It is gradually becoming a more common known problem – emails from forms never appear… The reasons can be as many as the frustrations.
In this post, I will get into more detail on what the cause may be and how you can best solve the problem.
Check that your form is set up correctly
One of the most common errors I see in setting up forms is that the sender email is set to the email address the sender himself enters. Here you should ask yourself: Does my website have permission to send on behalf of that person’s email?
Typically, the answer is no. Your website is basically only allowed to post on its own behalf. However, it also requires that your DNS is set up correctly – but more on that later.
I would recommend that you send the form away with your own domain as the sender – e.g. “[email protected]”, and the person who fills in the form is set as “Reply-To” – ie the email that is sent to when you press reply.
Make sure sender email exists
I often experience that the sender of the email is set to “[email protected]”. As such, it’s fine too, as long as that email address actually exists!
Many email servers make an SMTP request on the sender of the email, and in many cases there will be consequences if the server does not receive a valid response return. Some email servers are not so strict, but the vast majority will throw the message in junk mail, or in the worst case, interrupt the delivery of this before it reaches the inbox or junk mail.
Therefore, if you use “[email protected]” as the sender, you should at least add this as an alias to an existing email address – that way the recipient of the email will get a valid answer to a query.
Do you use SMTP for sending?
If you do not, it may be worth considering. By far the fewest web servers are geared to handle the sending of emails correctly, to ensure they reach the recipient.
I have gradually become acquainted with a large number of SMTP services, and they have all had different requirements for DNS. They do this precisely to ensure that emails reach the recipient safely.
I myself use Mailgun, which offers up to 10,000 free submissions per month, and makes both SPF and DKIM signatures available during setup.
Whether it is a free service or a paid one is less important – the important thing is to find the solution that suits your particular usage. Benefits of paid services can be something like e.g. static IP address, better support options, or integration with server software.
Make sure your SPF record is valid and up to date
How your SPF should look is very individual, and depends entirely on what services you use to send emails. Check if your SPF syntax is OK here, or try the SPF generator to find out what your SPF should look like.
Add DKIM signature to your domain
The DKIM signature is a bit like a stamp that tells the recipient a lot about the sender of the email. Roughly speaking, it can be called a kind of “domain confirmation”, which tells the recipient that the sender is who they pretend to be.
Several of the free email services use this method to validate the sender, so it is a must if you e.g. sends out newsletters.
Among other services, Hotmail (and Outlook / Live mail), Yahoo mail and Gmail can be mentioned by free services that use DKIM validation for incoming mail.
To just round off…
If you have set up the form correctly, defined a good SPF policy, and signed your emails with DKIM, you are really well on your way! The only thing it costs is time and understanding :)
If you still experience problems with emails, there may be something more technical behind it, such as web server setup, in which case you should contact your hosting provider to get it fixed.