Integrating MailChimp with Joomla: Building a Subscriber List

In this second part of a four-part series on integrating Mailchimp with the Joomla content management system, you’ll learn how to create a subscriber list, and how to install and configure JoomlaMailer. So if you use Joomla for your website and send out newsletters for your business, keep reading to learn how to simplify this process.

Creating a Subscriber List

Before you can use JoomlaMailer to its full potential, you will need to create a subscriber list. At the time of this writing, it is not possible to create lists using JoomlaMailer; therefore, you will need to create lists through MailChimp. Click the Lists link in your MailChimp dashboard.

Since this tutorial will show you how to create the list, there is no need to watch the video unless you really want to. Click the Create Your First List link.

Enter in the required information. Choose a descriptive list name–one which accurately describes the specific use for the list. Use friendly descriptions such as “Monthly Newsletter” or “Weekly Product Updates” as your email subjects, and do not use a real email address for the reply-to email; use something similar to just so you do not get bombarded with people replying to your newsletters. Once you have entered the required information, click the Save button.

You should receive a message indicating your list was successfully created. By default, each list stores the subscriber’s email address, first name, and last name. These attributes are called fields, and you can have several custom fields for each list. Fields make it easy for you to personalize your newsletters (“Dear Jake Smith,” “Hi Kevin!,” etc.) and collect additional information about your subscribers (education, race, sex, occupation, etc.). It is possible to add additional fields, but that is outside the scope of this tutorial. You can now proceed with the JoomlaMailer installation.

The next section will guide you through integrating MailChimp with Joomla! using JoomlaMailer.

{mospagebreak title=Installing and Configuring JoomlaMailer}

Installing and Configuring JoomlaMailer

Log in to your Joomla! website and navigate to Extensions -> Install/Uninstall. Browse to the JoomlaMailer extension and install it.

Since this is your first time installing this extension, click the Install option.

Once the extension is successfully installed, you will be redirected to JoomlaMailer’s dashboard page. To access the JoomlaMailer extension in the future, navigate to Components -> Newsletter. Similar to MailChimp’s dashboard page, this page provides an overview of your current campaigns.

Before you can start creating campaigns, your Joomla! website needs to be linked to your MailChimp account. JoomlaMailer uses MailChimp’s API to allow complete integration with Joomla!. APIs allow external applications to interact with web services (for example, MailChimp, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) without requiring you to divulge usernames and passwords. To start using MailChimp’s API, click the Parameters icon on the top-right of the page.

To use MailChimp’s API, MailChimp will need to generate an API key for you to use. This API key is unique to your website and should never be shared with your website visitors, campaign subscribers, or other websites. To generate an API Key, click the Generate API Key link.

A new browser tab/window will open and direct you to MailChimp’s website. If you are prompted to log in, do so. MailChimp will automatically present you with an API key. It will be roughly 30-40 characters in length consisting of special and alpha-numeric characters. Copy the key to your clipboard.

Close this browser tab/window and go back to your Joomla! website. Paste the API key into the API Key field.

You will notice additional fields as your scroll down the Parameters window. Enter your information into the fields as appropriate while being as thorough as you possibly can. If you do not have a Twitter account, you do not need to go create one. The more information you provide, the more ways your visitors will be able to interact with your website and web services. Once you have finished entering the necessary information, click the Save button.

Once your MailChimp API key has been entered, your Joomla! website will be linked to your MailChimp account. Your will notice your dashboard has changed to reflect your MailChimp account information. But wait, it is empty! Do not worry just yet; it will be populated soon enough.

The next part will kick off with a discussion of the JoomlaMailer signup plugin.

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