Have you ever come across a website, filled out a contact form, just to never receive a response?
Or, are you managing a website, and test out the contact form, and never get the email submission?
Over the years, I’ve noticed quite a few websites not having SMTP configured. If SMTP is not configured, the web server uses the default PHP’s mail() function, which results in mail getting tripped as spam (i.e. Office 365, Gmail, or other mail servers).
Why is the PHP mail() function not reliable?
If you are hosted with GoDaddy, Bluehost, or other budget hosts; then your website sits alongside thousands of other websites on a typical web server. The web server handles thousands of emails for all of the websites hosted on that server. Often times, you have a few bad apples (websites sending spam), which results in the web servers’ SMTP getting blacklisted. Unfortunately this leads to your form submissions getting caught in spam and never getting to its preferred destination.
If you are on budget hosting, we highly recommend configuring your website to use an SMTP server. You can even use your own email provider, that way you’ll have confidence that form submissions will go to their proper destination.
How do I configure SMTP for WordPress?
If you have a WordPress powered website, we recommend the following plugin to configure SMTP:
This plug-in has over 1 million installs, simply due to the fact that it works. Any email action on your website (notifications, form submissions, alerts, etc.) will use the SMTP server you configure. If your email services are with Office 365 (Exchange), then we recommend choose “Other” and entering in the SMTP information provided by Microsoft. Typically the SMTP settings for Office 365 are:
- SMTP Host: http://smtp.office365.com
- Encryption: TLS
- SMTP Port: 587
- Authentication: On
- SMTP Username & Password: Enter your full email address & password. (we recommended a dedicated mailbox, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Remember, if you change your mailbox password, you’ll want to update it in your SMTP settings! This also goes for all mail servers, not just Office 365, unless you use the Gmail API, shown below:
Gmail API for SMTP
If your email services are with Gmail, then follow this step-by-step guide to configure the API by using Google’s Web Application. This will ensure emails will be sent from your Gmail account, all securely. In addition, since you are using the API, you don’t have to worry about password changes breaking the connection with your SMTP server.
How do I configure SMTP for a non-Wordpress Powered Website?
Depending on the coding language you use, there are various solutions to configure SMTP. See below for some resources:
- PHP: https://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.mail.php
- ASP or .NET: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/19233108/how-to-configure-smtp-settings-in-web-config
Unfortunately there are a lot of websites out there that use the web servers’ mail() function. If you do not receive a response after filling out a form (on a website you don’t manage), feel free to share this article with the business you are contacting. If you build and manage websites, we highly recommend configuring SMTP for all of your clients, that way both you and your client will have confidence that all inquiries will reach their destination(s).
If you have any questions, please comment below.