Warning: Using pop ups will grow your email list fast

Zero to email marketingIf you are just starting out blogging or waking up to the the power of having an email list then this post is for you. Back in the summer I realised that my personal blog was growing fast and I actually needed to have an email list to support my blogging and maintain relations with my readers.

I did a little research and decided that as blogging is a business – it costs me time and effect to create useful blog posts.  I needed to grow my email list with more than a half-hearted effort. I decided that I would use a pop-up to capture the data as I had read that they were the most effective list building tools.

I know not everyone likes them and some people are Pop-Up blind and just automatically close them but they still work, so I’d give them a try. At the very least I’d have enough research and testing to be able to write blog post about them :)

For the purposes of comparison I only used the basic options of each form, the minimum requirement. All of the list gathering tools have extensive customisation options and can be completely customised to fit the look of your blog or website. All except Aweber require an external email list management software to store the email addresses that you gather.

The killer question: which email Pop-Up system works the best?

I used Aweber’s lightbox to start with.

The Look -

Aweber email lightbox

Aweber  – email list building service with multiple web form options.

Cost – $19 a month as part of using Aweber to build your list.

Technical skills needed – The ability to customise your web form settings and the ability to add HTML to the right part of your theme. Suitable for beginners.

Sites supported: Any site that you can add a snippet of Javascript to (so not just WordPress blogs, but other sites too)

Support: Not used but ample videos and tutorials available.

In a week the Aweber lightbox captured 19 email addresses.

I have to admit that if this was a coaching client getting these results I would have been pleased. But it was for me and I wanted better results. Okay, as we are being honest here I’ll share with you – I wanted more and I wanted the email addresses faster.

Pop-Up Domination

Created and marketed by Michael Dunlop (a fellow Brit) this plugin was next on my list. I’d read great things about Pop-Up Domination in forums and was quite excited by the thought of trying it out. This pop-up is the darling of internet marketers everywhere.

The Look

pop up dominations

How Pop-Up Domination is described

  • WordPress Plugin & Stand Alone Version
  • 7 Beautiful themes with 15 Colour Options
  • Works with ALL mailing list providers
  • Works with all caching software
  • Select specific pages for PopUp to appear
  • Exit PopUp functionality
  • PopUp after a certain number of impressions

Cost: at the time of purchasing it was approx $77 for a one site, personal license + taxes

Technical skills: I grabbed a copy. Clickbank doesn’t like me and didn’t make it easy for me to download. I also didn’t like that VAT (sales tax) was added after, I thought I was purchasing at one price point and it turned out to be a higher price point.

I installed it with ease and activated the plugin. I adjusted the settings so the Pop-Up showed after 30 seconds and I tweaked the settings, I did not play around with any CSS, I used the standard look, added the Aweber list code and unleashed it upon my readers. Suitable for beginners to intermediate.

Sites supported: WordPress

Support: Videos and  support system, still awaiting a reply from support ticket submitted in May 2011

In a week this captured another 30 email addresses, another good result.

WP Subscribers

I read a review of WP Subscribers and thought hmm, might be worth a try. So I purchased a copy, again it was from Clickbank and I jumped through the multiple hoops required of me to download the plugin. Jenni R the creator is based in Japan.

The Look -

wp subscribers

How WP Subscribers is described

  • Add An Optin Form with a “lightbox” (a popup with the background darkened, so that all your visitor sees is your Optin Offer, so they either have to subscribe or dismiss your form in order to see the page underneath…)
  • Have a Footer Bar or Header Bar Opt-In Form — especially if you want to attract the visitor’s attention, but not hit them with an “in your face” popup requiring them to take action
  • Display hidden content: Rarely seen outside of expensive WordPress membership software, but you can have it — get your visitors salivating to see more, and show it to them after they’ve opted in.
  • Subscribe on commenting: Get the ideal subscribers — those folks already commenting on your blog … this makes it super simple for them to do — all they have to do is click a checkbox…
  • Subscribe on registration: Not something most blogs offer, but if you offer user registration, why not make it so it adds them to your email list (the one of your choosing, of course!)
  • Put a “Subscribe” Box In All Your Posts: Hey, a sweet, quiet, simple request for them to signup to your email list to get more … you just gave them great content, show them how to keep getting more (note from Sarah, I use this option here)
  • Put a “Subscribe” Box In Particular Posts…(shhhh…remember the “Get The Rest Of This” from the Optin statistics above? He split a great post into two, kept the first half in the post and the second half in a pdf. The visitor had to opt-in to the subscribe form in the post to get the second half.)
  • Create a “Cascade” of Exit Popups…under precise “fighter pilot” control…each popup with its own content, each sending the user to a unique URL…and you can add the “cascade” to all your pages or any of your pages…you choose…!
  • Put Your “Subscribe” Form anywhere you want on your WordPress blog…

