When we create a new WordPress site or migrate one for a client, we install a few plugins by default. Of course it’s your site and you are always free to disable, delete or change them as you see fit, but we use them because we believe they are the best solutions.
In this series of blog posts, I want to break down each one and why we use it.
First up is Easy WP SMTP. It does exactly what the name implies, gives you an easy way to send mails from your WordPress site via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) instad of through PHP mail.
Why do you need a mail plugin?
By default any email sent by WordPress, like a password reminder is sent through a function called wp_mail, which in turn uses the PHP mail function. Any plugins on your site that need to send out mail, like contact forms, membership systems, or shoppping carts also use the wp_mail function.
The problem is that PHP mail is far from great, which in turn means that wp_mail is also not great. Sending mail via SMTP with authentication massively increases the chances of your mail ending up where you need it to instead of being tagged as spam somewhere along the way.
Mail delieverability often seems like a shady dark art, and there are a lot of things that affect it, things like IP reputation, SPF, DKIM, DANE, and Reverse DNS. A properly set up and maintained SMTP server takes care of all that, and once that is all good why would you want to send mail any other way?
So, the whole point here is really simple. All you actually want to do is to configure the wp_mail() function to use SMTP instead of the PHP mail function. WordPress doesn’t give you any native way to do that, but you can use a very small and simple plugin to do it for you.
If you are sending a lot of mail from your site, which could easily be wrongly classified as spam then you might want to go a step further and use a third-party transactional mail service, but for simple site mails we don’t think you need to go that far.
If the only mails that you are sending from your WP site are things like signup mails, password resets, purchase confirmations or comment notifications then you don’t need a big clever mail service. What you do need is to be confident that your mail is going to be delivered, not rejected or end up in spam folders.
You can be a lot more sure about that if you are sending SMTP mail plugins offer a very simple, lightweight and free way to do just that.
Why Easy WP SMTP?
To be honest there are a couple of plugins in the WP repository that do the same thing and just work. This is the one that we have used on many sites, is frequently updated and we have never had a problem with, so we don’t see any reason to look at anything else.
It’s tiny, does everything you need it to without any bloat and never (yet for us, and we’ve used it a lot) seems to fail.
It’s truly simple, a set-and-forget thing that as long as you don’t change your mail server you will probably never need to touch, think or worry about, and that is just how these kind of things should be.
If you are an S4 customer then we will have installed and set it up for you by default. If you aren’t then you can find it on the WordPress repository here: Easy WP SMTP
Setting it up is completely self explanatory. Just remember to send a test mail when you have entered all of the account details to make sure everything is working as it should be.