Is WordPress not sending emails when it should be? If you’ve been having email issues, we’ll show you how to fix them in no time!
Approximate read time: 5 mins
When you are running a WordPress site, there is a lot that can go wrong. One common hiccup is the sending email issue.
With a standard WordPress installation, there are a lot of safeguards in place to ensure emails are sent and delivered as they should be. So why are your messages ending up in the spam folder?
Even if your email accounts are configured properly, there are unavoidable problems that can lead to WordPress not sending emails normally. Many of the issues are due to the server that is actually handling the email.
We’ll get into some of the technical details below, but we want to give you the good news first. There is an easy solution to your WordPress email issues! We’re talking about SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol).
SMTP vs wp_mail
SMTP relies on a connection to an external mailserver to send email messages. This requires some setup and configuration, but has some huge advantages and is definitely worth the effort!
WordPress has email functionality in its core with the wp_mail function. It requires zero configuration, but has some downsides that we’ll cover below.
Why do we need SMTP?
Does this sound familiar?
Your messages used to send from WordPress without any issues. But suddenly, WordPress is not sending emails anymore? How frustrating is that! Why is this happening?
The simple answer is spam. Email spam reached epic proportions in 2010. Since then, Internet authorities have introduced systems to identify spam and delete it before it hits your inbox.
I think we can all agree that it’s working. Overall, average spam rates have been on a downward trend - which is great news for everyone.
This leaves people like you somewhere in the middle though. Your emails are not spam. But they are not being delivered because they are somehow being identified as spam! Don’t worry - we know you are innocent.
Unfortunately, messages sent via WordPress mail often trigger spam defenses and instant deletion. WordPress is a free, open-source platform. Free platforms often give rise to spammy practices. It would seem this is a case of guilt by association!
But there is hope. Sending messages via SMTP and a known mailserver helps your automated messages look more legitimate. This will make sure your emails reach their destinations intact.
Emails sent through your web host
WordPress emails are typically handled by your web host. Once WordPress or a plugin on your site triggers an email, the control goes to your web host. Some web hosts are more reliable than others, but even the best won’t have 100% reliable email notifications.
Hosts use the PHP mail() function to send email on your behalf. Issues can pop up if your PHP is configured incorrectly. And honestly, it’s easy to make mistakes when coding the backend of your web server in PHP.
Shared hosting is another area where issues can arise. Although shared hosting is often cheaper, there is a serious downside. It could be that thousands of domains using the same IP address and mailserver.
All it takes is for one unscrupulous user to start spamming and the reputation of all messages sent via that server can take a hit. It’s easy to see how problems can arise.
This is where SMTP can help once again. It works by completely bypassing your web host. When a WordPress email is triggered, it goes to your email provider directly. They specialize in reliable email, so your chances of deliverability are far, far higher.
Choosing your SMTP plugin
There are several SMTP plugins to choose from. Although you could spend a bunch of time trying them all out, we suggest you go with the one that is trusted by over 1 million sites: WP Mail SMTP.
The good news is that the WP Mail SMTP plugin can solve your email problems entirely. They even have a premium version which is especially useful if you are sending a lot of emails every day.
This plugin ensures that you’ll be able to respond to customer questions and concerns without fear that any email has been missed.
We cover the entire installed process in our WP Mail SMTP article, but we’ll give you a summary of the basic steps below.
Setting up WP Mail SMTP
- Install WP Mail SMTP in WordPress
- Configuring plugin settings for SMTP
- Enter your SMTP email details
- Send a test email
The best thing about this plugin is that it takes all the guess work out of the equation by allowing you to send test emails from your WordPress dashboard. We should point out that you will need a SMTP service to make this work. You can research some free ones here.
With a plugin like this, you don’t need to know anything about the technical aspects of an email service to fix the WordPress email issue. Just configure the settings, click save, and you are done!
For advanced users, you are able to configure options based around SMTP servers, SMTP ports and email addresses as well.
The issue of WordPress not sending emails will soon be a thing of the past!
Configuring SMTP with your form notification emails
There’s one more detail that you’ll probably need to look into. That’s your website’s form notifications. You know, the emails that are sent automatically when somebody fills out a form on your site.
If you are use Formidable Forms, making sure your notification emails are sent out reliably is easy. In fact, we’ve partnered with WP Mail SMTP with a direct integration.
All you need to do is click on the SMTP link under the Formidable Forms menu in your WordPress admin. From there, you just need to follow a 2 step process to get things rolling. Easy as pie!
We hope you’ve learned a lot about those pesky WordPress email issues today. The more the merrier! We hate email troubles as much as we hate spam, so every little bit helps.
For more WordPress tips, keep it glued to the Formidable blog. Until next time!