A Complete Guide to WooCommerce Emails

Illustration by Pedro Piccinini Illustation of sitting figure and shapes

Emails are an essential part of any successful WooCommerce store. From order confirmation emails to welcome messages and abandoned cart reminders, emails help you communicate important information to customers and build relationships that keep them coming back to buy more.

Understanding how WooCommerce email works can help you get set up for success. So in this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know from the ground up, including transactional vs marketing emails, which emails you need, the best WooCommerce email plugins, customizing your emails, and how to fix common WooCommerce email problems.

Whether you’ve just launched your WooCommerce store or you’re looking for ways to improve your existing emails, you’ll find something useful in this post to help take your WooCommerce emails to the next level!

WooCommerce email table of contents:

  1. Getting started with WooCommerce emails
    1. What is a transactional email?
    2. How WooCommerce transactional emails are sent
    3. What is a marketing email?
    4. Why you need WooCommerce marketing emails
    5. Understanding the email marketing lifecycle
  2. 5 essential WooCommerce marketing emails
  3. Best practices for sending WooCommerce marketing emails
  4. Best WooCommerce plugins for email automation, customization and deliverability
  5. How to fix common WooCommerce not sending emails

Getting started with WooCommerce emails

There are two basic kinds of WooCommerce emails: transactional emails and marketing emails.

The difference between the two email types isn’t so much the content that’s included in them, but how you send them.

What is a transactional email?

Transactional emails are usually “triggered” by a shopper’s interaction with your online store. This includes when a shopper makes a purchase, when a customer’s order status changes, when an order is shipped, and when a customer asks for a refund.

Out of the box, WooCommerce includes 10 transactional emails, which you can edit in the WooCommerce admin email settings:

  • New order email– sent customers when a new order is received.
  • Cancelled order – sent to customers when an order has been cancelled.
  • Failed order – sent to customers when an order has failed.
  • Order on-hold – sent to customers containing order details after an order is placed on-hold. 
  • Processing order – sent to the customer after payment and contains the order details.
  • Completed order – sent to the customer when the order is marked complete, and usually indicates that the order has been shipped.
  • Refunded order – sent to customers when their orders are refunded.
  • Customer note – sent to the customer when a customer note is added from the edit order admin.
  • Reset password – sent when customers reset their password.
  • New account – sent when a customer creates a new account.
Default WooCommerce emails.

Each of these WooCommerce order emails is automatically triggered when a shopper completes a certain action on your site. For example, the “New order” email is automatically sent to a customer when they complete a purchase on your site, and the “Reset password” email is sent when a customer resets their password.

WooCommerce also includes customer invoice emails, which aren’t automatically triggered, but can be sent manually to customers when an order requires payment. 

As standard, WooCommerce transactional emails look pretty bland. But fear not; you can now use MailPoet to customize your WooCommerce emails.

How WooCommerce transactional emails are sent

By default, WordPress uses PHP mail to send transactional emails. That means your emails are sent via your web server. The problem is, most WordPress hosting companies don’t have servers properly configured for sending emails. So you may experience email delivery issues, such as your emails not sending.

In addition, email service providers like Gmail and Yahoo are constantly at war with spammers. One of the things they look at when an email reaches their servers is whether it originated from the location is claims it did. If the proper authentication isn’t there, then emails are sent to spam or aren’t delivered at all.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is an industry-standard for sending emails. Proper SMTP configuration helps improve email deliverability by using proper authentication that satisfies email service providers.

We highly recommend setting up an SMTP plugin and service for your WordPress site to improve the deliverability of your emails. We’ve produced guides on how to set this up using SendGrid and Mailgun.

For more on how to set up SMTP, plus a comparison of 3 top providers for WordPress, check out Top 3 SMTP Plugins for WordPress Compared (and How to Fix Emails Not Sending).

Update: MailPoet now sends transactional emails! Find out more in this post.

What is a marketing email?

Unlike transactional emails that are triggered and sent automatically when a shopper completes an action, marketing emails are timed and sent strategically to your email list.

