Is Your Digital Marketing Missing This Something Extra?

Do you buy DVD or Blu-rays anymore? They still have one thing you typically can’t get watching videos on-demand, online, or a streaming network. The special features. The bonuses. The something extra. However, when I check out the extras, I keep my expectations low.

It’s because a lot of them don’t have captions. Something I depend on as a person born hearing-free AKA profoundly deaf.

The extras on “Doctor Who” had captions. Needless to say, this further endeared the show to me. My family is a fan as we named one of our fur babies Melody River for Melody Pond and River Song. Must skip the explanation. #NoSpoilers

I also have the “Glee” DVD set for one reason: the songs. Its extras allow you to play all the songs from every episode on that disc without watching the show. And it’s all captioned. [Meryl cheers]

Big Bang torture

I’m also a fan of “The Big Bang Theory.”

But that show has a frustrating quirk.

For the longest time, the theme song was never captioned. Even the captions on the show’s extras — talking about the creation of the theme song — disappear when the song plays! As soon as discussions commence, the captions return.

Talk about rubbing it in.


Later on, I may have stumbled on why it never had captions. It could’ve been a copyright issue. But that excuse doesn’t fly anymore.

In a UCLA Entertainment Law Review article, Attorney John F. Stanton from AG Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing said that courts have made it clear that reproducing copyrighted content for accessibility reasons is not a violation of the Federal Copyright Act. Simply put, if the words show up in audio, then they should have captions.

What happens when there are no captions

Regardless if it was a copyright issue or not, the band lost a little respect in my eyes. I opted not to listen to the song anymore. I definitely didn’t buy it.

Yes. It doesn’t matter if the band had something to do with it or not. The lack of captions on their song lyrics harmed their brand. Customers aren’t going to think it through to figure out who is to blame.

This is still happening. Disney UK released an advertisement with a song. No captions. They haven’t responded to my tweet. Same with a Star Wars preview. Only 15 seconds.

Even Apple failed. I tuned in for #AppleEvent. It opened with music and I heard singing. It didn’t show [Music plays], the name of the song and singer, or the lyrics. Check it out. Click the link and watch the first few seconds.

The recording did change one thing that didn’t appear in the live showing. This time it displayed [pop music playing] but no lyrics. The captions did one thing right. At the 14-minute mark, the captions showed: [“Playing Your Game, Baby” by Barry White]. Disappointing from a big company like Apple.

Why all your digital marketing videos need to be captioned

Captioning can help your digital marketing.

Yes, seriously.

An OfCom study from 2015 has found that 80 percent of those who use captions are not deaf or hard of hearing. Data analysis from Verizon Media and Publicis Media backs that up. And they found a lot of people turn the sound off. I could quote a lot more captioning data, but I won’t. You can jump to the link for that.

Do you really want to miss out on this large chunk of your audience?

It could mean the difference between connecting a little more or a little less. How can it mean a little less? And the lack of captioning in your videos can hurt your brand as it did with the Big Bang Theory song and this next example.

A few people were raving about a company’s stunning video ad. Apparently, it takes a stand for equality. Then I pushed play. No captions. Talk about irony. Several friends and colleagues wrote to the company complaining of the same thing. It’s sending a different message with its caption omission.

I tweeted the company multiple times. No reply. I will make sure I don’t use their products.

Captions can affect your brand

Accessibility supporters are a passionate lot. They’ll gladly boycott brands and publicly talk about the problems with the brands on social media. Search for “not captioned” on Twitter to see what people say. Don’t let this happen to you. Caption everything you put out there on your website and social media.

Captioning should not be the little something extra. It should be standard. Unfortunately, it’s not standard yet. Not even close. Thus, captioning everything can be that little nudge that helps you win over clients and prospects.

Here’s another example. For the past two years, my youngest has been researching and visiting colleges (pre-pandemic). When we went to orientation at one of the universities, they surprised me because their video contained captions!

That little bit put me in a good mood for the rest of the visit. It increased the school’s appeal with me. Yes, he applied there. And I tweeted props to the school. Branding again!

