What Is a Lightbox Popup and How to Create It (In 5 Easy Steps)

Last updated on


how to create a lightbox popup

Are you looking for an easy way to capture more leads on your website? Do you want to learn how to create a lightbox popup without spending too much time?

On average, popups convert anywhere between 1-8% on an average and lightbox popups are one of the best ways to grab visitors’ attention. Some OptinMonster customers who have used lightbox popups have improved their conversion rate by as much as 600%.

With a lightbox popup, you can:

  • Drive traffic to your best content
  • Grow your email list
  • Increase sales

We have created this step-by-step tutorial for you on how to create a lightbox popup and help you improve your lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over the following topics:

  1. What Is a Lightbox Popup
  2. Why Lightbox Popups Convert So Well
  3. How To Create a Lightbox Popup with OptinMonster
  4. Lightbox Website Examples From Real-Life Brands

If you are ready to create a lightbox popup, you can jump to the step-by-step tutorial right away.

What Is a Lightbox Popup?

A lightbox popup is a design overlay that appears on a webpage you’re viewing. Like any other popup, the job of a lightbox popup is to attract visitors’ attention to a relevant offer with a call to action (CTA). Lightbox popups (also called modal popups or website lightbox popups) are most commonly used as optin campaigns for capturing email addresses.

But you can also use lightbox popups for other use cases, such as:

Think of lightbox popups like the movie screen in a theater. When the movie comes up, everything around you goes dark. This automatically leads the audience to bring their full focus to the screen.

It’s the same with lightbox popups. When it shows up on a page, the background goes dark, and the popup’s content stands out.

Here’s an example of the website lightbox popup that we will create today:

what is a lightbox popup

The best part about lightbox popups is that they convert like crazy! Crush Empire used the website lightbox popup below to convert 12.40% of its website visitors.

what is a lightbox

Kampanjjakt increased its conversions by 800% with OptinMonster’s lightbox popup forms along with its custom API:

lightbox popup examples

So what makes website lightbox popups click? Let’s go over some proven facts.

5 Reasons Why Lightbox Popups Convert Well

Lightbox popups capture more emails than the traditional email optin forms. Here are the top 5 reasons why a lightbox popup is a great lead generation tool.

1. Lightbox Popups Are Eye-Catching

Lightbox popups are hard to ignore.

You can’t say the same thing about a website notification banner, an online ad, or a push notification. Research shows that buyers are getting used to ignoring online ads. People will ignore anything on their screen that’s not relevant, personalized, or attention-grabbing.

But lightbox popups are different.

For visitors to ignore a lightbox popup, they have to click on the cancel icon or outside the popup area. But they don’t necessarily have to make an effort to ignore other design overlays like notification banners, ads, or cookie consent notifications.

They can sit idle in one corner of the website without people taking notice.

Website lightbox popups that use animations, like the one below, are even more engaging:

animated popup

However, personalization is the key to making lightbox popups work better. You should always trigger them at the right moment, to the right visitors, with the right offer. We’ll talk more about personalization in just a bit.

2. Lightbox Popups Feature One, Clear CTA

Lightbox popups minimize distractions and bring visitors’ attention to a single CTA for them to click. Visitors who see a lightbox popup don’t have to deal with choice paralysis.

That’s because when a lightbox popup shows up on the screen, the background around it goes dim. By contrast, the content on the lightbox appears more prominent and eye-catching.

To make the conversion from lightbox website popups even better, make your offer attractive to your audience. If your goal is to grow an email list, use a copy that communicates the value of joining the community.

Here’s a lightbox website example from Adam Enfroy. This lightbox popup helped him gain 11,000+ email subscribers in just 1 year!

why you need lightbox popup

Pro-tip: Want to know what it takes to grow your email list with popups? Read our guide on email popup best practices and examples.

3. Timed Lightbox Popups Offer a Personalized Experience

Popups can be pretty annoying if they are irrelevant or interrupt your browsing experience. Like online ads and cookie consent notifications, people grow conditioned to ignore popups entirely if they become annoying. This is known as popup blindness.

But if you know when and how to use lightbox popups on a website, you can offer the site visitors an interactive, personalized user experience (UX). Research shows that personalization can encourage buyers to spend 38% more on average.

The good news is that you can trigger lightbox popups based on specific parameters or user behaviors. OptinMonster lets you launch lightbox popups based on several criteria:

  • Time on site (or number of pages viewed)
  • Scroll time (or time on page)
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Specific date or time
  • User segmentation
  • Returning visitors
  • Exit intent

To make customer journeys contextual and fulfilling, you can control exactly when or where your lightbox popup appears. This, in turn, leads to higher conversions and increased sales.

