How to connect MailChimp to your WordPress Site to collect email addresses

Hello Everyone!
Last week, Carie Hess asked a very good question, and I thought that the answer might be helpful to many of you. Carie wanted to know how to connect her MailChimp account to her website, so that she could collect email addresses from people who visited her site and keep them informed on Petroleum CD’s activities through her newsletter.
There are A LOT of good ways to do that. Today I’m going to show you one that has already been set up on the MACD network of sites. For those of you who have WordPress websites that are not on the MACD network but would like to use this solution, please send me an email (kate@macdnet.org) and I can get you set up with the plugin that we’ll be using.

Hustle Pro

This solution uses the Hustle Pro plugin from WPMU Dev. It’s a Pro plugin, so it’s not available for free. However, there are many free plugins that perform similar functions (namely, connecting with MailChimp and setting up a basic email collection form). Hustle Pro is available to MACD members through our WPMU Dev subscription.
So without further ado, and assuming you’re on the MACD network of sites or have installed Hustle Pro.
To get started, you first want to activate Hustle Pro for your site. To do that, head to Plugins from the dashboard menu. Find Hustle Pro and click “Activate”. Simple as that.
Once the plugin is activated, head to Hustle Pro in the left hand column from your dashboard.

Options!

Your next step is to choose whether you want to create a Pop-Up, an Embed, or a Slide-In. They all act pretty much how they sound. The Embed option creates a shortcode that you can place on a page or post, Pop-Up creates a pop-up window over your site, and Slide-In creates a little form that slides in over your site from the edge.
I’ll go through a Pop-Up to demonstrate how to connect your MailChimp account.

Create a Pop-Up

After clicking Create Pop-Up, go through the fields it provides and create a name for your pop-up (this is just for you to tell multiple pop-ups apart). Then add some content. If you want, you could even select a featured image that might entice people.

Connect MailChimp

Next, in the Email Collection Module section, select “Add Email Collection to this Pop-Up”, and then select MailChimp from the provider list.
The next thing that you need to do is click on the MailChimp area. That will open up a window where you can enter the details of your MailChimp account. NOTE: This is not intuitive initially. I would expect the window to open up the moment I select the MailChimp service, but NOPE you have to select it AND click on it.
You’ll want to log in to your MailChimp account in another Tab, then navigate to Account – Extras – API Keys. Then you’ll need to click Create an API key. Once that key has been generated, copy it, then navigate back to the other tab and paste it in the Update Email Service window. What the API key does is it is a secret code that the website and MailChimp use to communicate with each other. I like to think of them like a secret door knock that lets the other know “hey, it’s me, let me in”.
Once you’ve done that, you can click “Update Service” and you’ll be taken back to the Pop-Up editor. You can edit the questions that the Pop-UP asks users, the success message, and what happens after a user has submitted their email. I like to change the final setting so that it no longer shows the pop-up after someone has put their email in. That helps keep it from being annoying.
Click Continue to go to the Design section of the Pop-Up editor. Here, you have a lot of options to choose how the pop-up looks. Feel free to play with it! Once you have it how you like it, click Continue again to go to the Display Settings section. Here is where you can choose when the pop-up will be displayed to users. I like to set it so that it only shows up to people who aren’t logged in (that way it’s not getting in your way), and I don’t want to annoy people with it, so I generally set it to only show once per user. Finally, I like to set it to show up after a little time has gone by with the user on the site.
Once all of that is done, you can click Publish and your pop-up will be active! Since it’s set to not show up for logged in users, you can either log out to test it, or visit your site from a different browser.
Please call if you have any questions or run into any hangups! I’m happy to help you put it together!

Statewide Administrators Training, 2019

The MACDEO Training committee has been working hard to plan the next Statewide Administrator’s Training. This year’s training will be held at the Arrowpeak Lodge in Highwood, June 3-6.

The theme this year is district communication and outreach. This training is a great opportunity for administrators to network, learn, and share experiences.

SWAT Registration

SWAT Agenda

How to automate posting from WordPress to Facebook

One of the golden rules we use in coding and web design is D.R.Y. It stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself. It’s something that’s a pretty good rule in a lot of other work, too.

So today, I’m going to show you how to cut out one piece of work that you may find yourself repeating. That’s posting to your WordPress site, and then posting the same thing to Facebook.

Let’s say you want to notify the public about the agenda for your next upcoming board meeting. It’s important to put the notice and the agenda on your site, because that’s the official place for such things. But you also know that a lot of the public uses Facebook regularly, and they’re more likely to see the notice if it’s in their newsfeed, as opposed to when they have to actively visit your website to find it.

