OTTER.AI vs DESCRIPT
There was an air of excitement at Otter.ai HQ. The invitation that arrived that morning was responsible for the sudden change in the general atmosphere. What used to be a normal day at the office – meetings here and there, heads bowed down in work – quickly became a scene out of a discotheque.
“We’ve been waiting for this!”
“The world will know just how GOOD we are!”
“I can’t wait for the insights”
“I can smell the increase in visitors already”
Comments from various employees in the company filled the building.
Written in silver ink on a gold rectangular plate, the content of the invitation was simple:
The SaaS Copywriter invites you to a homepage battle.
Your opponent is Descript.
To participate, present your homepage avatar to The SaaS Copywriter boxing arena on Thursday April 1, 2021.
You can employ any means necessary as long as it’s ethical.
See you there!
The SaaS Copywriter”
Descript HQ was… a bit different.
“To think they’d compare us to Otter.ai”
“We’ll show those bastards the stuff we’re made of!”
Descript HQ moved on with their day. To them, it was just like any other day.
Was it self-centeredness?
Or were they truly the superior opponent?
It is true that Otter.ai and Descript do not perform the same functions.
But whenever a visitor wants transcription done, these two names always pop up.
April 1, 2021.
3PM, Central Time.
The venue is an underground boxing arena. It’s daytime, but it’s dark inside. The perfect venue for a battle.
“Ladies and gentlemen”, the host begins, “… welcome to The SaaS Co-py-wri-ting Homepage Battleeeeee!
Make some noise for the strong… the quick-witted… the one and only…
The crowd bursts out in an uproar as the hooded figure on the right side of the ring takes off his hood and reveals himself.
At 5’8, Smith is quite short. But damn, he is well-built. The size of those guns, coupled with the smooth glossy look, leaves the audience roaring on end.
(^^I’m referring to the homepage here, which has fewer sections than Otter.ai, making Descript “shorter” than the opponent.)
This will be one hell of a battle.
“That is one nice body!”, the host resumes. “But folks… calm down!
In the right corner, we have a challenger. He’s known to be straightforward, direct with his punches and… rumor has it he has a series of trump cards up his sleeve. Maybe we’ll see him employ some in this match.
In other words, folks, this is a guy you can’t underestimate.
Give it up for…
The crowd shouts with renewed excitement as Owen takes off his hood and stands up to reveal a 6’2 beast of a man.
“He’s more muscular!”
“No! They’re at the same level”
“He’ll lose! He’s far too tall!”
Amidst the shouting are comments about the upcoming battle.
Holly from Subly can’t hold her excitement as she awaits the events of the battle.
(^^The last comment is for those who assume long-form SaaS homepage copy DOES NOT convert as well as short-form.)
Note: I’ll be using the names “Smith” and “Owen” to refer to Descript and Otter.ai respectively at some points in the battle.
“Let the SaaS homepage battle… begin…”
OTTER.AI vs DESCRIPT
Round 1: THE HERO
The words do not even leave the host’s mouth when Descript launches a preemptive attack.
The punches are powerful, but not exactly difficult to follow with the eye. They aren’t fast, but their movements are unpredictable, nothing like Owen had anticipated.
And they are so powerful that Owen just cannot block them fully. Each punch digs into Owen’s raised blocking arms.
In nine brutal punches, it seems to be over.
Smith’s aim is simple:
“Finish him before he even lands a punch!”
Or at least that’s what he thinks should happen.
Smith’s final punch is a culmination of all his strength, knocking Owen’s arms down and smashing his face into the ring floor.
The audience grows silent.
“Is… is it over?”
Whispers can be heard from the crowd.
(^^Needless to say, the hero is one of the most important parts of a SaaS homepage. You can lose a visitor here forever. But if you treat it as the golden boy that it is, even your competitors will lose visitors to you.)
Smith wears a grin on his face.
He starts to skip about, confident in his win.
It’s all over. At least it should be. The series of punches were carefully developed to be unblockable. And that final move was supposed to render any opponent unconscious.
But Owen is not any opponent.
Smith finally realizes that the host has still not declared him winner.
He turns around, and what he sees is shocking.
“H-how can you still stand after all that?”
“Did you think you could beat me?”, Owen replies while coughing blood, barely able to stand… but still standing.
Walking up to Smith, he continues:
“Your punches were brutal, man! But I didn’t come here to lose!”
With that, he slaps Smith with the palm of his hand; the sound echoing in the underground boxing arena.
Owen is far from over.
