We need to find email addresses for the launch in 2 weeks – about 400 should do.
Nobody likes to hear that the next week of their time will be spent researching, selecting, and verifying hundreds of email addresses. It’s boring enough to make you complacent, but any mistakes are costly.
In other words, it’s one of the tedious marketing processes which we all love to hate.
After all, 400 emails are no good if they’re all blocked by spam filters.
I knew there had to be a better way than Googling the target audience, so I tested 9 email lookup tools and managed to find one with 92% accuracy.
Not only that, but I had a revelation as to why many of these tools are worse than they first appear.
But enough about that – let’s get to the testing.
The test to find email addresses
Without a consistent test there’s almost no benefit to trying out these tools at all – you can’t judge one tool better than another unless it has the same gauntlet to run.
So, to put these tools through their paces I tasked them with to find email addresses we already knew. That way there’s no uncertainty as to how accurate the tools are.
The 5 people I used were:
- Justin Mifsud from UsabilityGeek
- Benjamin Brandall from Process Street
- Bryan Clark from The Next Web
- Ina Fried from Recode
- Mike Butcher from TechCrunch
Justin’s email is private but UG’s is very public, and the other 4 have emails tied to their company domain, but with varying degrees of publicity. Ben, Bryan, and Ina all have Google results pointing towards their correct work email address, while Mike has his displayed in his LinkedIn bio.
5 email lookup tools tested
First up; yes, I know that I promised 9 tools in the title. I looked at 9 tools, but some are more suited to the “honorable mentions” section later in the post, as they serve different purposes than pure email lookups.
Having said that, the tools I’ll be focusing on are:
- Slik Prospector
- Clearbit Connect
- Email Format
- Voila Norbert
Let’s get started.
Slik Prospector is a Chrome extension which lets you gather peoples’ email addresses through their LinkedIn profile. Just click the extra button Slik creates on their profile, and there you have the person’s email ready to go.
Boasting a 95% deliverability rate, I had high hopes for this tool. It’s easy to use, has a lot of glowing comments (and almost 800 upvotes at the time of writing) on ProductHunt, and can export the leads you find to a CSV file.
You get 25 free verified email lookups when signing up (if one isn’t found then it doesn’t count) and after that it starts at $30 per month for an extra 300 credits per month.
In the core 5 tests Slik did pretty well, with an 80% deliverability rate and 60% success rate:
- Justin – failed to deliver, but he doesn’t have an email address tied to his company’s domain, so fair enough
- Ben – delivered a false email (the domain was correct, but the format was wrong)
- Bryan – success
- Ina – success
- Mike – success
Slik has reasonable deliverability and an acceptable email success rate. After double checking, it even managed to show me that the email we had for Ina Fried was incorrect (sorry about that Ina), so extra points there.
However, I can’t recommend it, both because of Ben’s false delivered email, and the implications behind it.
Getting an incorrect email is expected – you can’t expect a tool to magically solve all of the problems you throw at it – but the bigger problem here is the lack of user feedback Slik gives.
If I didn’t already know it, I would have no idea that the email was false without checking it myself, and if I was going to check them myself, I’d probably have the same success just searching for the email address without using a tool to do it.
Not only that, but because there’s no indication as to which emails could be false, you’d have to double check every email address. The failures make any successes suddenly doubtable.
The false result also makes very little sense, and (to me) suggests that Slik doesn’t check the emails it finds. After all, Ben’s Process Street email is publicly available in Google – one search for how many results return that email would show Slik what the most likely candidate is.
Now imagine if you pay $30 and use those 300 credits to get together a list of journalists for, say, a recent product launch. With Slik, every one of those emails could be incorrect and I’d have no way of knowing it without putting extra time in to manually check them.
In fact, Ben did exactly that and used Slik to try and find 40 emails before the Process Street 2.0 launch. Not one was found.
This is why I can’t recommend Slik to find email addresses. False emails aren’t a problem, but the failing to tell your users that they could be incorrect negates any time they save by using it.
RocketReach is a web-based tool which lets you search a name, company or LinkedIn profile URL to retrieve emails. It’s a handy halfway point between tools which find email addresses from a company’s domain and those which search for specific peoples’ emails.
RocketReach also gives you links to your searched contact’s social media profiles.
While it has a free plan, you’ll only get 3 contact lookups per month. After that, the pricing starts at $49 per month for 170 lookups (which also nabs you 24/7 support). Higher plans also let you sync your findings with Salesforce and gain full API access.
Due to the 3 lookup limit only Justin, Ben, and Mike were analyzed:
- Justin – succeeded, bringing in both UG’s general email and three others associated with Justin
- Ben – failed, as the retrieved email was incorrect
- Mike – succeeded, but didn’t find his TechCrunch email
RocketReach fared a little better than Slik, but only because it retrieves all of the email addresses it can find for your 3 lookups. The problem again lies in the lack of user feedback.
Like Slik, without manually going through and verifying the email addresses there’s no way of knowing if the email you get is correct or not. This means that the tool cannot provide value on its own – everything has to be checked, meaning more work for the user.
Because of this I also feel like the pricing plans are a little restrictive. Without any kind of verification (other than manually checking each result), RocketReach’s only saving grace is the breadth of information it gives you for each lookup.
