If you’re looking for a simpler solution for managing the daily deluge of emails sent to and from your business, connecting Microsoft Outlook to WordPress may be it.
In this guide, you’ll learn an easy way to do just that by following 6 simple instructions.
How to Connect Outlook to WordPress: In a Nutshell
- Create a Microsoft Office 365 account if you don’t already have one
- Install and configure an SMTP Mail Plugin
- Use an API key to connect your plugin and WordPress together
- Select your notification options
- Send a test email.
What Are The Benefits of Connecting Microsoft Outlook to WordPress?
Before we go any further, we should warn you that setting up Microsoft email with WordPress can be a little challenging.
However, the process is undoubtedly well worth it for the following key reasons:
1. Manage Your Emails Within WordPress
When you sync Microsoft with your website, you can send, receive, and manage your inbox from within the WordPress dashboard.
Sure, if you’re a fledgling blogger or a small business that doesn’t use email very much, this might not be a big deal.
However, if you run a thriving eCommerce website with orders, support requests, receipts, and shipping details flying in and out all day long, it could make a major difference.
If you spend half your time in your Outlook inbox and half the time using WooCommerce to manage your business in WordPress, being able to do everything in one place is going to make things much more efficient.
2. Take Advantage of High Sending Limits
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If you’re using a free Microsoft 365 account, you can send up to 5,000 emails daily.
If you’re using a paid subscription to manage your business, that limit is increased to 10,000 per day, up to a maximum of 300,000 per month.
That’s pretty way high, even compared to some top WordPress email plugins!
|Service||Free Limit per Day||Paid Limit per Month|
Here, only Aweber and MailPoet’s paid subscription plans offer unlimited email sends.
However, both come with the caveat that you do have to pay per number of subscribers, which may make it more expensive than the average Microsoft subscription.
If you’re already using other Microsoft tools such as Word and Excel, switching from Aweber, or indeed any of the aforementioned platforms, could end up saving you money.
*Brevo is formerly known as SendinBlue.
3. Avoid Issues with WordPress Default Mail
Most WordPress email tools rely on the WordPress PHP mail() function to send messages.
This is problematic for two reasons.
Firstly, it quite often doesn’t work.
Secondly, emails sent from WordPress are notorious for failing to bypass spam filters in top email services like Gmail.
As you can imagine, all those emails bypassing your customers’ inboxes, and languishing in a forever-neglected junk folder aren’t going to do your business any favors.
Microsoft Outlook 365, on the other hand, doesn’t use this function, instead sending emails from WordPress via SMTP.
What is SMTP and How Does it Work?
SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It’s a standard protocol used for sending emails over the Internet.
SMTP facilitates the reliable transmission of emails from one email server to another. When you send an email, your email client uses SMTP to connect to your outgoing mail server.
The server then forwards the email through a series of servers until it reaches the recipient’s server.
This process ensures the email’s safe delivery, even if servers are temporarily unavailable. SMTP also supports features like authentication, encryption, and tracking, making it a crucial tool for secure and efficient email communication.
4. Advanced Tracking and Analytics
SMTP typically works better with tracking and analytics tools, giving you insights into email delivery, open rates, and recipient interactions.
5. More Features
Relying on the ‘mail’ function in PHP (as is the default with WordPress) gives you the capability to send basic email.
Sending your mail via an SMTP server on the other hand, opens up a broader array of features that enhance the functionality and control over the email communication process, including:
SMTP servers allow you to attach files, such as documents, images, and multimedia, to your emails with ease.
If you need to send PDF versions of your invoices, for example, you’ll find this a much better approach than the standard WordPress mailing system.
SMTP servers often allow you to personalize emails by dynamically inserting recipient-specific information into the email content.
This could include the recipient’s name, account details, or other relevant data, all of which can make your emails more engaging, ultimately improving the likelihood of interaction.
C. Bulk Emailing
SMTP servers typically do a better job at handling bulk email campaigns with maximum efficiency.
They provide features to manage large recipient lists, segment audiences, and send out a high volume of emails while maintaining deliverability and avoiding being marked as spam.
6. Improved Security
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is generally considered more secure than using the WordPress mail PHP function for sending emails for a number of key reasons such as:
A. Authentication and Authorization
SMTP servers require authentication before allowing email transmission.
This means that only authorized users with valid credentials can use the server to send emails.
By default, the PHP ‘mail’ function used by WordPress doesn’t inherently provide authentication.
SMTP servers support the use of encryption, particularly TLS (Transport Layer Security), which ensures that email communications are encrypted while in transit between the sender and recipient servers.
This helps prevent your emails from falling into the wrong hands.
Again, the PHP ‘mail’ does not provide encryption as standard, and although it can be combined with other tools to ensure the safety of your messages, the fact they are transmitted as plain text makes them susceptible to interception and exposure of sensitive information.
C. Advanced Protocols
Unlike the WordPRess mailer, SMTP servers allow you to implement SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) protocols to further verify authenticity, and reduce the risk of mail-related attacks.