He grabs Smith by the head and digs his knee into his face. Then he lays a series of direct punches at him.
Smith can evade them. But whenever he tries, Owen closes the space between them.
Owen’s punches are lighter. But they are direct as well as straightforward. Each punch lands a critical hit on Smith, causing him to lose consciousness.
End of round 1.
The host jumps back into the ring.
“What. A. Battle!
I couldn’t keep my eyes off the stage for even a second.
Flashy moves here and there.
And goodness me! I thought Smith had won. I nearly came down to crown him winner of round 1.
But Owen’s comeback was nothing short of magical.
Wow!! Just wow!!
Give it up for them, folks.”
The audience can’t hold back their excitement as their claps and shouts fill the boxing arena.
“Anyway, folks… “, the host cuts in. “The winner of the first round of the SaaS homepage battle isssss… “
(^^Descript employes very powerful copy in the hero.
The “Don’t share that. Yet” statement raises “Don’t share what? Why?” questions in the mind. And then the copy proceeds to answer: “Make it good first. With Descript.” I went “Damn!” the first time I read it.
The CTA is also better than Otter.ai with the use of “free”.
But all that razzle-dazzle does not immediately answer the most important questions. Visitors want to know: 1) what is Descript? 2) how does it help ME? And that’s why Smith lost.
Otter.ai uses clear, straight-to-the-point copy.
The image shows how the app appears on a phone and a laptop. With that image in mind, the copy then links what Descript does with how it looks. Very effective!
The main headline isn’t easy to understand at first glance. “Otter is where conversations live” makes it sound like the tool is some kind of database.
But the subhead more than makes up for the substandard main headline. The subhead is so good, a visitor gets answers to his most important questions right in the hero.
And that’s why Otter.ai wins this round.)
“Hey hey hey!”, the host cuts into the crowd’s mixed shouts of joy and anger.
“Hold your horses, folks! I know some of you had different expectations. But the fight is far from over. Let’s go for a quick break. When we come back, our opponents will be ready to give us some more action.
Also, I don’t think Descript is ready to lose without a fight!”
Those words cool down the angry side of the crowd and renew the excitement as they leave the boxing arena.
TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT:
WHAT WILL I DO DIFFERENTLY?
I’ll make Otter’s main headline more impactful and less confusing.
“Get Started” is a good CTA, but I’ll A/B test other versions to see what converts better.
The subhead says nothing about transcription. It’s still good, but I’d make it more direct on how it generates these “notes”.
Descript’s main headline is powerful and impactful, no doubt.
But how can you tell me “Get started for free” when I don’t know what the tool does. Don’t forget I’m not a returning visitor.
Tell me what you do right away.
A good example of a great Hero is Kajabi.
Right away, the main headline tells you about their target audience and what you get.
Then the subhead builds on the main headline. With words like “no coding, no hiring, no learning curve, no plugins..”, you get a sense of relief, freedom.
Then the CTA gives you the option of either a video or a free trial. A visitor can skip the video and still get a sense of what this tool does.
OTTER.AI vs DESCRIPT
Round 2: BELOW THE FOLD
It looks like the boxing ring floor received some damage in the first round.
If I remember correctly, Descript (Smith) smashed Otter.ai’s (Owen) face into the floor.
How are they still okay after that round?
“… let the second round… BEGIN!!”
Those words begin the fight. But no one takes a step forward. There’s no preemptive attack like the first round.
Are they cautious now that they’ve experienced the strength of their opponent?
Is that… is that armor? I mean, I did say they could employ any ethical means necessary.
“Whoa! It looks like Owen has donned the divine Armor of Authority!
I guess the rumors were true.
I wonder how many other cards he has up his sleeve.”
The host describes everyone’s feelings.
The Armor of Authority is a divine artifact that bestows the bearer with an almost absolute defense. It is a thick layer of soft, divine material that covers the entire body, even the eyes. It is almost transparent, with a tinge of gold streaks, so it is thin enough to reveal the shape of the person it protects.
Only another divine artifact can penetrate this armor.
(^^Getting featured in top publications is a powerful move by Otter.ai. Not much copy can defend against this. People are more skeptical today than ever before. And for good reason. An authority move like that is a good way to build trust)
Smith does not look fazed.
He calms himself down and begins to focus, arms raised ready to attack.
Smith’s focus becomes so intense, the crowd can feel the pressure in their seats.
He takes one step forward.
And then another.
Each step leaves cracks in the floor as he single-mindlessly approaches Owen.
But Owen is confident in his armor.
