Scribd Website Copy Tear Down: How to Write a Headline (& Subhead) That Converts

Wondering how to write a headline that hooks your visitor and pique’s their interest? In this website copy tear down, I’ll show you why Scribd is committing a major copy faux pas in their hero shot headline and subhead and how they could fix it using a little voice of customer data.


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Here’s the transcript:


Hi and welcome. I'm Carolyn and today we'll be doing a quick copy tear down of the Scribd homepage. Scribd offers a huge digital library of audio books, magazines, ebooks and so much more. Stay tuned to see my overall assessment of their homepage, we're going to do a little bit of live editing in one key area of their site. And then wrap up with the top three takeaways that Scribd could use to optimize for better sign up conversions. Of course, you'll pick up some of my favorite conversion copywriting tips along the way. Alright, let's get started.


So, here we are looking at homepage for Scribd. So we'll do a quick top to bottom. So we have our hero shot here, "Read without limits. Enjoy an unlimited number of books, audio, books, magazines, and more." Here's your call to action "Read free for 30 days, cancel anytime."


Moving down the page.


We have images of what are likely some of the top books and favorite books by users right now on the platforms that look fairly recent books, audio books, magazines, okay, we can see they have an image here where we have a couple different phones and a tablet. Perfect for signaling to your viewer that your app is available on more than one type of device.


And here are membership details, pricing. Again, going back to magazines, books, audiobooks, documents, final call to action "Read free for 30 days", we have a no risk guarantee - you can cancel at any time. And then we have a little bit of legalese here "access an unlimited number of books and audiobooks. Restrictions on some titles may apply." And page wraps up with a little bit of press logo, press logo banner, so right back up to the top.


So, the top to bottom of the page shows us that right now Scribd is not really using a lot in terms of social proof, we have a little bit of press logos, you know, press logos at the bottom. But that's about it. No testimonials from users, nothing like that. And the call to actions on the page are both for the same thing, to sign up for the free 30 day trial. So, okay, maybe we'll talk about that later.


The biggest issue that I see actually is this hero shot, "Read without limits, enjoy an unlimited number of books, audio, books, magazines, and more." So, this asterix right there. Immediately when I see that I go, "Well, what does that really mean?" Like, we're trying to know that that means that there's more information than meets the eye, but I don't know where more information is at this point. So this is a bit of a problem for me, because it doesn't feel clear. And it potentially feels like a false claim actually. So it doesn't really, it doesn't really allow the reader to get off on the right foot when they begin reading the page. So this is a problem.


So this is where we are going to do some live edits today. Just turn on my editor. Okay, there we go.


So, the hero shot is where we as, as a business, it's our first impression, it's our chance to make a first impression with the prospect. And so the copy in the hero shot really needs to do a lot of things in terms of that initial communication with the prospect themselves. So I like to see a value prop that helps a prospect pre-qualify themselves as somebody that belongs on the page that can say "yes, this product or service is for me." And then also giving them something that helps them understand what is it that makes you different from the other competitors. So in the case of Scribd, I imagine that some of their top competitors are probably Audible for audiobooks, and maybe Kindle Unlimited for ebooks. So here with this hero shot copy, it's good that they're identifying books, audiobooks, magazines, because Audible is for audio books, Kindle Unlimited is for ebooks. Neither of those platforms offer multiple mediums to choose from. So that is something that sets Scribd apart from those other platforms.


So it's great that they call that out in their hero shot. And the big issue, though, that I'm having is this asterix because it just doesn't it...Yeah, feels false. And when I took a look, I hopped over really quickly before I turned on my recorder, and I in both iTunes and Android. I was seeing so many reviews from people that love Scribd. But they really have a big issue here with this particular claim, because "unlimited" isn't really unlimited once you're in the app. And so my feeling is, is that if it isn't unlimited what? And that's a big problem. This was something that kept coming up and all the reviews that were sort of lower star ratings was that the issue actually wasn't with the service, it was with the claim that you could get an unlimited number of materials, but then you actually couldn't. So this sort of lack of meeting expectations there when you tell somebody something, you really should be living up to that promise. So if you can't, if you can't live up to the promise, don't make it in the first place. So let's remove that unlimited.


