TopHatch: The Art of Crafting an Appy Community

By Tracy Oppenheimer

Having exceptional customer service should always be a high priority for businesses, but there are certain products whose customers benefit immensely from having a more personalized and well-rounded support infrastructure than the average ‘contact us’ experience.

Concepts: Smarter Sketching, by TopHatch, is one of those products.

The iOS-only mobile application is designed to help creative professionals…design. Artists and architects alike can use the app to create beautifully detailed sketches on their phones and iPads. The team behind Concepts describes it as “visual thinking; drawing reimagined for today. It combines the freedom and feel of artistic sketching with the precision, clarity, and usefulness of CAD. It’s the smartest sketchbook, ever.”

Long Learning Curve Poses a Problem

While still intuitive, the app has complex elements which enable that extreme precision. Yet despite the complexity, the appeal is instantly obvious and users typically upgrade from a free trial version to the pro paid version ($5.99) within 30 minutes of using the app for the first time. There are a number of additional add-ons that users frequently purchase after initial install too.

So, getting users to enter their credit card information is not an issue. The hurdle is continuing to engage users long past the point of purchase. But TopHatch CTO David Brittain is doing an exemplary job.

“One of the things that we take great pride in our app is the support that we give our users,” says Brittain. “Our customers like to learn how to use our product more deeply and so we’re using Campaigns for new stories and new videos too.”

Proactive Messaging makes Proactive Education and Engagement Accessible

Campaigns is Helpshift’s proactive messaging tool that allows companies to send highly targeted push and in-app notifications to specified users. TopHatch has a steady stream of fresh content that helps users better utilize the app, so the TopHatch team sends out messages through Campaigns to notify users that might be interested in learning more about the product.

If there is a new upgrade or feature available, these proactive messages both notify users of what’s new and then go a step further to provide tutorials, articles, and even videos.

Push notifications in this case work towards providing a holistic and seamless user experience. It’s not your average (and often annoying) reminder of discounts and promotions.

The team is using push notifications to grow the app’s community as well. Concepts has a closed Facebook group that allows pro users to share ideas and explore the app and new product features together. A few days after upgrading to the pro version, a user will get a notification to join the Facebook group.

Since TopHatch started sending out these push notification invitations, the Concepts Pro Facebook group has benefited from a 10x increase in membership.

Smart Segmentation is Key to Click Rate

Another benefit that David speaks about is the ability to send users different messages at different times to increase odds of successfully promoting continuing engagement.

Messages can be tailored to audiences who speak different languages, are based in different geographic locations, have paid different amounts for product upgrades, etc.

That customization means that a push notification will never wake someone up in the middle of the night, or send a note in a language that isn’t understood. Of course the actual content of the message can be tailored as well.

TopHatch has been using Helpshift’s in-app messaging for years now to provide convenient customer service, and proactive messaging through Campaigns is the natural extension of that already well-structured support system. And as seen by that massive increase in engagement, it’s paying dividends.