April 24, 2024

Challenges of Using Traditional Engagement Platforms for In-App Communication

Challenges of using traditional engagement platforms to show how in-app popups disrupt the overall user experience for mobile app users.

Ananya Vairavarajan

The past decade has seen the rise of customer engagement platforms like Braze, Iterable, CleverTap, etc. These tools helped brands send communications across push, SMS and email.

As a natural extension to their capabilities, these platforms then started assisting consumer apps with basic in-app communications like popups.

However, that’s where most of them have stopped innovating. Relying on conventional engagement platforms for implementing these popups presents challenges that may impact the effectiveness of your in-app communication strategy.

Let’s delve into the top three challenges of using traditional platforms for your in-app communications.

The limitations of traditional engagement platforms

These tools are only able to render basic popups. This presents several problems:

  1. Popups appear at the wrong time
  2. Popups look intrusive and stick out from the app experience
  3. They lack context

Popups appear at the wrong time

The timing of in-app popups is crucial to their effectiveness, and if they appear at the wrong time, it can lead to various challenges and negative user experiences.

Some examples:

  • During a critical moment in a gaming app, an intrusive popup about app updates may distract the player and lead to a less enjoyable gaming experience.
  • Imagine a user is filling out a lengthy form, and a popup requesting feedback suddenly appears. This interruption may disrupt the completion of the form and annoy the user.
  • A user is trying to make a purchase in an e-commerce app, and a promotional popup for unrelated items appears. This causes frustration as the user's focus is on completing the purchase.
promotional popup for unrelated items appears

Popups look ugly, they are just banners (or) HTML components

Popups can be perceived as intrusive and may disrupt the overall design aesthetics of an application. They often appear as overlays on the content, and their design may not always align with the app's visual theme.

This can be of various instances like:

  • Consider a mobile app with a user-friendly design. If a generic-looking, poorly styled popup appears, it can create a visual inconsistency and may not blend well with the user interface.
  • A poorly designed popup that doesn't resize or adapt to different device screens might result in elements being cut off, making it difficult for users to interact with the content.
  • Loading large images or complex HTML components in popups can slow down an app, frustrating users who expect a smooth user journey.
A poorly designed popup

Popups lack context

The challenge of in-app popups lacking context can arise when these popups are not well-timed or do not align with the user's current activities within the app. This lack of context can lead to user frustration and a negative overall experience.

This can be of various instances like:

  • A user is busy booking flight tickets in a travel app. Suddenly, a popup appears, interrupting the booking experience, and asking the user to rate the app.
  • A fitness app sends a popup notification about a new feature related to weightlifting to a user who primarily uses the app for cardio exercises.
  • A user is in the middle of transferring a large sum of money between accounts. A popup promoting a credit card offer appears, diverting the user's attention during a critical situation.
Popups lack context

What does great in-app communication look like?


Great in-app communication is timely and responsive. It occurs in real-time, providing information or assistance when users need it the most.

This ensures that the communication is relevant and valuable, contributing to a positive user experience.

Jar spotlight

Contextual to the user’s action

In-app communication should be contextual and directly related to the user's actions or current state within the app.

This ensures that the messages are tailored to the user's specific needs, making them more meaningful and less generic.

MakeMyTrip BottomSheet

Non-intrusive to the user’s actions

Effective in-app communication respects the user's experience and doesn't disrupt their workflow.

It is designed to be non-intrusive, meaning it doesn't interrupt the user unnecessarily. Instead, it seamlessly integrates with the user interface, providing information or guidance without causing distraction.

A23 Rummy uses Plotline for their in-app communication

Aesthetically native-experience

The visual presentation of in-app communication should align with the overall design and aesthetics of the application.

This creates a seamless and native experience for users, making the communication feel like an integral part of the app rather than an external element.

Aesthetic consistency enhances user engagement and contributes to a cohesive user interface.

Niyo uses Plotline for in-app engagement initiatives

Plotline provides advanced in-app engagement; not only in-app popups but various other UI elements

Plotline's no-code in-app engagement platform enables you to deploy various kinds of in-app nudges including in-app popups without writing a single line of code within 15 minutes.

The challenges posed by other traditional engagement platforms are absent in Plotline.

To address these challenges, Plotline implements user segmentation and personalized targeting can help tailor popup content based on user behavior and preferences, enhancing the overall user experience.

Apart from in-app popups, you can use other UI elements like tooltips, spotlights, coachmarks, stories, animations, videos, etc., to engage your users effectively.

Plotline - UI elements like tooltips, spotlights, coachmarks, stories, animations, videos

If you're interested in learning more about how Plotline is different from other traditional engagement platforms for advanced in-app engagement, check us out for a free trial.

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