5 Solutions to Prevent WordPress Emails from Going to Spam in Outlook

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Hosting & DNS, How To | 0 comments

In my line of work, emails being delivered from custom WordPress websites I build, can sometimes land into the spam folders of my clients inbox. For example: I have build them a contact form and now all the emails sent to them from that form, are landing in SPAM!

Having dealt with this for over a decade, I’ve come to find that the reasons are MANY and figuring out what the hell is wrong will cause you to have an aneurysm. So this is basically a collection for me to reference when I’m troubleshooting email spam.

1. Misconfigured Email Routing

Cause: When your website is hosted on a third-party web host and you’re using Outlook with GoDaddy, the emails sent from your website might not be properly authenticated. This can happen due to the way emails are routed from your WordPress hosting server to your email provider.

Solution: Ensure that your email routing is correctly set up to use GoDaddy’s mail servers. This might involve setting up SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) plugins in WordPress that allow you to specify GoDaddy’s SMTP server details for sending emails. This way, emails sent from your website will be authenticated and recognized by Outlook as legitimate.

Here is a popular plugin I’ve used for setting up SMTP on your WordPress Installation.

2. Misconfigured or Lack of SPF and DKIM Records

If your website is hosted at a 3rd party provider and your email is hosted at GoDaddy this could mean that GoDaddy could be blacklisting your emails that are coming from your website.

Cause: Similar to sending emails, receiving emails also requires proper authentication to ensure they’re not marked as spam. If your domain’s DNS settings on GoDaddy don’t include SPF and DKIM records that account for the third-party hosting server, Outlook might flag these emails as spam.

Solution: Add or update SPF and DKIM records in your domain’s DNS settings on GoDaddy to include your third-party web host. This action tells email services that the web host is authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain, improving their credibility.

So we need to whitelist the IP address from the host where your website is located.

  1. Login to your website host and located the IP address.
  2. Login to your domain host (Possibly GoDaddy) and located your DNS records section so you can edit it.
  3. Change your domain names SPF records to white list the IP of your web host.

You can use MX Toolbox SPF Record Generator to help you create our values as seen in the image below.

Dmarcly has an excellent in depth article on How SPF Records Work and How to build SPF record values to help with spam.

5 solutions to prevent wordpress emails from going to spam in outlook - sample spf txt record
This is an example of what an spf record might look like. It’s a txt record in dns.
5 solutions to prevent wordpress emails from going to spam in outlook - spf record generator
Using an spf record generator will help you create the correct value. It can also check to see if your record is valid.

You can also use chatGPT to create the record for you which is WAY simpler.

Creating an SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record is essential for validating that the mail sent from specific IP addresses is authorized by the domain’s administrators. This helps in reducing spam and spoofing by telling email servers which IP addresses are allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain.

5 solutions to prevent wordpress emails from going to spam in outlook - spf record for whitelist ip

Explanation of the SPF Record Components:

  • v=spf1: This initiates the SPF record, indicating the version of SPF used.
  • ip4:***.***.***.** ip4:***.***.***.**: These specify the individual IP addresses that are allowed to send email on behalf of your domain.
  • include:secureserver.net: This includes the SPF record of GoDaddy’s email servers (secureserver.net is commonly used by GoDaddy for their email services). It allows email to be sent from IP addresses that are designated as safe by GoDaddy’s SPF record.
  • -all: This mechanism is a hard fail. It instructs receiving email servers to reject all emails that do not come from the specified IP addresses or GoDaddy’s servers.

3. Email Content and Formatting

Cause: Automated emails, especially from WordPress plugins like Gravity Forms, can sometimes have content or formatting that triggers spam filters. This could be due to overly generic content, missing information in the headers, or certain trigger words.

Solution: Customize the email templates in Gravity Forms to ensure they include specific, personalized content that is less likely to be flagged as spam. Also, make sure the emails include all necessary headers and avoid using too many links or sales-oriented language.

