security,” “Be the fastest runner on the track”) is how you turn a website visitor into a customer.
That conversion, of prospective customer to paying customer, happens 85% more if the customer saw the product in a video. People watch over five billion YouTube videos per day, and some watch for up to forty minutes (even on mobile devices). Customers are watching more and more, and those views are turning into sales.
Yet another reason to lean into video is its high accessibility. Customers gravitate toward it, but so do creators: distribution and cost have become extremely straightforward. YouTube has become the second most popular search engine in the world, and Facebook’s integration of native video content is higher than it’s ever been. The barriers to video creation have never been lower.
Video can also incorporate some of the advantages of written content. Video transcripts and subtitles give the viewer redoubled focus on the message, and allow them to watch it silently. They’re perfect for a video watched during a commute—but more on viewing locations soon.
Does this mean that the days of written content are numbered?
There are some good reasons why written content has remains viable.
Written Content is Affordable
For one thing, while video’s gotten more affordable to produce and distribute, written content remains extremely cheap to produce. Blog posts and other written content are still quicker and more cost-effective to create for most companies.
It is Easy to Skim Written Content
Written content is also skimmable, giving your readers a chance to get big ideas without dedicating to reading the entire piece. It’s almost impossible to skim video, so you’ll need your video audience to watch the entire thing. That might only be two or three minutes, but modern viewers have notoriously low attention spans, and might balk at sticking with the full video.
Your Audience May Prefer Written Content
Just as audiences in the 18-24 age range prefer video, some audiences simply prefer written content. Older people would often prefer to read than watch a video. So if you’re targeting an older demographic, consider writing a blog post.
Think of how and where your audience will consume your content: part of the reason older people might read more is their less mobile, more sedate lifestyles. This mode of consumption is the opposite of someone watching a couple of quick videos during a morning commute (likely to be a younger person’s consumption pattern).
Written content, then, still has its uses, even as video expands.
How do I Choose Between Video and Written Content?
Really, the best content is dependent on the type of customer, the type of product, and more—in other words, it pays to think on a case-by-case basis.
While a sort of ‘best of both worlds’ might involve a mix of both approaches (video and text on the same page, say), it doesn’t account for the fact that “people consume content in different ways.” As we’ve seen, written content works best for certain people in certain situations, and video works for others in other situations.
In other words, someone who doesn’t want to read a paragraph probably won’t change their mind because it’s next to a video, and vice versa. The ‘best of both worlds’ mentality is understandable but fairly unrealistic.
Video Can Help Make your Content go Viral
Virality deserves some discussion here, as any content that goes viral can transform your business. Viral content creates word of mouth, drives traffic to its source, and can even create watershed moments in the life of your company.
Neil Patel brings up the example of DollarShaveClub.com, whose viral video propelled the company from startup to multimillion dollar business. Could written content have generated the viral, massive response that Dollar Shave Club’s video did?
While we can’t be sure, we can think about some reasons video worked in this scenario.
The video was geared towards younger audiences.
It emphasizes the low price and delivery of the razors, and sets a comedic, irreverent tone.
And it’s only 1:33 seconds long, so it remains watchable even if it’s not skimmable.
Video was the right way for Dollar Shave Club to go viral because they kept their audience in mind and made content that would appeal to them in a way that would be watchable and memorable. Patel also points out that 53% of viewers contacted a business after viewing one of their videos; clearly, Dollar Shave Club enjoyed that benefit as well.
Neither video nor written content works for every situation, and that’s why the best content creators remain comfortable with both. Video has huge advantages in terms of engagement, retention, and sales, and has become one of the most common activities people pursue online. Written content, too, remains relevant and useful.
What’s the best practice?
Get up to speed on video.
Explore your company’s ability to make it, and what kinds of time and financial resources can be allocated to it.
Know its strengths, and take advantage of its historically low barriers to entry.
As you learn the ropes of video, just remember: stay discerning, and use written content when appropriate. Some markets, like older people, respond more to reading.
People spend a lot of time watching videos online. When they see video content, they’re more likely to become customers, and you deserve that uptick in sales. So stay vigilant, keep your product and audience in mind, and use video well. It’ll be worth your time.