From time to time, I talk to people who have problems getting emails from their website. Their website has some sort of contact form or lead generation form, and they don’t seem to be getting some or any of the emails from it.
So what can be the problem?
To start with, why isn’t this simple to fix? When a website form seems to be acting up, can’t you just log in to the website and see what the issue is?
Well, checking settings in the website should definitely be an early troubleshooting step. But if everything appears to be set up correctly on the website and on the particular form, that’s where it gets complicated.
See, emails don’t go directly from one computer to another. Instead, emails are passed along somewhat randomly through the internet from server to server until they reach the final email server, then they’re passed through one of many different methods to the end user.
So there are a lot of moving parts and a number of stops along the way that could be causing an issue.
Some of the components of your email message’s path are easy to check and some are more often the problem than others, but all of them can affect whether an individual email gets from your website to your inbox without any issue.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume you’re running WordPress on a server managed by a web hosting company.
Here are some common components that could be the culprit.
- The web server
- Your form plugin (Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7, Ninja Forms, etc.)
- The sending email server (may be different from the web server)
- The computers in between your sending email server and the receiving email server
- The receiving email server
- The spam filter on your email server
- The program you’re using to check your email (a.k.a. email client)
- The way the email client gets that email (often POP3 or IMAP)
- The spam filter on your email client
Sounds overwhelming, right? There are a few easy things to check though. Each of these could be their own how-to article, so let’s just cover a few of them at a really high level.
Check all the settings in whatever form plugin you’re using on your website. Does it have the right email address and other settings in there? Does the “from address” use the same domain the website is hosted on?
Your web server / email server
Often, your web server and your email server are one and the same and are managed by your web hosting company. Reach out to them, let them know you’re having an issue, and see if anything jumps out on their end.
Spam filter in your email client
If the emails are supposed to be sent to you, fill out a form on your website and submit it. Give it 5 to 10 minutes, then check your spam or junk mail folder. They may just be getting stuck in there.
Still not working?
If you’re still unable to figure out the issue, you need to find someone who’s willing to communicate with all the parties involved on your behalf.
Now, let’s be clear about something. What’s going on is a technical issue. So if you have an IT company or employee, they should ideally take point on this. But a good digital marketing company will be willing to work with your IT professional to get it taken care of.
Once you’re beyond the basic troubleshooting, it will take some collaboration and communication to determine what’s going on. It may also take some time. You may need to determine some sort of temporary workaround.
For example, some form plugins like Gravity Forms will also save the information on the backend of the website. Somebody may need to log in on a regular basis and check if there have been any new form entries.
Be patient, trust the professionals, and know that it’s not always a quick fix.