The rise of videos in emails

A new study finds emails with embedded video messages tended to "neutralize the negative experience of email." Cisco also unveiled a video platform Tuesday.

emails-photo-istock-anyaberkut.jpg

Image: iStock/anyaberkut

Videos embedded in emails pack a greater punch in the new digital-first world, according to a recent study by the online video platform Vidyard.

The study, conducted by cognitive neuroscientist Carmen Simon, makes the case that "email may be necessary but … it's not an enjoyable experience'' and produces a "negative emotional experience."

Separately, one in two Gen Zers and millennials report they "don't know how they'd get through life" without video, according to a survey by Google.

Meanwhile, Cisco Tuesday announced its new asynchronous video platform, Vidcast, which the company said enables users to create and share short video messages, instead of attending meetings that break up the flow of work in a day.  

SEE:  Best devices for business pros who stream video  (TechRepublic)

Various neuroscience and biometric tools were used to measure responses in the Vidyard study. While viewing text and video samples on a computer, participants wore an EEG (electroencephalogram) cap, as well as ECG (electrocardiogram) and GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) devices. The computer also tracked eye movement.

Eye-tracking heat maps of participants viewing lengthy text emails showed that people lost focus and attention "since long lines are strenuous for the brain to process," according to the study.

Video may improve long-term memory

But video, even in tandem with text in an email, elicited very different responses, the study asserted. For example, "emails with embedded video messages tended to neutralize the negative experience of email and in fact, promoted a more positive experience than just text," according to the study.

Study 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.

"Video engages reflexive thinking, which can lead to improved long-term memory," Simon said, in a statement. "In addition, our study findings around the dynamic effects of video align with the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which has shown that viewers who are exposed to both pictures and narration score higher on memory tests than viewers who are exposed to only pictures or only words."

When shown a video message, respondents tended to enter a happy, pleased or alert state and feel less fatigue. By contrast, text or email tended to make viewers more anxious and caused brain activity associated with negative emotions such as being upset or annoyed. In addition, viewers who read text with embedded video felt fewer negative emotions than those who read text alone.

Some participants also remembered video content better than text and may be far more likely to act on a video message rather than a text message — an important finding not only for employers but for leaders of sales organizations looking for new ways to engage customers.

Nearly 60% of participants remembered zero emails within 48 hours of viewing them. Yet, long-term memory test results indicated that of those who did remember one or more emails, participants remembered details from a video portion of the email if included. Videos that include dynamic effects (e.g., animation, motion, sound effects, screenshots) and relevant video titles have an even higher chance of memorability.

"The growth of video in business isn't just due to the pandemic, there's a generational shift happening," said Michael Litt, co-founder and CEO of Vidyard, in a statement. "Gen Z and millennials prefer video over text'' based on how they interact in their personal lives and on social media, he said. "As these demographics take over the corporate world, this generation may finally be the ones to dramatically reduce our dependence on text-based email and engagement systems."

The Vidyard study was conducted in April 2021 with U.S. business professionals from several industries who viewed a variety of text-based and video-based content assets and messages, the company said.

Cisco also rolls out a video messaging platform

Cisco said its new Vidcast platform uses recorded, instantly shareable videos to reduce distractions and eliminate the need to align schedules across time zones. By removing this barrier, teams can get back more time in their day and focus on getting things done, the company said. This asynchronous approach to work allows people to optimize their own schedules, improving focus, work/life balance and the employee experience, Cisco said.  

Vidcast is the first product from WebEx Leap, Cisco's new accelerator program that also launched Tuesday and is designed to enhance the WebEx Suite for hybrid work, the company said. 

Also see