WordPress Pop-Up Plugins: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Pop-ups, you’ve definitely seen them across many websites. They are windows that show up on a site when you read an article or try to exit. Their main purpose is to grow a business’ email list (aka acquiring leads).

Some marketing folks love them, some don’t. Some website visitors might feel annoyed by them. But yet, why are they still used?

Because they are a good lead generation tool if used smartly.

For example, the folks at Sleeknote analyzed the data from 1+ billion popup views, from their top customers. They found that popups that are shown after eight seconds convert better than popups shown before or after.Pop-up statistics

Look at that: 3.62% conversion rate for a pop-up showing up after 8 seconds, compared to 0% (meaning no pop-up). That definitely means something, right?

Now, in this article, we’re going to talk about:

  • The best WordPress pop-up plugins out there;
  • The anatomy of a pop-up;
  • Pop-up best case practices;
  • Pop-up inspiration.

Shall we?


The best WordPress pop-up plugins

Now, when you start looking for a WordPress pop-up plugin to match your needs here are some features that can come in handy:

  • Pre-designed templates available, so that you don’t always need to start from scratch, or if you need some inspiration;
  • Drag and drop pop-up builder, so that you can design everything fast and easy, with no code;
  • Email marketing integrations: make sure that your WordPress pop-up plugin integrates seamlessly with your email provider.
  • Lots of available triggers for your pop-up: exit-intent, based on the time spent on a page, geography, returning vs new visitors, etc; 

Now, let’s take a look at 5 of the best WordPress pop-up plugins in the ecosystem:


OptinMonsterOptin Monster WordPress pop-up plugin

Currently used by 1,213,400+ websites, this is a standalone SaaS product. They also have a WordPress plugin, with 1,000,000+ active installs.

Here are some of its most valuable features:

  • Various pop-up formats available: lightbox, floating bars, slide-ins, gamified spin wheels, countdown timers, and many more;
  • Drag and drop WordPress pop-up builder;
  • Pre-built pop-up templates;
  • Multiple behavior-based personalizations: exit-intent, geolocation, retargeting, and more;
  • Pop-up A/B testing;
  • Animations and sound effects;
  • Integration with the most popular WordPress form plugins;
  • Email marketing integrations (Mailchimp, Sendinblue, ConvertKit, Drip, Klaviyo, and many more);

Pricing: Starting from $9 / month, billed annually for the Basic plan.


PopupMakerPopupMaker WordPress plugin

Used on over 600,000 sites, this WordPress pop-up plugin is very popular. Here are some of its most valuable features:

  • Integration with the most popular WordPress form plugins (Ninja Forms, Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, etc);
  • Email marketing integrations (Mailchimp, GetResponse, Hubspot, and many more);
  • Target any WordPress content such as posts, pages, and 26 more;
  • Pop-up scheduling;

Pricing: Starting from $87 / year for the Start plan.


HustleHustle WordPress pop-up plugin

Used on over 100,000 sites, this WordPress pop-up plugin is created by WPMU DEV. They are behind lots of popular WordPress plugins. 

Here are some of Hustle’s most valuable features:

  • Templates for different use cases (e.g. Black Friday, giveaway, COVID notice, newsletter signup);
  • Fully responsive pop-ups;
  • Lots of styling options available, from borders, shadows, spacing, typography, color, to custom CSS;
  • Lots of behavior triggers such as time on page, scroll, exit-intent, and more.
  • Email marketing integrations (Mailchimp, Sendinblue, ConvertKit, Drip, Klaviyo, and many more);

Pricing: $5 / month, billed annually for the Hustle Pro plan. Free trial available.


SumoSumo poop-ups

Sumo is a WordPress plugin that helps 60,000+ websites grow their email list with timed pop-ups. Same as OptinMonster, it also works as a standalone product. Outside of WordPress, it powers even more websites.

Here are some of its most important features:

  • Schedule one-off marketing emails or email drips to communicate with your subscribers;
  • Opt-in forms;
  • Full design control over pop-ups;
  • Pre-designed templates;

Pricing: the folks at Sumo boast that you can use Sumo for FREE and only pay when you get more customers. 

