Why am I not receiving email from my website forms?

not receiving email

3 Reasons Why You Are not Receiving Email from web forms

People hire me to fix their website forms because they are not receiving email from them.

More often than not the problem is related to a hosting configuration or the email provider is blocking it due to spam triggers. It is seldom a programming issue.

What I can and cannot do.

 I am a web programmer. I write and debug code. This means I can methodically debug and rule out reasons why you are not receiving email from your forms. If it is a code problem I am 100% confident that I can fix it. If the reason you are not getting email is outside of the code, then it is “out of my hands” and you have to contact the appropriate service provider.

To help explain better, consider postal mail.

You have a bill to pay. You write a check and put it in your mailbox. You see the mailman come by and pick up your mail.

From this point, you assume the mailman will take it to the post office, it will get processed and delivered to the destination.

A month later, you get a notice that your account is overdue. You know you put the bill in your mailbox. What happened to it?

It's impossible for you to say. It could have fallen off the truck, it could have gotten stuck in the machine while getting processed, it could have "gotten lost", the mail truck could have gotten in an accident and all of the mail burned, it could have gotten delivered to the wrong address and they pitched it, it could have gotten stolen from your mailbox.... who knows.

You did your part by putting the letter in the mailbox. But there are other factors involved to get it to the recipient.


My job is to identify the source of the problem. If it is a programming issue I will fix it. If it is something beyond my control, I will tell you who you need to contact and what you need to tell them to get the issue resolve.

Why email is not sending

1. Code Errors, Fails to Send Email

Custom Coded Web Forms
This is easy for me to debug. There multiple ways for me to methodically check if code is triggering the logic to send mail. The first thing I do is add my email address to receive a copy of the email and debug the code. If I see errors, I fix. Done.

WordPress Contact Forms
There are several popular plugins that most websites will use to build web forms and send email.

A few of the big ones:

Combined, just these 3 plugins have well over 10 million installations. If you are using one of these WordPress plugins for your web forms, then I know the form code is sending.

How do I know? I build websites with WordPress and fix WordPress problems every day. With that many installations, if there is a bug in the code, developer support would be notified from many users and address it ASAP. If you are using a WordPress plugin for your website forms, first I see that your plugins and WordPress core code are up to date. Outdated website code can create conflicts and errors. Once that is done, I rule out configuration issues. I will review the plugin configuration for problems, make any tweaks, and test.

From my analogy, code issues are equivalent to “putting mail in the mailbox, and seeing the mailman pick it up”.

2. The web host mail server fails to send it

There could be a couple of reasons why your web host is blocking email from being sent.

I do address configuration issues that many shared hosts have in place to help block spam being sent from the server. If I addressed this in step 1 and email still does not send, then I will recommend that you contact your host.

I will give you the exact text (or email) that you can copy and paste into a support request to your web host. This will clearly communicate the problem you are having and what steps have been taken to rule out code problems.

Note: It is my policy not to directly communicate with your web hosting support or any other support for service you do not purchase through me.

3. Email service provider is blocking incoming email

A third potential reason you are not receiving web form email is that your email service provider is blocking the incoming email.

To test this, I send an email to you and me from the form. If I receive it but you do not, this identifies the issue being with your mail provider blocking you from receiving it.

Again, I will provide you with the  text to communicate to them, but I can not fix this. They could be identifying the email being sent as spam, or your website IP address could be on a blacklist due to your web hosting account or other accounts on the same web server being flagged as sending spam.

The web host blocking email sent and your email provider falls into the “It’s impossible for you to say.” part of my analogy. When you give me FTP access to your web hosting account, I have access to your website code. I can see code error logs, and modify code to test. With shared web hosting providers, your host does not give access to email configuration or logs to see why it is being blocked. With 3rd party email providers, you need to deal with their support. It has nothing to do with web programming.

Fix the problem

There are different reasons why you are not receiving email from a web form. It’s often not the code. (Especially if the code was sending and then stops.)

If your website code is broken I can fix it.  Otherwise I will narrow down the source and consult with you how to address the root of the problem.


Related Post:   Why is my WordPress site so slow?

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