Integrating MailChimp with Joomla: List Management

In this third part of a four-part series on the Joomla MailChimp plug-in for managing e-mail campaigns, you’ll learn how to handle subscription sign-ups and manage your mailing lists.

The JoomlaMailer Signup Plugin

The JoomlaMailer plugin allows core Joomla! features and third-party extensions (Community Builder and JomSocial) to automatically subscribe users to one of your MailChimp lists. In other words, when a new user registers at your Joomla! website, the user will be automatically subscribed to the selected list. This plugin does not need to be enabled for proper function of JoomlaMailer. To enable the plugin, navigate to Extensions -> Plugin Manager, then click System – joomlamailer MailChimp Signup.

Select Yes next to Enabled to enable the plugin. In the Newsletter List drop down, select the list you created earlier in the tutorial, and also select the First Name and Last Name fields. The remaining defaults are fine. Once you have made the necessary changes, click the Save button.

Now you can configure the JoomlaMailer module.

The Signup Module

The JoomlaMailer module is a special Joomla! module that allows users to subscribe to a particular list. The module can be placed anywhere on your website, the best place being a sidebar toward the top of the page. You can display the module on specific menus or across the entire website–the placement is strictly up to you. Navigate to Extensions -> Module Manager and click the MailChimp Signup module.

All of the available configuration options may look daunting, but they are really quite straightforward. The standard Joomla! module parameters (under the Details section) will need to be changed to accurately reflect your your website content and structure. When you first install JoomlaMailer, it creates a signup module automatically called MailChimp Signup. You may want to consider changing the title of the module to a more friendly name, such as “Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter!” Make sure you enable the module, select the appropriate position, and choose the order in which it will be displayed. As mentioned above, you should consider placing the module on a sidebar (typically left or right positions, but this could vary based on your template) near the top (order 0 or 1).

You will also need to modify JoomlaMailer’s specific module parameters to meet your needs. The module supports several different text fields: Intro-text, Text above submit, Text below submit, Thank you message, and Update message. These fields are self-explanatory, and are purely optional. Under the List dropdown, select the appropriate list to which visitors can subscribe.

The current version of JoomlaMailer only allows one list per module to be selected. If you have several lists, you will need to create a new JoomlaMailer module for each list. Select the fields you want displayed. The Email Address field is required (obviously), but depending on how you want to use the fields in your campaigns, you can select additional fields. The default date format is Year-Month-Day; you can change this format to adopt to your region’s (or personal) standards.

Once you have made all the necessary changes, click the Save button.

Go to your website’s homepage (you can get there quickly by clicking the Preview link on the top-right of the Joomla! administrator control panel) and locate your JoomlaMailer module to the changes you made to the module.

Next, test the module. Sign up for your list by entering your personal email address and clicking the Submit button. The module should prompt you to check your email and confirm your subscription.

Once you have confirmed your subscription, you will begin receiving all the newsletters you send to that list.

The next section will discuss managing your lists.

{mospagebreak title=Managing Lists}

Managing Lists

As mentioned previously, JoomlaMailer is not able to create new lists; these must be created directly in your MailChimp account. But, JoomlaMailer does allow you to manage your list by letting you import your existing Joomla! users, viewing all of your subscribers’ fields, and directly unsubscribing users when necessary. To manage your lists, log in to your Joomla! website’s administrator control panel and go to the JoomlaMailer Lists section (Components -> Newsletter -> Lists). You can also get to the Lists section by clicking the Lists tab while inside the JoomlaMailer extension.

The Lists section displays an overview of your currently created lists, including the number of subscribers and unsubscribers. Clicking the the list’s name will display all the active subscribers.

Clicking Manage under Merge Fields will let you add, modify, or delete your existing fields (first name, last name, email address, etc.). If you make any changes to your fields and want these changes to propagate to your signup module, you will need to modify the module’s parameters after saving the changes to the list.

Clicking Mange under Interest Groups allows you to collect additional information about your subscribers. Interest groups are similar to fields, except it allows you to create additional field types, including checkboxes, dropdowns, radio buttons, and even hidden fields.

MailChimp allows you create targeted campaigns by sending specific campaigns to subscribers with relevant interests. For example, if you created an interest group called “Favorite Foods,” you could add checkboxes for “Italian, Mexican, American, Asian, French.” Then you could create a campaign for your list and only send a newsletter to subscribers who like “Italian” foods. These interest groups can be added to your signup module by modifying the module’s parameters.

Clicking the numbers under the Subscribed, Unsubscribed, and Cleaned columns let you view detailed subscriber information for the list.

Because of the sheer number of available features, I can not go into detail on every one without making this article huge. I encourage you to explore and experiment with these features on your own and discover how each one works.

Be sure to come back for the conclusion of this series, when we’ll discuss creating a campaign.

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