How Captions & Transcripts Increase Engagement with Videos

July 16, 2020 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: February 23, 2021

woman uses her phone There’s no denying the power of online video. The first video to be streamed on the internet was in 1995, and since its inception, online video has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. 

Today, everyone is watching online videos and we can’t get enough. 85% of all internet users in the U.S. watched video content monthly on any of their devices, according to data collected by Statista. 

The popularity of online video doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon either. More than half of consumers want to see video content from a brand or business they support. That means if you’re already creating online video, you’re right where you need to be. But once viewers are watching your content, how do you keep them engaged? With captions and transcripts, of course! 

Captions assume the viewer can’t hear. They are time-synchronized text that represents the audio within a media file and includes relevant sound effects. Transcripts, on the other hand, are a plain text version of the audio and are not time coded. 

To some, captions and transcripts are merely video accessibility tools. But did you know that captions and transcripts have the power to attract and keep viewers on your content for longer? 

Let’s explore how captions and transcripts can improve engagement for your video content. 

 8 Benefits of Video Transcription and Captioning ➡️ 

The Better the Video SEO…

When content creators focus on optimizing video content for search engines, it increases the likelihood of getting more eyes on their content, ultimately increasing engagement. 

The job of search engines is to create the best user experience possible by helping users find the most pertinent information in a short amount of time. Although search engines use a number of complex algorithms to scour the internet for useful content, they need content creators to help fine-tune the search process. 

Search engines have a preference for video in search results, and online video accounts for half of all traffic on mobile devices alone. That’s because video is a very digestible and engaging way to receive information. Images have a way of saying far more than just text alone. About 59% of senior executives prefer to watch videos when given the option between video or text. 

Although video is a preferred medium among internet surfers, search engines can’t watch or listen to truly understand the value of it. However, they understand text.  

That’s where you come in. As content creators, you need to include relevant metadata with your video so that search engine bots can efficiently crawl the text and index your content on search engine result pages. The video metadata to include are titles, tags, descriptions, and even captions and transcripts. 

When you include captions and transcripts with your videos, search engines can crawl the text to find relevant keywords that match their users’ search queries. This is called Video SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.  

Captioned videos receive far more views than non-captioned videos. A study by Facebook uncovered that captions increase video views by 12% compared to videos without captions. 

Captioning or transcribing your videos isn’t only helpful for search engines, but it’s also helpful for viewers looking to find captivating content like yours. The better optimized your content is, the more people will see and engage with your video.

Additionally, it’s imperative to keep in mind that you shouldn’t only be optimizing your content for robots; it’s equally as important to optimize for humans, too. Viewers want to watch and engage with valuable and authentic video content. 

Keeping Viewers Hooked

woman watching video on phone

It’s common knowledge that humans have short attention spans. In the age of digital distraction, we tend to juggle multiple tasks all at once. Typically, we split our attention across several devices, and it seems like we can never really focus on one thing at a time. Multiple stimuli compete to not only grab our attention but to keep it. 

The challenge many content creators face is attracting viewers to their content and keeping them engaged once they’re there. With more and more content published daily to the internet, engaging viewers can seem like a daunting and unattainable task. 

Luckily, there are ways to make technology work for you instead of against you. Despite all of the digital noise, there are two things that can keep your viewers’ attention: captions and transcripts. 

Captions have been proven to aid in focus and memory. A study by the University of Iowa found that people recalled information better after seeing and hearing it. When viewers can follow the captions and the audio, more pathways in the brain are stimulated, making it easier to process information. 

Captions also help with reading comprehension, spelling, and pronunciation for different learning styles. Whether there’s difficult language, poor audio quality, or complicated information, captions and transcripts help with clarification.  

In addition to an increase in focus and comprehension for viewers, studies show that captions and transcripts lead to more positive brand associations. According to the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, captions improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavioral intent.  

The proof is in the pudding. If you want to increase engagement, research shows that adding captions and transcripts to your videos will help do the job. 

Discover The Benefits of Captions & Transcripts ☑️


Better Bend Than Break 

Captions and transcripts allow for flexibility in sound-sensitive environments where access to sound or headphones may not be available.  

Thanks to our personal devices, like smartphones and tablets, we have mini-computers in the palm of our hands – which make watching videos anywhere a breeze. However, sometimes the places we choose to view our favorite videos aren’t the ideal viewing environments. For example, many people watch videos on public transportation on their commute or at the office. 

Whether we’re in a noisy or quiet environment, captions and transcripts allow viewers to watch without relying on sound. 

A study by Verizon Media and Publicis Media found that more people are watching online videos without sound. The study revealed that 95% of consumers are watching video on mobile and 83% are watching on desktops with the sound off. 

50% of people agreed that captions are essential for watching videos without audio, and 80% of people also said that they’re more likely to watch an entire video with captions. 

There’s a rising trend in various viewing preferences, and the need for captioned and transcribed videos is one that is here to stay. 

In order to ensure that viewers can watch your content no matter the environment, your videos must be captioned and transcribed. Not only does it add convenience and flexibility for viewers, but it eventually leads to more engagement. 

Accessibility for One, Accessibility for All 

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Finally, captions and transcripts open your content to wider audiences, including viewers with disabilities and viewers with unique viewing preferences. 

There are around 466 million people worldwide with some form of hearing loss. When videos are made accessible to the millions of people who identify as d/Deaf or hard of hearing with captions and transcripts, it gives this community the opportunity to engage with video content.  

Like most of us, deaf and hard of hearing viewers want to watch the latest, trending videos, however, when they’re inaccessible, they’re left feeling excluded and unable to engage. 

Beyond accessibility, many people who use captions aren’t deaf or hard of hearing. A study by Ofcom found that 80% of people who use captions don’t have hearing loss. Captions and transcripts are indeed beneficial accommodations, but the use of them goes beyond just people with disabilities. There are many viewers who enjoy captions including non-native speakers, multitaskers, and even Gen Zers. 

When you caption and transcribe your video content, it expands your reach to diverse audiences. This leads to an increase in the chances of more people engaging with your videos!

See for yourself how captioning and transcription can take your video content to the next level 👇

discover the benefits of captioning and transcription. This white paper covers the top 8 reasons why video transcription and captioning are beneficial for your organization and your viewers. Download the white paper


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