The key to personalizing user experience is to think about your visitors’ intent or the page they are on at the time of their browsing.

Pro-tip: Want to create hyper-personalized lightbox popups? Check out our guide on how to use Smart Tags in OptinMonster.

Smart Tags are code snippets that allow you to add dynamic text to your campaign, such as a customer’s first name, previously purchased products, or their company’s URL addresses.

4. Lightbox Popups Go Well With Incentives

Coupon marketing is amazing, and it works really well with lightbox popups. Let’s look at some statistics on just how powerful coupons are:

Offering coupons and discount codes is a great way to help people make up their minds about buying. Popup coupon promotions generally work better than sharing coupons via email or social media.

That’s because visitors can see and redeem popup coupons in real time. With popup coupons, there’s less time and friction involved between seeing a promo and applying it on the checkout page.

The context switching in popup coupons is also less. Context switching from one unrelated task to another is tiring. Customers can drop out between copying a coupon code from their email, leaving their inbox, and going to the pricing page.

But with popup coupons, you can add a CTA button that takes the buyers directly to the checkout page with the promo code already applied to their purchase.

5. Lightbox Popups Are Great for Recovering Abandoned Carts

70% of visitors who abandon your site never come back again. This means losing money in customer acquisition and wasting your marketing efforts.

You can turn things around with an exit-intent popup. OptinMonster’s Exit-Intent® Technology can help you convert 2-4% of your visitors into paying customers.

OptinMonster’s Exit-Intent® Technology tracks the mouse movement of your visitor. The lightbox popup appears when visitors move their cursor toward the top of the page, getting ready to close the window.

exit intent popup

The Exit-Intent Technology works differently on mobile devices. Instead of tracking mouse movements, it launches a popup when users:

  • Scroll up on their mobile screen
  • Hit the back button on their mobile browser

Lightbox popups triggered right before a visitor’s exit can help them change their minds. It gives them one last chance to convert, which means additional sales from almost-lost customers.

Pro-tip: Want inspiration to design the perfect exit-intent popup campaign? Head over to our exit-intent popup examples gallery.

Now that you know why lightbox popups convert so well, let’s go over the step-by-step tutorial on how  %to create a lightbox popup.

How To Create a Lightbox Popup in OptinMonster

OptinMonster offers the easiest way to create lightbox popups on a website. OptinMonster is the best lead generation software and WordPress plugin that comes with powerful functionalities:

  • 100+ ready-to-use templates
  • Easy drag-and-drop designer
  • Targeting triggers and campaigns
  • Exit-Intent® Technology
  • A/B split testing
  • Actionable insights
  • Integrations with all major marketing, eCommerce, and website builders

The level of personalization that OptinMonster offers can help you increase the user experience and drastically improve your conversions.

For today’s tutorial, we’ll focus on creating a simple lightbox popup.

BONUS: Done-For-You Campaign Setup ($297 value)Our conversion experts will design 1 free campaign for you to get maximum results – absolutely FREE! Click here to get started →

If you want to learn how to create a lightbox popup visually, here’s a video tutorial:

If you want to follow a written guide, let’s get to it step-by-step:

Step 1: Create a Campaign

Start by signing up for OptinMonster or log in to your existing account. Once you’re logged in, click on the green Create New Campaign button:

website lightbox popup

You’ll see the following 3 options on your screen. Select Templates.

lightbox popup tutorial

On the next screen, you’ll see different campaign options. To create a lightbox popup, we’ll choose Popup.

how to create a lightbox popup

Here, you can choose from 100+ professionally designed popup templates for your website lightbox design.

For this tutorial, we’ll choose the Subscribe to Newsletter template to keep things simple. It’s the perfect campaign template for growing an email list:

how to create a lightbox

Now, give your campaign a name. The name is for your use only, and it’ll help you easily locate the campaign in your Campaigns dashboard.

what is lightbox popup

At this point, you can also add the website where you plan the popup to appear. Or, you can skip it for now and select the website before you publish your campaign.

Finally, click on Start Building when you’re ready to create the campaign. This will take you to OptinMonster’s campaign editor.

how to create a lightbox

Step 2: Customize Your Campaign

Customizing your campaign is important (and fun) because you can design it to reflect your website’s brand colors, font types, and other aspects of the brand personality.

So how do we do that in OptinMonster? Just point and click. It’s that simple.

