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. This article is the first of a four-part series.
While Joomla! provides enough basic features to run a small website, its robust extension support can be used to develop complex websites capable of serving content to tens of thousands of visitors. When websites become this large, staying in touch with the user base can become a daunting task. One of the best methods for keeping in touch with visitors is through the use of email marketing, or in other words, newsletters.
By allowing your users to register and subscribe to your newsletter, you can accomplish several things:
You can drive traffic to your website by inviting recipients to read new and updated content on your website.
You accumulate a database of your users’ contact information, paving the way for future email campaigns.
You can conduct visitor research by sending recipients surveys. And many more to list.
Unfortunately, Joomla! does not contain a built-in email marketing extension, nor does it provide easy access to an email marketing provider. This is where JoomlaMailer comes into play. JoomlaMailer is a Joomla! extension which allows you to generate and send newsletters through MailChimp. MailChimp is a third-party email marketing company designed to help website owners and marketers plan, develop, and implement intelligent and rewarding marketing campaigns.
MailChimp is available in four standard plans: free, monthly, pay-as-you-go, and high volume. In this tutorial, you will use the free plan. The free plan allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month. The only “catch” is MailChimp will place its logo on the bottom of your newsletters--a small price to pay for free. If you decide you like MailChimp, you may be inclined to switch to one of its paid plans.
A strong email marketing campaign is comprised of two parts: lists and campaigns.
A list is a grouping of subscribers encompassing a similar interest. Lists are used to send newsletters to a specific group of people with a specific interest. Depending on the types of newsletters you want to send, you may need multiple lists. For example, if you want to have a weekly newsletter, a monthly newsletter, and an important announcements email, you would need three separate lists, one for each type of content. Or, for example, if you run a recipe website, you may want to create newsletters for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert recipes. You would need four separate lists since you are wanting to send out four specific types of content.
A campaign is simply a newsletter or other pertinent information (new products, new information, upcoming events, etc.) sent to a specific list. The content of the campaign determines which list it should be sent to. To avoid breaking any anti-spam laws, the campaign’s content should correspond with the list it is being sent to. Sticking with the previous example, if you create a newsletter detailing easy dinner recipes, you should send it to the dinner recipes list.
Before you can continue with this tutorial, you will need to have performed the following tasks:
Have a working Joomla! v1.5 or 1.7 install. This tutorial will focus on Joomla! 1.5, since it is still the most widely used version.
In this tutorial, I will walk you through registering for a MailChimp account, installing and configuring JoomlaMailer, sending your first campaign, and viewing reports based on your campaigns.