What Do I Need to Connect Microsoft Outlook to WordPress?
Before we begin, there are a few things you need to have in place:
A. Microsoft Outlook Email Account
If you’re smitten by the lure of higher email limits and convenient management but don’t yet have an Outlook email account, you’ll need to create one before you can go any further.
You can do this by pointing your browser to https://outlook.live.com/ and clicking on ‘Create Free Account.’
From there, choose an email address, and enter a password on the next screen.
After completing a quick CAPTCHA to verify you’re not a robot, your new account is set, and ready to go.
B. A Plugin to Connect Microsoft to WordPress
The easiest way to create perfect Microsoft WordPress harmony is to use a plugin designed for that task.
Run a search for “Connect Outlook to WordPress,” and you’ll be presented with no less than 54 options in the WordPress plugin directory alone.
Of all those, it’s the second one, Post SMTP, that we’re going to use for this tutorial.
If you find that this one doesn’t quite work for you, you’ll find some alternative WordPress SMTP plugins later in this guide.
To follow the steps in the rest of this guide, go ahead and find that plugin, then install and activate it.
C.An SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate is essential for encrypting email data that flies to and from your website.
Not only does it help to keep your communications private, most WordPress SMTP plugins simply won’t work without it.
See our definitive guide to SSL certificates to learn more about what they are, why you need them, and where to get one.
How to Connect to Outlook With Post SMTP Plugin
1. Run the Post SMTP Setup Wizard
When you first activate Post SMTP, you’ll get a notification that the plugin isn’t configured, and therefore is still using the default WordPress email delivery system.
Don’t panic, you can quickly change that by tapping the Start the Wizard button.
2. Configure Sender Settings
On the next screen, choose the name and email address you want your emails to be sent from, such as “From John’s Restaurant – email@example.com” or, in our example, “From WPLift – WordPress@wplift.com“
This is what will show up in your recipients’ inboxes so that they can identify that the message comes from you.
As an important side note, if you can’t figure out how to proceed down here, it’s because the Post plugin hides its ‘previous and next’ buttons way down at the bottom of the screen for some reason, so you’ll have to scroll down to find them.
3. Find Your Mail Server Host Name
Next, Post SMTP asks for your outgoing mail server hostname.
To find that, you’ll need to go to your Microsoft Outlook account, and tap the settings icon in the top right-hand corner.
Then, scroll down until you see the SMTP setting.
In the information box provided, find your server name or ‘hostname’, and copy it. Usually it appears as “smtp.someserver.com”, where ‘someserver’ is the actual server of the email service that you would be using. Copy it as it is exactly displayed, without any extra quotes or commas or dots.
From there, head back to the Post SMTP setup wizard on WordPress, and paste your server name into the field provided.
4. Create an API Key
For this next part of the process, you’ll need to create a free Microsoft Azure Account.
Once you’re logged in, go to All Services – Identity – App Registrations, then follow the onscreen instructions to create your API.
You can then return to WordPress, and enter your API key into the box provided.
This will authenticate your account, ensuring that emails will be sent correctly, and stand a better chance of bypassing spam filters.
5. Select Notification Options
Finally, you can select how you want to receive notifications, or even turn them off altogether.
Once you’ve done that, click Back to Main Menu.
6. Send a Test Email
With all that done, you’re ready to send email.
Before you go about firing off your next email marketing campaign, first take the time to test that everything works as it should.
On the main menu, look under Actions and tap Send a Test Email.
On the next screen, enter a recipient address for your test email.
Assuming you’ve followed the above instructions to the letter, you should receive confirmation that the test was successful, and, therefore, you’re fully setup and ready to use Outlook to manage email in WordPress.
What is the Best Alternative to Outlook for WordPress Users
If you find setting up Outlook with WordPress to be too complicated, or you’re simply not happy with how the setup works, there is a solid alternative in the form of Mailpoet.
This popular plugin comes courtesy of Automatic, which is the team behind WordPress itself, meaning you can trust that it’s safe, legitimate, and fully compatible with the world’s leading CMS!
Still, that’s not all Mailpoet has going for it.
MailPoet’s free plan allows you to send 5,000 emails per month to a list of up to 1,000 subscribers, making it very comparable to Outlook’s free plan.
Elsewhere, paid users can pay between $10 and $30 per 500 subscribers per month, and send unlimited emails.
What’s more, despite being an official Automatic product, MailPoet doesn’t rely on the usual WordPress mailing service which, as we saw earlier, tends to have a negative effect on delivery rates.
Instead, the tool runs on its own in-built SMTP service, all of which helps it boast a 95% delivery rate.
Since MailPoet is essentially an email marketing tool at heart, using this instead of Outlook may prove to be a better option if you want to handle marketing communications and transactional emails via a single plugin.
However, as with most things in life, MailPoet is just a tad away from perfection!
Free users are stuck with the plugin’s own branding in their email messages.
Meanwhile, although its monthly rates are incredibly low compared to other services, the fact that your monthly payments are based on the number of subscribers may mean that it works out more expensive than Outlook or other services.
