What good is a contact form if the contact email message never reaches you? If you are having this problem, the first thing to look at is whether or not your WordPress site is actually sending email. I recommended the use of SMTP over PHP mail, the default WordPress mailer. Learn more here: Help! WordPress not Sending Email!
Once you know that your contact form is actually sending mail, now you can address two additional problems:
* deliverabilty (i.e. making sure you get the contact email by reducing the likelihood of it getting caught in spam filters)
* making it easy for you and other staff members to respond to incoming inquiries
BTW, for tips on how to get more people to fill out your contact form, I’ve included some resources at the end of this article, as I am not covering this here.
Contact Us Form Tips
1. Add the respondent’s name to the subject line. This makes it easy for your staff to understand what the incoming email is about. If all your incoming forms have the same title, how do you tell them apart? How do you know which ones have been responded to? If you use an email client (like Gmail) with threaded conversations (based on Subject Line and Sender), this is CRITICAL! Otherwise your inbox becomes a mess.
You do this by adding the Name form field to your Subject Line in the notifications/email section of your contact form plugin. Each contact form plugin will set this up differently, but it might look something like this:
2. Use an email address on your domain as the From address, but use the respondent email as the Reply-to address. It is a rookie mistake to send the contact email to yourself (or staff) using the From address of the respondent. The better approach is to use one of your domain’s email addresses. This is because email sent from a external (non-domain) address looks like spam, and increases the odds of the contact email not getting delivered to you.
If you do not specify a From address, by default WordPress will use “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Do not use the default UNLESS you actually make “wordpress@” a real email address on your domain.
Part two of this tip, is to put the respondent’s email address in Reply-to. Most email clients respect this, and so when you hit reply on an incoming email, you will send an email TO the respondent; which is, of course, what you want.
Your contact form may do this differently, but it should look something like this:
3. Implement email authentication. Email authentication is a protocol that decreases email spoofing (and increases email deliverability) by providing methods for receiving email servers to verify the origin of incoming email. It is a way for a receiving email host to answer the question, “Did this email REALLY come from email@example.com?”
Two popular ways to implement email authentication methods are SPF and DKIM. Most (but not all) major email service providers support these. For detailed instructions about how to set up authentication methods, consult your email provider. To learn more about them, read my glossary entries: SPF and DKIM.
Recommended Contact Form Plugins
I use and recommend the premium contact form plugin, Gravity Forms. For those that prefer a free plugin, I recommend Ninja Forms.
How to Get More People to Fill Out your Contact Forms
The cardinal rule of contact forms is to keep it simple: the less information you ask for, the more responses you will get. Another popular method to increase response is to give away free information as a bribe: a checklist, a how-to article, etc.
For more contact form marketing tips, I recommend 12 of the Best ‘Contact Us’ Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy, and 21 Tips, Tricks & Examples for a Rocking Contact Us Page.
These are great tips. We need to update ours, thanks for the reminder!
These are excellent tips! I’m in the process of trying to fix my newsletter!
These are great tips! I’m going a little blog re-design and was thinking of adding a contact me form. thanks for the info!
Stephanie Jeannot says
These are excellent tips for making sure you get those important emails from people who might have someone valuable to say. I have to really try this.
I’ve been meaning to set-up email authentication with my newsletter host. Thanks for the reminder! I bookmarked this so I can refer to it later.
Barbara Feldman says
Lois Alter Mark says
These are great tips. I have so much to learn about WordPress and about the back end of my blog!
Rebecca Bryant says
Great tips. I currently do not have a contact form on my site but I am looking fro a good newsletter provider. Any suggestions?
Barbara Feldman says
I use and recommend Aweber for my newsletters. And I know people who are happy with MailChimp.
Carrie Chance says
These seem like good tips. I’m currently trying to come up with a good freebie for my own blog.
Heather A Lawrence says
We have a small business and are just working out the kinks with our contact us form and these tips are great!
I don’t know if the contact form plug-in that I use has email authentication or not. That’s definitely I should something I should check into. Everything else on my forms looks good thanks for all the tips
Barbara Feldman says
Alicia, it is not your plugin that needs to do email authentication. You need to ask your email host. In many cases this is the same as your webhost, unless you specifically chose to host your email somewhere else.