Category Based Subscription in WordPress with MailChimp

It is recommended to have a website focusing on specific niche. This will help Google and other search engines to assign high domain authority for specific keywords. Assume you have a WordPress tutorial site with 500 relevant posts. Guaranteed your site will be listed top in search results compared to other sites just covering WordPress as one of the category.

But it is unavoidable to categorize the site; even you are focusing on a specific niche. Taking WordPress as a niche, you still need to categorize the content for themes, plugins, deals, hosting, etc. The problem arises when you want a user to subscribe for your content. No single user in the world will be interested in receiving all content on your site. Some may be interested in themes; some may be plugin related stuffs. In such scenario it is a good idea to offer category based subscription. This will help users to subscribe only the interested categories rather than the whole content.

WordPress Category Based Subscription with MailChimp

In this article we will explain how to create category based subscription in WordPress with MailChimp.

Process Steps

Below are the summary of steps need to create category based subscription:

  1. Identify categories to be offered for subscription
  2. Get the RSS feed URL of the categories
  3. Create a list in MailChimp
  4. Add groups under the list
  5. Create RSS driven campaign for each group
  6. Get signup form code for the list
  7. Add signup form in sidebar or footer

The final subscription form with custom CSS will look like below:

Category Based Signup Form
Category Based Signup Form

Step 1 – Identify Categories for Subscription

The first step is to prepare how many categories you want to offer for subscription. Choose five or six major and important categories on your site. You can ignore the minor categories and the ones you are not updating frequently.

Step 2 – Getting RSS Feed for WordPress Categories

Each category in WordPress site will have a unique RSS feed like below:

Category URL: www.example.com/category/category-1/

Category RSS Feed URL: www.example.com/category/category-1/feed/

Note down RSS feed URLs of all identified categories.

Step 3 – Create List in MailChimp

Login to your MailChimp account and create a new list under “Lists” tab.

Creating Lists in MailChimp
Creating Lists in MailChimp

Click on “Create List” button and provide the required details to create a new list.

Step 4 – Create Groups

Once the list is created, it will be displayed under “Lists” tab. Click on the list and then navigate to “Manage Subscribers > Groups” menu.

Accessing Groups Menu in MailChimp
Accessing Groups Menu in MailChimp

Click on the “Create Groups” button as shown in the picture below:

Creating Groups in MailChimp
Creating Groups in MailChimp

You can choose to show the groups as a checkbox, radio buttons and dropdown. Also you can choose not to show any of the groups in the signup form. Enter the group category and individual group names.

Customizing Groups Options
Customizing Groups Options

Save your changes to create new groups under your list.

Step 5 – Create RSS Campaign

Once the groups are created, the group category name will be shown under “Manage Subscribers > Groups” of your list. You can view the group details by clicking on the “View Groups” button. Each group should be assigned to your WordPress category feed URL obtained on step 2. Click on the “Send to” option available against the group name and choose “RSS Campaign” option.

Creating RSS Campaign for Groups
Creating RSS Campaign for Groups

Enter the category RSS feed URL and choose the timing for sending automated campaign. When there is a new content available under the feed URL then MailChimp will automatically trigger the newsletter to the subscribers. Follow the wizard to create your RSS campaign.

Setting Up RSS Campaign in MailChimp
Setting Up RSS Campaign in MailChimp

Create RSS campaigns for all individual groups by assigning corresponding category RSS feed URL.

Step 6 – Get Embeddable Signup Form Code

Now that you can completed all the setup and the next step is to get the signup form code. Go to “Lists” tab and navigate to “Stats > Signup forms” option.

Signup Form Menu
Signup Form Menu

Here you will see multiple options to create your signup form. Select “Embedded forms” option.

Create Embeddable Signup Form
Create Embeddable Signup Form

You can customize the look of your signup form and get the embed code.

Customizing Signup Form and Getting Code
Customizing Signup Form and Getting Code

Step 7 – Insert Embed Code on Your Site

The last step is to use “Text” widget and add the embed code on the sidebar or footer of your WordPress site. You can customize the background color, fonts and alignment with your own custom CSS.

The complete process is shown in the below picture for better understanding:

Creating Category Wise Subscription
Creating Category Wise Subscription

Using Plugin for Category RSS Feed Subscription

The above method allows high flexibility that you can stop the campaign any time and send custom newsletter templates in MailChimp. If you want a simple category based RSS feed subscription then install and activate “Category Specific RSS feed Subscription” plugin.

Category Specific RSS feed Subscription
Category Specific RSS feed Subscription

This plugin will allow you to simply add category based feed buttons without any integration with MailChimp. This means subscribed users will read the latest update on the browser using any feed readers and you will not be able to get email ids and send custom newsletter. It will be useful when you have no time to collect and manage the subscriber emails.

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4 thoughts on “Category Based Subscription in WordPress with MailChimp”

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  1. This is very helpful. Just to take it a step further, is there a way to allow people to subscribe to combinations of categories without having to set them all up as groups? For example if I have 20 categories that are all quite separate and someone would only be interested in two of them, I’d like to allow them to subscribe to only those two. Setting up groups for every possible combination would take a fair while so just wondering if there is a way to avoid this that you’re aware of? Otherwise, many thanks again for this helpful piece!

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