According to Forbes, the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video than without. But, this should really come as no surprise — these days, there’s a video hanging out on just about every corner of the internet. Naturally, businesses big and small have jumped on this trend and are using video to share unique brand stories and build engaged audiences.
However, when it comes to optimizing for search and prioritizing accessibility, many businesses still have a long way to go. This is a huge missed opportunity for companies who aren’t already creating video content. Instead of focusing primarily on the production of the content itself, businesses should start thinking about what happens after the video is actually made. How will people find your content? And when they do, are you ensuring that everyone who wants to consume it can? That’s where captions and transcripts step in to save the day.
If you aren’t familiar with either of these terms, here’s how 3PlayMedia, a premium captioning and transcription company, defines them:
- Captioning is a process that involves dividing transcript text into chunks, known as “caption frames,” and time-coding each frame to synchronize with the video’s audio. The output of captioning are called captions, which are typically located at the bottom of a video screen. Captions allow viewers to follow along with the audio and video or captions interchangeably.
- Transcription is the process in which speech or audio is converted into a written, plain text document (a transcript) with no time information attached. There are two main transcription practices: verbatim and clean read. Verbatim transcribes the audio word-for-word, including all utterances and sound effects, which is great for scripted speech like a TV show, movie, or skit. Clean read transcription edits the text to read more fluidly, perfect for unscripted content like interviews or recorded speaking events.
With these definitions top of mind, the next question on the table is how exactly can captions and transcripts benefit your business? In this post, we’ll cover all the reasons why captions and transcripts are not only great for SEO, but even more importantly, how they ensure your videos are accessible for all!
For content marketers far and wide, getting your text-only blog posts or pages crawled by Google was a breeze back in the day. If you aren’t familiar with search engine lingo, Google describes crawling as the process by which Googlebot (Google’s web crawling bot, or “spider”) discovers new and updated pages to be added to the Google index. But, once videos hit the web, Google changed what they looked for in order to crawl this type of content. To get indexed, people reassessed how to give Google a good read of their video.
Just like blog posts, optimizing your video file’s metadata (the titles and descriptions associated with your content) helps Google pull information to display in search results. However, the amount of metadata you’re able to provide is usually limited. Luckily, an easy way to make your content more “visible” and readable for search engines is to provide captions or transcriptions for your video.
“Luckily, an easy way to make your content more visible and readable for search engines is to provide captions or transcriptions for your video.”
In Google’s “Video Best Practices” guide, Google says it can extract information from the page hosting the video, including the page text and meta tags, but only some meaning from the audio and video of a file. So, it turns out this mighty search engine can’t see or hear everything, huh. And since that’s the case, transcribing your video and placing its transcript on the video’s page allows for better indexing all around.
By ensuring your videos all have captions and transcripts, you can potentially rank for multiple relevant keywords and increase search traffic with more than mere metadata. But as we’ve said before, the most important thing is to make sure your video is actually valuable to your audience. Otherwise, these optimization tips won’t help you if your content isn’t engaging in and of itself.
As Wyzowl reports in their 2018 State of Video Marketing Survey, 80% of marketers say video has increased dwell time on their websites, which refers to how long a user spends on your site. With stats like this supporting video as a promising medium for marketers, isn’t it worthwhile to help viewers get the most out of your content? If you’re dwelling on a solution for keeping people engaged, captions could do the trick. And in turn, you just might see your viewers sticking around your site for longer periods of time (why hello, SEO).
While your content may be chock-full of outstanding value, it’s always possible people might zone out or miss something you believe is super important. Captions help people follow along and remember your content long after they’ve finished watching your video. And, if your viewer is on a mobile device, captions can help accommodate their viewing experience — especially if they can’t play audio out loud (we’re looking at you, public transit riders). PLYMedia even measured a 40% increase in viewing for captioned videos and found that people were 80% more likely to watch the entire video to completion when given the option to choose closed captions — those numbers are nothing to scoff at!
“While your content may be chock-full of outstanding value, it’s always possible people might zone out or miss something you believe is super important.”
If classic captions sound pretty sweet, then you might be interested in learning a bit more about a neat new Wistia feature called Interactive Captions. This feature provides Wistia users with a new and improved caption experience. With Interactive Captions, viewers now have the power to interact with your content as they wish. Let them scroll through, search, and select which parts of your video they want to jump to. Not only is this a step toward a more inclusive video experience, but it can also make a big impact on engagement.