The PRO package starts at $39 / month billed annually.


ConvertProConvertPro WordPress pop-up plugin

Convert Pro is our choice for creating WordPress pop-ups. It’s really flexible and with lots of design and triggering options.

Here are the features that we like:

  • Drag and drop editor;
  • Mobile responsiveness;
  • Multi-step pop-ups;
  • Lots of triggering options;
  • Huge template library;
  • Lots of pop-up formats available: exit-intent, on-click, info bars, slide-ins, inline CTAs, full-screen CTAs, convert mats, and more.
  • Easy A/B testing;
  • Email marketing integrations (Mailchimp, Sendinblue, ConvertKit, Drip, Klaviyo, and many more);

Pricing: Starting $79 / year.


How to create a WordPress pop-up using ConvertPro

It’s time to get to a demo, don’t you think?

Because we’re Convert Pro users, I’m going to show you how we use the tool, here at Colibri.

Here are the steps for creating a WordPress pop-up using Convert Pro:

  1. After buying the plugin, head over to the BrainStormForce store (the creators of the plugin) and download a zip file with Convert Pro. Now, head over to your WordPress Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New. Add new WordPress pluginUpload here your zip file, then activate the plugin.
  2. Go to WordPress Dashboard -> Convert Pro -> Create New. Create new WordPress pop-up
  3. Select your desired type of WordPress pop-up. Types of pop-ups
  4. Select a template and a goal. Choose pop-up template
  5. Name your pop-up then hit “Create”. Create a WordPress pop-up
  6. Start designing your pop-up. Add headings, paragraphs, visuals to it. There are several shapes and button formats you can choose from on the menu on the left. Customize the pop-upYou can even add a countdown if you’re running a promotion, for example. Inside the “Panel” option you can adjust the size of your pop-up, add animation, backgrounds, and more.Convert Pro editing panel for pop-ups You can also style your form any way you like it. Styling WordPress pop-up optionsYou can also create multi-step pop-ups under the advanced options. Multistep pop-upsYou can preview the mobile version of your pop-up when you click on the mobile icon on top of your dashboard. Customize the pop-up by device
  7. Configure your form. At this level, you can choose from a multitude of triggers.WordPress pop-up triggers In the “Target” menu you can make adjustments to your settings based on geolocation, device, and other user behaviors. WordPress pop-up targeting optionsFor example, I like to create separate pop-ups for mobile and desktop. On mobile devices, I trigger the WordPress pop-ups after 5 seconds, while on the desktop I use exit-intent.
  8. Connect Convert Pro with third-party tools, such as forms and email marketing software. WordPress pop-up integrations
  9. Don’t forget to save and “Make Public” your WordPress pop-up once you’re done.Save your WordPress pop-up and publish it


And that’s it. You’ve got your first WordPress pop-up!

Now, that you know how you can design a pop-up, let’s take a look at its must-have elements.


The anatomy of a pop-up

As mentioned earlier, a pop-up is used to convert visitors into leads or leads into customers.

How can a pop-up help you achieve this goal? When employed correctly, pop-ups can show up in front of the right person, at the right time, with the proper message, so that it can maximize the chances for a conversion.

So, here are the elements a pop-up has:

  • A form. These forms can be very basic, with only a call to action button, or can have some extra custom fields.
  • A trigger. These pop-ups can show up according to some website or user behavior, eg: after 8 seconds on the page, after a 70% scroll, when the user intends to exit the website, etc. 
  • Targeting. You can trigger these pop-ups to show up based on the geolocation of the visitor, or the type of page he is on, etc. Maybe the visitor is reading an article about healthy diets. You could show him a pop-up promoting your ebook with energizing smoothies recipes. Customization is key here if you want to maximize your conversion rates.
  • Custom design elements to help you convey your message or to make it more appealing: images, videos, etc.

