Have you ever had a WordPress site and your outgoing email was just getting sucked into some kind of black hole, never to be seen again?
I have discovered through experience that this is very common. And the problem is not with WordPress, it is actually with your hosting provider.
The only reason WordPress seems to be the most affected it is because it is so widely supported by hosting environments and that it is free. And not all of the hosting providers do a good job with delivering your email.
When your website is using what is called a “shared plan”, this means you share the server resources with other websites as well. And those websites may not be as friendly and ethical as you are. In fact, because it is free and so easy to use, there are many people who abuse the email feature of WordPress to send spam.
The easiest solution for the hosting providers, in this case, is to just block the outgoing email capability for everyone, including you!
This does not only affect shared plan users.
After 10 years or running an online business, and keeping an email quality score of 9+ out of 10, our email got suddenly dropped. We had a dedicated server, so we were not sharing our IP with anyone else. And we only found out of this problem because of our customers complaining about not getting their orders delivered. Yaiks!
Contacting support did not help. There was just a general reply that all outgoing email was now routed through a different grid and they were very strict in their rules. The problem was that everyone was treated the same: spammer or genuine business! And of course, the common rules were those applied to spammers. The good history and reputation of our business did not matter anymore.
Complaining did not help so I had to look for
There are two that I found:
1) Move to a different hosting that knows how to manage outgoing email well. At the moment of writing, the only one I can recommend is SiteGround.
2) Buy an outgoing email service.
I will focus on the second one because there are some mistakes I made and lessons that I learned.
Since we were used to having free outgoing email with our server, it did not make sense to me to get a paid service. So I just looked for companies who offered free email delivery if you stayed under a certain quota.
This plan backfired big time. Most of our email was sent all right, but it was going straight into the spam folder of most of our customers.
Out of the Spam Folder
The problem was that the free plan was again shared with other people who were in fact spammers.
It was time to do the math and it became obvious that we were losing a lot of customers because we could not communicate with them any longer. At this point paying for a high-quality outgoing email service began to make much more sense. Once I took the leap I had no regrets. The kind of tools you get with a paid service, and most importantly the deliverability, generated more than enough customers to cover the costs.
For an online business where it is important to stay in touch with your audience, it makes sense to have a paid email solution.
I have used SendGrid in the past and I was very happy with them. But I have moved to MailChimp because of their better automation and better integration with WordPress.
Some Technical Details
Correctly setting up outgoing email involves some technical details about DNS, MX records, DKIM, SPF and others. These are beyond the scope of this article, but if you need some guidance ask me in the comments section.