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!)

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