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How To Grow Your Email List Faster in WordPress

Last Updated on September 15th, 2021

Published on December 7th, 2020

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You can’t spend too long learning about building an online business these days without hearing about OptinMonster, the best-selling plugin that empowers you to grow your email list faster in WordPress with next to no technical expertise required.

The free version alone boasts over a million active installations while the popular premium version continues to be the email sign-up tool of choice for a veritable Who’s Who of well-names in the world of digital marketing.

When you think about it, this is hardly surprising.

Time and time again, marketing pros are quick to tell us about what a significant difference building a solid email list can make to the success of our business, but let’s be honest:

Few of us really have the time to invest in working on growing those lists, meaning they’re simply not very effective.

This is where OptinMonster promises to come to the rescue, minimizing the time it takes to get new sign-ups by making it quick and easy to create powerful pop-ups, email opt-in forms, and more.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to use the plugin yourself to start building the kind of email list that produces positive results for you and your business.

Why OptinMonster?

Though we’re focussing on OptinMonster today, it isn’t the only WordPress plugin for creating popups and other tools designed to encourage email signups.

Previously, we’ve looked at tools such as GetSiteControl, SendinBlue, and MailOptin among many others, but it’s OptinMonster that we find ourselves drawn back to time and time again.

This is partly because -as we’ll see later on- the free version contains everything you need to create some really attractive and effective email sign-up tools like pop-ups and full-page overlays, but it’s also because the premium version packs in even more invaluable features like content lockers and split testing.

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That’s not all. We’re also particularly fond of the fact that all of the editing, design, and configuration work is done on OptinMonster’s servers and not yours. If you know anything about site performance, you’ll know that some larger plugins can really make your website load slowly which can be seriously off-putting to visitors. With this option, all you need is a single lightweight plugin while all the heavy lifting is done elsewhere.

Finally, we also like the fact that OptinMonster operates as a Software as a Service solution, making it effortlessly scalable. As we’ll discuss in a moment, you can start with the free version and only pay for an upgrade once your site starts taking off, meaning you only ever pay for what you really need.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s easy to create stunning email capture tools in under 25 minutes? Here’s how it’s done:

How To Grow Your Email List Faster in WordPress With OptinMonster

how to grow email list faster with optimonster

Install and Activate OptinMonster

The good news is that you can get started with the free version of OptinMonster which provides most of the basic tools you need to start encouraging email sign-ups on your website.

If you decide to upgrade, the premium plan starts at $14.95 per month (billed annually) for a single-site Basic plan which allows you to create unlimited campaigns and includes advanced features such as:

  • Page Level Targeting
  • Basic reporting
  • Success messages
  • List segmentation
  • Subscriber recognition.

Plus other useful tools.

Other plans are billed at $30, $47, and $80 per month and are perfect for using on multiple sites or accessing more features such as:

  • A/B testing
  • Content locking (access this document by signing up with your email etc.)
  • Inactivity sensors
  • UTM Targeting.

and more.

Ultimately, the biggest factor determining which plan you opt for is the success of your site.

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The free plan works with sites of under a few thousand page views per month, while the basic premium plan is limited to 3,500 page views per month. After that, you’ll need to jump to the next tier of premium plans as your site grows.

For now, though, we’re going to start with the basic free version of the OptinMonster plugin.

Whether you opt for the free or premium version, the installation process is exactly the same. Download the plugin and upload it to your site either via FTP or via your WordPress dashboard, or for the free version, simply go to Plugins – Add New, search for OptinMonster and activate it that way as in the image above.

Go Through the OptinMonster On-Boarding Process

Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll spot a notification encouraging you to get started by creating an OptinMonster account. You really can’t use the plugin without this account, so let’s tackle that next.

First, click the ‘Get Started.’ Then, on the next screen, hit “Launch Setup Wizard.”

optinmonster login

From here, you’ll be guided through a series of questions that will help to ensure that your OptinMonster setup is optimized to achieve your goal. These questions are:

What Kind of Site Do You Have?

There’s a big difference between running a blog and a WooCommerce store, for example, so telling OptinMonster what kind of site you’re running helps to ensure you start on the right track.

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Which Email Service (if Any) Are You Using?

If you don’t already have an email marketing service setup, don’t worry, you can always do this later.

The good news is that OptinMonster is compatible with a whole range of leading services including, but by no means limited to:

What’s Your Goal With OptinMonster?

Setting Goals with Optinmonster

The plugin can be used to achieve any number of goals from reducing shopping cart abandonments to increasing conversions and even growing your social media following. For this guide, however, we’re going to stick to growing our email list.

