But here’s the good news: with a little poking around, it’s possible to find most people’s email address.
How I know that?
Finding email addresses is an important part of my job. Over the past 18 months, I’ve found more than 2.Sent 000 emails to bloggers, SEO experts and inbound marketers. And I had to search for almost every email address to be able to share information with other people (outreach).
I’ve tried many tips and tricks and dozens of email discovery services, both free and premium.
Most of them are not suitable for me at all. Some were not very efficient and took too much time for me to do. So I tried to optimize the process again and again.
Today I’m going to share with you my most effective, personally tested email discovery methods.
I’m not going to talk about the most obvious methods here. After all, searching Google, checking contact pages, and looking at personal information on social media is probably the first thing you would do, or?
Let us begin!
1. Use email lookup service (this is where I started a BIG test)
I’ll start with the easiest way to find an email address:
Using email discovery tools.
If you’ve been following the Ahrefs blog for a while, you probably know that we like to back up our statements and recommendations with solid numbers.
So I took eight email search services that had some recommendations from digital marketing professionals and ran a test.
These are the search services:
- Clearbit Connect: 100 searches per month. Free access.
- Hunter: 100 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at: $49/month for 1.000 search queries.
- toofr: 30 free searches as a trial version. Paid accounts start at: $19/month for 2.500 search queries.
- Findanyemail 2.0: 100 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at: $49/month for 5.000 searches.
- Voila Norbert: 50 free searches as a trial version. Paid accounts start at: $49/month for 1.000 searches.
- Emailmatcher: Unlimited free search (protected by reCaptcha).
- Anymail finder: 20 free searches as a trial. Paid accounts start at: $18/month for 200 searches.
- Find That Email: 15 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at: $29/month for 500 searches.
I took a list of exactly 100 people from my contact list in the SEO niche and searched for their email addresses in each of 8 tools. For each contact on my list, I already had a company email, so I could be sure if the tools found the right address or not.
Input data included first name, last name and domain.
It is true that a person can have multiple email addresses on the same domain. So I had to recheck the result from each tool if the address was different from the email addresses I had.
I can’t wait to share the results with you!
Viola Norbert is the winner with 87% Success rate.
Close behind was Clearbit Connect. It also showed excellent results, but unlike Norbert, allows up to 100 searches per month for free. That’s more than enough for those running high-quality, personalized email campaigns.
I’ve always wondered how these tools work, so of course I looked them up on Google.
The clearest answer was given by Francois Grante, founder of the Hunter Service, on Quora:
- We search the website of the company the person currently works for.
- We examine all the email addresses we have in our database using the same domain name (d.h. all email addresses with @company.com).
- Depending on what we receive, Email Hunter will automatically find the most likely email pattern used in the organization. If we don’t have enough data, we simply return the few email addresses we found for the company under investigation and let the user judge what can be used.
This is actually how most email discovery services work. Some of them also search their huge databases with tons of email addresses.
I went back to Google to find the most commonly recommended email discovery services. Oddly enough, I had not seen any tests or comparisons of these tools. People just listed them in their articles about outreach and email hunting.
Using an email discovery service is a good solution for your email search needs. But this way is not perfect.
- Sometimes these tools are not able to find an email address;
- They only allow a limited number of free searches and their subscriptions can be very expensive.
If you want to learn some free ways to find an email address when email discovery tools fail, read on.
2. Take a guess (and test it)
This method of email discovery is not new, it has been around for years.
Also, as you already know, it is the cornerstone of many email lookup services.
Most email addresses follow one of many formulas. If you know your target’s first name, last name and domain, you can easily guess someone’s email address.
In fact, more than 70% of the email addresses from the list I used in my test above have the simple formula [email protected] uses.
Here are some other common formulas you can use to guess an email address:
However, manually selecting all the options can be time consuming. Here you will find a shortcut:
Email Permutator+ from Metric Sparrow. It can automatically create a list of possible email addresses. Just fill in the fields and let it do the work for you.
Rob Ousbey’s email permutator table from Distilled is an impressive alternative.
With these tools, you can get a list of possible email addresses in seconds. Now you just need another tool to check these suggestions: LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite for Chrome (z.B. Rapportive). Install it now if you haven’t done so already.
Now click on the "Compose" button in your Gmail and add all Email combinations in the "To" field. Then move the mouse cursor over the email address one by one and watch them.
Gmail will show you if the email address is associated with a Google+ account, while the LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension will show if that email address belongs to a LinkedIn profile (you must have a Linkedin account).
I do not recommend relying on email verification services, as they are often wrong.
In reality, this email address does not exist. Unfortunately.
3. Search for "@domainname.com" in Bing
Now you will probably already think that there is a problem with this tip.
If so, you’re (kind of) right!
