Imagine this: You’ve done your research, have the name and position of the correct decision maker/influencer to reach out to, have drafted your perfect pitch, but…
Their email address is nowhere to be found.
It’s not on their about page nor author page, and a simple Google search of name + position + company leaves you empty-handed.
But don’t worry! There are ways you can uncover somebody’s work email address for free.
They don’t cost any money, but they will require a few minutes of your time, and in some cases, a dab of patience and persistence. These methods are my tips from my own experience as a marketer who reaches out to people every day, and my hope is that they’ll make your daily marketing work that much easier!
Method 1: The short way – Email-finding software
There are various online applications where you can easily uncover somebody’s work email purely from having their full name and the domain name of their company.
Hunter.io is my go-to tool for this. The application works by crunching web data, searching prospects’ websites, and checking the most common email address patterns to return the most suitable email address. It’s basically what you would need to do manually to uncover an email address, but fully automated for you instead.
All you need is your prospect’s full name, which can be easily found via LinkedIn or companies’ About Pages. Then, simply create a Hunter.io account and use their ‘Email Finder’.
It’s a pretty self-explanatory tool. Now, there are two ways this can typically go:
Scenario 1: It works!
You pop your prospect’s name and the domain of their website into the Email Finder tool and let the software go to the work.
For example, I’ll use my own credentials:
Turns out, my email address isn’t that hard to find! If the result has a green dot next to it, you’re pretty good to go! Hovering over the dot will show the ‘confidence level’ of how accurate the finding is.
The great thing about Hunter.io is that they also show any matches of the discovered email on the web, should there be any. Double confirmation never hurts!
Scenario 2: The dot is orange.
This happens when Hunter is unsure of the result found. In this case, go back to the Hunter.io front page, insert just the prospect’s domain name, and hunter will do a search for all the emails it can find of this particular domain name. Along with the results will also be a suggestion of the most common first + last name combination you should use.
Of course, as with anything, no single tool is perfect. There are two downsides to using Hunter.io.
1. The suggested email could still bounce, for various reasons
Perhaps the domain is incorrect, and the company is owned by a bigger conglomerate, or they could simply just fail. 99% of the time, this is not the case, from my personal experience.
2. Limited search volume
Hunter.io is free to use, but is limited to 100 searches per month. That’s 100 prospects to reach out to each month.
However, this doesn’t have to be a huge downside. One aspect that I take from my work in sales is to not work on more than 10-12 prospects at once. This ensures that I have sufficient time to optimize for the best results.
So the 100 free search limit each month works perfectly fine for me. Of course, it may or may not work for you based on the nature of your role and the type and volume of outreach you’re sending.
If needed, you can always seek out an alternative to Hunter.io, invest in a premium account, or if you’re like me, find the email ‘manually’, which is covered next.
Method 2: The slightly longer, ‘manual’ way
2.1 Email Permutator + Mailtester
Let’s say Hunter.io has failed, you ran out of searches, or your email bounced. Not fun, but you have options. There are two tools that you can use instead: Email Permutator and MailTester.
MailTester is similar to Hunter.io’s Email Verifier tool. Simply enter an email address, and MailTester will tell you whether or not it’s valid. There are a lot of online tools that offer the same function, but MailTester stands out because it doesn’t have a usage limit.
Email Permutator, on the other hand, ‘permutates’ different combinations for First + Surname and domain to give you a list of possible email addresses for a particular person. The tool also takes into account middle names and nicknames for a wider list of possible results.
To get started, let’s work through an example using my credentials: Hung + Nguyen + smallpdf.com
Go to Email Permutator and enter your prospect’s full name and the domain of their company. Click ‘Permutate!’ and a list of possible email addresses will appear.
Out of the 34 combinations, usually only the top 7-8 or so will give you the correct work email address, as they’re displayed by how commonly that format is used.
Now, all you need to do is open another tab, and verify the emails one by one in MailTester until you find the correct email address.
As you can see, my email isn’t that hard to find – despite not being listed anywhere on the web.
Let’s try a different case – Gracelyn Tan Ladd from BuzzStream!
Again, enter your prospect’s info into Email Permutator, then copy and paste the different possible email addresses into MailTester.
As with any free tool, there are shortcomings. Certain domains will not allow email verification, as shown in the screenshot above.
In this case, you can switch MailTester with another tool – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite (formerly called Rapportive).
2.2 Email Permutator + LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite + Google Account
This method is pretty similar to the previous one, but replaces MailTester with LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite, which is an extension available for Google Chrome and Firefox. You’ll also need a Google email account to use this method.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite acts as an email verifier for Gmail. Whenever you compose or view an email, the Chrome extension will pull up any LinkedIn profiles associated with that particular email address.
Again, for Gracelyn, compose an email, enter a potential email address in, and hit enter. If there’s a match, her profile will appear. Otherwise, Sales Navigator will tell you that there’s no match.
You can see here that, even though MailTester failed to verify her email, Sales Navigator worked on my first try.
In practice, as I’ve mentioned, the top 10 possible Email Permutator email suggestion should yield the correct work email – unless the company and the prospect’s name is very common. Personally, after the first 8, if I still don’t find the person’s correct email address, I hop to method 3.
Method 3: Social selling
Yes, email is the classic way to communicate, but it’s not the only one. You can also DM their social media platforms and either:
- Ask for the influencer’s contact details
- Adopt Aaron Ross’s down-selling by contacting a business executive and ask for the person responsible
- Send them a message via LinkedIn directly
As a big advocate of ‘Social Selling,’ I like to break the ice by adding a prospect via LinkedIn, with a note attached.
The beauty of this method lies in the ‘150 character’ note that you’re allowed to attach, which the prospect sees right when they view your invitation. Though limited in size, it really forces you to keep it brief, sweet and witty with your pitch.
Though adding new contacts and writing them right away may be daunting, it’s much easier done than said!
In my opinion, LinkedIn’s done a much better job than other social media channels when it comes to their system of messaging. The paid subscriptions impose a limit on ‘InMails’ that each subscriber can send, and free users can only message people that they have connected this. Thus, sales and spam messages are kept to a minimum, at least in comparison to other social channels. Be creative, genuine, and to the point, and you’ll earn a solid response rate.
To sum up, it’s important to find the right person to reach out to. So much so that it’s worth spending a few minutes to find the best email address, and ensure your message reaches the right person.
Outreach should be fun, seamless, and never made tedious by repetitive, demotivating tasks. I hope these methods will help make outreach even easier for you. And of course, if you try out my methods, or have other methods of your own for finding email addresses, let me know in the comments below!