With this done, OptinMonster will recommend which of its features are most suitable for helping you achieve that goal before inviting you to create a free account.

The great thing about this is that you can test-drive OptinMonster for free and then later take advantage of their 35% discount for account holders should you later choose to upgrade.

Create Your OptinMonster Account

On the next page, you’ll create your free account the same way that you create any other – by adding in your basic details. OptinMonster will ask for your credit card details at this stage, but that’s only as a means of preventing spam and you won’t be charged unless you purposefully decide to upgrade.

With that done, you’re ready to start using OptinMonster to grow your email list faster in WordPress.

Create Your First Campaign

After creating your account you’ll be left with a page that invites you to either head to the dashboard, check your advanced settings, or create your first campaign.

We’ll take a look at the settings later, but for now, let’s get into setting up that list-building campaign.

Clicking the “Create Your First Campaign” button will bring you to a nice and simple dashboard which gives you the option of creating multiple different campaign types including:

  • Pop-ups
  • Floating Bars
  • Full-screen overlays
  • Inline forms
  • Slide-in scroll boxes
  • Gamification options (coupon wheels etc.).

You’ll also find several attractive, pre-designed templates for each one of the campaign options.

If you need to get back to this page in the future, you can do so by going to OptinMonster – Templates from your WordPress dashboard.

While we’re already here though, let’s start by creating a popup as a means of encouraging visitors to your website to opt-in to your email list.

Create a Popup Campaign

First things first, select the “popup” option from the top of the screen then choose any one of the many free templates that come with it.

OptinMonster pop up campaign

The best part about this stage of the process is that you can preview each template to see how it looks. When you’ve one that works for you, all you have to do is hover over it and click ‘Use Template.’

In the resulting pop-up box, give your campaign a name then click ‘start building.’

This will bring up a handy, highly intuitive editor that functions in much the same way as popular WordPress website building tools like Elementor or WPBakery and is every bit as easy to use.

All of the customization options are neatly organized into a helpful menu. This means you can simply move from option to the next changing everything from the content (text and images) to the call to action, colors, fonts, and more.

Alternatively, you can simply click on each element of your popup to edit it much as you would with Elementor.

Editing Display Settings

As well as editing the look and feel of your popup, you can also customize the display settings, which gives you the freedom to determine how often people see it.

For example, you can choose to show the popup to your visitors every time they come to your site until they finally opt-in to your email list, after which you need never show it to them again, or you can choose to display it once every set number of days.

Editing Yes/No Options

If you’re a premium user, you’ll also have access to separate “yes/no” templates to make your pop up more interactive.

You’ll be familiar with how these work even if you’re not familiar with the name for them.

Ever seen a popup on a website that says something like “Want the secret to growing your email list faster in WordPress?”

You click “yes – tell me the secret” and this leads you to opt into a newsletter. You click “no” and the popup just disappears.

These are called “yes/no ” campaigns and are very effective for engaging visitors in the opt-in process and really selling the fact that they’ll gain something of value when they do.

Edit Your Success Message

When you’re completely happy with the way your popup looks, click the “Success” button across the top of the design screen as illustrated above.

This will allow you to edit the Success Message that appears once visitors have successfully opted into your email list.

This could be used simply to confirm that the user is good to go as in our example here, or you could even use it to further build your brand by linking to your latest offers or encouraging visitors to sign up to your social media profiles.

Editing Display Rules

Display Rules are different from the display settings we looked at earlier. While the latter determines how often visitors see your plugin and what causes it to stop being displayed, the Display Rules determine what conditions trigger the popup in the first place.

Personally, we think OptinMonster could have simplified and streamlined this whole process as it is a little bit of a head scratcher to have two very similarly-named options located on different screens.

Still, given how easy and intuitive the rest of this plugin is to use, we’ll consider that a minor grumble.

For the Display Rules, you’ll want to click the option in the top navigation menu as illustrated above.

This will bring up a list of all the options available to you for determining when your visitors will see the popup.

If you’re using the free version, you only have two options:

  1. Time on Page

The popup appears after visitors have been on your website for a specific number of seconds.

  1. Page Targeting

The popup appears when visitors land on a specific page or group of pages. For example, it could appear on your homepage, or any time a visitor lands on a page with the word “sale” in the URL.

You can also create and/or rules here. So, for example, you could determine that your popup appears when a user lands on your homepage and is there for at least 25 seconds.

If you sign up for the premium version, you also have other options available to you, including:

Exit Intent 

Triggers the popup when visitors go to leave your site

New Visitor

Only shows the popup the first time a person visits your site.


The popup appears when visitors click on a specific button, image, or text link.