Content-Related Triggers:
  • Spammy Phrases: Words and phrases commonly associated with spam, like “Buy now,” “Free,” “Guaranteed,” or “No risk.”
  • Urgency Overuse: Overusing phrases that create a false sense of urgency or pressure, such as “Act now!” or “Limited time offer.”
  • Misleading Subject Lines: Subject lines that don’t match the email’s content can be a red flag.
  • Excessive Use of Caps and Exclamation Points: Using ALL CAPS or too many exclamation points (!!!) can trigger spam filters.
  • Overly Promotional Content: Emails that focus too much on selling rather than providing value can be flagged as spam.
Formatting-Related Triggers:
  • Poor HTML Coding: Emails that are poorly coded, especially with outdated HTML, can be flagged. This includes using HTML copied directly from a word processor.
  • Invisible Text: Including text in the same color as the background to manipulate search engines or spam filters is a major red flag.
  • Large Images with Little to No Text: Emails that are predominantly images with little text can be flagged, as spammers often use images to bypass text scanners.
  • Embedding Forms: Including forms directly in emails is not standard practice and can trigger spam filters.
  • Using Shortened URLs: To avoid detection, spammers often use URL shortening services. Hence, shortened URLs in emails can be suspicious.
  • Multiple Fonts and Colors: Using a variety of fonts, sizes, and colors within a single email can look suspicious and unprofessional.
Attachment and Link-Related Triggers:
  • Attachments: Especially certain file types (like .exe, .zip, or .scr) can be immediate spam triggers.
  • Suspicious Links: Links to untrustworthy websites or having a lot of links in your email can raise flags.
Behavior-Related Triggers:
  • Sending from a Free Domain Email Address: Using a free email service (like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook) instead of a domain-specific email address can be less credible.
  • High Sending Volume: A sudden spike in the volume of emails sent can trigger spam filters, especially if the sender’s reputation isn’t established.
  • Not Including an Unsubscribe Link: According to anti-spam laws like CAN-SPAM, failing to include an easy way to unsubscribe is not just bad practice; it’s illegal.

Avoiding these triggers is key to improving the deliverability of your emails and ensuring they reach the intended inboxes. Crafting well-designed, respectful, and engaging emails not only helps avoid spam filters but also enhances the overall effectiveness of your email communication.

4. Server IP Reputation

Cause: If the IP address of your third-party web hosting server has been used for spam in the past, this could negatively impact the reputation of emails sent from your website.

Solution: Check the reputation of your web host’s IP address using online tools. If the reputation is poor, consider requesting a new IP address from your host, or use an SMTP service with a better reputation for sending your emails.

You can use MX Tool Box to see if your web host IP has been blacklisted.

5. Gravity Forms Email Settings

Cause: Gravity Forms, or similar WordPress contact form plugins, might be configured to send email in a way that doesn’t work well with GoDaddy’s email handling.

Solution: Within Gravity Forms’ settings, ensure that you’re using an SMTP plugin for WordPress that routes emails through an SMTP server with a good reputation, possibly even GoDaddy’s own SMTP server. This ensures that emails sent from your forms are seen as trustworthy.

Make sure that your gravity forms notification settings are setup properly using your website domain. It would be helpful that your TO and FROM emails are different addresses with the same professional domain email. Gravity forms cannot gaurantee the routing of your emails when using a 3rd party email address.

5 solutions to prevent wordpress emails from going to spam in outlook - gravity forms email notification settings

Wrapping Up

Solving email deliverability issues from your WordPress website to your GoDaddy Outlook email involves a mix of correct server configuration, email authentication, and careful content crafting. By addressing these key areas, you can significantly reduce the chances of important emails landing in the spam folder, ensuring smooth and reliable communication for your business.

Remember, keeping your website’s email communication flowing smoothly is just as crucial as the content on your site itself. Take these steps to ensure your emails are seen, read, and acted upon by your recipients.

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