Now. Here are some of the things that users loved about this. This particular service,


People said, "I can pretty much assure you that you discovered Valhall with Scribd." Some interesting language. Another one said, "I think Scribd is an inexpensive way for busy bibliophiles to get their fix. But I think there are issues that Scribd needs to hammer out if they want to keep their customers truly satisfied." So that's, again, referencing the unlimited bit that I've already mentioned. Then the final piece of voice of customer data that I pulled is, "The advertised unlimited was great, and understood that some titles might come and go on availability. However, this month, I've only listened to one audio book and already have restricted titles." So, again, we're really going back to this sort of misalignment between what is unlimited and what was actually being offered to the user.


So, all that said, we are going to tackle this key area and see if we can solve for some of these issues.


So, one of the pieces of voice of customer data that I pulled that felt a little bit sticky in the way that it was worded. Was "this an inexpensive way for simply a busy bibliophiles to get their fix."


So busy bibliophiles is an interesting way to label a target audience. Interesting language. And "get their fix" those interesting languages as well, because it's usually used to describe an addiction. But we're actually describing somebody who just really loves books.


So what if we change this? These two right now these two: without limits and unlimited. They play together, so we're going to have to edit both of those. So what if we change this headline, I'm really just pulling this right out of the voice of customer data.


What if we change this to how busy bibliophiles get their fix.


And then with this subhead, let's keep this number of books, audiobooks, magazines, and more, because it helps differentiate Scribd from competitors, like Audible and Kindle Unlimited, but let's go with "choose from over 100,000 books, audiobooks, magazines, and more."


Okay, so now we don't have, we've done away with that unlimited claim. It's clearly an issue. Maybe Scribd will fix this in the future. But right now, it's an issue. Users are complaining about it. So let's do away with that. So instead, we still are highlighting something about their library the customer wants, variety of mediums, we have some interesting sticky language called right from voice of customer data. And the headline now, "how busy bibliophiles get their fix." And then we also speak to the size of their library by calling out the 100,000 books that was mentioned further down the page, or I pulled that from Scribd infopage...Either way, is identifying that as a large library without making a claim that they can't actually deliver on.


So this, this is a good solution right now. It would be worth testing and seeing if this helps at all. I imagine that it at least would make users feel like they weren't being tricked. Because, yeah, that unlimited with the asterix it's just it's just, that's not a good way to start. Start the page and immediately put the reader on edge as well. What does that really mean?


You don't want your reader to be thinking, Well, what does that really mean? What does that asterix, what does that happen, where, where's the explanation for that? You don't reader to think that. So better just to not include that.


So now that we've done that, the other couple of areas that Scribd could clean up this page a little bit and optimize for conversion would be to revisit their call to actions. We have one, two, and then we have one over here, three, they're all the exact same language. And so it might be interesting, especially in the hero shot, to do a call to value instead of a call to action, meaning that we are indicating the value that the user will find in taking the action.


Rather than just asking them to take the action, show them what they could get from taking action. It's a good way to entice users that are on the fence as to whether or not they're ready to take that next step.


The other thing that could be improved upon on this page is just getting a little bit more specific in the language. There were a lot of customer reviews that I was able to pull up between the two, the two app stores. So, it would be interesting to go back, sort through the voice of customer data, see if we can pull any sticky language from that.


When I took a quick look, there seemed to be a lot of interesting sticky language and interesting turns of phrases that customers are using. So that could be a really great way to intrigue a reader. This is a book app. It would...I think it could work quite well to use interesting language, seeing that the service provides this huge library full of books that presumably have interesting language.


So that that overall value prop in the hero shot, the part that we edited up here, the call to action copy. And then generally just leaning on some of that stickier language that can be pulled out of voice of customer data. These are all really great opportunities for Scribd to optimize their homepage for both increased signup conversion and a clear, more "true" value prop that won't have customers guessing as to whether or not they're actually getting what they think they're paying for.


All right. So that's that. Thanks for watching this quick copy tear down. If you're wondering what I might have to say about your own website, you can click on the link below. I'm going to drop a link down there. And you can request your very own assessment. Look forward to hearing from you. Bye!

Your turn: what's your #1 biggest takeaway from this website copy tear down? Let me know in the comments below.

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Scribd Website Copy Tear Down: How To Write A Great Headline