While transactional emails are absolutely essential for communicating important information to customers about their orders and accounts, marketing emails are “nice to have,” i.e. your store would still function fine without them. 

Examples of marketing emails for WooCommerce include:

Marketing emails could be described as the “icing on the top.” They allow you to build a relationship with your customers. They let you welcome new shoppers to your store, remind customers when they’ve left something behind in their cart, and advertise sales and specials.

In order to send marketing emails with WooCommerce, you’ll need a plugin since WooCommerce doesn’t offer this kind of functionality out of the box.

Why you need WooCommerce marketing emails

If the stats are anything to go by, there are only advantages to adopting an email marketing strategy for your WooCommerce store.

According to Litmus, brands that describe their email marketing programs as successful report generating an average email marketing ROI of $42 for every $1, while average email programs report an ROI of $37 for every $1.

Why does email work? Because people prefer it and use it more than any other form of communication. I don’t know about you, but I always have my email open in a browser tab. I can’t same the same for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and I don’t remember clicking on any ads today.

But I did open every email that landed in my inbox.

In fact, a MarketingSherpa study has found 72% of people prefer that companies communicate with them via email compared to just 17% for social media.

An Adobe study highlights the enduring obsession Millennials, in particular, have with emails, with people in their 20s and 30s spending 6.4 hours a day checking their email.

The fact is, email continues to be a flexible and almost universal medium for communication. It’s not controlled by any one big corporation. It’s direct and easy to use, and remains a staple of keeping in touch — everyone has an email address.

Understanding the email marketing lifecycle

Imagine you’ve just met someone you really like. Would you ask them to marry you? Probably not!

Why? Because there’s an order to relationships—you meet, date, eventually move in together, get engaged, and then get married.

Even if you’re both looking for “the one,” it’s way too fast marrying someone you’ve just met. There’s no established relationship or trust, let alone familiarity. Skipping the usual order of things makes your love interest understandably scared about the commitment.

It’s the same with your WooCommerce customers. They expect an order to their relationship with you, and that means wooing them with your emails. If you come on too strong, you’ll scare them away. But if you don’t make any effort to build a relationship at all, they’ll lose interest.

There is a generally established order to WooCommerce lifecycle marketing emails, which starts with your “welcome” email and vary, depending on the shopper’s stage in the lifecycle.

Customer lifecycle communications process.

At any given time, your customers are at some point in the lifecycle, whether they’ve just discovered your brand or they’re a lost customer. Generally, customers move forward through the lifecycle, but it’s possible for them to move backward and even remain at certain stages.

Understanding the lifestyle can help you craft relevant email marketing messages and offers that target customers in their specific part of the cycle for maximum impact.

What are the different stages of the customer lifecycle, and what emails should you send at each stage?

1. Prospects

These are people who aren’t your customers yet, but fit the profile of your target audience. They’ve heard about your brand and think what you offer might solve a pain point of theirs. They’re curious to know more about your business and have taken action to engage with your store, such as:

  • Visiting your website
  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Creating an account
  • Adding items to their cart
  • Liking a post on social media

You need to: Encourage prospects to make their first purchase. Your goal here is to stoke their interest with your email marketing and break down whatever barrier is holding them back from buying. That might mean enticing them with a discount and sharing news and information about your store.

Shoppers rarely purchase after their first touch with a website. Customers need nurturing at each stage throughout the lifecycle, so it’s important that your emails to address their specific needs as they move through each stage. That means addressing concerns they might have about the quality of your brand, and fostering trust in the value of your products.

If they’ve created an account with your store, you’ll have their email, which you can use to send them an initial welcome email along with regular information about sales and promotions. If they’ve added items to their cart, you can send them an abandoned cart email, and if they’ve signed up to your newsletter, you can start sharing regular information about your brand.

The important thing is sending prospects content that introduces them to your brand so you can start the process of building a relationship, so you can move them along to the next stage in the lifecycle.

Here’s an example of how Dims welcomes new subscribers with a special discount:

Dims marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

2. Customers

These are people who have made at least one purchase from your WooCommerce store, including people who regularly shop your store and others who make infrequent purchases.