Captions can make your video worthwhile to watch in less audio accessible environments and across a wider audience. And if more people are interested and engaged, we’re confident your dwell times will start rising, too.
Before you start brainstorming brand new ideas for content to fill out that calendar of yours, take a look at what’s right under your nose. It might not be immediately apparent, but transcripts of your video content can be the perfect starting place for creating derivative works to sprinkle around and grow your SEO.
Take an explainer video, for example. Wyzowl reported in their video marketing survey that 95% of the 570 people surveyed in their report have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. A transcript for this type of video could be rich with statistics, key quotes, tips, and takeaways. If people love the things they’re learning from explainer videos, why not reformat the most memorable information? Extract valuable points from your transcript for use in shareable social graphics, link-building, or publishing topical blog posts.
Check out this product explainer video from Euromonitor International, an independent provider of global market research.
Euromonitor could easily expand upon some of the key benefits mentioned in this video in a series of in-depth, topical blog posts. Here are some topics they could cover:
- How to use Passport to analyze any industry, in any country
- Understanding the link between economic indicators and demographics
- Exploring the relationship between expenditure analysis and other economic indicators
- Recent trends in the trade, industrial makeup, and consumer lifestyles industries
If you’ve produced several related videos or episodic content, you could draw from their transcripts to compose an ebook, for example. Identifying numerical data for an infographic is also made easy with a transcription. We could go on and on connecting the dots, but by now, you get the picture!
Transcripts can lend to an explosion of supporting pieces that you can share across the web. When your audience starts seeing you offer value in different forms, you can thank transcripts for being your secret weapon.
With great power comes great responsibility, and the same is true for your business and its video marketing strategy. When over 5% of the world’s population has disabling hearing loss, your business has a responsibility to make your online videos more accessible. It wouldn’t be right for those individuals to miss out on your content because they didn’t have an equal opportunity to consume it. In some instances, you’re even required to meet some accessibility standards in order to comply with the law — check out this post to learn more about various media rules and regulations.
At the end of the day, captions and transcripts play an important role in providing greater accessibility and better user experiences. ZVRS, a technology company offering video communication solutions for deaf and hard of hearing people, taught us about consuming video from a deaf person’s perspective. From this conversation, we learned once you caption one of your videos, it’s crucial to remain consistent if you want to meet your audience’s expectations.
With Wistia, you can upload your own captions, order computer-generated captions, or order 99% accurate captions through our platform (carefully transcribed by a real human).
Creating accurate captions is another factor affecting accessibility. Non-synchronized captions (captions that don’t align with audio delivery) are one of the most frustrating aspects of video to a deaf or hard of hearing audience. Does your business need to release a video in a hurry? Hey, it happens! Just make a transcript available and caption the video later.
Mindfulness for accessibility and accounting for positive user experiences helps your video hit a wider audience. If you do your best to check off all the boxes, you just might see your return visits rise as well as the number of people willing to share your content. You can bet that search engines will take note of your site activity and the SEO benefits will surely follow.
“Mindfulness for accessibility and accounting for positive user experiences helps your video hit a wider audience.”
Whether you’re thinking of making your first video or you already have a library full of content, we hope the benefits of providing captions and transcripts are now crystal clear. Without either, your video might not effectively get indexed by Google. You’ll risk losing viewers in environments where audio isn’t accessible, and you could miss out on a bunch of derivative content.
And all things SEO aside, accommodating for anyone in your audience who needs captions or transcripts to consume your video is simply the right thing to do, don’t you agree? Now you know what to do — start incorporating captions and transcripts into your video strategy!
Why Your Content Strategy Should Target a Niche Audience (Not Potential Customers)
As Raymond Williams once said, “There are no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses.” As marketers, we tend to look at the world as three distinct masses:
- Existing customers
- Potential customers
- People who will never be customers
However, outside of our own lens, there’s usually nothing that unites the people within these groups. While, as a business, we tend to think of our potential customer base as a homogenous group of people who we can and should market to, this is rarely an accurate view of the world. In reality, those that are likely to buy our products and services are usually a hodgepodge of individuals from different communities and interest groups.
Marketing best practice engenders this skewed perspective. By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.
“By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.”
In the world of content marketing, we’re then tasked with the challenge of creating content that appeals to the interests of these people. But how can you create content that appeals to a group of people who don’t really identify as a group of people?