Google uses the "@" symbol for social tags. If you use "@ahrefs.com" (exact match search) in Google, you will not find any email addresses.
But don’t forget that Google is not the only search engine!
I discovered this hack not too long ago: you can use Bing search instead.
Use exact match search for "@domainname.com", and Bing will disclose email addresses to that domain if they are publicly available.
As you can see, this little known trick works.
4. Check your LinkedIn connections
Did you know that a user’s email address on LinkedIn is always visible to your direct connections?
Check any of your connection’s profiles, and the email address will be there for you to select in the "Contact Information" section.
You can also export all your LinkedIn connections to a file on your computer.
Here is the official manual from LinkedIn:
- Click on the icon My network At the top of your LinkedIn home page.
- Click on the left bar Your connections.
- Click Manage synced and imported contacts at the top right of the page.
- Click under Advanced actions on the right bar on Export contacts.
- Click Request Archive.
- You will receive an email to your primary email address containing a link where you can download your list of connections.
You will then get a CSV file. And your connections’ email addresses will all be there.
You will then get a CSV file. And the e-mail addresses of your connections are all there.
This is handy if you have hired an agency to collect email addresses for you. Simply send the exported file to your agency.
And here comes a warning to all – don’t blindly connect with everyone on LinkedIn. You risk your personal email address falling into the wrong hands.
5. Reach an email address on Twitter
I’ve seen many contact pages where people say the best way to reach them is to message them on Twitter.
Generally, the message you want to send is more than 280 characters long, however, so you would prefer to contact them via an email address.
If that’s the case, feel free to find that person on Twitter and ask for their email address.
Our marketing director, Tim Soulo, does this quite often.
Trust me; most people will eagerly respond to such a message, provided you have a real Twitter profile that clearly states who you are.
6. Use advanced search on Twitter
The above method is not the only way to get someone’s email address via Twitter. I’d like to share another neat Twitter trick with you.
It is not uncommon for people to share their email addresses in their tweets. But to hide it from bots, they substitute the symbols "." and " @" by "dot" and "at" words.
Do you already know what happens next?
Go to advanced Twitter search and look for "at" and "dot" words in tweets from your target persona. You can also include words like email, contact or reach in your search to narrow down the results.
Let’s see if this works for Joshua Hardwick, our Head of Content at Ahrefs.
Some people don’t even bother encrypting their email addresses when they tweet.
Let’s see if our CMO, Tim Soulo, has ever shared his email address on Twitter.
The Snap Bird servic e is a convenient way to search the history of all Twitter users.
As you can see, he does this fairly often.
7. Subscribe to your target’s email list
If a person you are responding to has a personal blog, you can subscribe to their email list using an opt-in form on the blog. Most newsletter emails come from their personal email address.
It’s also a great opportunity to start a conversation by commenting on one of the newsletter emails you receive. You can ask intelligent questions that require a quick answer, or ask for an opinion.
Here is one of the very first email receive messages I ever sent:
I signed up for Brian Dean’s newsletter and responded to the first email.
Sometimes newsletters use special email addresses like [email protected], [email protected] or similar used.
However, if you reply to it, a response may come back from the personal email address.
8. Ask for a personal connection via a general email address or contact form on the website
Most large companies have either a contact form on their website for all inquiries, or a general email address in their contact information (z.B. [email protected]). These addresses are usually handled by support teams or by agencies.
Send a simple message asking them to connect you with the person you want to reach out to.
This usually works if your email signature makes it clear who you are.
If you’ve hired an agency to collect email addresses for you, make sure you’re named as the boss in the signature. &
9. Check WHOIS data to see who owns a domain
This is my last resort to find an email address.
These days, many domains have private registration information, which means you can’t easily find the domain owner’s contact information.
Here’s an example.
If you are trying to find the owner’s contacts for searchenginejournal.com under who.is to be found, here’s what you get:
It works best for sites with an owner who has little to no reason to hide contact information. But this information is also available for some larger sites.
Here is the example for the domain ahrefs.com.
Many people will use their personal email addresses for this (z.B. Gmail).
This may seem desirable, but remember that many people do not want to publicly disclose this email address elsewhere. So if you send an email to such an address, they know where you got it from and of course that can upset them.
So I recommend you use these tactics wisely and sparingly.
Did I forget something?
And this is it! Lots of actionable methods you can use to find any email address you want.
Of course, searching for an email address on Google or social profiles is an obvious tactic, but it doesn’t always work. The tactics I shared above work perfectly for those who struggle with "traditional" methods.
But before I end this, I have a serious request….
Please use these tactics responsibly! Don’t make the people you want to reach hate me for writing this article. &
And if you know of any other good ways to find out someone’s email address, I’d love to know them. Just share them in the comments!