You may have different kinds of customers depending on what you sell and their buying habits, such as customers who only shop your Black Friday sale each year, and customers who have a regular subscription for consumable products (i.e. Dollar Shave Club or Stitch Fix).

You need to: At this stage in the customer lifecycle, your goal at a store owner is to keep customers engaged. There are many ways you can do this with email, including sending personalized product recommendation emails and, again, abandoned cart emails.

For customers who buy consumable products, create a replenishment email that reminds them to stock up on their favorite products before they run out. After every purchase, consider automating a review request email that asks shoppers to review their purchase.

Check out how Winc gives customers a humorous reminder that they’ve left something in their shopping cart:

Winc marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

3. Loyal advocates

These are the best type of customer. They regularly buy your products and actively promote your brand to friends and family. They share your products on social media and make the most of your referral program (if you have one).

You need to: As a store owner, you should aim to nurture and reward loyal advocates so they remain engaged with your brand, because their word of mouth is the best kind of marketing for your online store.

At this stage in the customer lifecycle, you want to acknowledge the special status of your loyal advocates. Invite them to join your VIP program and send them special VIP email offers.

Also take the opportunity to ask loyal advocates to share your brand via a refer a friend email. While they may already be spreading the word about your store, offering a reward for their referrals might be the nudge they need to push your brand further.

Bombas encourages its customers to refer a friend with the offer of free socks:

Bombas marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

4. Customers who are slipping away

These are customers who’ve made one purchase and haven’t returned to your store, or were a regular customer but hasn’t shopped your site in more than a month.

They might have stopped shopping with our for any numbers of reasons. Maybe they found other products they like. Maybe they are trying to cut back on spending. Or maybe they simply forgot about your store because you weren’t on their radar, i.e. they weren’t receiving regular emails from you.

You need to: You need to re-engage customers who are slipping away before they disappear for good. How you do this exactly isn’t a science since the reason they’ve become disengaged won’t be clear.

Consider segmenting customers who haven’t made a purchase after a certain number of days—for example, 30 days —so you can target them with a re-engagement campaign. What this campaign involves will depend on your audience and their needs. You might want to experiment with special coupons and discounts, secret sales, and surveys so you can find out what they want.

Typeform strikes the right tone with this short and sweet reactivation email:

Typeform marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

5. Disinterested customers

These are customers who have stopped buying from your store and are ignoring your marketing, i.e. deleting your emails and swiping past your Instagram stories. Unfortunately, they are difficult to re-engage because they’ve become disinterested in your brand.

You need to: Try and win these customers back. The first thing you should do is create a win back campaign. You can automate these kinds of emails to send a certain number of days after their last purchase. Consider including a discount or coupon.

Skillshare tries to entice users back with a discount in its win back email:

Skillshare marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

Another often overlooked way to surprise and delight inactive customers is with a birthday email. These emails are one of the most effective you can send. Compared to regular promotional emails, they have a:

  • 481% higher transaction rate
  • 342% higher revenue per email
  • 179% higher unique click rates

Even the least active of your customers will be tempted to open your email if it’s personalized with their name and includes the offer of a discount. Since it’s their birthday, they’ll feel more inclined to make an unplanned purchase.

Note: It’s important that you stop sending emails to inactive subscribers to keep your email list clean. Here’s why.

5 essential WooCommerce marketing emails

Transactional emails in WooCommerce are non-negotiable—all of your transactional emails should be activated and sending. But marketing emails? There are so many different types that it can be confusing to know which ones are essential.

So let’s take a look at 5 marketing emails you should prioritize so you can target shoppers at each stage of the customer lifestyle.

1. Welcome email

A welcome email is the first email a shopper will receive when they join your email list. It’s designed to welcome shoppers and confirm their subscription, but also provide an opportunity for you to introduce your brand.

Welcome emails typically enjoy a 50% open rate, according to Emma. Similarly, Wordstream has found welcome emails have, on average, 4x the open rate and 5x the click-through rate of a standard email marketing campaign.