Now, your job has not ended with the pop-up design. You need to figure out the next steps. Usually, you would need to nurture your leads via email marketing campaigns. This means that you will need some email software to connect with your WordPress pop-up plugin.

Now, let’s look at some good practices for designing highly converting pop-ups.


Pop-up best case practices

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet. Here we go:

  • Don’t be intrusive with your pop-ups. Be wise with your triggers. I always go for exit-intent, so that I do not interfere much with the user experience.
  • Don’t show pop-ups on all your pages. Think about the purpose of your page. Do you really want to show a pop-up on the pricing or contact us pages? Be wise about this.
  • Make sure your pop-up looks well on all devices.
  • Make it easy for website visitors to close the pop-up.
  • Use images in your pop-ups. The Sleeknote analysis showed that they convert better than the ones without images.
  • Induce FOMO (fear of missing out) in your pop-up copy. For example, you can do this by inserting a countdown timer telling people how many days are left until your promotion ends.
  • The more fields you have in your form, the fewer conversions. Be careful how you balance these things. On one hand, multiple form fields can help you segment your leads better. 
  • Determine the goals and purpose of using a particular pop-up.
  • Implement timed pop-ups for better engagement.
  • Try to segment the pop-ups for the new visitors and repeated visitors.
  • When users are scrolling down your content, or spending more time on an article, it means that you’ve captured their attention. What about using a scroll trigger to show them a pop-up to a content upgrade or a webinar invite?


7 Pop-up examples to inspire you

Now, enough with the theory, let’s look at some real pop-ups.

Pop-up example 1: Sleeknote

This Sleeknote pop-up uses social proof to try and convince people to subscribe to their newsletter. When you sign up you’ll join other 70.000 marketers. 

And because some people might go through newsletter fatigue, they use the term “weekly marketing inspiration”. Sleeknotes also “bribes” its visitors with lifetime access to customer resources in exchange for a subscription. They also use a gif and emoticon, to make the pop-up more visually appealing.

Sleeknote pop-up example

Pop-up example 2: Hubspot 

In the example below, we have an exit-intent pop-up from Hubspot (marketing and sales software) that is trying to convince their website visitors to subscribe to their newsletter. They are also using social proof to be more convincing: more than 600.000 marketers have already joined.

They could use some imagery to look more catchy.Hubspot pop-up example

Pop-up example 3: Haute Hijab

This multi-million dollar e-commerce store is using a pop-up that offers 15% off to visitors that subscribe to the newsletter. 

Haute Hijab pop-up example

Pop-up example 4: Backlinko

Brian Dean, the famous SEO expert, has some locked content on the blog. It’s a really valuable case study hes’ willing to share with his reader in exchange for their email. 

When you click on the “Unlock Now” button, you’ll trigger a pop-up.

Backlinko one-click pop-up


Pop-up example 5: Mailpoet

Mailpoet (email marketing software), and most of the websites out there use a pop-up to inform visitors about website cookies. Mailpoet does this with a clean pop-up design, not the old, grey, and dull one we are used to.

Cookie notice pop-up

Pop-up example 6: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is using an info bar pop-up to inform passengers on COVID-194 safety measures.Infobar pop-up example

 Other websites are using this tactic to promote special sales, and even combine this with a countdown.


Pop-up example 7: Dedoles

Try to hook website visitors with secret bonuses. The folks at Dedoles are using a prize wheel for this. In exchange for your email, you will receive a discount or a gift.

website pop-up example


Wrapping up

Blink twice if you’re still with me 🙂

Now, let’s see what we’ve learned today:

  • Which are the top 5 WordPress pop-up plugins in the ecosystem;
  • How to use ConvertPro to create WordPress pop-ups;
  • Which are the elements of a pop-up;
  • Which are the best case practices you can steal to create WordPress pop-ups that convert;

That’s all folks!

If you liked this article, and you want to learn more about how to design a WordPress website, make sure to subscribe to Colibri’s Youtube channel and follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

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Alina is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she's not strategizing she's doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.


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