How Do I Manage My WordPress Website’s Email Services?

Gary Green
Gary Green
December 15, 2023

Managing your WordPress website’s email services is vital if you’re to get maximum benefit from your site. With this in mind, you need to first understand how WP sends emails. Essentially, WordPress uses PHP to send emails, offering three different options: Using the wp_mail native function, using one of the WordPress plugins, or setting up an SMTP server manually.

Using The WP-Mail Function 

It’s important to note that this function isn’t especially reliable. This function sees wp_mail calling the PHPMailer PHP mail function, giving instructions for sending emails to the server. The hosting provider will then try to deliver your email, using Postfix or SendMail to route it to the appropriate destination where its receiving host can either accept or reject it. This is where the problem lies since rejects occur relatively frequently and emails are often not sent at all.

Using A Plugin

If you’re looking for a more reliable solution, you may want to install a plugin to resolve configuration issues with the native function. Plugins reconfigure the wp_mail function so that it uses SMTP and not PHP, routing outgoing emails via a sending service. As a result, you may have to set an account up and verify the site with one of the third-party sending services. 

Sending Emails Without Plugins

This method requires you to manually configure SMTP, and so is only really suitable for people with an in-depth technical knowledge. However, if you do it correctly, it’s often the best way to avoid bloating of the website with extra plugins. 

How To Test Email Sending 

It’s important to check whether or not your WordPress website is able to send emails. Running some tests will ensure your server configuration is correct. Here are a couple of tests to try: 

  • Logging outgoing emails – if you’ve opted for plugins to send email on WordPress, you’ll find an included email logging function. Once you’ve sent a test mail, just click on the tab marked Email Log and you should see the email there. Alternatively, you could install another third-party plugin for logging your emails, although these won’t actually inform you whether the email has actually been delivered. 
  • Resetting your WP password – although this isn’t really a test, more of a trick for checking the speed of your configuration, it’s useful for showing you whether or not the site is capable of sending emails. Head to your site’s login page, choose “lost password”, get a new password and wait for its arrival. If it takes over ten minutes to receive the email, your site is probably not sending out your emails. 

While it’s useful to determine whether or not your WordPress site is able to send emails, that doesn’t really get to the root of the problem. If you find that it can’t, you need to find out why. You also need to determine whether or not your emails are actually being delivered into a Junk Mail account instead of the account that it’s intended for.

How Do I Troubleshoot Problems With Sending Emails?

There are several potential reasons why WordPress is failing to send your emails or why all the emails you send are landing in the recipient’s Spam folder. Some of the most frequently seen problems are outlined here along with some tips to help you resolve them. 

If your emails are failing to send from your WordPress site at all, you may find that the problem is due to disabled or unavailable PHP functions. Alternatively, the server that you’re using could be sending excessive amounts of emails which is preventing the attempts. No matter what the reason is for your emails not sending, you can rectify the issue by reconfiguring the settings so that you’re using an SMTP. 

If your emails are landing in the recipient’s spam folder, that could indicate your IP is blacklisted. Alternatively, the email may have been constructed poorly with partially supported or unsupported HTML. You can check this by using a tool like Mailtrap Sandbox which will catch your emails from staging before inspecting their spam score, validating their HTML/CSS and seeing whether the domain is appearing in any blacklists.

It's possible to configure an email WordPress plugin so that it fills out the From field automatically using the user’s email address. As the form or email is actually coming from the WP website and not the user themselves, some email providers label emails like this as spam. Some plugins that are likely to be affected by issues of this nature include Ninja Forms, Gravity Forms, Happy Forms, Contact Form 7, and weForms among others. 

Also you may discover that two of your plugins are in conflict because they are simply too similar. As an example, contact form and SMTP plugins may sometimes conflict with other plugins that are similar and block the emails from sending. Unfortunately you cannot solve this in an easy way. You will have to deactivate them all, then activate each one in turn, testing them one at a time until you are able to send out emails once more.

WordPress Email Functionality Isn’t Rocket Science

Although it may appear complicated, in fact sending emails through WordPress doesn’t have to be as difficult as you imagine. Essentially, there are two main issues to bear in mind – you’ll require an SMTP service that’s reliable and you may need to make a few tweaks to your PHPMailer class in order to make the whole thing work properly. 

However it isn’t just about being able to send out your emails to your desired destination. You’ll also have to keep watching closely to make that they are actually being delivered and that recipients are responding to them in the way that you desire. For this reason, it is often a good idea to invest in one of the email delivery platforms that are able to provide this kind of service as well as a trusted and reliable SMTP so that you can have greater peace of mind.

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