Let’s take a fairly straightforward example — the equally fictional musical instrument repair shop, “Don’t Fret,” run by our very own creative director.
The potential customer base for Don’t Fret is people who need instruments repaired in Somerville, MA. There are probably two characteristics that unite this group:
- They own musical instruments that need repair
- They spend time in Somerville, MA
Other than that, everything else will be varied. Some of these people will be musicians themselves, some will have children who play, and some will be restoring antiques or family heirlooms. Some will have guitars, some will have cellos, and there might be the occasional oud in the mix. Some will be professionals who need a set-up to withstand regular touring, and others will be hobbyists who mostly play at home.
In short, even for a small local business like this, there’s not a whole lot that unites the entire customer base. If my task is to create content that will appeal to all customers, I’m stuck with a fairly narrow brief: I must create something that will appeal to harpists and lutists, amateurs and professionals, collectors and layman i.e. everyone, and therefore, no-one.
It’s easy to see how trying to be all things to all people, even for a local business with a clear audience and value proposition, often leads marketers towards creating uninteresting and uninspiring content.
Target customers, so defined, are not a group of people you can create content for. It’s a made-up group of people, an abstraction that can be helpful for you in categorizing users and interactions, but one that typically doesn’t reflect anything tangible in the real world.
While it may be incoherent to think of potential customers as a group of people to create content for, there are invariably plenty of very real interest groups that can meaningfully be served by great content marketing.
What makes them good targets are a clear shared interest that spurs a great deal of conversation, with desires and challenges related to that interest. These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.
“These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.”
Our challenge, as marketers, is to identify these niche audiences by finding extremely active and passionate interest groups that are tangentially related to our customer base i.e. communities that a substantial number of our existing customers are a part of.
For the “Don’t Fret” guitar shop, we can see how different communities based on professions and hobbies can intersect with the customer base to provide niche audiences that have clear desires, needs, and challenges as communities.
Now, there are some fairly straightforward ways of discovering these types of niche audiences for your business.
Interview your customers
Rather than just asking for their opinions on your product or service, use this opportunity to find out what makes them tick. Ask them how they spend their free time, what kind of websites they regularly visit, what organizations they’re members of, and what communities they consider themselves a part of.
If there’s a subculture, there’s usually a subreddit. Explore the depths of Reddit to discover what kinds of topics your potential customers are regularly talking about.
Explore Twitter data
Use tools like SparkToro and Followerwonk to find out what topics and content your existing customer base are most readily engaging with on Twitter. Discover if there are any trends in how people identify themselves in their bios, and look at the content of tweets to determine the topics that ignite passionate reactions.
Increasingly, effective word of mouth distribution is not only a “nice to have” that can help things go viral, but an essential ingredient in ensuring any successful content marketing campaign. Unless your content is being shared organically, both on private social networks (e.g. Slack, Whatsapp) and public ones (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), then it simply won’t be found. Both search and social are becoming “winner takes all” games, and the winner is the content that secures the most organic interest.
Word of mouth is fuelled by conversation, so the crucial first step in securing word of mouth distribution is picking a niche audience that talks to one another.
Unless you represent a sports team, your customers probably won’t talk to each other on a regular basis, so this necessitates moving as far away from this broad, all-encompassing audience as possible and towards a very focused target group.
The more niche your target audience, the more likely you are to be able to create the best content in the world for that community. There’s a wealth of content that’s created to loosely appeal to broad demographics and industries, but very little that’s made for the communities of a few thousand people who are super-passionate about specific things.
You create word of mouth by finding your nerds. Take again, our creative director’s fictional repair shop, “Don’t Fret.” We could create content about how to restring a guitar‚ which would appeal very loosely to most of our customers. But, there are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar, and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile, meaning very few people would care, and the content likely wouldn’t get found.
“There are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile.”
However, if we decide to create some content about how to reduce humidity fluctuations in a dive bar, aimed at sound technicians, we’ll be creating genuinely unique content that’s extremely interesting just for the small subset of people who manage live sound at neighborhood bars and clubs around the world.
Because it will appeal to those folks specifically, this content will stand a better chance of being shared, and these sound engineers will grow an affinity towards our brand because we created something genuinely useful and interesting for them. They might then recommend us to the people they speak to regularly (musicians), who in turn discover and recommend us to those they influence, and so on.
