Thank you, email spammers, for wasting countless hours of my time helping some great clients avoid and repair the damage you create.
Recently I have seen a big increase across several client hosting platforms where the client is having trouble sending emails via their WordPress powered website. These are just basic account, comment and reply functions but as they are computer generated they end up in the users Junk Mail folder. Not good.
What problems can spam email create?
– a shopping cart setup unable to complete an order because the hosting sendmail was turned off.
– new user accounts created but the user does not receive the activation email unless they look in Junk Folder.
– customer/visitor interaction with site like comments or contact forms their automatic reply goes to Junk Folder, very bad first impression of your company, frustration that they interacted but did not see any response.
What is the real issue? Sendmail… just as it sounds this is a function of most websites where the system dynamically generates an email based on user input. This function is often the target of Spammers, they simply want to sneak into your site and send out thousands of emails using your credentials. Server Administrators usually choose to shut down the Sendmail functions for security purposes, good move and very effective but then the Publishers, Editors and Marketing people get excited as they are reaching out to the masses hoping for the interaction to promote their Company products & services.
Oh, did I mention what happens if these Spammers get into your server and setup n email program? Yes, thousands of spam emails are queued and will drag down server performance by using up resources. The next thing to occur is your email address starts to get identified across the web as an origin of Spam so your email is added to a blacklist. Not just your email but all sites using sendmail on that server as the IP address is what gets blacklisted. Now not just your site emails are affected, any emails sent via your webserver will bounce back as undelivered. Again, not going to make a good impression for your Company.
As a WordPress Consultant working with several large firms I am in a unique position to see these email issues across several popular hosting providers. I will admit I am by no means an expert in Server Email Configuration but as I work with some really smart people in this space I am writing this post to put together some information & resources to provide solutions that are sound and tested across multiple hosting systems running WordPress.
As WordPress default email function is php based using the wp_mail() function what we need to do is change to a SMTP solution.
I have found several plugins that appear to be up to the job:
This plugin looks good, updated & compatible with latest WordPress version:
Here is a great article on MailChimp that explains email filters:
The solution appears to be switch to SMTP based emails and add all of the required information so your email responses go directly to the inbox.
Sendmail is a huge security issue so lets get some input from the experts, put new features in place for testing, and hopefully create a safe solution that can be implemented so we can safely communicate with site visitors.
Sending this to several clients, please contact me directly to install & config on individual sites, through collaboration we can beat the spammers!