Not so long ago, I took a call from a client who relies on our Microsoft Partnership to run their business emails on the Office 365 platform. But the problem wasn’t what they initially thought it was. It was undoubtedly email-related, and it had potentially cost them a decent chunk of business.
The call to me was one of exasperation. They had themselves taken a call from a prospective customer saying that they were disappointed not to have had a reply to their enquiry that they had placed via the website contact form. My client immediately thought that the Office 365 service had either spammed the message or not delivered it at all.
The truth was that, in actual fact, Microsoft’s 365 services hadn’t received the email notification from the contact form in the first place.
So, when this prospective customer finally called my client to find out if they could still help, my client was beyond embarrassed about the lack of response back to the prospective customer. In the end, the prospective customer returned to Google and continued their search and are now dealing with a competitor of my client’s.
Sadly, this particular event isn’t so unusual.
Anyone with a website promoting their business from it is usually looking to attract suspects and convert them into prospects. And that the contact form is filled out is a significant step in the conversion process. The website contact form is the tireless, around-the-clock sales lead generator as long as it actually works!
I have to stress at this point that although my prime focus is on website and WordPress development, this particular client had not passed their website to me to look after. They did not have any Care Plan in place with me and relied on another third-party agency to run and maintain their website. I was only managing and administrating their Microsoft 365 email services. And since this looked like an email problem, they came to me to find out why the notification from the website about a new enquiry hadn’t landed in their inbox.
The reason wasn’t Microsoft 365; it was the website itself. The form is designed to notify the website owner, which becomes a potential lead. No email appeared to have been sent.
With WordPress (and this client site was a WordPress site) the most common reason for not getting emails is that your WordPress hosting server is not configured to use PHP mail() function. Something to check with your host.
However, whenever I see or hear of this problem, a common reason for the non-delivery of the notification email is that the big email service providers do not trust the email message being sent. The message essentially comes from a computer parked in a data centre somewhere in the world, which has an IP address that isn’t “signed off” as a trusted email sender. So, it goes nowhere.
Without getting too technical, there are a few things that you should check or can do to minimise the risk of this happening to you.
- Make sure your email address uses a Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
- Make sure your email address uses DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
- Where possible, set up a DMARC policy for your domain to inform you about problems with the email address, such as a spamming alert.
Google has a decent enough guide and description of each of these (they own and run Gmail, after all).
Personally, I would invest in a reliable 3rd party SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) service where all of this hard work is done for you. All you need to do is register and confirm the email address you want to use for your website to send those critical notifications. Then use that “trusted” email address as the “sending” email in the contact form notification configuration. My personal preference for this is Postmark.
I would also invest in a contact form creation plugin for your WordPress site that allows you to store the information in your site admin for a short period of time (make sure you adhere to any local privacy laws such as GDPR when collecting and storing data like this). I would recommend looking at Fluent Forms for this (affiliate link).
The easiest way of all, of course, is, like my client, to bring your WordPress website into one of our Care Plan packages and, as part of our service to you, your contact forms will be configured to use Postmark via our agency account and where necessary, have your contact forms converted to Fluent Forms with our Agency Pro license at no additional cost.
Suppose you are stuck with a broken form or are worried about your contact forms not sending email notifications to you, and you fear that you are losing those hard-won leads with your website. Why not use our Fixed Price WordPress Repair Service, where you can have the problem fixed within seven days, or you pay nothing?