Welcome emails are so common now that people have come to expect them immediately after making a purchase or signing up to a newsletter. So don’t disappoint, schedule your welcome email to send within an hour while your WooCommerce site is front-of-mind.

This welcome email from Barnes and Noble is simple yet effective. It welcomes subscribers, lists popular titles, and provides a way for customers to locate their nearest store.

Barnes & Noble marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

2. Email newsletter

Relationships require regular reconnection, and an email newsletter is a low-maintenance way of keeping in touch with customers and sparking that much-needed reconnection.

The point of an email newsletter is to keep subscribers connected, engaged, and informed about what’s new with you or your WooCommerce store, but also to help drive sales. Newsletters usually contain some kind of valuable content, such as news, updates, announcements, promotions, tips, guides, blog posts, etc.

Newsletters can also further develop your credibility with customers. By sharing your knowledge with them, you enhance your perceived value and make them more likely to seek you out for help when they have a problem you can solve.

Want the lowdown on how to create an email newsletter? Read Ultimate Guide: Create and Send Newsletters with the Best Email Plugin for WordPress.

Luxury skincare brand Aesop uses it email newsletter to share content from the company’s various publications. Paired with arty images, the newsletter is whimsical, elusive, and reflects Aesop’s detail-oriented philosophy.

Aesop marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

3. Abandoned cart email

Cart abandonment is a big challenge for ecommerce. On average, 76.9% of shoppers abandon their carts at checkout. That’s a lot of people browsing your WooCommerce site, adding items to their cart, reaching the final step in the checkout process, and then closing the browser tab without complete the sale.

Fortunately, with a cart abandonment email you can entice shoppers back to your site to complete checkout.

The research around cart abandonment emails is staggering. According to SalesCycle, 46.1% of people open cart abandonment emails, 13.3% click inside the email, and of those clicks, more than 35% end up buying something.

Bonobos has a bit of fun with its abandoned cart email. The image is eye-catching and the copy is short and sweet, with a clear call-to-action.

Bonobos marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

4. Win back

When a customer hasn’t bought from you in a while, there’s an opportunity to win them back with a win back email, also known as an inactive customer follow up or re-engagement campaign.

Win back emails often feature come kind of incentive, such as a discount with an expiry. This tactic allows you to follow up a few days layer before the coupon expires.

Some stores like to use emotion to pull on a customer’s heart strings with phrases like “we miss you!” and “where did you go?” to remind customers they haven’t engaged in a while.

There’s not much to Teespring’s win back email but it’s cute and funny because of the puppy. Plus, it includes personalized stats, so no two emails are the same.

Teespring marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

5. Birthday email

Birthday emails are one of the most effective emails you can send. According to Experian, these kinds of emails have a 481% higher transaction rate, 342% higher revenue per email, and 179% higher unique click rates compared to regular promotional emails.

What’s more, birthday emails have several other advantages for WooCommerce businesses:

  • Build brand loyalty – Birthday emails are impactful, communicating to customers how much your company cares.
  • Reinforce customer delight – Birthday emails make people feel special. Who doesn’t like receiving kind wishes on their birthday?
  • Boost organic sales – Including a coupon is a great way to encourage an unplanned purchase, especially when customers are more likely to treat themselves on their birthday.
  • Engage inactive customers – Even the least active of your customers will be pleased to get a special message on their birthday, especially if you offer a coupon.

Nike’s birthday email invites customers to treat themselves with a simple illustration and a 25% off coupon code.

Nike marketing email.

Image credit: Really Good Emails.

Best practices for sending WooCommerce marketing emails

Now that you’re ready to start sending emails from your WooCommerce site, there are some important best practices worth keeping in mind to ensure your messages are effective.

1. Use double opt-ins

A double opt-in adds an additional step to the newsletter subscription opt-in process, requiring subscribers to verify their email address and confirm interest. Usually, this is in the form of a follow-up email. Double opt-ins help you avoid fake emails entered by spambots, filter out mistyped emails and help get you subscribers who will actually open your emails.

