I’ve sent thousands of emails and used dozens of email discovery tools over the years.
Now I want to show you what works based on my experience.
I won’t talk about obvious email finding methods here. I’m going to assume that you’ve already checked contact pages and “about” sections on social media without luck.
If that’s not the case, give those tactics a shot first.
Otherwise, let’s get started.
1. Use email lookup services
Email discovery tools provide perhaps the easiest way to find an email address.
Simply feed them a person’s name and website, and they’ll work their magic to find their email.
There are hundreds of these tools on the market, and some are better than others.
Last year, I took eight popular email lookup services and searched for 100 email addresses that I already knew. This year, I decided to repeat that experiment with a few extra tools.
Meet the contestants:
- Find That Email: 50 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at $29/month for 500 searches ($0.058 per search).
- Clearbit Connect: Chrome extension. 100 searches per month. Free access.
- Finder Expert: 300 free searches per month. Paid access starts at $39 per month with 5000 search credits($0.008 per search).
- Snov.io: 50 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at $29 for 1,000 single searches or 500 bulk searches ($0.029 per search).
- Voila Norbert: 50 free searches as a trial. Paid accounts start at: $49/month for 1,000 searches ($0.049 per search).
- Hunter: 50 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at $49/month for 1,000 searches ($0.049 per search).
- FindThatLead: 50 free searches per month. Paid accounts start at $49/month for 5000 searches ($0.0098 per search).
- eMail-Prospector Pro from eGrabber: 50 free searches as a trial. $1,195 per year, limited to 4,000 credits ($0.299 per search).
- FindEmails.com (ex Toofr): 50 free searches as a trial. Paid accounts start at $19/month for 500 searches.
The results are in!
Hunter and Find That Email share first place with a success rate of 81%.
eMail-Prospector Pro is a close runner-up at 80%. This tool, however, is the most expensive among the contestants. It is a desktop application, and their UI is not the most user-friendly. Besides, searching for 100 email addresses took me more than 20 minutes.
On the other hand, they seem very confident about their data. They even offer a challenge:
We are so confident about our emails, we have an Email Guarantee — if our customers can find an email on the Internet manually, and we can’t — we guarantee 5x more credits for each of those.
FindThatLead also performed well with a 72% success rate. But considering the price of $0.0098 per search, it’s potentially an excellent solution for massive outreach campaigns.
I was surprised that Voila Norbert, last year’s winner, found only 41% of email addresses correctly. But this time the test was more difficult. I did my best to pick email addresses that used different formats, not just firstname.lastname@example.org (which is the most common and would be very easy to guess).
If you own or manage a similar tool and would like to see it included in this test next time, find my email address, drop me a line, and I will gladly add it. 🙂
While email discovery services offer a good solution for finding emails, they’re not perfect.
- Sometimes these tools are not able to find an email address (even the winners suggested no results for every 10th search);
- They only allow a limited number of free searches and their subscription plans can be quite expensive.
If you want to learn some free yet effective ways to find an email address, keep reading.
2. Search “@domainname.com” in DuckDuckGo
This trick won’t work with Google: they’re using the “@” symbol for social tags. It used to work with Bing, but that’s no longer the case.
But hey! There are more search engines!
Run an exact match search for “@domainname.com” at DuckDuckGo, and it will reveal email addresses related to this domain (if they are publicly available). You can add the name of your prospect to the search.
This is a little-known trick, but it works like a charm!
3. Make your best guess (and test it)
Most email addresses follow one of several formulas.
If you know the first name, last name, and domain of your target, you can simply guess someone’s email address.
Around 70% of my contact list consists of email addresses that use the email@example.com format.
The most common formats for an email address are:
|First name + last firstname.lastname@example.org|
|First name + the 1st letter of their last email@example.com|
|The 1st letter of their first name + last firstname.lastname@example.org|
However, picking out all the possible variants manually is time-consuming.
So here’s a shortcut:
Email Permutator+ from Metric Sparrow automatically creates a list of possible email addresses. Just fill in the fields and let it work its magic.
These tools will get you a list of possible email addresses in seconds.
From there, you need to check the suggestions.
Install it, go to Gmail, click the “Compose” button, and paste all the email permutations into the “To” field. Move the cursor over the email address one by one and observe.
Gmail will show you if the email address is associated with a Google profile, while the LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension will reveal if this email address belongs to a LinkedIn account (you must be logged in to LinkedIn for that).
If both Sales Navigator and Gmail remain silent, you can run another check by searching for the exact match of your best guess on Google or another search engine to see if it was mentioned anywhere on the Web.
4. Use Twitter’s advanced search
People often share their email addresses in their tweets. But to hide them from bots, they replace “.” and “@” symbols with “dot” and “at” words.
Have you already guessed your next step?
Go to the Twitter Advanced Search and look for the words “at” and “dot” in tweets from your target person. 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 Sam Oh, our Grandmaster of video content here at Ahrefs.
Some people don’t even bother ciphering their email addresses in their tweets.
Let’s see if our Emperor of Content, Josh, has ever shared his email address on Twitter.
This time we’ll use Snap Bird to search through his Tweet history.
5. Subscribe to your target’s mailing list
If a person you’re targeting has a newsletter on their blog, you can subscribe to their mailing list using an opt‐in form on their website.
Most newsletter emails will come from their personal email address.
Besides, this also provides an excellent opportunity to start building relationships.
Just reply to one of the newsletter emails with a quick question or ask for an opinion.
Here is one of the very first email outreach messages I ever sent:
I signed up for Brian Dean’s newsletter and replied to the first email I got.
Sometimes email addresses like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or similar are used for newsletters.
But if you reply to these, the person might reply from their personal email address.
6. Reach out for an email address on Twitter
I’ve seen plenty of contact pages where people say that the best way to reach them is to drop them a line on Twitter.
But generally, the message you want to send is more than 280 characters long.
So don’t hesitate to find that person on Twitter and ask for their email address.
Our Head of Marketing, Tim Soulo, does that quite often.
Trust me; most people will eagerly answer such a message.
Just make sure you have a real Twitter profile that clearly states who you are.
7. Ask for a personal connection via a generic email address or contact form
Most big companies have either a contact form on their website or list a generic email address for inquiries (e.g., email@example.com). Those inboxes are mostly handled by support teams or by VAs.
Just shoot a simple message and ask them to connect you with the person you want to reach.
This works best if your email signature clearly explains who you are.
If you’re using a VA to collect email addresses for you, make sure that their signature mentions you as their boss. 🙂
8. Find email addresses at scale for blogger outreach
Reaching out to the authors of articles is a crucial part of any link-building or promotional campaign. Let me show you how you can find prospects AND their email addresses in bulk for your outreach.
Let’s say you’re promoting a mobile app for weight loss.
Head over to our Content Explorer and search for the topic you’re interested in.
If the article specifies the author, Content Explorer will show you their name.
You’ll also see the author’s name in the export file.
The only thing that’s missing is the domain. But you can pull that easily from the article’s URL with this formula in Google Sheets:
Now that you have the domains and the authors’ names, you can upload the list to your favorite email lookup tool, e.g., Hunter.
You can use Hunter for Sheets add-on to find emails in bulk quickly.
What did I miss?
That’s how we find email addresses here at Ahrefs.
I’m begging you once again! Use these methods responsibly. Don’t make people that you’re reaching out to hate me for writing this article. 🙂
And if you know any other good ways to find someone’s email address, let me know in the comments. I’d love to learn them!