Mangling MailChimp, Round Four: Boxing with Boxzilla

Are we ready to start that email list?  In our last mangle of the Mailchimp, we conquered the Mailchimp plug-in–now it’s time for the next level: those boxes that jump up and ask for an email.  Welcome to the Boxzilla plug-in and Review!

What is Boxzilla?

Boxzilla is a “lightweight” plug-in  (according to it website) for WordPress.  You can use on WordPress.Com business accounts or on self-hosted accounts.  Boxzilla is one of the many different plug-ins that can create those little boxes that fade in, slide out, or take over the entire flipping screen to perform a “call to action.”

These boxes can be as polite or as annoying as you like.  But we will judge you about how annoyingly you implement these.  🙂

There are lots of them out there–why this one?

Good reason #1 – Cost.  It has a free version and a paid version–and the paid version of $6 a month for one site was affordable. If you buy the whole year at once, they take off $24 bucks.     For us small bloggers without big budgets, cost is a significant factor. MailChimp’s closest competitor, ConstantContact, is pricier.  This link leads to a good review that compares the two and explains the differences.

Good reason #2 – The MailChimp plug-in recommended it. Since I’m going the MailChimp route because of cost, it makes sense to have an email subscription plug-in that’s going to play well with MailChimp.  Ibericode, the company that built the Mailchimp plug-in also built this. Since I was able to install the MailChimp plug-in without tears (and without cost!),  I was ready to be upsold.  I hadn’t heard of this one and since the high-dollar ones flog themselves constantly, I took a look at its website.  Hmmm.  Looks promising.

Just to be clear, THIS review is about using the FREE version of both the MailChimp and Boxzilla plug-ins. 

Installing Boxzilla was easy.

Download the zip file for the plug-in, go to the black WP admin dashboard, upload the new plug-in–activate, done.  No issues.

The Free Version is Poorly Documented. Of course.

The free version version either took awhile to appear in the black WP admin dashboard list OR I missed it because it’s placed oddly. It is no where near the MailChimp Plug-in.  I found it right below the COMMENTS menu.

The free version of Boxzilla is definitely “no frills.”  🙂 It took a bit of looking around to figure out where to find the documentation for it–because it was so short. Not only is it short? It’s incomplete!  It required a whole hour of searching before I found the documentation I needed– on this page, a different help page to figure out how to link the Boxzilla box with the MailChimp form!Grrrrr.  My loss is your gain, dear reader.  Here, then, is a chronicle of my struggles. 

Preparing to Make a Boxzilla Subscribe Box

Protip #1.  You actually need to have that Mailchimp Form done and ready to go before you start. But that means just setting up the form in a very bare bones way. And getting the shortcode to drop into the Boxzilla editor.

In my last installment on Mangling MailChimp, we covered how to set up a simple form using the MailChimp plug-in. We made a big contact form, suitable for a separate page in one’s blog.  Now, we may need to start over from scratch for two reasons: ‘

  • A form suitable for a blog page is not going to be suitable for a box
  • Boxzilla has a totally different editor.  It won’t meld well with an elaborate Mailchimp form.

Step 1 – Go to the MailChimp Plug-in.  Choose the Form menu.

If you’ve created a form already, you’re going to have to throw it away and start over with a stripped down form.   The MailChimp plug-in free version only gives us the one form option, so I had to make a choice to tear down my first form and just put in this simple code.

The code is actually often already IN your form.   If it’s not, here’s what it needs to look like:

Here’s the code that needs to be in the body:

<label> label Email address: </label>
<input name=”EMAIL” required=”” type=”email” placeholder=”Your email address” / >

<input type=”submit” value=”Sign up” />

 

Step 2- Get your short-code. 

To refresh you, it’s at the top of your screen, under the title in the MailChimp plug-in menu.

Step 3 – Go to the Boxzilla menu, then choose Add New. 

 

You’ll get an editing screen.  Name the box and put in that short code

 

Step 4 – Now you’re ready to format your Boxzilla Box, add text, pictures and all that jazz. 

Getting Fancy with Boxzilla Boxes

After you put the subscribe “button” in the editing box, now it’s time to put content around it.   The editor is pretty straightforward.  You can add text, pictures. Underneath the editing screen you have a good many choices for tailoring the box.  You can choose any color, create a border, select a background color.  You can choose dotted, dashed, solid or a double-line border.   It’s pretty fun to play with.  The problem is that there is no preview function.  I could find no way to test the box except publishing it.   I added a picture and some sample text — even added a tiny table, so that I could get the picture and the email box to line up better.   But I had to actually pull up blog posts and scroll down to make the box appear to check on the small changes I made.

I also had to go back and forth with the MailChimp form, to take out the extra paragraph tags.  They were causing problems in alignment.

 

The real functionality is down below the editing window, where we begin to format and set the settings on the boxes.

These are all the box appearance setting. You can’t set a background image–but a box shouldn’t be all that busy anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing How and When to Ask For an Email Address

Boxzilla offers a good many options for how to slip in that “call to action” (request for an email).  You can choose to have the box appear on all your posts, or you can set a rule for what posts it appears on.   The position of the box (top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right or center?)  can be easily adjusted, and the box can fade in or slide in.

The only setting I changed was to have the the “auto-show” box. Boxzilla lets us choose to have the box show after a certain number of seconds, or after a certain percentage of the page has been scrolled down.  You can also choose to have it show when you hit a certain element (say, a link to a downloadable pdf or some such).   The default is 65% of the page.  Since I write looooong posts, I changed the default to 50%, so readers would see it a bit faster.

Figuring out the THANK YOU.

Figuring out what to send people when they subscribe is a tough one for me.  At this stage, it’s going to be a personal email, from me.  It’s important to give back to your audience and thank them for this support.   This is, after all, about giving to your audience, developing that relationship with people who may become those first customers.  Precious folks!

 

 

Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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