Also, always ask for consent. Don’t be a spammer—always ask for consent before adding someone’s email to your list. GDPR and the CAN-SPAM Act clearly set out how you should ask for consent and handle your subscribers’ data.

2. Personalize your emails

Personalizing your emails can be as basic as using a shopper’s name in the subject line, while more advanced tactics can include changing the content of the email based on the customer’s previous purchases.

Personalizing your email campaigns is a proven way to increase your open and click-through rates and can have a measurable impact on your ROI and revenue. Studies show 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and 90% are willing to share behavioral data for a cheaper and easier brand experience.

3. Optimize when you send emails

The day and time you send your emails can impact your open and click-through rates. There is a ton of data out there about the best days to send emails. According to WordStream, the best time to send is Thursday between 8am and 9am, while CNBC has reported the best average time is weekdays between 10am and 2pm.

The best times to send vary because every industry and every audience is different. But studies can help set you on the right path and testing times can help you determine the best time for your customers. 

For more, check out What’s the Best Day to Send Emails?

4. Consider your subject lines

For shoppers who get a ton of email in their inbox every day, the right subject line can compel them to open your email. In fact, nearly 47% of email recipients say they open an email based on the subject line. Meanwhile, 69% of email recipients say they report email as spam solely on the subject line, which can tank your deliverability rate.

Email conversion strategist and copywriter Val Geisler recommends spending as much time on the subject line as on the email itself.

We’ve previously covered the 11 different subject line styles you can use to increase your open rates. To further inspire you: 12 of the Best Email Subject Lines We’ve Ever Seen.

5. Spend time writing great copy

Writing great email copy can sometimes feels like a mysterious art when you sit down to write and start drawing blanks. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Determine your audience – Who is your audience? What stage are they in the customer lifestyle? 
  • Focus on a single goal – When someone opens your email, what do you want them to do?
  • Use conversational language – Use simple, friendly language. There’s no need to be formal (unless your brand is really serious).
  • Keep your message simple – Get to the point already. That’s what your users might be thinking if your emails are too long.
  • Stay on-brand – What’s your organization’s brand voice? Is it fun and cheerful or professional and stuffy? Be sure to incorporate the language your business uses into your email marketing.

For more, check out 10-Point Checklist for Writing Amazing Blog Posts.

6. Carefully craft your CTA (and stick to one!)

When they click your links, where do you want them to go? And when they get there, what do you want them to do next? 

Considering what actions you want subscribers to take will help you guide subscribers toward your desired action, e.g. buying an item that’s on sale, referring a friend, using a coupon.

Don’t shy away from being explicit about the action you want shoppers to take when they open your email. For more on this, check out 5 Best Practice Tips for Email Links That Get Clicks (and Taps!).

7. Segment your list

Segment your email list into multiple, smaller lists so you can send targeted, personalized messages to your subscribers. Email blasting, where you send one big “blast” to all of your subscribers on your list, is no longer email best practice.

Stats show that email segmentation is well worth the effort. According to an Email Monday report for the Direct Marketing Association, 76% of all revenue came from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns. Other research shows email recipients are 75% more likely to click on emails from segmented campaigns than non-segmented campaigns, and click-throughs are 100.95% higher.

Make sure to check out our in-depth tutorials on email segmentation for beginners and how to segment your subscribers with a second email list.

8. Automate your emails

Automation is increasing in popularity. According to an Email Monday report, 55% of e-commerce marketers use software to automate at least part of their email marketing, and another 25% are planning to start using automation in the next month. Clearly, many businesses find automation effective. 

To automate your own marketing emails, choose an email plugin that allows you to create emails based on triggers, such as signing up for a new account (e.g. welcome emails), when a customer has left an item in a cart (e.g. abandoned cart email), or when a shopper hasn’t made a purchase after a certain number of days (e.g. re-engagement email).

9. Measure, test, and analyze results

After you’ve sent your first marketing emails, you can start monitoring your analytics and stats. WordPress plugins like MailPoet provide advanced tools for tracking and analyzing your emails. This is important so you can see how your subscribers are responding to your newsletters.