For editing a text field, go over the desired text area and click once. You’ll also see plenty of menu options for customizations on the left sidebar:

example lightbox popup

You can add other elements to your popups, like columns, images, embedded forms, countdown timers, videos, HTML widgets, or custom CSS. For that, you need to click on the home icon at the top-right of the menu.

lightbox examples

To add new elements, click and drag a block from the menu and drop it into the editing canvas. Here, we added a divider and spacer widgets just for demo purposes.

animated lightbox popup

We’ll change the popup’s text fields and replace the CTA button to make it suitable for a newsletter subscription popup. We’ll also change its background color to make sure it stands out:

customize lightbox popup

Don’t forget to hit Save on the top-right of your screen to make sure you don’t lose the customizations you’ve made so far.

lightbox popups

Once your campaign looks the way you want, you’re ready to set your display and targeting rules.

Step 3: Set Display Rules

Display rules let you control who sees your lightbox popup campaign on your site, where it shows up, and when.

By default, all campaigns are set to display on any page after 5 seconds.

To edit the default settings, click on the Display Rules tab on the top of your screen and click on the Edit button:

optinmonster lightbox popup

You can either click on the drop-down menus to edit the default ruleset or on the Add a New Ruleset button on the left to create your own rulesets.

popup lightbox

For this tutorial, let’s choose the Exit Intent® rule from the When (Triggers) option.

exit intent popup tutorial

Most of our customers have had great success with exit-intent popups. Here are a few case studies:

Next, we’ll pair exit detected with on desktop devices only since a lot of people don’t prefer reading newsletters on mobile devices.

lightbox pop-up

Similarly, we’ll select the current URL path and contains to pair them with the /blog URL suffix.

best lightbox popup designer

This ensures that the lightbox popup only appears on your blog page when the visitors are about to exit it from their desktop browsers.

It’s important to carefully select the display rules so that you don’t annoy your visitors with irrelevant popups that interfere with their user experience.

There’s so much you can do with OptinMonster’s Display Rules engine, from creating follow-up campaigns to setting up onsite retargeting.

Pro-tip: Don’t want your existing subscribers to see the lightbox popup? Read our guide on how to hide popups from your existing subscribers.

When you’re ready, we’ll move on to setting up an integration with your preferred email marketing software.

Step 4: Set Up Your Email Integrations

When your lightbox popup starts collecting leads, you’ll need someplace to store them.

OptinMonsters integrates with all the top email marketing platforms so you can automatically push new leads to your existing email database.

To do that, go to the Integrations tab from the menu at the top.

lightbox popup integration

Next, you can either search for your email marketing platform or scroll through the page to find it.

how to integrate light box pop up

If you use Constant Contact, for instance, you’ll need to log in to your Constant Contact account to proceed with the integration.

constant contact

But what if you don’t use an email marketing platform? You can connect with Monster Leads.

monster leads

Monster Leads is a lead storage tool built right within OptinMonster’s dashboard. It allows you to manage leads without buying an email marketing service provider.

While you can’t use it to send emails to leads, Monster Leads lets you send them via your own email client.

To make the most of Monster Leads, read our guide on how to connect Monster Leads with OptinMonster.

When you click on Monster Leads from the Integrations page, you’ll see the following fields:

monster leads lightbox popup integration

Once you’re done updating the form fields, click Save to activate Monster Leads for your lightbox popup campaign.

lightbox popups

You’re almost ready to publish the lightbox popup on your website!

Step 5: Publish Your Lightbox Popup Campaign

Click on the Publish tab from the menu.

best lightbox pop up

You will see the campaign summary on the right sidebar. Take a minute to double-check if your settings and display rules are set the way you want.


Here, you can enter one of your website’s URLs to test the lightbox popup. Or, you can select or add a new website for the popup to show up on.

how to embed a lightbox pop up

Once you add a website for the popup to launch, hit the Publish button or schedule the campaign to show up between a specific date and time.embed lightbox popup

If you want to learn the nuances of embedding the popup across your site or only in specific places, read our guide on how to embed your campaigns on your site.

And that’s it! Here’s how the lightbox popup looks on a website after we published it!

what is a lightbox popup

Next, let’s go over 6 lightbox website examples so that you can decide what’s best for your site.

6 Lightbox Website Examples To Consider

Here are 6 real-world lightbox website examples that can help you decide what kind of popup campaign you want to run on your website.

1. Promotional Lightbox Popup

Paint Your Life uses a promotional lightbox popup campaign to drive signups for its website. With this particular lightbox, Paint Your Life converted 28.57% of website visitors to email subscribers.

lightbox popup for website

2. Mobile Lightbox Popup

Google is known to penalize rankings of websites that use interstitial ads or popups on their mobile sites.

Salt Strong was already using lightbox website popups to generate leads. But the fear of Google’s penalty was holding it back from replicating this strategy on mobile websites.

