If it seems like the number of leads off your website have decreased in the past couple of months, before you jump to the conclusion that your website is not working, take a look at your email.
To receive a lead off your website, most likely you have created a page with a form on your website and encourage users to fill out that form. As the website owner, you are waiting for an email in your inbox letting you know that some has contacted you/enrolled/purchased/subscribed and you use the information gathered in that email to take action.
Its a good system and it still works, but the most unreliable part of the system is relying on an email to be delivered to your inbox. Since the beginning of 2017, web servers have been under increased attack. Hackers use websites to run code and generate thousands of emails from those websites to cause trouble. To combat this, email services and web hosts have been tightening their firewalls and spam filters to restrict email traffic from websites.
When it comes time for your website to send you a notice saying someone has purchased an item from you online or signed up for an appointment, servers can’t tell if you are a good guy or a bad guy. All they see is an email from a website.
How that Email Gets to you from your Website – Simplified
Here is a VERY simplified diagram showing how an email leaves your website and ends up in your Inbox. If you use a separate mail server from your website (even a gmail account), this diagram has additional steps. If you are B2B company and you have an internal or do business with clients that have internal networks, you can double the number of steps in this change.
Every time an email message has to move through another step, it becomes another place where the message can be blocked, preventing the message from delivering to your Inbox. If you are relying solely on email notifications to take care of business on your website, because of this increased security, email is not as reliable as it once was. You need a backup plan.
Troubleshooting Email Issues
Here is a list of common issues that cause undelivered emails from websites:
- Sending mail from an address that doesn’t match your domain – You are more likely to receive the email if your email address matches your website address. Trying to get emails to something like a Gmail account is going to be much harder.
- Sending mail as HTML instead of plain text – If the email you need is for internal use, keep it simple. Have your website deliver the info you need and forget how pretty it looks.
- Too many links or spammy looking content – Emails containing links are going to have a harder time getting through the spam filters. If you don’t need it or you can login to the website and check it, don’t include it.
- Sending too many emails in a short period of time (usually in the 100’s per hour) – Check with your hosts to see if you are maxing your quota of transactions off the website each day.
- Email and Web Hosting are separate providers – Getting emails off your website won’t be automatic, but with some troubleshooting and custom settings you can make it happen.
- Internal Networks – If your company is operating their own email exchange server or internal network you may have additional troubleshooting and settings to get this working. Depending on your business, your internal Network Administrator may not allow website emails because of security.
- Gmail. Period. – Gmail has really tightened their filters and also pre-sorts email before it comes to you, so Google is setting the rules on what email you receive. In order to receive emails from your website to a gmail account, you will have to go through an authentication process with Google to connect your website to your account.
How to Not to Miss Business Off your Website
Most websites now have an administrative portal where you can login to access website content. WordPress websites all have a backend login. If your site is pretty new, like in the last two years, the plugins or tools used to build your webforms have a place in the administrative portal where you can see a copy of all the forms that were filled out on your site. A copy is stored here when a user fills out your form, at the same your are supposed to receive an email. WordPress sites with WooCommerce, Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms will have this. If you are using something else, I would double check to make sure this is setup. It’s not a big project to add this function if you don’t have it.
To make sure you don’t miss any business off your website, put a reminder in your calendar to login to the backend of your website and check the list of forms received, just to make sure you have seen them all. Depending on the level of activity on your website (or your comfort level) make this a monthly, weekly or daily activity.
You would not believe how many website owners we have discussed this issue with resist this idea and think to the activity of logging into their own website is an “inconvenience. ” Speaking as a business owner and a website owner, someone who has taken the time to submit an inquiry to our website is a VERY warm sales lead. There is no such thing as an “inconvenience” when you are closing a sale. I have no problem taking the time to check for opportunities.