Faster and free alternatives to popular OptinMonster or SumoMe WordPress plugins.

WordPress Mobile Speed


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Like many people, you may hate website popups. What’s a popup? It’s that annoying type of window – or web element – opening over the top of content without your permission. Popups usually contain advertisements, chats, or a request you signup for a newsletter or email list. It may cover the entire page or just a corner. Popups can occur instantly or be timed. It may happen only once or incessantly on every single page and post.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he popup problem is mainly about usage. They’re an intrusive, in-your-face, artificial-urgent-appeal to divulge your email address or engage in a sales pitch. They happen when you arrive on a page – or as you’re leaving a page (called exit intent).

Demonstration of “exit intent” and a large popup using OptinMonster. Bad UX! This thwarts the user. Frustration and annoyance!

Popup plugins will *not* force people to sign up. But the goal is collecting leads and generating more sales. Sounds noble.

Even though some popups are inoffensive and look nice, most deliver a bad user experience. They often cause so much animated shaking-shuddering-swinging screen action it ruins all good user experience. They then are frustrating and annoying – and even as disturbing as sparking a blue-static-arc on a cold metal doorknob. Painful and jarring.

We rarely see popups used in inoffensive and unobtrusive ways. Site owners simply abuse popups thinking the more *visual noise* the better for communicating or grabbing attention. It’s not fun – it’s usually repellent. It’s garishly ugly. It’s shouting indoors.

The worst and biggest popup offender is OptinMonster plugin, first created in 2013. It uses an API that adds 385 milliseconds of load time to every page. And costs a minimum of $9 per month. What? The pro version is $29 per month. That’s terrible. There is no free version. Yet this plugin resides in the free WordPress plugin directory. What the heck is OptinMonster doing in the free plugin directory?

OptinMonster smacks of slowness with a 1.1 megabyte zip download and requiring an API (application programming interface). It has a whopping 4 million downloads with 1 million+ active installs. With those numbers it, must be good. Right? But these guys are robbing people. Why isn’t anyone complaining? Why no one is complaining defies reason.

Perhaps we made a mistake. Are we sure OptinMonster isn’t free? Yes. We double checked. And while it appears free, it’s not.

If you download OptinMonster and install it, you can’t use it until you install the API. It does nothing. You’re locked out. So you click a link and you’re taken to a typical 3-tier plan where you select how much you’ll pay per month (but it’s an upfront annual payment). Then you get your API key to use the so-called *free* plugin. That’s not free in our opinion. Do you think it’s free – just because it’s in the free plugin directory? This is a bait-and-switch ploy. Only there isn’t even any tasty bait to chew on.

So a little math: $9 x 12 months = $108 per year (minimum) x 1 million active installs = $108 million dollars per year. Now we suppose some installations don’t have APIs activated and are just laying there dormant. But that’s still a lot of cash. Those poor users could get something with less “in-your-face” and a more pleasant user experience for free.

We have yet to see an OptinMonster plugin review that isn’t an affiliate link. The reporting is self-serving and biased.

What is the better, faster and free popup plugin?

Holler Box (125k download) does all the essential OptinMonster functions for free – plus some – and doesn’t weigh a ton. Hollarbox is lightweight and loads fast.

Holler Box – WordPress Popup Plugin for eCommerce
Load Time: 20 milliseconds

This small plugin uses only 3 calls (HTTP requests). 2.8k, 3.6k, and 3.8k loaded in parallel. That’s about 10k. Estimated load time: less than 40 milliseconds. But not on every page – only where it’s used (selective activation). Holler Box is a nice, lightweight plugin built correctly for mobile speed.

So don’t put a monster on your page.

We also want to mention this alternative plugin:

Easy WordPress Subscribe – Optin Hound
Active installs: 2,000+
Zip file size: 475k

Load Time: 40 milliseconds

Opt-in Hound only adds 2 local script calls with 7k page weight. Less than 100 milliseconds of drag loaded in parallel with other assets. Very fast.