Cost: Approximate price at time of purchase $97 for multisite license or $47 for 3 site license.

Technical Skills: Uploading caused a small hiccup. The standard WordPress site has a limited upload of 2mbs. This is ample for a normal plugin upload.  I needed to raise the upload limit to have WP Subscribers installed via the WordPress dashboard. Once installed I nearly cried. At first glance it can be overwhelming but there are plenty of videos showing you how to customise the the opt-in forms and after 45 minutes I had an opt-in pop-up and an under content box showing under each post. Suitable for beginner to intermediate.

Sites supported: WordPress

Support: Lots of video tutorials and Jenni the creator is very responsive to potential problems. An issue that was nothing to do with the plugin was resolved by Jenni in 30 minutes – support above and beyond what is promised.

In a day I had 30 new email addresses. In ten days my list was 250 emails.

It converted it’s socks off and I am not using all of WP Subscribers full functionality, I am using  just a fraction. One of the things that I like about WP Subscribers is it’s suitability to capture subscribers under a comment via a tick box (great if your really hate pop-ups) and the ability to add the readers email address and name for them, all they have to do is hit submit!


A gentle pop up for those that don’t really email newsletter pop-ups. I don’t know why I wanted to have Pippity, I find the ability to control when and where the Pop Up appears intriguing. Pippity is created by the team behind the Headway theme.

The Look -

pippity pop ups

How Pippity is described

  • Create your first popup in 5 minutes
  • Choose from 12 designs (+6 popup bars)
  • Easily customize images, fonts, colors and overlay to craft the perfect popup for your site
  • See your popup in real-time as you edit
  • Quickly add product images
  • Easily add bulleted lists
Cost: $49 for one site at time of purchase, this is for a one year subscription.
Technical Skills: More fiddly than I thought it would be but otherwise suitable for a beginner. Possibly the easiest Pop-Up  out of all that I mention here to customise, no CSS needed.  With the exception of Aweber, the Pippity email form is the easiest to create.
Sites supported: WordPress
Support: Again plenty of video. I emailed a question in and 2 weeks later I am still awaiting a response. Have to confess to being a bit disappointed about that.
In 3 weeks 21 new subscribers.

Conclusion: Which Pop Up Works best to grow your email list?

  • If you wish to build your email list fast, WP Subscribers is the tool to do it. The majority of my list has been built using this highly converting Pop-Up. Zero to 250 subscribers in 10 days.
  • If you have never used a Pop-Up before then Pippity is a good starting point, it is gentle and it does work. If Pop-Ups have never bothered you and you want list building on steroids, the WP subscribers is the way to go.
  • If you have read this and don’t have a WordPress site, the Aweber lightbox is the tool for you to build your email list.
#Notes to the “first time user” you need an email account with a service like Aweber to fully utilise these pop-ups, they work together with the email service and they are not stand alone products
Also if affiliate marketing is your “thing” and you wish to promote the pop-up that you have chosen for your list building, all of the above pop-ups  have affiliate schemes.
This post is a variation on a guest post  that I have written for Denise Wakeman’s blog  – Zero to Email List
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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
You want your blog to make a difference, so subscribe hereand stay in touch, my updates will help you achieve content marketing success.


  1. Hi Sarah,

    These are awesome links and great information. Honestly speaking I yet have to start working on my email list and had no idea there were so many options and how to go about pop-ups as well.

    Thanks for sharing this information with everyone :)

    • Thanks for dropping by Harleena
      Pop ups are not for everyone (even the gentle ones) but you don’t have use them like a loon and I think that makes a difference.

