Integrating MailChimp with Joomla: Creating Campaigns
Joomla! is one of the most widely used, developed, and supported content management system (CMS) on the Internet. It offers a powerful set of default features, uses the MVC methodology for extension development, offers an active community support forum, provides an extension repository featuring over 8,000 extensions, and above else, simplifies the installation process allowing novice adopters to install it with ease. With such a large default feature set, it is rather obvious why it is one of the most popular CMS platforms available.
Now it is time to create your first campaign. Remember, a campaign is simply a newsletter sent to a specific list of subscribers. When you create a campaign, you send it to a specific list, or a subset of a list by taking advantage of the list’s fields and interest groups. Campaigns can be comprised of original content, fields, and even Joomla! articles and K2 content.
To create your first campaign, log in to your Joomla! website’s administrator control panel and go to the JoomlaMailer Campaigns section (Components -> Newsletter -> Campaigns). You can also get to the Campaigns section by clicking the Campaigns tab while inside the JoomlaMailer extension.
The Campaigns section displays a listing of all sent and saved campaigns. The default view displays all of your sent campaigns. It includes some statistical information, including the total number of recipients, how many recipients opened it, and how many bounced. To create a new campaign, click the Create Campaign link.
A campaign is composed of five parts: Main Settings, Content, Sidebar, Analytics, and Folders.
The Main Settings tab controls technical information about the campaign: the campaign name, the email subject, reply-to, and from email addresses. All of these fields are required. The Campaign Name field will not be displayed to your users; it is for your reference only. You can save the campaign at any time by clicking the blue Save button. You can view a live preview of the campaign by clicking the orange Preview button.
The Content tab controls the content that will be displayed in your campaign. One of the first fields you may notice is a template selection dropdown; this is discussed in more detail below. The Intro Text field is used for entering introductory text. This text will appear before your Joomla! content items.
You are not required to insert Joomla! content items; you can construct your campaigns manually using only the introductory text field. There is no right or wrong way to do this. A rich text editor is provided, eliminating the need to manually enter HTML.
The Merge Tags dropdown to the right of the Intro Text field is used for inserting field names (such as the recipient’s first name, last name, email address, etc.) into the introductory text. This makes it possible to individualize your newsletter and add a personal touch. For example, you could begin your newsletter with a salutation to the recipient: “Hi John!,” or “Happy Valentine’s Day, Bob.”
Below the Intro Text field is a listing of all of your Joomla! content items. To insert these, simply check the box in the Include column for the appropriate content items. The content item text will not display in the Intro Text field, but you can preview a finished version of the campaign by clicking the orange Preview button.
JoomlaMailer includes three templates. You can select the template you wish to use by selecting it from the template dropdown. These templates can not be customized directly in JoomlaMailer; they can only be customized in a text editor. The templates are stored in your Joomla! administrator directory: /joomlaroot/administrator/components/com_joomailermailchimpintegration/templates. Select the appropriate template folder, and edit template.html to modify the template.
The Sidebar tab controls the content that is displayed on the sidebar in the newsletter. This is similar to the left and right Joomla! module positions. The default JoomlaMailer templates include a sidebar; if you customize these templates and remove the sidebar, this tab will not be available. Similar to the Content tab, the Sidebar tab has a rich text editor so you can insert small pieces of information. One cool feature of this tab is the Popular Articles field. This will insert links to your popular Joomla! content items into the sidebar automatically.
The Analytics tab allows you to track your campaigns using Google Analytics, in addition to the tracking tools already provided by MailChimp. A Google Analytics account is required for this, and is outside the scope of this article.
The Folders tab allows you to organize your campaigns. The default folder is named unfiled. This is an optional feature; it is primarily used to keep your campaigns organized.
Make sure to click the blue Save button to save your campaign. The next section will discuss sending your first campaign.