August 20, 2013

An Interview with Homebase

Alyce Currier

Marketing

One thing we don’t really do enough of on this blog is feature others’ exemplary video content. We try our best to lead by example with our own videos, but there are a ton of different ways to approach video marketing, and to make a great video and use video effectively, you don’t necessarily have to craft an over-the-top, high-budget, viral phenomenon. We feature others’ videos and the stories behind them in our Why Video Matters series.

Homebase brings agile project management to content marketing teams. We at Wistia are personal fans of their app, which makes it easy for marketers to develop great ideas, execute efforts seamlessly, and record outcomes. We’re also into how they’re using video, and founder Scott Voigt (@scott_voigt) was kind enough to answer a few questions about their video strategy, their use of the Wistia Player API, and what equipment and tools they use for production.

Why did you decide to use video in the app itself?

Super short answer: the Homebase team is mostly product people rather than salespeople right now. However, we recognize and appreciate that salespeople are fantastic at forming an emotional connection with buyers. There’s a lot of truth to the old sales adage, "people buy from people." With this in mind, we started experimenting with video so that our customers could get to know the people behind Homebase while simultaneously learning about the app.

Has it been effective?

Truth be told, it’s hard to say whether we’re connecting emotionally, though I’ve received a few customer notes telling me that my performance on the intro video is "cringe-inducingly corny." Since I’m often described as cringe-inducingly corny in everyday life, I would say that we are in the ballpark.

I can say, however, that video has been a great way to quickly give an overview of the app. Using Wistia reports, we’ve been able to conclude that users who watch the first tutorial video have a much better engagement rate within the product. We’ve actually changed the ordering of the onboarding experience to emphasize the tutorial video more.

How do you decide what topics to cover in your videos?

Glad you asked :) The Homebase app is aimed at helping marketing teams be better and happier. Because we believe that better marketing starts with better ideas, we use our own app to constantly collect, rank, and discuss ideas for future videos. We’ve got a healthy pipeline of videos to shoot.

How did you go about doing the specific API magic in the intro video?

True story: When we were shooting the video, I improvised the line "see that feedback button in the corner" and pointed up and to the right. We liked that take and used it in the final cut, only to realize that the feedback button was obscured in our product during video playback. Ruh-roh.

Using Wistia’s API, one of our engineers, Jaime Yap, was able to make Homebase wake up at the appropriate time and trigger the obscured button to jump around. (We like gifs.)

For the more technically inclined, Jaime’s comments below:

"Specifically, all I had to do was wait until we rendered our video, then run the "pimp my iframe" script that Wistia distributes to enable the Wistia API on embedded videos. Then I hooked the "timechange" event to know when we skipped over the 42-second mark in the video. It really was pretty dead simple. The rest of the UI stuff was just code I wrote to make the UI do what I wanted."

Of note: the engagement graph of the intro video shows a lot of rewind action at the 42-second mark. Kinda cool.

What setup and tools do you use make your videos?

We’ve only shot one live video thus far. We know we can do much better and plan to (soon). The equipment used is documented pretty well in the images in this blog post we wrote. Two iPhones, iMovie, and Adobe AfterEffects for the logo work. The fancy-schmancy lights and paper background are property of our benevolent simian landlords, MailChimp.

We’ve made three product videos thus far. All were captured and edited using Screenflow. We added a soundtrack using iMovie, and the intro/extro were developed using AfterEffects.

How about for the tutorial video in particular?

The tutorial video started with a script that covered the main areas of the product. We hacked and hacked at it until we got it down to under one minute. Easier said than done.

The next step was to record the audio track. As I mentioned, we’re pretty fortunate to share (steal?) office space with (from) MailChimp. Josh Rosenblum, the "MotionPicturologist" at MailChimp, built a cool recording booth out of an old office cube. He was kind enough to let us use the booth, which certainly helped reduce background noise. I plugged a Blue Snowball USB Mic into my Mac and used Quicktime to record the voiceover.

Next, I recorded product shots using ScreenFlow and tried to time them with the talk track. When everything was looking good, we exported into iMovie to layer in the music.

One of our founders, Bruce Johnson, built the background music for both videos in GarageBand using the stock clips. He timed the funky-sounding music to change during certain moments of the video. One of my favorite parts of the tutorial is at 1:07 mark, when the horns kick in just as our logo appears. Our designer, Josh Teague, used AfterEffects to build the intros and outros.

What’s the next step for Homebase and video? Are you planning to make different types of videos in the future?

Video is going to play a big role at Homebase for the foreseeable future. There’s a long and growing list of video ideas.

Currently, we are putting the final touches on a major product update. The new version of the app will, of course, make the old tutorial videos obsolete, so we will be reshooting them.

Because Homebase is all about helping marketing teams be better, we are going to start to develop videos explaining our theories and suggestions on how to become an agile marketing organization.

And, of course, we have lots of ideas on how to have a little fun and raise awareness at the same time. We’ve started tinkering with Vine (sorry Josh) and have some thoughts on how to tell stories episodically.

Thanks to Scott for sharing Homebase’s video story! We’re looking forward to keeping up with what they continue to make. Got a video story of your own? Let us know!

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