How to ensure WordPress email deliverability

WildPress 11th Jan 2020

This guide will cover:

  • What email deliverability is and how it can affect your email campaigns
  • How you can improve it with the help of WordPress plugins and settings

What is email deliverability and why is it important?

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to a recipient’s inbox. It is about making sure that important emails are not stopped by spam filters.

Have you ever had emails sent from your WordPress website end up in your spam folder?
What would happen if your customers password reset email got lost?
Or the order receipt from your store?

When you have written the perfect newsletter for your customers, you want them to read it and take action.
The chance that your customer reads the email is drastically lower if it is being stopped by a spam filter.

What can cause an email to end up in the spam folder?

Different spam filters have different criteria. There are many reasons to why an email ends up in the spam folder, both technical and human:

  • Low sender reputation. This is a common problem when many emails are being sent from the same IP address.
  • Unverified sender
  • Low quality content
  • Recipients marking emails as spam

Why email deliverability is a problem for WordPress

WordPress uses a basic email functionality by default. This functionality depends on the PHP mail settings on your web host.
This is a problem because emails sent via PHP are not authenticated and are often detected as spam.

How to improve your websites email deliverability

You can improve your websites email deliverability by:

  • Replacing the WordPress default email service with SMTP
  • Updating your sender email addresses
  • Making sure that you are sending high quality emails
  • Keeping your mailing list up to date
  • Only sending emails to people who has asked for them

The first two recommended steps are a bit technical but you only need to do them once for each website or domain.

Using an SMTP email service with WordPress

First, you need an email service that uses a secure SMTP server.
SMTP, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, is more reliable than sending emails with PHP mail.

Many web hosts and domain providers includes SMTP email servers in their packages.
Make sure that your provider uses email sender authentication such as DKIM and SPF.

It is possible to set up access to a SMTP server with a Gmail or Outlook account. But the recommendation is that you use an email address with your own domain instead.
This will help you avoid spam filters and the emails will look more professional.

You will need your SMTP login details such as username, password, domain and ports to set up access to SMTP from within WordPress.
You can often find these in your web hosts control panel.
If you are not able to find the information, contact your provider.

Recommended plugins for sending WordPress emails with SMTP

For WordPress to be able to connect to the SMTP server, you need to use a plugin. Once the plugin is set up, your emails will be sent through the SMTP server instead of PHP mail.

The most popular SMTP plugin in the WordPress.org plugin directory is WP Mail SMTP by WPForms. The plugin is available in a free and premium version.
This plugin is a good choice if you are also using Contact Form by WPForms. It is important to know that the support for the free version is limited.

The free plugin Easy WP SMTP has fewer options and may be easier and less overwhelming to setup than WP Mail SMTP.

If you are using SendinBlue as your provider, you can use the official plugin SendinBlue Subscribe Form And WP SMTP.

Updating your sender email address

By default, your WordPress administrative email is being used as the sender (the from address).
This is bad for security reasons. You should not share your administrative email address with anyone.
WordPress also sometimes uses the address wordpress@yourdomain.

It is easier for spam filters to verify the sender if you update your sender email address to match your domain.

You need to update the email settings for all plugins that sends emails. For example membership, e-commerce, newsletter or contact form plugins.

Send test emails to yourself. Try your own signup forms, orders and bookings to make sure that the sender and the content is clear.

Make sure that you are only sending high quality emails

If you want your emails to land in the inbox and not the spam folder, you need to know what the spam filters are looking for.

Many countries have laws that regulate what you can send. Your emails needs to include:

  • Your name and/or business name
  • Your mailing address. That’s correct, a physical mailing address, not only your contact email.
  • An unsubscribe link

Always have high quality, well written content. Sending low quality emails increases the risk of having your emails marked as spam.

Use trigger words carefully. Avoid words like offer, deals, sales, cheap, and profit.

  • Don’t include too many links
  • Don’t link to websites with low reputation

Test the quality of your emails before you send them

There are online tools that you can use to check if your email title and content can be considered spam:

On Sendscore.com, you can also test your sender reputation.

Keep your mailing list updated

Your emails can only be delivered if the recipient’s email is valid.
The mailing list should not contain invalid email addresses.

Your sender reputation and email deliverability will be lower if your emails bounce. Check your mailing lists and contacts and remove inactive email addresses regularly. Do this at least every 3-4 months.
Only send emails to people who has asked for them

Only send newsletters to people who has signed up to receive them.

Avoid sending too many confirmations to customers and people who has used your contact form.

Recipients who are not interested in your offers may mark your emails as spam. Unwanted emails will lower your sending reputation. This can lead to your next emails being sent to the spam folder.

Never buy email lists

These email addresses may be fake and the owners have not consented to receiving emails from you.

Summary

You can improve your WordPress email deliverability by replacing the default email service with SMTP.

Using SMTP, email sender authentication and your own domain will allow your emails through the spam filter and into the inbox.

But sharing high quality content with your customers is just as important.
Use online tools to check the quality of your emails before you send them.

Sending unwanted emails can affect your email deliverability negatively. This can make future campaigns more difficult.
If you have tips or questions about how to improve email deliverability, please share them by leaving a comment.
If you are having trouble with email deliverability, send us a message! We can help you solve the issues.

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