Our recent speed tests show SumoMe pop-up plugin adds 800k of page weight globally (site drag) and 1.7 seconds of assets loaded in parallel with 20 HTTP requests. Avoid this slow plugin! Active installs: 100,000+, zip file size: 1.6M.

Also, have you noticed just how many websites desperately want you to sign up for their newsletter? … this is also super popular with retailers. From Barnes & Noble to Aritzia, Fluevog to Linus Bicycles, these things are seemingly everywhere. Get a nominal coupon in exchange for being sent an email you won’t read every day until forever — I don’t think so.


A kind letter from Angie Meeker about OptinMonster improvements:

Hey Steve,
Angie Meeker here from OptinMonster, Customer Success and Operations Manager. I was checking out your article on our WordPress plugin that was updated in May. It looks like you haven’t seen yet that we do indeed offer a free plan so I wanted to make sure you understood why you aren’t seeing it yourself. 

If you already have the plugin installed and connected to your existing OptinMonster account, you won’t see that option because, of course, you already have an account. However, if you install a fresh version of the plugin (perhaps on a Local site), you’ll see the options to either connect to an existing account, or register a free one.

Our Forever Free plan is available only to users of our WordPress plugin, and includes 2 campaigns, five campaign types and up to 500 campaign impressions per month. Our Forever Free subscription includes all of the features of our Basic subscription. It’s a great option for users just getting started with lead generation or who are still building traffic to their websites. You can see detailed screenshots of the process to register a new free account here:

We launched this plan in October 2020. You can see from our reviews on that users are loving the free option: We even offer to build their first campaign at no cost, even for free users.

I think some of the confusion may come because OptinMonster is a SaaS product, not simply a WordPress plugin. For years, our free WordPress plugin has unlocked additional functionality for our users who choose WordPress as their CMS. Using the plugin…

  • They have the option to target categories and tags even when their permalink structure doesn’t allow it from within our SaaS product.
  • They can use WordPress shortcodes in any campaign. That means they can use the shortcodes from their favorite form builder to add complex, custom forms to their OptinMonster campaigns, or even WooCommerce shortcodes.
  • It provides deeper integrations with ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, and provides a way for other developers to extend the functionality of OptinMonster within the WordPress ecosystem.
  • It even lets you place inline campaigns using a widget, or a Gutenberg block. 

All of that extended functionality is wrapped up in our WordPress plugin. For that reason, the plugin has resided in the WordPress plugin repo for years as a totally free plugin, in the same way HubSpot, MailChimp, SalesForce and many other SaaS products have connector plugins that provide additional functionality at no cost. Then, recently, we added the option to also register a free OptinMonster account through the plugin directly, as an added benefit for the WordPress community.

We do offer monthly subscriptions in addition to annual ones. Annual pricing is found at and monthly pricing at The monthly pricing link is found in the FAQ at the bottom of the pricing page:

And, we’ve also made significant improvements to the plugin’s load times since early this year, too. That said, anytime we get a report of someone’s site loading more slowly because of the plugin, we’re happy to take a look to see if we can help. Oftentimes, we’re able to help resolve those issues directly.

If you have any questions about OptinMonster or need clarity on anything I’ve shared above, feel free to hit reply and let me know. I’m happy to help.

Whether you choose to update your article as a result is entirely up to you. Of course, I hope you will :-) but more importantly, I wanted to share some resolutions to your key questions. You took the time to investigate OptinMonster which we appreciate, and we clearly could have done a better job at making the answers to your questions more obvious when you did.

Best wishes for your success,

So does PagePipe now advocate or affiliate with OptinMonster? Sorry. Still no plugin love from us.

We love Angie but we do not love OptinMonster. We thought it fairest — since Angie worked so hard explaining.

We think popups are a bane for user experience and speed. We hate popups. They’re annoying and intrusive. So even free and theoretically faster isn’t good enough. We don’t want plugins that use APIs. They cause server delays.


Steve Teare
performance engineer
May 2022


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