The text of your notice on both your website and Facebook is likely to be the same. But between logging in, finding the spot to post, copy and paste, and the slow internet connection in between, these two simple tasks could easily eat up a solid chunk of time.

So what to do? Well, put the magic of the internet to work, and have it do the job for you! Today I’ll show you how to use a free service called Zapier to automatically check your website, and post anything new it finds to your Facebook page.

Step 1: Sign up for an account

The first step in this process is pretty obvious. You’re going to need a Zapier account. So head to https://zapier.com/. There’s a big orange button on the top right that says “Sign up”. You’ll want to click that. If you have a Google account, you should use that, because that will allow you to use the same account for both.

Once you’ve signed up, Zapier will guide you through some steps to get your account running. It will ask you to select the apps that you use regularly. See the photo to the right for an example of the apps I selected. This will help Zapier recommend automations for you.

Step 2: Create a Zap

A zap is the magic of Zapier. You set a “trigger” that you ask Zapier to keep an eye out for. Every 15 minutes or so, the service will scan the internet to see if your trigger has happened. If it catches a trigger, then it will perform the steps that you’ve asked it to do.

In this case, our trigger will be a new post on your WordPress website.

In the box that says “What do you want to Automate Today?”, find where it says “Connect this app…”. Type in “WordPress”. Select that. In the next box, type in Facebook and select “Facebook Pages”.

Now you’ll have a couple more boxes open up. Where it says “When this happens…” select “New Post” with the WordPress icon. And in “then do this!” select “Create Page Post” with the Facebook icon.

Now hit the “Make a Zap!” button.

Step 3: Connect your WordPress account

Now we’re getting into the juice of the Zap.

Type in a name for your Zap in the top left field. Something like “WordPress to Facebook” will do.

Then click “Connect an Account” in the center of the screen. A new window will open, and you’ll be asked to enter the information about your WordPress account. You’ll need your website url and your username and password. For the URL section, I find it helpful to open my website in a new tab. Then click in the address bar so that everything is highlighted, and copy that. Then I paste into the field. This way I get the exact URL without having to type the whole HTTP mess.

Once your WordPress account is connected, you’ll be asked to set the parameters for the Zap. For this example, choose Post Status “Published” and Post Type “Posts”. You’ll see that there are lots of other options here, and hopefully those are giving you some ideas for other ways you could use Zapier.

Click “Continue”. Now Zapier will check your website for recent posts that they can use as an example. If you have posts on your website, you should get samples “New Post A” “New Post B” and “New Post C”. It really doesn’t matter which you choose, this is just sample information for Zapier to use to show you how your Zap will work.

Step 4: Connect Your Facebook Account

Now we’re going to do basically the same thing for your Facebook account.

First, choose the app that you want to be triggered. You should have the option of Facebook Pages or WordPress. Choose Facebook Pages. Now you’ll select what you want to have happen, which is Create Page Post.

Now you’ll connect your Facebook Account. You’ll want to enter the information that you use to access your Facebook Page. This will likely be your personal Facebook login information, because Pages don’t have their own login information. Don’t worry, this only connects Pages, and it won’t post to your personal account. (Unless you tell it to). But you’ll need to allow Zapier to access your information.

Step 5: Tell Zapier what to put in the post

Now, Zapier is going to pull in information from the sample post that we chose, and we’ll use that data to tell it what should be in the Facebook post.

Below you can see the first two steps. I chose which Facebook Page I want the post to go on (I’m administrator of a few). I chose the MACD page.

Then, I select the information that I want to be in the Facebook message. This is the text that goes in the post. For this example, I want the message to be the same as the title of my WordPress post. The sample that I have here is our most recent post, August 2018 Minutes. As you can see, there are a lot of options available to select, and I can put multiple data points in the message. I can also type in text.

In this example, I just selected the Post Title. Below, I added some text to give the message context.

In the optional Link URL field, you’ll want to add the link to your post. This way the Facebook Post links back to the post on your website. If you’ve ever put a link in a Facebook status, you know that Facebook will also pull in a link preview with an image and more.

Here’s how mine looks:

Step 6: Test the Zap

Once you’ve gotten everything set up, you’ll be given the opportunity to test your Zap to see how it looks. Here’s how my post turned out on Facebook:

I’m not stoked about the image it chose for my post. Luckily, on my WordPress site I have a nice placeholder image that says “Meeting Minutes” on a blue background. So, I’m going to go back to my Zap and edit the template for my post. In my message section, I’m going to add my Post Thumbnail, so that Zap will grab the right image for my post. This will be the image that you put in the Featured Image section of your WordPress post.

Like this. Now I tested the step again, and here’s how the post looks:

Ah yes, that’s much better!