He stands his ground, waiting for Smith to reach him.
After all, spirit alone cannot hope to defeat this divine artifact.
Smith launches a series of powerful punches. Each punch causes damage to the boxing ring. Even the front seaters are at risk of getting blown away by the force from the punches.
But Owen still stands.
Not a scratch.
The crowd knew the battle had been decided the moment Owen donned the Armor of Authority.
(^^Descript’s video is VERY VERY GOOD.
It tells a story. And if you’re a podcaster or someone in need of transcription, the video gives you all the information you need; what is Descript, what does it do, how does it work, etc.
The video does it all.
However, that’s all based on the assumption that a visitor will watch the video from beginning to end, which might not happen.
It’s better to assume that visitors will skip your video completely.
If a visitor skips parts of the video, you lose him. Also, there are no subtitles. You’re a transcription company, right? Don’t make me say it! So yes, the video is good. But if no one watches it, then there’s no point.)
Owen’s victory in this round is clear.
But he’s not done.
Smith stops his futile attempts at trying to breach the Armor of Authority.
He jumps back to avoid any potential counterattack, but Owen has still not made a move.
“My turn!” he finally spits at Smith.
A long, golden sword appears at the right side of Owen’s armor.
“Huh…” the host expresses his shock.
Another divine artifact, the Sword of Social Proof that Owen currently wields can cut through anything, physical or spiritual.
(^^Showcasing Big Name customers is another power move.
Not much copy can counter that. This is social proof at its best.
Here, you don’t even have to do much talking.
Your customers vouch for you, forcing your visitors to subconsciously wonder things like, “If Columbia University trusts Otter.ai to transcribe their meetings and keep their data safe… then so should I”)
The crowd begins to feel uneasy as they’re unsure whether they would be caught in the blast from an attack with that sword.
I can tell no one will survive that kind of attack.
I jump down into the ring.
With a clap, I reinforce the boxing area and place the boxing ring in a divine barrier of my own will. I assure you, the barrier is unbreakable.
“Now you’re safe and the challengers can fight to their fill!” I say to everyone.
Owen looks relieved.
Was he holding back?
He brandishes his sword. An explosion fills the barrier with a wave of white light and fire.
It’s the image of destruction itself.
When the scene within the barrier clears up, only Owen remains standing.
The tall, muscular body donning the divine artifacts reflects the light around him and makes him godly in form.
He stands erect, unmatched in power as Smith lays unconscious before him.
That concludes the second round.
The crowd, unsurprised by the outcome of this round, leaves the arena for a quick break.
It’s over, but there are rumors that Owen (Otter.ai) had more tricks up his sleeve.
Those rumors are true.
In fact, Owen also has the Medal of Truth at his disposal.
Another divine artifact, the Medal of Truth enhances every other divine artifact he wields and reduces the effects of any attacks.
It is a troublesome weapon for any opponent, especially if there are no divine artifacts to counter.
(^^Another show of power through the use of authority. Everyone knows that awards are usually not just given to everyone. Especially not from top publications like Mashable and Fast Company. Even if Otter.ai paid their way to the top, that borrowed authority is still very powerful. They clearly know what they’re doing.)
This may not have been as effective in the battle, but Owen had his own strength as well.
Owen’s base strength is remarkable.
In the first round, that strength helped him withstand all of Smith’s deadly punches and saved him from losing consciousness.
His strength may not have been as effective in this round; his divine artifacts have granted him a full recovery now. But back then, he had still not fully recovered from the first round.
(^^This third section of the homepage is a bit out of place. Otter.ai has sold visitors right at the top of the page; in the hero section. A very smart move.
They’ve also employed the news and even their customers to build trust and further sell visitors on using the tool.
The awards have also sorta sealed the deal.
So why is reference made here to a version 2.0? What is Otter 2.0 and why does it matter at this stage? It doesn’t! Confusion sets in. And a confused visitor is what you don’t want.)
Smith also had a trick up his sleeve: a secret technique that follows right after the series of punches he launched.
Too bad we did not get to see him use it.
(^^This section lists all the features (or at least the most important ones) and helps the visitor find exactly what he’s looking for.
After watching the video, this would be the natural next step. In that scenario, this is a good move. That initial thrill from the video will influence a visitor to find out what some of these features can do for him.
However, if a visitor has not watched the video (even if he has skipped some portions), then this section is very confusing. At that stage, it just seems to be a bunch of words on a page.)
Even if Owen’s strength had not been 100%, he still had this final weapon…
The Spear of Power.
