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Why Does Video Sell? Our Brains Really Like It


Chances are you've experienced email fatigue. You open your inbox and you feel anxious. You read a few emails, or 100, and you just don't feel right. You get antsy, distracted. It's unlikely you experience the same feeling with video. In fact, most people love watching videos and it triggers positive emotions.

Until now, our assumptions about email and video were anecdotal. But a first-of-its-kind brain study provides empirical evidence that proves those feelings are real, a natural response based on the way our minds work.

The implications for sales professionals are clear. You may have never considered using video email in your seller's toolkit, but the time is now to leverage this powerful medium -- as the impact on your sales efforts can be tremendous.

The study, conducted in April by Vidyard and B2B DecisionLabs with U.S. business professionals from a wide swath of industries, shows that the feelings triggered by text and video are biological, not accidental. They are built into our brains. Broadly speaking, when shown a video message, respondents tended to enter a happy, pleased, or alert state and feel less fatigue when viewing and listening to the information. By contrast, text-based emails tended to make those same professionals more anxious, caused greater fatigue when reading, and led to brain activity associated with negative emotions such as being upset or annoyed.

In other words, sales professionals who started using more video during the COVID pandemic will want to keep using that camera, even after the pandemic wanes. It's time to break the status quo of using video purely for calls. The new opportunity is to use video messaging to connect with customers and prospects. And those who haven't transitioned to video are going to need to get comfortable using it as part of their regular communications.

Consider these key findings:

  • Participants tended to have a more positive experience (higher "valence") and were more consistently alert (higher "arousal") when presented with a video email versus a text email.
  • Maps of brain activity showed that including a video in an email is not a negative disruption to the viewer. Emails with embedded video messages tended to neutralize the negative experience of email and, in fact, promoted a more positive experience than just text.
  • Participants tended to feel more motivated and less fatigued while viewing the video emails versus text emails. People also remembered more (and with more precision) from the video emails.
  • Eye-tracking heat maps showed that people stayed more focused while watching the videos and were less likely to skim or skip over information, indicating senders of video emails are better able to control the story and guide the viewer's attention to what is most important in the message.

How Can We Use Video Emails to Our Advantage?

So now that we know – empirically – that video emails elicit a more positive reaction, how do you adjust? Follow the guidelines below and you'll deliver a more memorable and motivating sales pitch, one that's far more likely to avoid the dreaded delete key.

  1. Neutralize The Negative – Anxious customers aren't likely to respond. People feeling uncomfortable end the uncomfortable experience as quickly as they can, leading to missed opportunities and lower response rates. But using video in your emails moves buyers from a negative inbox experience to a more neutral state of mind. When your prospect sees a video email, it doesn't disrupt an otherwise positive experience. Rather, the experience of watching a video email among many text emails helps them transition to a calmer place. Once in a more positive state of mind, they'll be more open and receptive to new ideas.
  2. Use Visuals to Your Advantage – Focus more on the idea that video allows you to show, rather than just tell, to use visuals to create clarity, and create more motion and movement via body language and screen sharing that you can't do with static text.
  3. Deliver a More Memorable Message – Use video to deliver your most important messages and reinforce your value proposition. Tell a great customer story that they'll be more likely to recall when they too have the same problem; build mental pictures with words.
  4. Create a More Human Connection – Unlike email, video messages enable you to create a more personal, human connection from the very beginning. You'll become more familiar, more trustworthy, and more memorable -- all things that are critical to advancing sales opportunities.

For more information about our findings, download the full report here.