Another university sent an email following up after an online event. The email contained a link to a video. As I do with every video with no obvious signs it’s captioned, I leerily clicked it to open the video. It was captioned! My son applied there too.

Unfortunately, many colleges don’t caption their videos. Generation Z loves captions. It allows them to focus and multitask. They’re the ones applying to college now.

Examples of surprising and delighting prospects

And that same university has incredible marketing! They know how to lagniappe! What’s lagniappe? It’s giving something extra, a bonus, a surprise, a gift, a baker’s dozen. Like the prize inside a cereal box. Not all cereals come with a surprise inside.

So, when a child sees a cool prize on the box, he or she asks a parent for the cereal. Brilliant marketing. It’s hard for a parent to say no to a child even if they want the cereal for the wrong reasons.

How did that university give my son a little something extra? They did it four times!

  • Gave him a t-shirt at orientation. (Only two out of the six colleges we visited did.)
  • Mailed a school magnet that’s on our fridge. (Top of mind!)
  • Sent a card that plays the school fight song when you open it to congratulate him on his acceptance.
  • Shipped school socks with five things about the school that will knock your socks off!

I’ve talked about that school publicly (free publicity!) on social media as a digital marketing pro sharing excellent examples.

Captions can be your little something extra …

Got a little off track here. Back to how captions are like a bonus. People tag me all the time when they come across a captioned video. You know what this means? Word of mouth in action. When I’m tagged for a captioned video, I’ll watch it, share it, thank the creator for captioning, and tell them I would’ve never seen it if it hadn’t been captioned.

The person tagging me may also encourage the creator to use #Captioned whenever posting captioned videos. Or if they don’t, then I will.

This is a unique hashtag in that it doesn’t tell you the topic of the video. Rather, it lets people know that it’s captioned. I love searching for #Captioned on LinkedIn to reward the creators. Push play and you’ll be rewarded. It’s such a wonderful feeling!

And it’s an awful feeling when I push play and no captions appear.

You do the same too. Thank creators for captioning and using #Captioned. If they don’t use the hashtag, educate them. Tag me.

Don’t let your digital marketing have that little uncaptioned-song loophole like with the “Big Band Theory Theme,” Apple’s event, Disney, and all the others. Adding captioned videos to your digital marketing strategy is an easy way to surprise and delight people at a time when many fail here.

Add captioned videos to your digital marketing toolbox

Are you captioning your videos? Are you captioning them well?

Adding captions is only half of the formula for great captions. They need to be of high quality too. The No. 1 rule to great captions is they need to be readable. If people can’t read it, all that work you put into captioning the video is for naught. Accuracy, synchronized, and all those other rules in the 10 rules for creating great captioned videos won’t matter.

Do you make an effort to ensure all of your content is accessible?

Do you publish transcripts of videos and webinars? Sometimes people don’t want to watch the entire video or podcast. They scan the transcript for the information they want.

Maybe you think you don’t have the budget to go the extra mile with captions. Your competitor also thinks you don’t have a budget. If someone is trying to decide between you and your competitor, who wins?

The cost of captioning videos in digital marketing

Besides, it may not cost as much as you think, and it’ll pay for itself down the line. Hey, captions have helped companies make a profit. I subscribed to their service or bought something because of their captions.

Moreover, captioning has gotten easier and cheaper with the many tools available. Here’s a complete guide to captioning videos that lists many captioning tools. And when you post your captioned videos online, add #Captioned.

Many apps can automatically caption your videos. This saves a lot of time. Don’t let the automatic captions do the work alone. The captions still need editing as it’s very rare for autocraptions to get it right.

YouTube’s automatic captions contain no punctuation or capitalization. It looks like one continuous blob of content. You don’t know where a thought starts and ends.

When two companies are evenly matched across the board, that little extra like captioned videos can be the thing that charms your prospects into signing with you.

So which route will you take with your videos for your digital marketing efforts: “Doctor Who” or “The Big Bang Theory”?

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