Physical Location

The popup only appears for visitors in certain locations

Returning Visitors

Only triggers the popup on a person’s return visit to your site.

Referral Targeting

Only triggers the popup if a visitor is sent to your site from a specific website. This can be very useful for affiliates and cross-promotional partnerships.

Don’t Forget to Hit Save

As you’re setting up your popup, don’t forget to hit save as from what we can tell- there’s no autosave included.

You’ll find the save button located in the top right of the main OptinMonster navigation menu, so be sure to hit it regularly to avoid losing your hard work.

Setting Up Email Integrations

Of course, using a popup to quickly grow your email list is only going to work if you actually connect that popup to your preferred email mailing list service.

To do this, you must first select the “Integrations” option from the main navigation menu then select “+ Add New Integration” from the left-hand menu as shown above.

This will present you with a huge dropdown menu featuring the name of just about every major -and some not-so-major- mailing list services around.

For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to use MailChimp, but you can choose Aweber or any one of countless others.

Admittedly, this is where things start to get a little technical. The good news is that the helpful team behind this plugin does offer a helpful tutorial on how to connect OptinMonster with MailChimp. If you don’t have time to read that right now, here’s our Cliff Notes version.

First, head to Mailchimp and sign into (or sign up for) your account in the usual way.

When you’re in, click on your profile picture at the bottom of the left-hand menu, then click ‘Account.’

From the Account page, go to Extras – API Keys.

Scroll down to the box labeled Your API Keys and click the ‘Create a Key’ button.

That automatically creates an API key for you. To use it, simply copy the key (the long string of random characters) then head back to OptinMonster and paste it in the box labeled API Key.

While you’re there, you may also want to set an account label. This doesn’t affect the way you use OptinMonster in any way but does make it easy to organize your integrations, especially if you have multiple accounts with the same provider.

When you’re finished, click “Connect to MailChimp” and voilà, you’re set up and ready to go. Now, whenever somebody enters their email address into your popup, their details will automatically go into the email list you’ve been building on MailChimp.

Integrating OptinMonster With Other Mailing List Services

We chose MailChimp for this guide simply because it’s a breeze to use and we already had an existing account with them, but honestly, integrating OptinMonster with any other service is no more difficult than what you’ve just seen above.

The only challenge will come if you want to use the free version of this plugin with a mailing service that is restricted to free users. Certain services like ConstantContact and Hubspot can only be used with the premium version.

Integrating OptinMonster With Google Analytics

Having set up your email integration, you’re basically set to go live with your new popup, but if you decide that you really want to keep tabs on how effective that popup is, then you might want to first consider your analytics tools.

By default, OptinMonster comes with its own Analytics tool which gives you some valuable data about the success of your campaign.

However, if you’re already using Google Analytics to track other important site stats and want to keep all of your data in one place, then you can always integrate that tool into this one.

Doing that is every bit as simple as it was to create the API Key we looked at earlier. Select “Generate Authentication Code,” sign into the Google account associated with your Analytics setup, and get your code. Then, come back to OptinMonster, paste the code in the relevant box, and hit next.

From there, simply select which of the websites in your Google Analytics account you’re using OptinMonster with, and that’s another job done.

Publish Your Popup

That’s it. You’re done.

If you’re happy with your popup, click the “Publish” button in the main menu, preview it to make sure it’s exactly how you want it to look, then switch the Publish Status from Draft to Publish.

Other Ways To Grow Your Email List With OptinMonster

The beauty of OptinMonster is that once you’ve figured out how to set up one campaign type, you’ll instinctively know how to do the rest.

Setting up a full-page overlay or a side scroll follows exactly the same process as a popup or full-width bar.

Simply select a template, use the intuitive editing features to make it look exactly as you want it to look. Then, edit your display rules, integrate it with your email account (and possibly Google Analytics), hit publish and watch those email sign-ups start rolling in.

OptinMonster Plugin: The Faster Way to Grow Your Email List in WordPress

We started this guide by bemoaning the fact that sometimes many of us simply don’t have to invest in creating elaborate list-building campaigns. That’s precisely why we’ve become such big fans of OptinMonster.

The whole process we described above took us no more than 20 minutes from the moment we activated the plugin on our WordPress installation to the second we hit ‘Publish.

OK, so it could have taken us much longer had we spent more time during the design process, but the fact that OptinMonster comes with plenty of really attractive premade templates meant that we didn’t really have to.

The best part is that once you’ve installed the plugin, all of the actual work is done on OptinMonster’s servers, meaning there’s no chance of this one slowing down your website and affecting your performance, ensuring this is the faster way to grow your email list in every sense of the word.

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A team of WordPress experts that love to test out new WordPress related software, WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.