A golden spear with a diamond blade, this weapon is as powerful as the Sword of Social Proof that ended round two in one strike.
(^^Otter.ai finishes the “below the fold” section off with a testimonial. But this is not an ordinary testimonial. This is a “celebrity” testimonial and is another power move in favor of selling visitors on signing up for a free trial.)
That ends the description of the weapons we did not see in this round.
TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT:
WHAT WILL I DO DIFFERENTLY?
Social proof is good. And sometimes, customers can sell your product without any extra effort on your part.
But what is more powerful than getting featured in the media (on the homepage, that is) is showing visitors what your tool does.
Specifically, you can let visitors feed your tool with a sample audio right on your homepage and let it spit out some transcription. Not easy. But that would totally get more ready-to-buy signups.
SavvyCal masterfully employs this on their homepage.
You can use their scheduling tool right on the homepage. That interactive demo is more powerful than any kind of explanation. And visitors who try it are more excited to try (and pay for) the tool.
OTTER.AI vs DESCRIPT
Round 3: MID-SECTION
“… this battle has been one unexpected event after another.
Owen’s overwhelming victory in the second round
… just wow!!
Can Smith pull something off?
Or is Owen just going to keep going?
We bring you more action in this round.
Let the FIGHT… begin…”
With those words, the host begins the third round.
“How long has it been…” Smith begins a soliloquy, “How long has it been since I’ve had to contend with such disrespect.
I almost forgot how it felt.
After that incident, I vowed to never let anyone make me feel this way.
Smith takes a deep breath in and exhales.
Instantly, his mood changes.
The mental fog clears up, his eyesight gets better, and he can feel his strength rising.
(^^Finally, Descript explains what it does. This section of the homepage is probably the best section of the entire homepage. The video below the fold was good, I admit. But if no one watches, it’s useless. It’s painful, but the truth can hurt. This section could be better, obviously, but it is still clear enough for visitors to know who you are, what you do, and what to expect.)
Owen takes one look at Smith and can tell:
“Oh shh… This guy is trouble”
The moment Owen blinks, he receives a blow to the jaw and is hurled to the edge of the barrier.
He manages to stand and raises his hand in a defense position similar to blocking in a boxing match.
But Smith is not done with Owen.
And Owen can’t fully defend against the blows.
Blow after blow hits Owen’s chest, face and head.
Weakened from all the blows, he lets his arms down. He’s still standing. But he can’t defend anymore.
Smith does not let up.
He rains down blows on Owen as though to cover for the earlier humiliation.
(^^Where does this Otter 2.0 come from? Is it a paid version of Otter? How is it different from the Otter you described throughout the page? This section raises more questions than answers, which throws off the entire flow of the message. The only thing working here is the trust you’ve built prior to this section.
Love the image tho. It shows what the tool looks like and tries to visually explain what to expect. That’s good. But still, what is Otter 2.0?
The CTA is also meh. You could be more encouraging here.)
Still recovering from injuries inflicted earlier by the divine artifacts, Smith begins to feel the power of his punches going down.
But he does not stop.
He tries to prevent Owen from launching an attack of his own by relentlessly hammering him with blows.
The blows still inflict damage, but Owen can feel the reduction in power.
(^^the second section of this mid section makes Descript look like a complicated tool. That’s not a good look, especially if you’re marketing your tool as “easy to use”. Image choice is also important to convey the right message.)
It’s not as if he has a trick up his sleeve.
The divine artifacts have a limit so can only be used once.
Desperate, he lets out a shout as he finally blocks Smith’s blows.
“I’ve finally figured it out, Smith” Owen calls out to Smith in an enthusiastic tone.
“Hahaha yeah… but you don’t have much strength left,” Smith replies.
After 10 minutes of what seems like a stalemate battle, the host jumps into the ring to conclude the round.
Winner: It’s A Tie
(^^the second part of the mid section is great. Without reading it, I can tell it’s a list of steps of some kind, perhaps on using the tool. And if it is, then limiting it to 3 steps suggests ease of use… simplicity. A very good image to have.
The steps show what an incredible tool Otter.ai is. Words like “on your phone or web browser” mean you don’t need any specialized software or high-tech device to run Otter. And “get transcripts… within minutes” means Otter.ai is fast. Very fast. Good job.)
TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT:
WHAT WILL I DO DIFFERENTLY?
Descript should tell people what they do and not try to be too clever. Clever copy grabs attention. But if that attention is not maintained, that’s it!
And they should do it upfront, not in the middle of the homepage.