It’s important to track metrics like open, click-throughs, and unsubscribes. Most businesses track the metrics I mentioned earlier (opens, click-throughs, unsubscribes etc). This data is a goldmine of information that can help you improve your future email marketing campaigns since it tells you which elements of your emails need improving.

For example, if your open rate is low, consider testing your subject lines. If your click-through rate is low, you might need to make your CTAs clearer and/or bolder. 

Tracking results and improving your newsletters should be an ongoing process. Email marketing isn’t something you can set and forget. It’s important that you keep working to improve your campaigns.

Best WooCommerce plugins for email automation, customization and deliverability

If you only add four email-related extensions or plugins to your WooCommerce store, we recommend MailPoet, Follow Ups, WooCommerce Email Customizer, and WP Mail SMTP.

1. Email Customizer for WooCommerce with Drag and Drop Email Builder

Email Customizer for WooCommerce plugin.

It’s no secret that the standard WooCommerce email templates design for transactional emails is rather dull. You can change the color scheme, and that’s really about it. What if you want to change the look and feel to create a custom email template to match your branding?

To do this, you’ll need a plugin like Email Customizer for WooCommerce with Drag and Drop Email Builder.

This intuitive drag and drop plugin enables you to go beyond the typical email templates. With its easy-to-use interface for adding a logo, header image, footer text, body text, custom paragraph texts, text color, social icons, images, and more. 

While other similar plugins use the WordPress Customizer for editing email templates, this plugin is much like a page builder, giving you plenty of options for completely customizing the default email. No more messing with template files so you can have customized emails!

A single site license is $79 per year.

2. Follow-Ups

Follow-Ups WooCommerce plugin.

Follow Up is a clever plugin created by the folks at WooCommerce that enables you to automatically send follow-up email notifications to customers after they’ve made a purchase. With Follow-Ups, you can create complex drip marketing campaigns based upon customer interests and purchase history.

Key features include:

  • Email and tweet customers
  • Track opens and clicks
  • Automate your marketing emails based on triggers
  • Customize template for each campaign
  • Personalize your emails with built-in variables and merge tags

A single site license is $99 per year.

3. MailPoet

MailPoet plugin.

More than 500,000 websites trust MailPoet to send their marketing emails and newsletters.

You can use MailPoet from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard. Quickly add content and images directly from your media library — no need to upload files to third-party services when it’s all right there, ready to use in your WordPress dashboard.

With MailPoet, you’ll have access to a growing collection of well-designed templates, features developed especially for WooCommerce, the MailPoet Sending Service, and analytics so you can learn what works, what doesn’t work, refine your email strategy, and optimize your email campaigns for next time.

Key features include: 

  • Create newsletters in your WordPress dashboard
  • Intuitive drag-and-drop email designer
  • Manage subscribers and subscriber lists in WordPress
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • First purchase emails
  • Automation and segmentation based on the product or category purchased from, the number of orders made, how much they’ve spent at your store, the country they’re based in, whether they have an active subscription (powered by WooCommerce Subscriptions), and if they have an active membership (powered by WooCommerce Memberships).
  • Connect your WooCommerce store
  • Keep track of open rates, clicks, and ROI per email with built-in analytics
  • Transactional email sending
  • WooCommerce transactional email customizer
  • Send emails that get delivered on time, every time with the reliable and secure MailPoet Sending Service.

MailPoet is free for up to 1,000 subscribers, with paid plans including advanced functionality starting at $8/month. Find out more.

4. WP Mail SMTP

WP Mail SMTP plugin.

Setting up an SMTP plugin on your WordPress site is essential if you want peace of mind that your transactional emails are being delivered. One of the best options for SMTP for WordPress is WP Mail SMTP. It’s the most popular SMTP plugin in the WordPress.org repository, with 1+ million active installs and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. 

WP Mail SMTP easily resolves email deliverability problems by reconfiguring the wp_mail() function in WordPress to either use proper SMTP host credentials or leverage a built-in SMTP mail provider (recommended).

