There is an ongoing debate among marketers about the benefits of written vs. video content and which is more effective for what purpose. While we often hear that video is the most popular content format on the internet, this statistic also includes -the countless hours people spend watching non-marketing videos.
When should you be writing and when should you be filming, and what are the clear advantages of each format?
Benefits of written content
Written content forms the backbone of the internet. It’s what search engines have been taught to understand and what your audience expects you to be producing.
Here’s why you should be writing content:
- It’s more affordable to produce.
- It’s much easier to create than video content, as it’s less time-consuming and you can find a content writer more readily than a videographer and editor.
- It is great for SEO, as it gives you the opportunity to insert just the right keywords.
- It’s scannable and skimmable, so it provides a better user experience for those who want to take in a lot of information at a glance.
- It’s easily searchable. Readers can easily find exactly the points that are of interest to them, and they don’t have to read the entire piece.
- It’s better for complex topics that readers can re-read at their own pace.
Benefits of video content
Video content is great for boosting conversions. Around 90% of people claim that they have been converted through video.
Here’s why you should be filming content:
- Short videos can be easier to digest than long-form blog posts.
- Some types of videos rank very high in search results, like how-tos and guides.
- Videos are more shareable and more likely to go viral.
- They are obviously more visually appealing and allow you to communicate more information in less time.
- They are great for boosting time on the page and visitor engagement.
- They can give you a competitive edge if others in your niche are not producing them.
- They are the best format for explaining hands-on processes.
Best applications for both of these content formats (with examples)
1. Use written content when you need it to be easily skimmable
Since written content is so easy to skim, use it whenever you need to cover a topic that you can format well for skimming and scanning.
Any evergreen topic will work well in a written format. Even if you end up supplementing it with a video, make sure the long-form article is always there. Here’s a good example of this type of post from Career Sidekick on finding a job without experience.
It gives readers a chance to tackle the post as best suits them, jumping from heading to heading. They can skip the parts they don’t find useful and keep coming back to re-read the parts that will help them the most.
2. Use written content for product descriptions
Without a shadow of a doubt, you need to write out your product descriptions. Again, you can add a complementary explainer or any other type of product video, but you need to use your words to describe what the product is.
Here’s a solar panel product page from ShopSolarKits. It’s simple and straightforward, but it gives you all the relevant information and describes the product well. This type of features-oriented copy can never be replaced by a video, as no one will want to listen to a voice listing numbers, wattages, and other technical specifics.
3. Use written content for any complex topic
When covering a complex topic, do it in writing. It will allow the reader the opportunity to return to the parts they find most important and read through them again.
When you are discussing something of great importance or explaining something new to a reader, you want to make them feel good about learning. A video might make them feel uncomfortable and incompetent, as they won’t be able to retain all the relevant information immediately. You run no similar risk with a blog post.
Trustshoring did a great job with their post on in-house vs. outsourcing for non-technical founders. It is formatted very well and allows you to digest all the various pros and cons, cross-referencing and comparing them. It’s much easier to make a decision that way.
4. Use video content for hands-on how-to topics
Shoot a video for any hands-on topics that will make a process easier to grasp. If it’s anything to do with using your hands to achieve a goal, a video will work miles better than a blog post.
There simply is no good way to describe assembling something, for example, with words alone. Just think of all the instruction manuals you cursed over when they stopped being helpful.
IKEA, of course, has plenty of videos to help you master putting together its products. This one on installing a washbasin gives you all the relevant information while actually showing you what you need to do. It’s much easier to pause the video when needed than to read through a written guide.
Note that you can use written content in this scenario too if you are unable to shoot a video. For example, the Forms.app has a great how-to guide on automatically closing and opening Google forms that features a screenshot for every step, which is just as helpful as a video. The benefit of creating this kind of post is that you will be of use even to users who aren’t able to play a video (or simply prefer to look at screenshots instead of having to pause and unpause).
5. Use video content when it’s user-generated
User-generated video content is a marvelous way to add social proof to your website or boost the appeal of your social media presence. You can achieve a similar effect with user-generated photos, but since short-form content is more popular (and more promoted), make sure to include clips from your users and fans.
Glossier does a great job on Instagram. They often show their customers trying out new products, including them in their everyday routine, or unboxing them when they arrive. This saves the brand time and effort in producing content, but it also gives them access to the kinds of videos that they, as the company behind the product, could never shoot. And these kinds of videos certainly make their products more relatable and desirable.
6. Use written or video content for delivering value
When you want to tell your brand’s story and showcase your values, you can choose either video or written content, as both will work equally well. This isn’t often the content your audience will stumble across first, and if they are interested enough to want to learn more about you, they will appreciate any format.
Vivion, for example, has chosen to write out their story and values on their About page.
They have kept it short and to the point, so the page is easy to digest.
On the other hand, the Dollar Shave Club has shot a video that explains why their blades are so great. It has been viewed millions of times, and they have successfully used it across their socials and in their email campaigns.
7. Use written and video content for your testimonials
Testimonials are one content type where you should try to use both written and video formats. The written testimonials will be read by search engines and your visitors alike, and they will lend that much-needed credibility to your brand.
On the other hand, video testimonials help your audience identify with your clients even more, so they will have an easier time imagining themselves as one of them.
SellerPlex too did a great job of pairing videos and written testimonials. They give you excerpts from each in written format, at the same time encouraging you to hear the stories of different business owners who were able to achieve their goals with the brand’s help.
Now that you know when and why to use written and video content, take a look at your content calendar and see how you can augment it even further. Remember that your main goal is still to find questions that are relevant to your audience at different stages of the sales funnel and provide valuable answers.