The Complete Guide to Creating an HTML Form That Sends You an Email (2024 Edition)

Do you find yourself losing track of important information submitted through forms on your website? Creating an HTML form that automatically sends an email notification is an effective solution to this common problem.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore what HTML email forms are, why they‘re useful, and provide step-by-step instructions for setting one up on your own site. Whether you‘re comfortable with coding or prefer a no-code solution, you‘ll find an option that works for you.

Let‘s dive in!

What is an HTML Email Form and Why Use One?

An HTML form is a web page element that allows visitors to input and submit data, like their name, email, address, or feedback. By connecting the form to your email, you can automatically receive a notification whenever someone fills it out.

The main benefits of HTML email forms are:

  • Never lose track of form submissions again – all data is delivered straight to your inbox
  • Get notified immediately when a visitor engages with your form or requests information
  • Avoid making users leave your site to contact you via email
  • Easily organize, save, and follow up on form submissions
  • Improve the user experience by providing an easy way to get in touch

While it would be convenient if you could simply route form submissions to an email address, there are two main reasons why you can‘t:

  1. Security and privacy concerns: Directly emailing the submitted data would expose the visitor‘s email address and make them vulnerable to tracking or malicious activity.

  2. Lack of built-in functionality: HTML alone doesn‘t provide a way to send emails upon form submission. Additional technology is needed to connect the two.

Luckily, there are several workarounds that make creating an HTML email form quick and painless. We‘ll go through the top four methods below.

Method 1: Creating an HTML Email Form Using Just HTML (Not Recommended)

If you‘re determined to use pure HTML to create your email form, it is possible – but it comes with some big limitations.

Here is a sample code snippet for a very basic HTML email form:

This code will create a form with a message field and submit button. When the user clicks submit, their default email client will open with the form content in the body of a new email addressed to the specified email.

However, there are several issues with this method:

  • It‘s not compatible with all browsers and email clients
  • The user experience is clunky (the email client opening is disruptive)
  • You have no control over the formatting of form data in the email
  • A warning message pops up alerting the user that their data will not be encrypted

Because of these limitations, we strongly advise against relying solely on HTML for your email forms. For a more robust solution, you‘ll need to use a server-side scripting language like PHP.

Method 2: Creating an HTML Email Form Using PHP

PHP is a scripting language that integrates with HTML to process and send form data. It‘s the most popular choice for creating email forms and is supported by nearly all web hosting providers.

Here are the basic steps to create an email form with PHP:

Step 1: Create a PHP page for your form

In your website‘s file directory, create a new file for your form and save it with a .php extension (ex. myemailform.php). This tells the server to process it as a PHP page.

Step 2: Set up the HTML form

In the PHP file you just created, set up your form‘s HTML as usual. Be sure to use the POST method and set the action to the same PHP file path. Here‘s an example:



Step 3: Add the PHP script to send email

Continuing in the same PHP file, add the following code above your HTML to process the submitted form data and send it to your email:

<?php
if($_POST["message"]) {
mail("[email protected]", "New Form Submission",
$_POST["message"], "From: ".$_POST["email"]);
}
?>

When the form is submitted, this code will:

  1. Check if the message form field is filled out
  2. Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line "New Form Submission"
  3. Include the content submitted in the message field
  4. Use the email provided in the email field as the "From" address

After the email is sent, the page will refresh and display the HTML, allowing the visitor to submit the form again if needed.

And that‘s it! You now have a functional email form using PHP. For a more customized design and advanced functionality, you can expand on this code.

However, if you‘re not comfortable with coding, there are some great tools that let you create impressive email forms without any technical knowledge.

Method 3: Creating an Email Form with a Form Builder

Form builders are web-based tools that allow you to create custom forms using premade templates and drag-and-drop editing. They handle all the coding and backend processing for you.

Most form builders include email notification functionality out of the box – all you need to do is enter the email address where you want to receive submissions. You can then customize your email notifications with the submitted form data.

Some of the best form builders for creating email forms include:

1. HubSpot Form Builder (Best Overall)

HubSpot‘s free form builder is incredibly easy to use and packed with features. You can quickly build forms that match your site design and branding, set up custom email notifications, and manage all your form submissions in one dashboard.