This content will then eventually lead to awareness and affinity amongst our target audience, even though the content is far too specific to be of interest to the vast majority of people who need an instrument repaired.
This is why, paradoxically, targeting extremely niche audiences, and making the best content in the world for them is the most scalable way to increase affinity amongst a broad base of potential customers.
Season 1 is Done: Binge-Watch All of Brandwagon
Phew, releasing our weekly talk show for marketers, Brandwagon, has been a super exciting ride (car pun intended). And if you’ve been keeping up for the last 10 episodes, you might’ve learned why Mailchimp is investing more in content and less in advertising, gleaned insights about building authentic brands from inspiring leaders like Lauren Fleshman, the Co-Founder of Picky Bars, and Nancy Dussault Smith, CMO of Hydrow, and you might’ve even learned why Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, hates Google so much. Not only that, but you saw our team expense a ‘91 Volvo wagon and commission an artist to make it the ultimate — you guessed it — Brandwagon.
And if you haven’t been following along, we think it’s safe to say that you have some catching up to do. But, no need to spin those wheels! Now you don’t have to pump the brakes between episodes, because the entire season is out and ready to binge-watch. So, bust out the snacks, tune in at your desk (it’s an educational show, after all), and learn what it takes to build a memorable brand from experts in the marketing industry. Ready to binge-watch Brandwagon? Click below to hop on in to the first season!
5 Key Takeaways from Season One of “The Brandwagon Interviews” Podcast
If you’re a marketer and you like podcasts, then the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews might just be the perfect podcast for you. For 10 weeks, we invited 10 special guests from an array of industries onto the set of Brandwagon to talk about all things brand marketing with Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage. From Mailchimp to UM Worldwide and Harpoon Brewery to ProfitWell, we’ve learned a lot from the masterminds behind these amazing brands.
In this post, we’re highlighting the most valuable lessons learned from all the conversations that were featured on The Brandwagon Interviews podcast. Be sure to listen to each episode on your favorite streaming platform and read on for our key takeaways!
Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher
When Dan Kenary, CEO of Harpoon Brewery, and Mark DiCristina, Head of Brand at Mailchimp, dropped by our studio, they both knew what it was like competing in saturated markets. Despite being in different industries, Kenary and DiCristina knew that the best way to stand out amongst the competition was to differentiate their brands.
Harpoon Brewery was one of the first craft breweries on the East Coast. However, it wasn’t long before competition exploded in the craft brewery and microbrewery space. So, how did they differentiate themselves? Kenary explained that the company focused on building a strong brand and connecting with their customers. Even without flashy advertising, this strategy helped the brand cut through the competition. To differentiate themselves further, Harpoon also created a sub-brand called UFO, which helped the business appeal to a new segment and grow in unexpected ways. And today, knowing their brand like the back of their hand, Harpoon manages a house of five distinct brands all under the Harpoon umbrella.
In the early days of Mailchimp, a marketing automation software platform, the company wasn’t the biggest or well-funded fish in the sea by a long shot. DiCristina described how Mailchimp understood they wouldn’t be successful by playing the same game as everyone else. Instead of outspending other companies and competing with them on a dollar for dollar basis, DiCristina said, “ … our approach, which is really a credit to Ben, our CEO and co-founder, was to be as different as we possibly could and use our weakness as a strength.” Ultimately, DiCristina said what ended up helping Mailchimp stand out was their appetite for being weird and playful, and their belief in creating real connections with their customers.
From the experiences of both Kenary and DiCristina, it’s clear that making your brand a key differentiator can help you stand out in markets where everyone is stuck in a similar mold. Let your brand communicate more about your values and trust that you’ll connect with the right folks.
The second lesson we learned was about consistency and why it’s a crucial part of the recipe for creating a strong brand. Veronica Parker-Hahn, SVP of Growth and Innovation at Effie Worldwide, and Dan Kenary of Harpoon had a few words to say about the importance of strategic rigor and remaining consistent.
Parker-Hahn began her career in the advertising industry, and over the past 15 years, she’s worked with major brands like DirecTV, State Farm Insurance, Reebok, and many more. Over the years, she’s learned that creativity is only a fraction of what builds a strong brand. Building a strong brand and creating an effective campaign starts with a deliberate, well-thought-out strategy. In addition to strategic rigor, you need to identify your values, and she emphasized, “ … what your brand stands for should permeate everything you do.”