Of course, the biggest drawback to MailPoet is that it’s a send-only service.
So, while it may be a great choice for getting invoices, shipping details, and order confirmations to your customers’ inboxes, it’s not a suitable choice if you need customers to be able to reply to you.
Check out our complete MailPoet review to help you decide if this may be the best tool for you.
What Are The Best WordPress SMTP Plugin Alternatives
We chose to use Post SMTP for this tutorial because it’s quick and simple, but if you’re not happy with that one, there are a multitude of alternatives to choose from including:
1. Fluent SMTP
Most SMTP plugins require you to have a paid subscription to connect to Outlook.
Fluent SMTP is one of the only tools that doesn’t, which makes it the perfect option for budget-conscious WordPress users.
After selecting Outlook from the list of paid options, all you have to do is grab your API key from Microsoft, spend a minute or two configuring your account, and you’re ready to enjoy better email delivery without paying a penny.
2. WP Mail SMTP
One of the most popular SMTP plugins around, WP Mail SMTP is a fast, lightweight tool that allows you to utilize the power of SMTP mail within WordPress without compromising site performance.
The plugin offers a beginner-friendly set-up process, which requires you to do little more than enter your SMTP details from Outlook.
WP Mail SMTP offers flawless compatibility with a number of mailing services, though Office 365/Outlook support is only available via their paid plans, which run from $49 to $399 per year.
3. Gmail SMTP
Outlook isn’t the only SMTP server you can use with WordPress.
So, if your only concern is improving email with SMTP and you’re not married to the idea of using Microsoft, you may want to try Gmail SMTP instead.
This free plugin bypasses the email restrictions laid down by most shared hosting servers by rooting your incoming and outgoing messages via, you guessed it, Gmail’s own SMTP server.
That said, this isn’t the most beginner-friendly tool we’ve encountered.
To use it, you’ll need to register a new application in the Google Developers’ Console, access an API key, and use that key to configure your account.
Speaking from experience, this can be a long and unwieldy process that certainly isn’t as easy as Post SMTP.
4. Easy WP SMTP
The settings page makes it a breeze to enter your server information, and customize your account to your liking.
The settings page makes it a breeze to enter your server information, and customize your account to your liking.
To connect to Microsoft Outlook, you’ll need a paid subscription, which runs from $49 per year for a single site license, up to $299 per year for up to 50 websites.
Last but not least, there’s Sendgrid, which isn’t exactly a plugin, but rather a full-service email delivery platform.
By connecting via an API, you bypass the need for email servers altogether, resulting in increased delivery rates.
The free plan allows you to send 100 emails per day, which may be a great choice for small, fledgling platforms, while paid plans run from $19.95 for 1,000 emails per month, all the way up to $749 for 1,400,000 emails per month.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the SMTP settings for Outlook?
The SMTP server settings for Outlook can be found in the table below. You’ll need these details to connect Outlook to your WordPress installation:
|SMTP username||The email address you use with Outlook|
|SMTP password||Your Outlook Password|
What is the best WordPress SMTP plugin for Microsoft Outlook?
We love Post SMTP because it’s quick, easy and efficient, though you have to pay for the premium version to be able to use it with Microsoft Outlook.
If you’d rather not spend the money, you’ll find that you can do exactly the same thing with FluentSMTP, which is 100% free, and offers Outlook connectivity.
What are the disadvantages of using Outlook SMTP in WordPress?
While using Outlook SMTP in WordPress offers plenty of benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks.
For one thing, creating an SMTP set-up for your website is undoubtedly more complex than the default PHP mail function, which could be an issue for users with limited technical knowledge.
For another, using Outlook SMTP means relying on external servers and services.
If there are issues with Outlook’s servers or downtime on their end, it could affect your email delivery, and you might have limited control over resolving such issues.
How to Use Microsoft Outlook in WordPress: Key Things to Remember
We hope you’ve found this guide useful in learning not only how to connect Outlook with WordPress, but also why you’d want to in the first place.
Before we finish, let’s quickly recap some of the most important lessons we’ve shared today.
- Using Microsoft email in your WordPress dashboard makes it easier to manage your business – Not only do you have the added convenience of handling email without leaving WordPress, you also have higher-than-average send rates and a better chance that more emails will be delivered successfully.
- You don’t need much to integrate Microsoft Outlook into WordPress – An SSL certificate, an Office 365 account, and a plug-in is all it takes.
- The Post SMTP plugin makes the process easier – Although it’s not the only Microsoft WordPress integration plugin on the market, we used Post SMTP because it’s quick and easy, making it possible to complete the whole process in a matter of minutes.
- The best alternative to Outlook for sending emails is MailPoet – This plugin is developed by the same team who brought you WordPress, and has both low costs and generous sending limits. However, while it’s great for sending transactional emails, you won’t have the option to receive messages from customers.
Finally, if you don’t have a Microsoft 365 account but you’re still looking for a better way to manage email for your online store? Look no further than these top WooCommerce customizer plugins.