Key features:

  • Drag-and-drop form fields
  • 1,000+ form templates
  • Advanced field validation
  • Customizable email notifications
  • Built-in analytics and reporting
  • Integrates with HubSpot‘s free CRM and marketing tools

2. JotForm (Best for Multiple Forms)

If you need to create and manage multiple email forms, JotForm is an excellent choice. Its user-friendly builder lets you create unlimited forms and easily organize them into folders. You can receive email notifications for all new submissions or only those meeting certain criteria.

Key features:

  • 10,000+ form templates
  • 100+ integrations (payment processing, email marketing, etc.)
  • Assign forms to team members
  • Kiosk mode for in-person form collection
  • HIPAA compliance for healthcare

3. Typeform (Best for Conversational Forms)

Want to create email forms that feel more like an engaging conversation than a standard question-and-answer format? Typeform‘s chat-style forms are fun, mobile-friendly, and proven to boost completion rates.

Key features:

  • Unique one-question-at-a-time format
  • Embed forms anywhere or use a popup
  • Logic jumps and branching
  • Hidden fields to pass data
  • Stripe and PayPal integrations

Method 4: Creating an Email Form with a WordPress Plugin

If your site is built on WordPress, you can easily create email forms using one of the platform‘s many form builder plugins. These tools integrate seamlessly with WordPress and allow you to add forms to your pages or posts with just a few clicks.

Some of the best WordPress form plugins include:

1. WPForms

With over 3 million active installations, WPForms is the most popular form plugin for WordPress. Its intuitive drag-and-drop builder lets you create professional email forms in minutes – no coding required. WPForms also offers 100+ pre-built templates and advanced features like multi-page forms, file uploads, and PayPal/Stripe integration.

2. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a simple yet powerful form builder that‘s been around since 2007. While it requires some basic HTML knowledge to set up, it‘s highly customizable and compatible with many popular email services and CRMs. If you prefer a more hands-on approach and don‘t mind a slight learning curve, Contact Form 7 is a solid choice.

3. Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is an advanced form plugin designed with developers and power users in mind. In addition to a visual form builder, it offers extensive conditional logic options, front-end post creation, and add-ons for email marketing, payment processing, and more. Gravity Forms is a premium plugin, but its robust functionality and stellar support make it well worth the price for many users.

Email Form Design and User Experience Best Practices

No matter which method you choose to create your email form, following some key design and UX principles will help you get the most conversions and engagement:

  1. Keep it short and sweet: Only ask for the information you truly need. Fewer form fields generally lead to higher completion rates.

  2. Use clear, action-oriented labels: Guide users through your form with labels that tell them exactly what to do (ex. "Enter your email" vs. just "Email").

  3. Make fields optional when possible: If a piece of information isn‘t critical, consider making that field optional to reduce friction.

  4. Provide helpful error messages: If a user makes a mistake, provide a specific, friendly error message that tells them how to correct it.

  5. Use consistent styling: Match the look and feel of your form to the rest of your website to create a cohesive experience.

  6. Test on different devices: With more people than ever accessing the web on mobile, it‘s critical to test your email form on a variety of screen sizes and devices. Use a responsive design that adapts gracefully to smaller viewports.

  7. Send a confirmation message: After a user submits the form, display a thank-you message and let them know when they can expect to hear back from you. You may also want to send a confirmation email with a copy of their submission for their records.

Managing Email Form Submissions Effectively

Getting notified of new form submissions is a good start – but to make the most of that data, you need an organized system for managing it. Here are some tips:

  • Create separate folders or labels in your email client for form submissions so they don‘t get lost in your main inbox
  • Use a spreadsheet or CRM to track submissions and record any follow-up actions
  • Set up autoresponders to acknowledge receipt and let submitters know next steps
  • Regularly review and analyze form data to look for trends, common questions or issues, and opportunities to improve the user experience
  • Consider integrating your form with other tools like email marketing software or customer support platforms to automate follow-up and keep all your data in sync

Start Collecting More Leads and Feedback with HTML Email Forms

An HTML email form is a valuable addition to any website, allowing you to capture visitor information and respond quickly to inquiries or requests. Whether you choose to code it from scratch, use a form builder tool, or install a WordPress plugin, you now have the knowledge to create effective, user-friendly email forms.

By following the design and management best practices outlined in this guide, you‘ll be well on your way to collecting more high-quality leads and feedback from your website visitors. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building an email form for your site today!