What’s The Best WordPress Popup Plugin For Email List Building? Let’s Take A Look…

March 19, 2021

When I Googled “best wordpress popup plugin” this morning… over 2 million results came up. Some of them were paid ads, but most of them were straight up organic results.

And of those results, the first two pages were filled with comparison posts (“8 Best WordPress popup plugins” or “The Top 100 Plugins that will get you the most email subscribers”). I didn’t click past page two, so I can’t really tell you what happens after that…

But here’s what’s happening:

There are a lot of people who are doing their best to weed through the cheap plugins and give an honest review of tools that the average WordPress user might want to install in their website… It’s just that no one can possibly sample every plugin out there.

Know What You Need Before You Start Shopping

So instead of giving a generic list that compares a dozen plugins, we’re going to take a look at some of the features that are indispensable when it comes to building your email list.

Because when it comes right down to it, your list of necessary features is going to be unique to your website and determine which plugin ends up being “the best”.

Once you know what you want (and need), narrowing down your list of best WordPress popup plugins becomes a whole lot easier.

The Best WordPress Popup Plugin Features For Your List-Building Needs

Choosing the Right Type of Popup

Popups have the potential to be so obnoxious that Google is actively campaigning against them this year (details here).

Does this mean that you can’t use them anymore? No, but it does mean that you have to be a lot more intentional and polite about how and when you’re letting them appear on your website.

By switching up the type of popups you use, you can still please Google AND charm your visitors with your list-building efforts.

So some of the first features to consider are the different types of popups available:

Time-Release Popup

This is your standard popup: it appears (a) the moment you arrive on a page, or (b) a specified amount of time after you’ve been on the page.

Some people call it a “welcome” popup, since it can be used to welcome visitors to the website.

A really cool way way to use this type of popup is by pairing it with a mini-survey, to segment your visitors right off the bat, kind of like this one:

Scroll-Activated Popup

Pretty self-explanatory: this type of popup will appear as you’re scrolling down a page. The theory behind it is this: the farther someone is scrolling down your page, the more interested they probably are in your stuff.

So when the popup appears, they’re much more likely to consider the offer.

Exit Intent

Exit intent popups can be super effective because you know exactly what the visitor is thinking when the popup appears. This knowledge can help you tailor the message and design of the popup to really speak to the viewer.

Exit-intent popups also fit in with Google’s new “anti-spam-popup” policy because they simply don’t appear on mobile devices.

Click To Open Popup

A click to open popup appears when the user clicks on an embedded link or image on your website.

Conversion rates are pretty high for this popup type because the user has already indicated a willingness to take action.

Mobile Friendly

This should go without saying… but it’s worth bringing up as a popup feature that needs to have a prominent place on your list.

Plainly put, if your popups aren’t mobile-friendly, you might run into trouble with Google.

…And It should Probably Be More Than Just Another Popup Plugin

Modern list-building requires a lot more work than just throwing a popup in someone’s face. (And aren’t we all glad of that!?)

Sometimes, it’s best to offer a bit of variety to really woo your website visitors.

This might mean using a static opt-in in a sidebar or add one to the middle of a blog post.


But – that brings about a whole new list of features that you’ll want to consider for your own “best” popup plugin.

Because the more versatile your plugin is, the less you’ll have to worry about buying additional tools to complete your list-building strategy.

With that in mind, some additional opt-in features for your list building include:

Horizontal Opt-In Bar

The horizontal opt-in bar is a static opt-in that both fits in seamlessly with your website and stands out enough to catch your visitor’s attention.

Welcome Mat

A welcome mat is a full-page opt-in that a user must either click through or scroll past immediately upon entering your site. Some plugins come with welcome mat templates, others are simply designed through the popup builder.

Embedded Opt-in

Embedded opt-ins might appear in the sidebar, footer, or anywhere on the posts and pages of your website. They’re a great way to integrate a Call To Action organically inside your website content.

Even With Every Feature Available…Is Your Popup Plugin Easy to Use?

Now we come right down to it: even if it has all of the features, no tool is worthy of the “Best WordPress Popup Plugin” title unless you can get it all to work as planned.

How Flexible/Easy is it to Design New Opt-Ins?

Pretty popups are both polite, charming, and welcoming to visitors. Plain popups, on the other hand, scream “spam”.

So what we like to see is a popup plugin that offers both templates and the ability to totally customize them to fit your needs.

(Check out some of our favorite popup examples here – all created with PopupAlly Pro.)

Are You Able To Track The Success Rate of Your Popups?

Sure, your email marketing software will tell you how many people have opted-in through your website. But it won’t tell you which popups are pulling their weight!

That’s why these two features come in pretty handy:

A/B Testing

Also called split testing, this feature will allow you to create two (or more) popup variations. The plugin takes care of the rest, giving you stats on the popups that are working the best for you.


A full-range of plugin statistics also comes in handy when you want to see an overview of how many opt-ins you’re getting from each of your popups. These stats will give you an idea of your overall conversion rate.

Finally…How Much Is This Thing Going To Cost You?

Some plugins are totally free, others require a purchase fee before you can start using them. Other plugins like SumoMe and PopupAlly Pro (both are robust plugins and fairly comparable in terms of features) offer some pretty great free versions.

The free versions might not have all the bells and whistles, but at least you can test the plugin out a little bit to see if it’s going to fit the bill.

(If you’re interested in testing a potential popup plugin, look for ones that offer full-features in a discounted trial period, like our PopupAlly Pro $1 Trial…)

Of course, paying for the full features is always going to be your strongest bet, if
(A) You’ve found the right plugin, and
(B) If you have any budget at all to work with.

The right popup plugin for your website is definitely worth its weight in gold for the amount of new subscribers it can bring in.

But that can mean a couple different things:

A flat, one-time purchase fee

Some popup plugins only charge a one-time purchase fee. If you’re buying one of these plugins, it’s really easy to compare investment costs.

A Subscription Cost That’s Based on the Number of Subscribers You’re Bringing In

It makes sense that some companies would sell their popup plugins with this pricing method. After all, they want to be able to benefit more from their “bigger” clients that are using the plugin, as well as keep it affordable for smaller clients who don’t have a huge budget or amount of traffic coming in.


It also means that your investment can fluctuate a ton, based on how successful your list-building strategies are.

An annual (or monthly) subscription that remains static

This is probably our favorite pricing method since it allows users to have a concrete idea of how much they’re investing in the popup plugin. The annual subscription model also gives developers a better idea of how many people are actively using their plugin and brings in enough income to justify adding more features and improvements to the software.

(This is the pricing model that the PopupAlly Pro plugin currently uses.)

In the end, the best WordPress popup plugin should be what you need it to be

If all you need is one maybe two opt-in choices for your email list building needs, you’ll probably do just fine with a free version of one of the “big name” popups, like PopupAlly.

And it’s ok to be satisfied with that.

But as you grow and you begin to diversify your opt-ins, you might find yourself wanting a more flexible popup plugin (or two). (Currently, we use two tools for our own needs: PopupAlly Pro and LeadPages.)

You might also be curious about how SumoMe vs. PopupAlly Pro compare.

Realistically, the more you dive into the strategies and benefits of list-building, the more your popup plugin investment will begin paying off.

So Why Wait Any Longer for List Building Amazingness?

Today we’re all committing to re-focusing on one of the business basics: email list building.

The 30 Day List Building Challenge is 100%, totally free, and can truly transform the quality of your email list. So if you’re ready to dive into this facet of running an online business (and totally justify your investment in the best WordPress popup plugin), sign up for free here and join us!