How to Save Contact Form Data in the WordPress Database

Do you use contact forms to allow website visitors to get in touch and send you messages? If so, you may be wondering what happens to all that great data after submissions come flooding into your inbox.

By default, most WordPress contact form plugins will simply email you each submission and then discard it. But did you know you can actually save every entry directly in your WordPress database for future reference and analysis?

In this detailed guide, we‘ll explore the benefits of storing contact form data and walk through exactly how to set it up using WPForms, one of the most popular and flexible contact form plugins.

Why You Should Save Contact Form Entries in Your Database

While email notifications are great, saving form submissions in your WordPress database unlocks a number of useful capabilities:

Search and Filter Old Messages

Stored entries allow you to search and filter previous submissions by name, email, date, and any custom fields. No more hunting through tons of emails to find that one message!

Export All Data for Offsite Backup and Review

You can export all stored messages with one click for easy backups. View your data in a spreadsheet for insights.

Integrate With Analytics and Other Tools

Combining saved entries with plugins like Google Analytics lets you see form usage stats. CRM integrations become possible when data is retained.

Comply With Data Regulations

Depending on where you operate, storing submissions may be required for legal compliance and audit purposes.

View Historical Message Chains

With all data in one place, you can easily pull up all previous messages received from a particular contact over time.

According to WordPress, [X%] of websites use some kind of contact form plugin. But industry experts estimate up to [Y%] of forms are abandoned before submission. Capturing more leads requires optimizing your forms. Storing entries in WordPress is the first step.

Using WPForms to Automatically Save Form Data

One of the most popular yet full-featured contact form plugins for WordPress is WPForms. It also gives you complete flexibility and control over storing form entries.

Let‘s look at how easy they make it to save all submitted data to your database.

First, install and activate WPForms on your WordPress site.

Step 1: Create a Contact Form

From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to WPForms > Add New to create a new contact form:

WPForms add new form

Add any fields you need, like name, email, subject, and message. You can also add dropdowns, checkboxes, file uploads, and more.

Step 2: Enable Entry Storage

Once your form fields are set up, expand the Settings tab and find the "Store Submissions" option:

WPForms store submissions setting

Make sure it is checked to enable storing form data in the WordPress database.

Step 3: Test It Out

Head over to a page or post where you added your contact form and test it out by submitting some sample data:

Submitting a test entry in a simple contact form

This will email you the submission AND silently store it in your database behind the scenes!

Now let‘s look at how to actually access those saved entries.

Viewing and Managing Contact Form Data

To see contact form entries stored in your database, navigate to WPForms > Entries from your WordPress dashboard:

WPForms entries list overview

This screen shows submissions for all forms across your site in a sortable table. You can also filter by specific forms, date ranges, starred status, etc.

Clicking on an individual entry gives you additional details like exact submission time, user IP, and a full history of any back & forth communication if you enabled notifications:

WPForms single entry details

From here you can print, star, and even delete entries when needed.

If you need to export all data outside of WordPress, WPForms has you covered. Go to WPForms > Tools > Export to download a CSV of all submissions across all forms.

Now let‘s look at a bonus tip for selective cases where you may NOT want to store form data.

Optional: Disable Storing Certain Forms

While storing submissions is recommended for most contact forms, you may want to disable it for auxiliary forms like simple mailing list signups.

To stop saving data for a specific form in WPForms:

  1. Edit the contact form.
  2. Go to Settings > General
  3. Check the "Disable storing submissions" option.
  4. Save the form.

This will continue emailing notifications but skip storing entries in the database.

Recap and Next Steps

  • Enabling the storage option in WPForms (or most other contact form plugins) will automatically save all submitted data in your database for future reference.

  • View, search, filter, print, and export contact form entries from the plugin‘s interface, like the WPForms entries list.

  • Selectively disabling storage for certain forms keeps your database lean.

  • Consider integrating saved entries with other plugins like analytics, CRM, email marketing, and support ticketing systems.

Saving contact form data in WordPress gives you greater control and insight over all your customer interactions in one place. Give your database a boost and start improving your lead generation process today!

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.