Part of being a really good web developer, is developing enough websites to be able to learn and troubleshoot just about every possible scenario.

One thing that happens from time to time when web form submissions actually never end up in the intended recipient's inbox. For example, whether it's a standard "Contact Us" form, or a "Request Pricing" form, or even an event registration form, we typically use a popular form builder plug-in called Gravity Forms to create the fields that the user fills out, as well as set the recipient(s) email address for our client.

Most of the time the user receives all the email submissions, but in rare occasions, a specific email address will have trouble receiving all of the form submissions by users.

The submissions always show in the backend of WordPress, so they're not lost, but timeliness is a factor, and the email alerts are usually mission critical.

We've been through several scenarios where this has happened, and it always comes down - not to the website - but rather to issues with the spam blocking filter on the email server side of things.

We had to say it, but "it's not OUR problem."

But it is our problem, especially in the name of a top notch client experience. So, our team went to work to get to the bottom of this, and here's essentially what we found...

1. Most of the time, when the email "from" address is a non-existent address at the same domain name as the website, it fixes the issue. It should not be the same as the recipient address. However, when this doesn't solve the issue, we dig deeper and find...
2. The incoming mail you'd see it's likely sent from the server address; which with shared hosting could potentially have a lot of hacked or spam ridden sites sending out an enormous amount of spam emails thus getting the address blacklisted or put more likely to be caught as suspicious from email servers like Google. Moving to Sendgrid or Mailgun or another third party platform that handles mass emails as well as allows domain whitelisting prevents most of these issues.
It also adds a layer for debugging to be able to see if an email was or wasn't sent allowing you to see if the error exists on the sending or receiving side of the transaction.
Due to the large number of websites (almost 90%) that have a contact form, this has become an extremely important part of web design and development.
Note: while we love (and have professed our love many times) for Managed WordPress Hosting, it does in fact increase the odds of these issues happening, but now we have a solution!

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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