The plugin supports the following SMTP setup options:

  • Mailgun SMTP
  • SendGrid SMTP
  • Gmail SMTP
  • Microsoft SMTP (Outlook.com and Office 365)
  • Amazon SES SMTP
  • All Other SMTP

5. WooCommerce Multiple Email Recipients

WooCommerce Multiple Email Recipients plugin from Barn2

By default, WooCommerce only lets you send order confirmation emails to one email address per customer. If the customer wants to share the order details with a colleague – for example, their Finance Manager for accounting purposes – then they have to forward it manually.

You can easily solve this by installing WooCommerce Multiple Email Recipients. This simple plugin lets you add multiple email addresses per customer.

While it’s not compatible with MailPoet’s transactional sending service, you can use it on your WordPress site alongside MailPoet’s other features.

How to fix common WooCommerce not sending emails

If you’re sending emails from your WordPress site, you may have experienced issues with your messages landing in spam folders or not sending at all. It’s an all-too-common problem that can usually be traced back to sending PHP mail, which WordPress uses to send email.

But there are many other reasons why your emails aren’t reaching inboxes. It could be that you’ve mis-configured your email setup, your email content is spammy, or you simply need to clean your list.

Testing if emails are sending on your server

Before attempting to fix anything, the first thing you should do is confirm that your WordPress install isn’t sending your emails. You can use the free plugin Check Email to find out.

Once set up, this plugin will send a simple test email to an email address of your choice. It can also help troubleshoot problems by overriding custom headers with your own values.

Check Email plugin.

Check your email (and your junk mail folder) to see if you received the test email. The subject line will be something like “Test email from https://yourdomain.com.”

If you received the email it means your WordPress install is sending emails just fine on your web server. If you didn’t receive the email, it means your server could be causing your email woes.

While many shared hosting providers offer some kind of email hosting, most managed WordPress hosting providers don’t. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t send emails, it just means you need to route your emails through a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) service.

For more on how to set up SMTP, plus a comparison of 3 top providers for WordPress, check out Top 3 SMTP Plugins for WordPress Compared (and How to Fix Emails Not Sending).

WooCommerce emails going to spam

If customers are telling you that emails related to their orders are ending up in their spam folders, it’s time to investigate. As we explored earlier, transactional emails are essential for the smooth running of your WooCommerce and it’s important these emails land in inboxes.

In WordPress Emails Going to Spam? Here Are 13 Ways to Improve Newsletter Delivery, Jack Kitterhing from our customer support team covers the 3 general areas where emails — both WordPress emails and WooCommerce emails — can be improved to ensure they are always delivered:

  1. Review your email content
    1. Ensure your “from” name is clear
    2. Include your physical address in the footer
    3. Avoid sending image-heavy emails
    4. Keep risky keywords to a minimum
    5. Only link to genuine, reputable sites
    6. Include a clear unsubscribe link in your footer
  2. Keep your email list clean
    1. Enforce double opt-in
    2. Send regularly and remove inactive subscribers
    3. Don’t send to bounced emails
    4. Only send emails to people who’ve subscribed to your list
  3. Re-evaluate how your emails are delivered
    1. Always set up your sender email to use your domain
    2. Use an SMTP to send default WordPress and WooCommerce emails
    3. Use an email delivery service for newsletters and email marketing

For a more comprehensive look at each of these tactics, read the full post. We’ve also got a dedicated guide on how to fix WooCommerce email sending issues.

Wrapping up

No matter what kind of WooCommerce site you have, understanding how transactional and marketing emails work can help take you take it to the next level. Customizing your transactional emails to match your brand and automating essential marketing messages can help you keep customers up to date and at the same time turn new customers into loyal ones.

Following WooCommerce email best practices can also help you create seamless, ongoing conversations with your customers. The plugins I’ve recommended in this guide should help you check off all the best practice suggestions.

Finally, if you’re having problems with sending emails, work through the checklist above to identify the root cause, and consider using an email sending service other than your web host for reliable and secure email delivery.

Have you customized your WooCommerce emails? What advice do you have for sending WooCommerce emails? Let us know in the comments below.