Troubleshooting Ninja Forms Email: A Comprehensive How-To Part 3

Welcome! This is Part 3 of our 3 part series taking a deep dive into troubleshooting Ninja Forms email notifications. If you’ve run through Part 1 and Part 2 already, join us here to see what you can do about your email woes. We’ll do our best to find you a solution. In Part 1 we looked at troubleshooting your Ninja Forms email notification action. In Part 2 we analyzed the role of your WordPress installation in handling email data.

  1. You configure your email notification action in your Ninja Form.
  2. When a user hits submit on the form, the email data you have configured in the Ninja Forms email notification action is passed to your WordPress installation using WordPress’ wp_mail function. This is not yet an email, but a package of raw data. WordPress then passes that raw email data off to your web host using the host server’s phpmailer mail function.
  3. Your host takes the email data that’s passed to it, turns the raw email data into an actual email, and sends it off to the email client specified by the user via the email address they entered into your form.

Now in Part 3, we’ll take a look at the final stage of an email’s life on your side of the fence: getting wrapped up and shipped out by your host (or email service). Let’s take a look!

Step 3: Working with Your Host or Selecting an Alternative

This section is going to be brief, honestly because we simply don’t have any control over what happens with your email at this point. After it’s passed via wp_mail() into WordPress, it’s out of our hands. That doesn’t mean you’re out of options, though! Especially not if you have a great hosting provider. Even then, you can make it happen.

Many hosts offer fantastic customer support. Others do not. Many offer great support, but simply aren’t well equipped to deal with email issues. If you get to this stage and you’re ready to throw your shoe at the monitor, here’s what you need to do next:

Call your host

Let them know “Hey, I’m trying to send mail from this address to that address, it’s not working. Can you help?”. Sometimes they’ll be able to, you have the issue resolved in under 5 minutes, your shoe’s back on your foot, and you’re happily sending email. Yay! Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that smoothly. What now?

Install an alternative

While your host is capable of sending email for you, they certainly don’t specialize in it. Many services do specialize in sending email though, and if you’re hitting dead ends up to this point then it’s time to try one.

These services come in 2 major types: transactional email, and SMTP. We won’t parse the difference between them here, but either will suit the typical Ninja Forms user. We have a list of transactional email services and a review of some of the major SMTP plugins over on wpninjas.com. Check those out, find one that suits you, and give it a go. Any of them should work just fine.

mailgun for troubleshooting ninja forms emailWe recommend Mailgun as a transactional email service. We all use Mailgun around the office for testing and development. You can check out our WP Ninjas article on Mailgun to see a tutorial for setting it up on your site. It’s clean, efficient, and effective.

We also recommend Postman as an SMTP plugin. Complete with a mail logger, Postman SMTP can not only handle your email for you, it can help you troubleshoot issues as you go.

I installed one of these, ran a test, and it works… but I still don’t get email from Ninja Forms!

Head back over to Part 1 and also check out our email troubleshooting documentation. You have something configured wrong in your Ninja Forms email notification. A successful test here means WordPress is working and your plugin is sending email, but it’s getting incomplete or incorrectly formatted/invalid data passed to it and won’t send what it’s being passed. I know. You want to throw your shoe at me again. I’m sorry. Email can be hard sometimes.

Mission Accomplished?

Hopefully this has helped you identify and resolve whatever issue you were facing. Email can be complicated world despite being something we use everyday. We have close relationships with a number of hosting services, and trying to troubleshoot can give all of us a headache- it’s not just you. Chances are your issue is/was something small, so if you haven’t found it yet, don’t give up. The answers in here somewhere.

We are of course always available to help in your Ninja Forms support channel. I may even be the one fielding your ticket if you submit (or the one that linked you to this article)! We’ll do everything we can to help your troubleshoot your email issues, just please be aware that there’s only so much we can do with this, as we only control a small part of the overall process.

Good luck!