Kenary also shared similar sentiments about remaining consistent with your brand. At Harpoon, they built the brand under the banner, “Love Beer. Love Life.,” and to this day, they ensure every interaction they have with consumers is consistent with what they’re trying to represent. In Kenary’s mind, if you’re not consistent, your brand loses meaning and people stop paying attention. Whether it’s communicating with someone in customer service or hosting a seasonal festival, every touchpoint with the consumer matters.
So, when thinking about building a stronger brand for your business, remember to always start with a solid strategy. Then, when it comes to executing on that strategy, make sure you understand the audience you want to reach and what makes them tick. Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.
“Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.”
Speaking of knowing the type of audience you want to reach, it really helps to know your niche inside and out when building your brand. Lauren Fleshman, Co-Founder and CMO of Picky Bars, and Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, have discovered the many benefits of appealing to a niche audience.
As a former Nike-sponsored athlete, Lauren Fleshman grew to become an exceptional storyteller. In order to renew sponsorship deals, she recognized the importance of marketing her values, and when she started her own business, she marketed Picky Bars in the energy bar industry leading with the brand’s values. Lauren believes brands should lead with their values because it helps you find out why people like you in the first place. Then, you can lean into your niche and trust your brand will build from there.
One of the ways Lauren dove deep into Picky Bars’ niche was by starting a podcast with her husband called Work, Play, Love, where they chat transparently about all the mess-ups and struggles they’ve encountered running the company so far. Not only do they talk about the business, but they also open up about their relationship and balancing all the chaos of regular day-to-day life, giving their audience an opportunity to have a deeper connection with them and the Picky Bars brand.
At ProfitWell, a subscription software company, Patrick Campbell is appealing to a niche and building an engaged audience for the brand by creating binge-worthy video series. Along with their series Pricing Page Teardown, Subscription 60, The ProfitWell Report and Protect the Hustle, Campbell told Savage that ProfitWell has over 10 distinct shows in the works. Episodic video content has become one of ProfitWell’s primary marketing vehicles because traditional advertising campaigns and written content have become less effective for them over the past few years. Producing shows doesn’t guarantee more conversion, but they’re better at keeping their audience engaged with their brand, rather than aggravating them with intrusive ads.
Trying to reach a niche might sound counter-intuitive, but Campbell encourages people to get comfortable with marketing to niche audiences. You may not see the impact right off the bat, but there’s inherent value in developing an engaged audience over time.
For Picky Bars and ProfitWell, going all-in on their niche audiences has helped their business’ build better brand affinity than if they tried appealing to everyone. After all, the number of impressions you make with a campaign does not equal the number of people impressed.
The final lesson we took away from the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews, is just how important it is to create content for your audience that offers real value. Mark DiCristina of Mailchimp, Brendan Gaul of UM, and Patrick Campbell of ProfitWell, all have something in common — their teams create engaging video content that helps build better brand affinity.
Recently, Mailchimp has been releasing short-form video series, films, and podcasts out of their own new content studio, Mailchimp Presents. DiCristina said, “Mailchimp’s mission has always been about empowering small businesses and helping them succeed and grow. We’ve always done that with software, but over the last couple of years, we began to feel like there are other ways that we can do that.” With content that inspires, motivates, and makes people feel like they’re not alone, Mailchimp Presents has developed a valuable platform for an audience of entrepreneurs, while increasing the amount of time people spend with their overarching brand.
As we mentioned before, ProfitWell is also engaging niche audiences through multiple video series of their own. Not only is their content valuable for consumers, but they’ve also found value in repurposing clips for their marketing efforts. What ProfitWell is doing here is treating their video content like a product, which is advice we took to heart when promoting our own four-part docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred (and spoiler alert, it worked!).
At the end of the day, consumers are able to sniff out content that’s solely based on trying to sell them more stuff, and people are keenly aware when brands are phony with their intentions. That’s why brands need to know when they have — or need to earn — permission to be a part of important conversations. For smaller companies, the need to create powerful content like the biggest brands can be overwhelming. But, approaching content humbly and understanding the value your company can genuinely offer to a niche audience will help you define your brand.
Now that you’ve heard from several masterminds behind amazing brands on The Brandwagon Interviews, get out there and put their wisdom to good use. From one marketer to another, establishing a strong brand in the modern marketing world is more important than ever. So, let these key takeaways guide you toward building a better brand and creating a more engaged audience who will stand by your business for a long time.
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