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80% of people prefer words

by | Aug 6, 2018 | Behaviour, Communications, Content, Copywriting, Ethics | 0 comments

I saw a post on LinkedIn the other week saying something like “only 20% of visitors to a website read the content but 80% watch the videos”. The person who posted it was from a video production company. There was no source for the stat. Ahem.

IF, (deliberately big if) the stat was true/based on actual research* I would firmly place myself in the 20% that read the content.

I did a Google analytics course a while back. It’s great that Google offers these free online resources but in all honesty I’ve been using analytics for yonks, and I just wanted to ensure I wasn’t missing anything. The video based tutorials were moving at a snail’s pace, understandably as I was already familiar with analytics, but I was bored, impatient and silently screaming at the screen to “hurry up and get on with it”. I then noticed that you could read a transcript – great. I whizzed through the course after that. I’m a fast reader and can definitely read and comprehend faster by reading than by watching a video.

So yes, I’m firmly in the (potentially made up) 20% and alarmed that people seem to be more keen than ever to document their thoughts via the medium of a smartphone. I am more keen than ever to not watch. I would much rather read 500 words of well written copy than watch 5 minutes of video.

Fairly recently I had a new client and needed to get to grips with his products and services. It was a small job, paying by the hour. He suggested I watch all the videos on his web site to learn what I needed. There were two hours of videos and not one piece of written content that told me what his business did. Now, as always, my job is to put myself in the position of a person buying his products and services. Have they got two hours to spare to trawl through all the videos to make a purchasing decision? Not on your nelly. Did they need well written copy to explain it succinctly? Hell yes.

I’m not entirely dismissive of video. I get that people have different learning styles and take in information in varying formats. But to suggest that only 20% of people read web copy is poppycock. And to rely only on video to get your message across is short-sighted. Yes, you’d expect me to say that, being a copywriter, but honestly I have it on good authority that 80% of people prefer words**.

* Very useful on research https://fullfact.org/blog/2018/aug/how-spot-misleading-poll-figures/

** Totally made up, just based on 26 years anecdotal experience – see above

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