How captions can help your video marketingWeb accessibility usually refers to utilizing inclusive design to help visitors with disabilities but how does it apply to your video marketing? For video content, that includes closed captions for any audio in the video. You may think captions aren’t important to your video marketing. But they are more critical than you may think. Here are three of the bigger reasons:

Reason 1: Accessibility

Naturally we’ll start here. Did you know that over 37 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing? Add to that number non-native speakers and senior citizens with limited hearing. You want your entire audience to have the optimal experience with your video content. If a large part of your audience cannot experience your content as intended, you need captions. Closed captions fill in the gaps in experience to people who cannot hear audio.

You can augment your efforts by translating the voiceover and captions of your video content. This will help non-native audiences experience your video content in the language most comfortable to them. You’ll also get that content indexed by Google in each language you translate it into. Which leads us to…

Reason 2: SEO

A huge reason for adding closed captions is the benefits to your onsite SEO. For several years now, Google has been indexing closed captions on video content. This makes your videos more likely to rank higher in searches for relevant keywords. In addition to captions for a video on your site, you may want to consider a complete transcription of the video available either below the video or in a link. This is not only helpful for anyone with accessibility needs but also to the general viewer. What if they want to share a quote or interesting stat from your video? Wouldn’t it be great to have that text readily available for them to copy and paste into a post or tweet? Again this is also indexed and is great for your onsite SEO. Need more proof? A recent study found videos with captions on YouTube get 13% more views in the first 14 days and 7% more over uncaptioned videos lifetime. Speaking of YouTube and social media in general…

Reason 3: Social Media

Did you know 85% of video views on Facebook happen with the sound off? Makes sense though right? Take into account that Facebook considers a view to just be on screen for three seconds. Now think about how you watch videos on Facebook. It may be under your desk in your office so no one notices what you are doing. It may be in a noisy room where you just can’t hear the audio. Wherever your audience may be, you want to make sure they get the most out of your video content.

Employing a visual-heavy approach to videos posted on these channels does that!

How do I caption?

On YouTube, you can use the automatic captioning tool to add  captions in. Just make sure you go back in to make corrections to the generated captions. Usually they are a bit wonky so you’ll need to correct them. For a step up from the basic caption file created by YouTube, you can use transcription services such as Rev, 3Play Media or Amara. All offer either WYSIWYG editors or services to provide the closed caption file your video will need. This file (an SRT file is the most common) can be uploaded to any number of video hosting services. As for videos hosted on your own website, I’d recommend using Wistia. Not only are they my top choice for business video hosting, for about $5 Wistia will create a Google optimized caption file for your video. They’ll do all the hard work for you so you can focus on what you do best.

According to Cisco, in two years 80% of all Internet traffic will be video. As video usage continues to rise, so does the need for increased accessibility. Not only for visitors with disabilities but for all those other times when audio is not an option. With captions,  your video content is always served up for your audience to best consume it. So dig in and let them eat up those captions!


Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts.