I wrote recently about using Mandrill transactional email for sending WordPress website emails. I’ve had quite a bit of feedback from that article with people asking questions regarding this so thought I’d respond to the most popular questions below.
When does WordPress send emails?
WordPress by default sends an email in circumstances such as when new users are added. Also depending on the plugins you have installed, there are other instances when emails are sent using default WordPress sending functionality; examples are for contact forms (Gravity Forms, Contact Form 7 etc.), backup notifications such as with BackupBuddy and various other commonly used plugins.
How does WordPress send emails?
WordPress uses your webserver to send emails. Without going into technical details, PHP is used to send email from your server.
Why should I send WordPress emails using an external service?
The answer to this is twofold:
- Deliverability: There are various reasons that your email may not be received appropriately. Reasons include that your email may be determined to be spam or there is a delay in sending from your webserver. Dedicated email sending services are specialists in what they do. When you send email using your webserver (as WordPress does by default) you’re using software that specializes in delivering websites to deliver email. To use an analogy, we wouldn’t trust an email specialist to host our website therefore we can’t expect our webserver to offer extremely high quality transactional email sending.
- Customization: You’ll notice that emails sent from WordPress don’t contain your name nor your website name in the to field. Although this may be able to be changed with a plugin this is not ideal nor intuitive for people receiving these emails. In addition we can’t use a custom email address nor domain from which to send. By using an external sending service we have far greater control over the email headers (and even content).
Which email sending service should I use to send from my website?
Use a dedicated transactional email sending service. Use Mandrill. 12,000 free email sends a month and it is just so reliable. If you prefer, AWS SES is also outstanding. Of course you may also use Google Apps/Gmail, Microsoft Office 365, Zoho Mail or other SMTP email sending (if you have an account with one of these services) but it’s hard to imagine a circumstance where Mandrill isn’t best.