Everybody will agree that a contact form not working is anything but good. Not only is it frustrating, but it is upsetting. Nobody likes to think about the possibilities they may have missed out on. That is why keeping a frequent check in on your contact form is critical to the client flow from your potential leads.
The truth is that most of us setup a website once, then let it collect “digital dust”, do not maintain it or do regular check ins. That unfortunately is neglect. Any business that operates online is required to check their sales process. We, here at Flothemes, check our cart purchase process once a week at the very minimum, if you have a store like we do – we highly recommend you to follow a similar procedure. If you do paid advertisements into funnels, you have to check your results and traction for conversion. If you run a service business where leads come through forms, then you must check your forms.
Ok, enough of the lecture. I believe we are all on the same page on the importance of a fully functional contact form for your business. So the question now is, how do you make sure that you set up your form correctly, maintain it and then handle it once things go wrong?
Regardless of the platform the same principles will apply. For those using Flothemes on WordPress, these tips are beneficial whether you use FloForms or a third party contact form plugin.
Setting up Your Form
Currently we recommend 4 form plugins. Each requires to be configured correctly.
When installing your contact form, just adding and activating it rarely means that it is working. There are several steps to take:
For each of the plugins that we recommend, you can find the setup tutorials below:
Maintaining your form requires check ins. My preferred option is to set a reminder for every Monday morning where I do a test order on our cart and send test emails through any form used on our site. This way, the worst case scenario is up to 7 days of missed emails, which for many may be too long but unless you can test your form daily, each week is suffice. If weekly is too often, do it bi-weekly or once a month.
Each time you make any changes or updates to your theme, to wordpress, your email or hosting, make sure to test your contact form as an additional step.
I.e. If you update your WordPress version or plugins – always take a step to test your form.
While constant notifications can feel like spam when received on a daily basis, they are also a great step to keep you in sync of a working contact form – daily summary reports, reminder notifications to contact form leads, etc.
What if something goes wrong
In case you have had a quiet patch of zero inquiries and then find out the worst, follow these steps suitable for any WordPress form user:
- Contact your form provider or review any troubleshooting articles
- FloForms – https://docs.flothemes.com/flo-forms-issues/
- Ninja Forms – https://ninjaforms.com/docs/basic-troubleshooting/
- Contact your Hosting if you have your email hosted with them
- Have you updated your WordPress, plugins, theme or your php version on your hosting recently? Updates can and do affect your contact form.
- Notify your leads about the situation. While replying late is not the best option, it is the only option available and is better than not replying at all. While this is frustrating and clients may have moved on, a courtesy message with a truthful reason for the lack of a response or delay is the right decision to take.
While not all contact form plugins save submitted forms, FloForms and NinjaForms do, so at least you are aware of the inquiries you have received.
DIY Troubleshooting CheckList:
If you are not sure what is wrong and want to check everything yourself, these 7 steps are a safe checklist to follow:
1. Check your Spam folder.
Sometimes emails go to your spam, while you think the form is not working. If this is the case and you find an email in your spam, mark it as Not Spam and all future emails from that server will arrive in your inbox.
2. Check if your server is sending emails at all.
One way to do that is to create a new user for your website, using a new email you have access to. Make sure you enable the option that sends the password to the user. WordPress will generate a password and send the login details to this new user via email. If you don’t get an email with login credentials, it means the problem is not in your contact form, but the site email function is not working at all. In this case you should contact your hosting provider or go to point #7.
ref: Point 4
3. Disable ‘Reply-to’ headers.
On some servers the emails won’t work if the ‘Reply-to’ headers are enabled. Hence, it’s necessary to disable the ‘Reply-to’ email header. Sometimes this also means that you’ll need to send only text emails instead of html.
Under FloForms Settings > Enable “Reply-to” email header > Select your preference.
4. Change the email subject from the form settings.
Some email servers do not work with certain email subjects. For example, we had a client who used ‘Hello’ as his email subject, and for some reason his email server did not like it, and was not sending emails at all. As soon as the subject line was changed, it started working again. Note that there is no rule about what words should not be used as the email subject. This can happen only with certain hosting companies and depends on a variety of factors.
ref: Point 3
5. The visitor’s email may also be the reason why your emails are not sent.
We had a case when everything worked fine for users who were submitting the form, using their gmail address in the email field. While for yahoo users – the form didn’t work. If you notice such a problem, we recommend reaching out to your hosting provider, as their server may be blocking certain email addresses. Or check point #7.
6. Disable all the plugins that are possible to be disabled.
Disable all plugins that you are currently not being used or are not of vital importance for your website (Important ones are: your shop, if you have one; FloForms, as you’re testing it, etc). Test your form again after disabling the plugins.
7. Advanced Option: Replace your SMTP Provider
If all the above did not solve the problem, then using a third party SMTP provider may help you start sending and receiving emails again. Note that this is more technical to setup. We recommend installing the WP Mail SMTP plugin and following the steps below:
Plugin Site: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-mail-smtp
Installation Tutorial: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-mail-smtp/#installation
There you have it!
With the tips and options above you should prevent any unfortunate situations for your business with potential leads. If you have found other useful tips and advice in safe guarding your contact form leads, please let us know in the comments below.