  2. Way useful this post Sarah. I’ve just got WP subscribers and plan on using it but I have a question—Can you customize it to pop up on just certain posts, and not all of them??

    Thanks for all you do,


    • Hey Marcus good to see you here :)
      When you have created your first pop up with WP Subscribers check the settings that prevent it from popping on every page. Then go to the posts of pages of where you would like it to show. In “edit” mode you will see some additional settings under your content box and in these settings you enable the pop-up just to show for these pages.

      You can also adjust the settings so that it only shows to non-subscribers.

      Enjoy :)

  3. I haven’t tried pop ups yet, but would like to build the 8pm Warrior community larger.

    Do you ever get complaints/push back on pop ups?

    • I have had one, when a member of the community went nuts and said the pop-up was being rammed down her throat at every opportunity. I asked when this happened and she admitted it had popped once and she never saw it again…

  4. Thanks for this great list. I’m currently using Pop Up Domination for my pop up’s which works really well. I also use Aweber to build my list.

    Am looking into WP Subscriber so appreciate the review:)

    • I think you will love it :)

  5. Sarah thanks for suggesting I check out this post.
    Really useful reviews and I am seriously tempted by wp-subscribers
    I’m looking forward to dipping into many more of your engaging, informative and ‘down right useful’ blogs.
    p.s. I’m subscribing to your newsletter to stay in touch
    p.s I thought you were awesome at Kimberly’s Marketing Masters Series Event yesterday and hope that you. You were the most genuine speaker, had a calm air of authority and exuded expertise!
    (Your cupcake stories were awesome!)

    • Hey Hannah, great to meet you too yesterday – what great work you do in leadership. I am going to have to grab a guest post from you for Birds on the Blog.

      Those cupcake ladies kept my phone tied up for hours! Hours I tell you…. until I created a blog post to educate them :)

      WP-Subscribers has more features than I can explain and Jenni the coder is very helpful. I am still waiting to hear back from they guys at Pop-Up domination… customer service isn’t their strong point.

      Thanks for subscribing and your kind words :)

  6. In my opinion, pop-ups are a pain. If I go to a site, it’s to read the content. If I like it and want to subscribe, then I look for a way to do it. Pop-ups annoy me so much that I don’t just close the pop-up box, I close the entire website. To me, it’s like trying to read something, and having the author physically stand in the way to get my email address; very rude. Perhaps I’m not the typical reader though.

    I wonder if there is a correlation between the time it takes for the pop-up to appear, and the time it takes for some users to close the site entirely.

  7. I have to agree – the pop box on my site is great and makes a massive difference to my list – and since January – my list has grown by 15% and that was with no targeted activity – like a teleclass etc…and I do think the blog pop up is a great place as in the end if you like what you see you want to stay connected,,,and it’s almost (not quite) criminal to not make it easy for people to connect with you easily…love the fact that you really do all the testing…it makes it so wonderful for me to just go with what you say ….

  8. You have really done your homework here Sarah! yes there are times when I am trying to read someones post and those annoying things just keep popping up!! I have not tryed them on my website nor will I. I have been told they work But!! Everyone has a choice and I choose NOT Thanks for sharing Chery :)

  9. Thanks for this informative article. I have been a little shy with popups myself…although I have purchased several. You give me confidence to use them more. Thanks for all the details. This is very useful! Thanks, again.

    • Go have fun with them Teresa, they all have a lot of options so you can pick and chose the settings until you find one you are comfortable with.

  10. Popup domination has always slowed down my sites, and often takes forever to load. I would not recommend getting it.

    • Hi Faraaz, I was done with them when it had a WP conflict and service / support didn’t respond. Rumour has it there’s a new version coming out and I for one will not be bothering with it.

  11. Hi Sarah. I’m glad I ran across this post. I have a light box plug that I have incorporated into my blog since I changed to a new WordPress platform. I think I’ll dust it off and give it a try.

    All the best,

  12. Thank you so much for this fantastic article. It was exactly what I was looking for and provided me with great information to start building my email list with pop ups! I am going to look into WP Subscribers immediately. Thanks again!

    • Hey Julia, hope you love it as much as I do :)



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