Step 7: Turn on your Zap, sit back and relax

Once you’re happy with how your post is set up, click Finish. Then turn your Zap on!

Now, whenever you post a new post on your WordPress site, it will automatically be posted on your Facebook Page as well, without you lifting a finger!

If you’re ever unsatisfied with how your posts are looking, you can log in to Zapier and edit your Zap. Or you can pause it.

I love Zapier, and there are lots of different ways to put the internet to work for you! Have fun exploring the automation universe! For those interested, IFTTT (If This Then That) is another great service that does the same thing.

Let’s Talk Logos

Hello Everyone!

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a technology Fridays post, but a task I was doing this morning inspired me to put a quick post together.

That task was building a logo library. In my work with Conservation Districts and as a freelance designer, I am often asked to put together posters that feature a bunch of sponsor logos.

I hate this task.

Here’s why:

  • It’s often hard for my client to track down all the logos of their sponsors, and it will sometimes take weeks to get ahold of one little logo, which holds up finishing the project.
  • When the logos do come it, so often they are poor quality. It hurts me to put a blurry logo on a design that I worked hard on.
  • Or, if not poor quality, they are poorly designed or a bad file, with a huge white background surrounding it or in a weird shape that doesn’t play nicely with the rest of the logos I’m trying to fit together.

All of these things combine to make a lot of work, and a lot of back and forth for me. All so I can muddy a design I worked hard on with a bunch of logos that don’t match.

Take a look at these logos that were placed on the bottom of a poster. Which of these stands out to you? Which have unnecessary or unreadable information?

 

But of course, I know that sponsors are SUPER IMPORTANT. Often sponsor dollars are what make the events happen in the first place, and I get that. So today I thought I’d take a minute to talk about how to lessen the headache (mine as well as yours if you make your own posters).

#1: Tracking the Logos Down

Since I have spent so many years making posters with sponsor logos, and since I still have all of those files, I thought it would be useful for myself and my clients to make a logo library.

So today I searched through all of my old files and copied every logo I could find into one big LOGO LIBRARY. Now when someone says, “I’m still waiting on so-and-so’s logo,” I can search my library to see if I already have it. SO HANDY. I’m also working my way through the folder to make sure the names of all the files make sense, so they’re easy to find with search.

This logo library is my gift to you.

 

So why should you care about my super awesome logo library? Well, for one, because I definitely recommend doing the same for yourself if you also frequently make documents that need sponsor logos on them. And for two, because I put mine on Google Drive and here’s the link, free for anyone to use!

That’s right. If the sponsor logo you need is one that I’ve used in the past, then you can knock one time-consuming step off your list. If you have one I don’t have, I also welcome anyone to upload logos to this folder. Plus, I’ll keep adding as I get new ones.

#2: Understanding Logos

My logo library has a lot of logos. Some are really great, and some are frankly really bad. Some are fine on their own but totally unreadable in a small space like the bottom of a poster, or such an ungainly size/shape that there’s just no way to fit them in with neighbors.

So I want the second part of this post to be a discussion about what makes a good logo. Maybe it will inspire the yet-to-be-designed logos of the future a little better.

What even is a logo?

In order to understand what makes a good logo, it makes sense to first understand what a logo is, and what it does.

I’ll refer to some experts here, who have already said it better than me. From 99designs:

At the very basic level, logos are symbols made up of text and images that help us identify brands we like.

But they can be so much more! A good logo is the cornerstone of your brand. It helps customers understand what you do, who you are and what you value. That’s a lot of responsibility on a tiny image!

What does a logo do?

A logo makes you stand out from the competition.

Perhaps the most fundamental function of a logo is giving your business a unique mark that differentiates you from other businesses. Before you get a logo for your business you’ll want to research what your competitors’ look like so you can position yourself. Of course, you don’t want to be so unusual that potential customers don’t understand your brand.

A logo identifies key information about your business.

Along with demarcating your business, a good logo also provides your customer with some crucial information about your company: it can communicate the industry you exist in, the service you provide, your target demographic and your brand values.

For example, a company might use circuit imagery into their logo to show that they operate in the software industry. Or they might use a specific color to communicate they are committed to being green/environmental. Or they might use a stylish font to highlight that they are luxurious.

A logo builds brand recognition

Logos also leave a visual impact that reminds your customers that, well… that you exist! In other words, logos can create strong visual associations with a business. This association helps customers keep your brand in mind. Think about brands like Nike or McDonalds, whose logos are so ubiquitous that they can be instantly recognized with or without the name attached. It’s no surprise that logos are such a central part of brand identity.

What should a logo NOT do?