I would also place some of Otter’s sections a bit higher on the page.
People are in it for themselves.
So even if you use testimonials, use testimonials that sell your tool.
“Otter.ai is very easy to use” does not sell as well as “I transcribed my Zoom meeting while I was still in the meeting. I could read all the conversations in real time.”
An example of a good testimonial can be found on the Appcues homepage.
Remember: A good testimonial is one that sells visitors on your product.
OTTER.AI vs DESCRIPT
Round 4: FINAL WORDS
The atmosphere of the crowd has been dying down as the battle shifts from one round to the next.
But suddenly, the crowd goes wild.
“… YESSSSSSS!! Smith dons a divine artifact of his own.” the host shouts with excitement as the fourth round begins.
Just like Owen’s Sword of Social Proof and Armor of Authority, Smith’s Armament of Destruction is a divine artifact.
But Smith’s divine artifact is different.
It is a divine armor that comes with a sword.
Whether it is defense or attack, the Armament of Destruction gives the bearer unrivaled strength.
(^^Descript’s testimonial is as bold as it is effective. If this was directly under the first part of the mid-section, more visitors will readily understand what
The credibility markers at the bottom of the page are also powerful. Descript may not have started this battle well, but they sure know how to end it. BBC, ESPN… damn!! What a lineup of BIG NAME customers and stakeholders.)
“I hope you haven’t forgotten what you did in the second round”, Smith reminds Owen.
In that moment, he holds the divine sword upright and readies his attack.
The sword of the Armament of Destruction produces a sound that reverberates throughout the arena.
The crowd waits in silence, anticipating the next move.
“Any last words?” Smith taunts Owen.
Surprisingly, Owen does have some last words.
Owen can no longer use his divine artifacts.
You can only use them once and he used them earlier to secure an overwhelming victory in the second round.
Currently, he only has his strength at his disposal.
But that is not enough.
(^^this is a great section. This would be perfect at the top. But at this stage, it slows down the excitement that’s been built in previous sections.
Judging copy alone, this is still great. It shows how using Otter.ai can save you hours of your time and make you more productive.
It also shows that Otter keeps learning. This is an indirect message that tells visitors that Otter’s transcriptions are very accurate because the tool keeps learning.)
Owen’s attempts at attacking Smith is useless against the Armament of Destruction.
Even with the sword upright and zero defenses up, Owen can’t land a single blow.
Smith reveals a wicked smile as he brings the sword down on Owen.
As if to mirror the humiliating scene of defeat he felt earlier, Smith’s attack fills the barrier with a mixture of bright light and fire.
And when the scene inside the barrier clears up, only Smith remains standing.
The fourth and final round comes to an end.
“… if Smith had started out this way, he just might have won all the rounds.
Folks, am I right?”
The crowd responds in unison to the host’s feelings.
“Too bad…”, he continues. “But a win is a win.
At 2 wins to Otter.ai,
And one win to Descript,
This is a close game.
The winner for the first SaaS homepage Battle issssssss….
The air is filled with applause from the crowd as the SaaS homepage Battle finally comes to an end.
TIME FOR IMPROVEMENT:
WHAT WILL I DO DIFFERENTLY?
I’d put Otter’s final words closer to the top of the page, where it can tell visitors more about the tool.
The testimonials and authority elements are good, but strategy and timing are important. They should be used to tell visitors more about the tool.
It’s not just about listing where you’ve been or the awards you’ve received.
If I were to rearrange Descript’s homepage, with a few changes to the message itself, the mid section will come on top. Next would be the video (with subtitles this time). Then the current hero will be the next section. Followed by the section that is currently directly under the video. Finally, the testimonials will end the page, as is done here.
Kajabi’s “final words” are a great example of how to close a homepage.
It reiterates what Kajabi is -that it is everything you need- but assures you that you don’t need to leave any tools you’re married to.
Then it lists a ton of testimonials from real people with real faces, each testimonial capable of selling visitors on using Kajabi.
They assure you -in the third section- that they are fanatical about your success. Then list how they’re going to fulfill that resolve.
Then, after all the selling and coaxing is done, they remind you of what they stated in the hero and hit you with a CTA. Excellent!
Your Next Steps…
If you enjoyed this battle, there are more to come.
In the meantime, you can:
- Write your thoughts in the comments or bring the discussion to LinkedIn
- This battle is NOT sponsored. But if you’re interested in improving your website, landing page or emails, reach out and request details on how to buy an audit
- Share this battle with any SaaS founder looking to improve conversions