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.

Creating a Campaign

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.

{mospagebreak title=Sending a Campaign}

Sending a Campaign

Now, we’ve reached the moment you have been anxiously waiting for! In the next few minutes, you will send your fist campaign. Unfortunately, this campaign will only go to you, but it will give you an idea of what to expect when you start sending lots of them.

To send 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.

Once in the Campaigns section, select Sent from the Select Status dropdown. Select the checkbox next to the campaign you want to send, then click the Send button.

Lots of options are available when sending a campaign. They are divided into seven categories: Campaign Details, Campaign Options, Send Campaign Test, Schedule Delivery or Send Now, Segmentation, Social Integrations, and Autoresponder.

The Campaign Details section displays technical details about the newsletter, including the campaign name, email subject, reply-to address, etc.

The Campaign Options section controls which list will receive the newsletter, and whether or not the newsletter should be tracked. In the List dropdown, select the appropriate list. A campaign can only be sent to a single list. Keep the default tracking options enabled. These tracking options are used to generate reports about the health of your campaigns.

The Send Campaign Test section allows you to send a test newsletter to specific email addresses. Even though you can preview a campaign while editing it, this option will physically send the campaign so you can see how it is displayed in your email. This is merely optional, and does not need to be performed before sending a campaign.

The Schedule Delivery or Send Now section controls when the campaign will be sent. The TimeWarp option allows you to schedule campaigns by the recipient timezone. For example, if you want each recipient to receive your newsletter at 9:00 AM in his or her local time, you need to enable this option. If you want to send the campaign at a future date, enable Use Schedule and enter the date and time accordingly. Once your scheduling options have been selected, click the Send button. If both the TimeWarp and Use Schedule options are disabled, when you click the Send button, the campaign will be sent immediately. But do not send it just yet–there are only a few more sections to cover before your campaign is ready to be sent.

The Segmentation section allows you to send your campaign to a subset of your list. You can filter the subscribers by their email address, date they were added, last name, social networks, fields, and interest groups. When segmentation is disabled, the campaign will be sent to all subscribers in the list.

The Social Integrations section will post your campaigns to your Twitter account automatically once they are sent. If this option is enabled, you will need to configure your Twitter login information through your MailChimp account.

The Autoresponder section will convert this campaign to an autoresponder. An autoresponder is simply an automated message that is sent according to specified criteria. You can use autoresponders to send automated messages after a user signs up for the newsletter, send a message monthly, or even a specified time after the user signed up. For more information on autoresponders, visit MailChimp’s autoresponder page. When this option is enabled, this campaign will only be used as an autoresponder and will not be sent out immediately.

After you have finished reviewing all of the sections, click the orange Send button in the Schedule Delivery or Send Now section. After the campaign is sent, you will be redirected to the Reports section.

{mospagebreak title=Viewing Campaign Reports}

Viewing Campaign Reports

MailChimp stores a wide array of statistical and reporting information about your campaigns. All this reporting information is available from within JoomlaMailer. You can enhance your reports by implementing Google Analytics.

Some of the information MailChimp reports is the total number of recipients, successful deliveries, the number of recipients who opened the newsletter, re-Tweets, and the geographic location of your recipients. This information can help you customize your newsletter to add an extra personal touch to them. You can even filter the results by selecting individual campaigns at the bottom of the reports page.

To view your campaign reports, log in to your Joomla! website’s administrator control panel and go to the JoomlaMailer Reports section (Components -> Newsletter -> Reports). You can also get to the Reports section by clicking the Reports tab while inside the JoomlaMailer extension.

You have now covered almost every aspect of JoomlaMailer. I wish I could have spent additional time on some sections, but I also wanted to keep this article at a manageable length. The best way to learn JoomlaMailer is to simply explore the features yourself. And if you get stuck, visit JoomlaMailer’s active community support forum for instant help. If you have the time, log in to your MailChimp account and explore its plethora of features. While JoomlaMailer tries to replicate all of MailChimp’s features, some features can only be accessed through your MailChimp account (for example, creating new lists).

Conclusion

Joomla!, even by itself, is a very powerful web application used by hundreds of thousands of websites across the Internet. But sometimes, a website alone is not enough to help your user base grow. Even if you have implemented all of the latest SEO tools and tricks, your efforts may still lack the ability to acquire new visitors or fully engage your existing visitors.

Luckily, newsletters can help solve this problem. Aside from publishing a news feed, a successful newsletter campaign is a reliable way to keep your visitors and customers updated on your latest news, alerts, and even products.

Unfortunately, Joomla! does not have a built-in core extension for managing newsletters. And, you may not want to go through the hassle of exporting your existing members and adding them to a newsletter service. This is where JoomlaMailer comes in to play. It fully integrates with your existing Joomla! website and structure, and allows you to take advantage of the email marketing services provided by MailChimp.

When JoomlaMailer is combined with MailChimp, you can have full control over your newsletter campaign. You will not have to worry about website downtime, redirecting your users to a different website, or spending hours trying to rebrand yourself.

In this tutorial, you learned the basics and importance of using newsletters. You learned how to create a MailChimp account, how to install JoomlaMailer, and how to integrate it with MailChimp. You are now prepared to start a new newsletter campaign and, with any luck, get more loyal visitors in the process.

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