Using Holler Box to Set up Simple Pop-up Forms

Holler box logo

The ubiquitous pop-up box. Are they an essential email marketing tool? Or a necessary evil? What’s the best way to use them?

In this post, we’re going to talk about pop-up boxes (also known as modals) and specifically, using a WordPress plugin called Holler Box to set them up on your website. Why Holler Box? In brief: because it’s super simple and only takes about 30 seconds to install and configure.

Why pop-up boxes?

Before we continue, you may wonder: why bother setting up a pop-up box in the first place? Aren’t sidebar and footer subscription forms sufficient? In short: it depends. Overall, pop-ups have excellent conversion rates – typically better rates than other types of forms. Pop-ups are especially useful for creating email courses or drip campaigns.

The results of using conversion-focused pop-ups can be compelling. The University of Alberta had witnessed an increase in newsletter sign-ups when they introduced the sign-up form via a pop-up: from 1-2 sign ups a day they rose to 12-15 – still tiny numbers, but nonetheless a potent percentage increase.
Usability Geek

However, it’s important to not go overboard. Too many pop-ups too often can irritate users, damage your brand, and cause them to avoid visiting your website. In fact, Google began penalizing sites with obtrusive pop-ups last year. Tread carefully.

[Users] will thank you…if you work in a pop-up that elucidates rather than obfuscates, that prioritizes their needs rather than your conversion desires.

You may need to play the long-game, but judicious use of pop-ups and, as always, a focus on usability, will win users’ respect and ultimately, their loyalty.
Usability Geek

The moral of the story: use pop-ups, but use them wisely. Don’t abuse the goodwill of your readers.

Example Pop-up

Why Holler Box in particular?

Hopefully, now you understand the usefulness of pop-up/modal forms. But why use Holler Box in particular? One word: simplicity. Here at MailPoet, we’re big on being simple. While our plugin is no doubt powerful, its greatest strength is its lack of confusing menus, buzzing buttons, and menus-within-menus-within-menus.

Ultimately being successful online is about good content, and WordPress is all about content. We wanted to make it as painless as possible to get your blog posts to your readers.
Q&A with MailPoet, the WordPress email newsletter plugin, on

So, when we see an easy-to-use WordPress plugin that integrates with MailPoet, we get excited. Holler Box is a dead-simple freemium plugin that virtually any MailPoet user can make use of. According to our statistics dashboard, only about 1% of our users are using Holler Box. We think that it should be at least 10%! Now, let’s walk through setting up Holler Box with MailPoet.


Step 1: Download and install

Naturally, the first step is to download and install the Holler Box plugin. You can find it on the WordPress Plugin Repository. If you need extra features and support, you can purchase Holler Box Pro on their website.


Step 2: Setup and design

After you install the plugin, create a new box on the Add New Box page. Add your title and description and choose the type of box. While the standard “pop-up” is the standard choice, a “notification box” can also work well, as it won’t obscure the content on the page. “Faux Chat” is also a choice, although we prefer the other two options. When in doubt, go with a “notification box” – it’s less intrusive but still effective.

Holler Box Settings

Nothing irritates a user more than being interrupted while reading your content. Remember: the goal of good content is to build an audience. You can’t build an audience if you don’t let your readers read your content.


Step 3: Adding MailPoet

Now, let’s tie in MailPoet. Under Display select Show email opt-in. You’ll then be presented with a number of options. Click the first drop-down box and select MailPoet (and not MailChimp!) Then, choose a list.


While you can use an existing list, we recommend creating a new one specifically for the pop-up. Why? Because your pop-up should be specific! It should be tailored to the pop-up format – don’t just copy and paste the same email campaign from your sidebar or footer widgets.

Under the advanced settings, you can customize how and when your box will appear. Generally speaking, we recommend only displaying the “default” box to returning users and not every user. Otherwise, they may become fatigued with the constant pop-ups, especially if this is the first time they’re visiting your site.

Likewise, set the delay to be at least 10 seconds – no one likes a pop-up that appears immediately.

Tips and Tricks

Tips and tricks

And that’s it – Holler Box is now installed on your site. While the plugin may not be as powerful as some other WordPress options, it’s dead-simple to use and (most importantly) works with MailPoet in only one click. Now’s let’s review a few tips-and-tricks that you might find useful.

Set a pop-up for a specific page

What pages?

Want to make a pop-up display only on a particular page? It’s easy in Holler Box. Simply select Certain pages under What pages? and choose the page (or pages) that you want the pop-up to appear on.

We recommend creating as many customized pop-ups as possible. Rather than having one generic pop-up for your entire site, create an individualized one for each particular page. For example, the pop-up on your “Features” page should highlight the benefits that your product offers, while the pop-up on your “About” page should feature a personal message and encourage readers to personally interact with you and your team.

Create mobile-specific pop-ups


It’s important to always remember that your readers will access your page from a mobile phone or tablet. While it may seem irrelevant to the pop-up, it’s actually very important to pare-down the text for a mobile audience.

As such, you should create a specific pop-up for mobile devices. To do this, select Mobile Only under Devices. Remember to create another form for desktop web browsers.

Display the pop-up when users are about to leave

Exit Detection

One of the most effective times to display a pop-up is when the user is about to close the page. Typically, this means they are scrolling up toward the “X” on the tab at the top of the browser. Generally speaking, this type of pop-up is considered “too needy” and can irritate your users. However, if you frame the pop-up as something helpful (and not as something whiny and needy) it can still work well.

In Holler Box, you can set a pop-up to appear when the user is about to leave. To do this, simply select Exit Detection under When should we show it?

What do you use subscription pop-ups for? Do you use Holler Box or another plugin? Let us know in the comments!

Finally, want to know more tips and tricks for improving your signup forms and capturing more emails? Check out our definitive guide on improving your signup forms.