After learning that OptinMonster optins passes Google’s mobile penalty test, Salt Strong created the following mobile lightbox popup. The campaign helped them convert 3.8% of mobile readers.

mobile lightbox popup

3. Email Newsletter Lightbox Popup

Brands asking visitors to sign up for their email newsletter is one of the most common uses of lightbox popups. It’s the most effective way to engage with your target audience and grow your email list.

Leite’s Culinaria uses a similar lightbox popup to persuade its website visitors to sign up for a weekly newsletter.

popup examples lightbox

4. Lightbox Popup Form

While it’s rare for online businesses to use lightbox popups for signup forms, it’s not completely unheard of. Quora uses a lightbox website popup form for visitors who want to read, upvote, or reply to threads.

quora popup

Pro-tip: Want to apply a similar feature to your blog page? Check out OptinMonster’s Content Lock feature. It lets you lock your most sought-after content pieces and incentivizes visitors to sign up for your site. To learn more, read how to use OptinMonster’s Content Locking feature.

5. Content Upgrade Lightbox Popup

Like a lead magnet, a content upgrade is a piece of bonus content you offer to site visitors in exchange for signing up.

Here, you can see Razor Social’s lightbox popup example on their website. The popup campaign got them over a 520% increase in conversions.

what are some examples of lightbox popup

6. Exit-Intent Lightbox Popup

Expat.com created this exit-intent lightbox popup on their website and converted 2.09% of abandoning visitors.

It might not sound like much, but this campaign helped them add tens of thousands of visitors to their community each month.

exit intent lightbox popup example

Ready To Illuminate Your Site With a Lightbox Popup?

Now you know all about lightbox website popups and how to create one using OptinMonster! Do you want to create a lightbox popup and publish it on your website? Sign up for OptinMonster today.

Get Started With OptinMonster Today!
BONUS: Done-For-You Campaign Setup ($297 value) Our conversion experts will design 1 free campaign for you to get maximum results – absolutely FREE! Click here to get started →

If you enjoyed this article, check out these resources on how to use popups for higher conversions:

Lightbox Popup FAQs

1. What is a Lightbox?

A lightbox is a graphical control element that displays images and videos by filling the screen and dimming out the rest of the web page. It is typically used to focus a user’s attention on the content being displayed, creating an interactive and engaging user experience.

Lightboxes can be triggered by a user action, such as clicking on an image thumbnail, and often include features like close buttons and navigation arrows to view multiple images or videos.

2. What is a Lightbox on a Website?

On a website, a lightbox is used to showcase specific content in a way that temporarily disables interaction with the rest of the page. When a lightbox is activated, the main website content is usually dimmed or obscured, making the lightbox content stand out prominently.

This feature is commonly used for viewing larger versions of images, detailed information, forms, or even video content without leaving the current page. Lightboxes improve user engagement by providing a clear and focused environment for viewing media or interacting with content.

3. How to Create a Lightbox Popup in HTML?

Creating a lightbox popup in HTML involves using a combination of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Here’s a simple example to guide you through the process:

  • HTML: Start by defining the structure of your popup. You’ll need a container for the popup and a content area where your message or image will be displayed.

Lightbox Popup - HTML

  • CSS: Style your popup to make it visually appealing and ensure that it stands out over the page content. Use CSS to position and style the lightbox and the overlay.

Lightbox Popup - CSS

  • JavaScript: Add functionality to open and close the popup when necessary. This can be done by toggling the display property of the popup container.

Lightbox Popup - JavaScript

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

Popular Posts

Connect with us:

Start Getting More
Leads & Sales Today
with OptinMonster!

Popups work, and you can get started for a few bucks a month. What are you waiting for?

Create and launch smart capture forms
today in minutes. What are you waiting for?

In only 7 months, we added more than 95,654 names to our email list using OptinMonster’s Exit Intent™ technology. We strongly recommend it!

Michael Stelzner - Best Lead Generation Tool

Michael Stelzner

Founder Social Media Examiner

I hate popups, so I was hesitant to try one on my site. But the results from OptinMonster exit-intent popup speak for themselves. I doubled my subscription rate immediately without annoying my users. I haven’t had a single complaint. My only regret is that I didn’t start using OptinMonster sooner. I can only imagine how many subscribers I could have added to my email list! If you have a blog, then I highly recommend you start using OptinMonster. I’ve researched them all, and it’s the best in market.

Michael Hyatt - WordPress Lead Generation

Michael Hyatt

New York Times Bestselling Author Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Exit-intent popups have doubled my email opt-in rate. When done right, you can see an instant 12% lift on driving sales. I highly recommend that you use OptinMonster for growing your email list and sales.

Neil Patel - WordPress Popup Plugin

Neil Patel

Founder QuickSprout