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Contact Form 7 (CF7) is a very popular WordPress plugin used by millions. However, for beginner users, getting started with Contact Form 7 can be challenging.
In this article, we have listed 5 common mistakes beginners make when they start using Contact Form 7 and how you can avoid them.
The five common beginners mistakes are:
- Use customers email as From: address
- Don’t match Mail Tags with Form Tags
- Forms not working (and don’t know it until later)
- Don’t save form submissions to the database (for when things go wrong)
- Don’t use Reply to: correctly
1. Use customer’s email address as From: address
Some Contact Form 7 users assume the From: field should be the email address of the person submitting the form – but this is usually a really bad idea.
If you use the customer’s email address in the From: field, then you are effectively sending an email from an email address with their domain name … and you’re doing that from your website which has a different domain name.
The big problem is that is also what spammers do when they send out 1000’s of emails – it’s called email spoofing. So when you do this, you may look like a spammer to many mail servers around the world.
Tip: If you use a customers email address in the From field, it is now likely that some of your form emails get rejected as spam by many mail providers.
Your typical To: and From: address should look like this:
For more detail, refer to Use a suitable From: address in Contact Form 7.
2. Don’t match Mail Tags with Form Tags
A. Form Tab
They add the fields they need in the Form tab.
B. Mail Tab
However, some are not aware that they also need to attend to the Mail tab.
C. Matching Mail Tags with Form Tags
Matching your Mail Tags with your Form Tags ensures that you receive all your form information.
For more detail, refer to Matching Mail Tags with Form Tags in Contact Form 7
3. Forms not working (and you don’t know it)
The Contact Form 7 (CF7) plugin successfully sends millions of emails every day. Still, many do not send or arrive, and often beginner CF7 users don’t know it until later.
Your CF7 forms may stop working or not work for some form users. Your users may eventually tell you about this problem, but you could lose many form submissions before you find out.
A. Check your forms for error messages
A simple way to find out whether or not your form is working is by checking the error messages. The different error messages are:
1. Green bordered success message: You receive a message with a green border when your form is submitted successfully. This message looks like:
Tip: Sometimes even if you receive this message, you might not receive your email. This issue is possible if your form email has been classified as spam after that.
2. Orange bordered error message: You receive an error message with an orange border when your form submission is treated as spam. This message looks like:
Tip: You might also see an orange bordered error message if reCAPTCHA v3 is not functioning correctly on your site.
3. Red bordered error message: You receive an error message with a red border when form submission emails cannot be sent due to mail server issues. The error message looks like:
The red error border confirms that CF7 is not able to send an email from your site. You will need to investigate this issue in detail for your particular local configurations.
For more detail, refer to Contact Form 7 Email Issues & Problems.
B. Email is going into spam
Even if you see the green bordered success message whenever you test your CF7 forms, it’s still possible that you may not be receiving some of your form emails due to them being treated as spam.
During the email sending and receiving process, your email message can be:
- Rejected as spam by the sending or receiving mail server.
- Routed to a spam folder on your local computer or business network.
- Discarded as malicious content by mail servers all around the world.
…and this often happens without any notification.
For more detail, refer to Your Contact Form 7 email may be going to spam.
4. Don’t save form submissions to the database
Some beginner CF7 users lose their first form submissions due to issues like having the wrong email setup. The big problem is once they are lost in this way there is no way to get them back – they’re gone forever.
A. Have a backup for when things go wrong
By contrast, many experienced CF7 users understand that things can & often do go wrong from time to time for various reasons – often beyond their control.
It makes sense to have a safe backup of all CF7 form submissions from day one when you first add a CF7 form to your WordPress site.
To avoid losing any form submissions, you can use one of the many Contact Form 7 extensions to save them in the WordPress database.
B. Use a Save Contact Form 7 extension
By using a Save Contact Form 7 extension, you can:
- Save all your form submissions if something goes wrong with your email.
- View all your form submissions in WordPress.
- Export the data in CSV, Excel or PDF formats.
Advanced Contact Form 7 DB because you can:
- Filter the records using a date range filter.
- Export data in CSV, Excel, and PDF.
- Import form information from CSV files.
- Edit and update the form data easily.
- Reorder columns as required with its drag and drop feature.
For more detail, refer to Save Contact Form 7 to WordPress database using 5 free plugins.
5. Don’t use Reply-to: correctly
When you setup your first Contact Form 7 form, you will usually discover pretty quickly that it’s really handy to be able to simply hit the Reply button in whatever email application (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) you are using to reply to the person that filled in your form.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to do this & beginner Contact Form 7 users often set up using Reply-to: for their forms incorrectly.
A. Avoid using From: [your-name] [your-email]
For a long time, it was very common to use
[your-name] <[your-email]> in the From: field for Contact Form 7 forms – but this is now usually a really bad idea.
Tip: It is now highly likely that emails sent from CF7 using the form users email address gets rejected as spam by mail servers all around the world – without any warning.
Instead, it is best always to use an email address that belongs to the same domain as your WordPress site. We recommend setting something like:
To: [your-name] <[your-email]> From: email@example.com
[your-name] <[your-email]>uses the correct email format to send an email to the form user.
For more detail, refer to Using ‘From: [your-name] <[your-email]>‘ is risky.
B. Reply without problems using the Additional Headers field
Additional Headers: Reply-to: [your name] <[your email]> allows you to use Reply in your email application to reply to the form users email address.
Tip: Using Reply-to: in the Additional Headers field allows you to reply to a form submission safely.
For more detail, refer to Reply to form submissions.
- Contact Form 7 Email Issues & Problems
- Use a suitable From: address in Contact Form 7
- Your Contact Form 7 email may be going to spam
- Save Contact Form 7 to WordPress database using 5 free plugins
- Using ‘From: [your-name] <[your-email]>‘ is risky
- Reply to form submissions – the right way