The three tasks we talked about are a lot. They’re a pretty big ask for one small bit of type and maybe an image.

A logo should not try to convey EVERYTHING about your business

If your business or organization has a lot of goals/products/services/audiences, you may be tempted to try and convey all of those ideas in your logo. But what you’ll end up with is a messy, overly complex situation that at least doesn’t display well at small sizes, and at worst confuses people. The more you can simplify your idea or boil many facets into one idea, the better.

A logo is not the same as branding

Just Creative has a great discussion about the differences between branding, identity design, and a logo:

A logo is not your brand, nor is it your identity. Logo design, identity design and branding all have different roles, that together, form a perceived image for a business or product.

There has been some recent discussion on the web about this topic, about your logo not being your brand. Although this may be true, I haven’t seen any clarification of the differences between ‘brand’, ‘identity’ and ‘logo’. I wish to rectify this.

What is brand? – The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
What is identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.

Branding

Branding is certainly not a light topic – whole publications & hundreds of books have been written on the topic, however to put it in a nutshell you could describe a ‘brand’ as an organisation, service or product with a ‘personality’ that is shaped by the perceptions of the audience. On that note, it should also be stated that a designer cannot “make” a brand – only the audience can do this. A designer forms the foundation of the brand.

Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements – some colours, some fonts, a logo, a slogan and maybe  some music added in too. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image’.

The fundamental idea and core concept behind having a ‘corporate image’ is that everything a company does, everything it owns and everything it produces should reflect the values and aims of the business as a whole.

Identity

One major role in the ‘brand’ or ‘corporate image’ of a company is its identity.

In most cases, identity design is based around the visual devices used within a company, usually assembled within a set of guidelines. These guidelines that make up an identity usually administer how the identity is applied throughout a variety of mediums, using approved colour palettes, fonts, layouts, measurements and so forth. These guidelines ensure that the identity of the company is kept coherent, which in turn, allows the brand as a whole, to be recognisable.

The identity or ‘image’ of a company is made up of many visual devices:

  • A Logo (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
  • Stationery (Letterhead + business card + envelopes, etc.)
  • Marketing Collateral (Flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
  • Products & Packaging (Products sold and the packaging in which they come in)
  • Apparel Design (Tangible clothing items that are worn by employees)
  • Signage (Interior & exterior design)
  • Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct modes of communication)
  • Other Communication (Audio, smell, touch, etc.)
  • Anything visual that represents the business.

All of these things make up an identity and should support the brand as a whole. The logo however, is the corporate identity and brand all wrapped up into one identifiable mark. This mark is the avatar and symbol of the business as a whole.

Logo

A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.

To illustrate this concept, think of logos like people. We prefer to be called by our names – James, Dorothy, John – rather than by the confusing and forgettable description of ourselves such as “the guy who always wears pink and has blonde hair”. In this same way, a logo should not literally describe what the business does but rather, identify the business in a way that is recognisable and memorable.

It is also important to note that only after a logo becomes familiar, does it function the way it is intended to do much alike how we much must learn people’s names to identify them.

#3: Show me your logos

Now that we understand the fundamentals of branding, identity, and logos, let’s look at some. Here are my five favorites from the logo library:

American Bird Conservancy. I like this one because of its it’s simplicity. You know right away what they do, the text is easy to read.

 

Ducks Unlimited. Again, so simple, so easy. Simple lines, but it’s obviously a duck.

 

Flathead Land Trust. although the image is a bit more complex than the first two (mountains, barn, trees, stream), the graphics are nice and simple. I also like that FLT has a few variations on their logo, with the text to the side or underneath depending on where it’s used.

Montana Land Reliance. The thing I love about this one is that when I put it on a poster next to a bunch of others, it is always the one that stands out the best. Which, after all, is what you’re aiming for with a logo.

Bradley Livestock has a great one too. I think the fancy lettering adds some old fashioned charm. It gives you the impression of a family monogram, which gives me the idea that this is an old ranching family. The lines are a little thin to do well against non-white backgrounds though.

 

Please avoid these things

  1. Don’t make just one style of your logo. No shape will do well everywhere. Make at least one version of your logo that fits in a square, at the very least because you’ll need it for your Facebook profile.
  2. Make sure you have a version that is exported as a PNG and looks nice against a background that’s not white. Please, please, please.
  3. If your logo is dark colored, also make a light-colored alternative that works against a dark background.
  4. Don’t use Papyrus, or Comic Sans, or any other of the “fancy” fonts that come standard on Windows computers. We have all used these fonts at some point or another, and that means they’re over used.

Finally, if you are a conservation district in Montana and you need a new logo, please reach out to me. I can design one for you. My time is free.