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Words Kick Video’s Ass

TechSmith found that 48% of people find video the most engaging form of communication (vs. just 15% who favor plain text).

Having A/B tested this 38 times I can confirm:

In every single test, video outperforms words.

(even when the video isn’t great.)

There is something so emotionally compelling about videos that words simply can’t compete.

Yet, overall, words rule.

Here is the highly complicated math.

On a scale of persuasiveness:

Video versus words on persuasiveness.
Video versus words graph

On a scale of malleability (meaning, how many times one can tweak words versus video):

Net effect:

Graph showing blended impact of video over words.
Final result

Bottom line: Don’t focus too much on creating that next video. It’ll take a lot of time and money. Instead, focus on improving your written story. No matter how good you already think it is, it can be 10% better. And then, when one day, you’ll wake up and think, “woman, I’m really happy with my story” that’s the point when you should make a video and crush all metrics.

Does this point about optimizing copy first make sense? /


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    There Is One Thing That’s Between Video and Words

    Have you thought about adding animated gifs to your product page? They add the richness of video but are more assessable. Read this post: Marketing Ideas: GIFs on Product Pages.

    Further Reading

    We hope you enjoyed this article.

    We’ve spent the last 14 years in our marketing lab, experimenting on online shoppers. We’ve learned a crap ton and are ready to share those learning.

    Here is a recap of everything we’ve learned:

    Revelation 1: The most important page on your entire site is your product page. To understand why this is, read this post: Product Page Optimization.

    Revelation 2: For every 1,000 product pitches encountered the shopper buys one item (and we’re being generous). If you want the consumer to choose your product your need to convert your product description into a sales pitch. That idea is explained in this article: Sales Pitch Construction Kit.

    Revelation 3: The article above revealed how to construct the perfect sales pitch. Now, this killer pitch needs to be infused into your product page. We have just one chance to convert this visitor (only 15% of visitors ever return). Read this next: Applying Your Sales Pitch.

    About Frictionless Commerce

    We deliver an unfair advantage to technical product DTC brands (for example, Dyson) by improving advertising effectiveness by 20% in 90 days. This is achieved using a buyer psychology conversion copywriting framework. All paid traffic eventually reaches the product page and this is where we strike. Our process.

    If you like doing the hard work yourself, our founder Rishi shares conversion ideas on LinkedIn every day. Connect with him here.

    If you want to make your life easier and still increase conversions, jump on a call.

    Comments 5


    I think this is a very valid point for a website where things need to be tested and perfected for conversion, which is your focus. For social media and social media advertising I think video blows words out of the water. With camera-enabled smartphones, videos can be created in less time than even typing this comment. The difference is that videos are seen by some as needing to be high production value like a homepage video, when as folks like Gary Vee and influencers have proven that in social channels video doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. A good content strategy needs both and videos don’t have to take lots of time and money.

    avatar post author

    Hi, Justin. Thanks for your detailed reply, and you are indeed correct. The worst video strategies are the ones where the goal is to make the “perfect” video. Those are prohibitively expensive. Using a smartphone to make a video is often quicker than writing (in fact, internally we use video to communicate ideas, it’s super effective because it captures the idea + emotions).

    So I should update my post and add a 3rd column for smartphone videos. Those are the clear winner.



    I love this post not so much because I agree or disagree with the point; it’s just great content marketing. It probably took Rishi 3 minutes to write (maybe another 30 seconds to draw the pictures:), it’s an interesting and timely topic that he clearly knows a lot about, it’s an easy and quick read, and it gets the reader thinking about something that’s presumably important to them (if they are on his blog or getting his newsletter to begin with). I don’t have a stock list the elements that make short-form content great, but this is a good start at one.

    Thanks Rishi, I’m going to take some inspiration from this with my own content creation process!

    avatar post author

    You overestimate my drawing speed 🙂

    But this is an example of immediately acting on insight. I’ve known for years how powerful video is but I love the flexibility of words. I’ve had this thought 30 times in the past. The difference was that on the 31st time I just started drawing on a piece of paper. And boom, now my idea is seen by 200 people.



    So insightful! It is always good to remember that what can be easily and inexpensively improved is usually the first thing one should addess, and expensive and not so easy should be given less immediate emphasis. Love your commentary!



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