Having easy access to a contact’s social media accounts, along with delivering multiple email addresses and how easy it is to find a contact make RocketReach a semi-viable candidate, but only if you’re willing to put in the extra time to verify each address yourself.
Hunter (previously Email Hunter) is a web-based email lookup tool with a Chrome plugin for quick use.
The main site lets you search for a company domain, and lists every email address it can find on that domain – you can’t search for a person without knowing the domain.
It also provides a “confidence score” for each result, shows the webpages the address was gathered from, and has a separate verification tool to say how likely an email is to bounce. After all, there’s no point in trying to improve your clickthrough rate if the whole thing bounces to begin with.
The free plan gives 150 “requests” per month, but CSV exporting is locked into the paid plans. The paid plans start at $39 per month for 1,000 requests.
A “request” is counted as a domain search which retrieves any results (10 are shown at a time), with a new “request” used to see the next 10 emails gathered from a search. A “request” is also counted when using the email verifier on an email address.
You can also bulk search or verify emails, but doing so requires CSV exports, meaning that it’s locked into the paid plans.
Although Hunter seems to be designed more for carrying out an email lookup for an entire domain, it passed the full test with flying colors:
- Justin – success, but didn’t retrieve his personal email (understandably)
- Ben – success, even though the “common pattern” for Process Street’s emails doesn’t apply
- Bryan – success, although multiple requests were required to reach his email
- Ina – success, although multiple requests were required to reach her email
- Mike – success, although multiple requests were required to reach his email
Although I had to use multiple requests to find the results for specific people, Hunter is fantastic for performing an email lookup (as long as you know the target domain).
The key here is the user feedback it provides which Slik and RocketReach are so sorely lacking.
It allows you to see what sources it pulled the emails from in Google and gives an estimate of how likely the email is to be correct.
This is crucial for an email lookup tool.
Rather than pulling the address from seemingly nowhere, Hunter provides the information you need to judge whether or not you need to check it yourself. It gives you enough information to take a calculated risk, rather than making the decision for you.
Plus, if you’re unsure of an email, you can use the verification tool to get a further sense of how valid the address is, all without leaving the site.
Not only that, but the base results seem to be highly accurate – Ben also used Hunter to test emails for the PR campaign of our 2.0 launch, but this time put 450 emails through the grinder.
Admittedly he had to guess some emails using the “most likely” formula Hunter generates when searching a domain, but even with that only 34 bounced.
That’s a 92% success rate with room to spare for the ones he guessed.
In short, even on the free plan, Hunter rocks.
Clearbit Connect is a free Gmail plugin which lets you search for 40 email addresses per month using a company’s domain.
The main advantage of Connect is that you can use it without leaving Gmail – installing it puts a button at the top of your Gmail interface which opens an overlay in which you can search for email addresses. Then, if you find one you want to use, you just have to click on it to create a new message to that person.
Connect is extremely easy to use, and has a reasonable success rate:
- Justin – failed to retrieve any emails, despite having Justin’s image for UG’s search entry
- Ben – success
- Bryan – success
- Ina – success
- Mike – failed, as the email retrieved was incorrect
Whilst easy to use and reasonably successful, Clearbit Connect falls prey to the same trap that Slik and RocketReach suffer from – a lack of visible verification.
Again, even if more email lookups are correct than not, you have no way of knowing for sure unless you manually verify them yourself, which effectively neuters the convenience of having it as a Gmail plugin.
Having said that, the sheer convenience (and free nature) of Connect makes it ideal for the odd email search if you’re, say, looking for a specific author to pitch at a blog you want to guest post on.
Email Format is similar to Hunter, in that it’s a web-based tool which lets you search a company’s domain for email addresses. Format, however, focuses on finding the most likely format for email addresses on that domain (eg, “[email protected]”).
The design is basic, but each site email formula is given a confidence score and you can see the email addresses it found for each site in a second tab. For $5 a month you can also export your results to an Excel file.
Despite being good in theory, Email Format fared badly in the test:
- Justin – failed to find the domain
- Ben – failed to find the domain
- Bryan – failed to find the domain
- Ina – failed to find the domain
- Mike – succeeded in finding Mike’s email, but got the domain’s email pattern wrong
It’s good in theory, and gives some feedback as to its findings, but the number of domains it failed to even recognize was the biggest deal breaker out of all the tools so far.
Email Format’s higher plans may be cheap, but no. Just… just no.
Voila Norbert is a web-based email verification tool that has a Gmail plugin. You can use Voila Norbert to find emails for an outreach campaign, or verify emails on your list.
When you log into your Voila Norbert account, you can search for email addresses using the first and last name of the prospect and their company domain name.
Once Voila Norbert returns a result, you can send an email to the address directly from the website. You can also find the company’s social media accounts and location.
Voila Norbert claims to have been voted the most accurate email finder in the market, with a success rate of 87%. With the free trial, you have 50 leads, which you can use for either individual or bulk requests. The email verification is paid and starts at $0.003 per email for up to 500 thousand email addresses.
Voila Norbert is advertised as an email productivity and bulk email verification tool. It did pass the usability test, with a pretty good batting rate:
- Justin – failed to deliver
- Ben – success, with just one request needed to reach his email
- Bryan – success, with just one request needed to reach his (very public) thenextweb.com email
- Ina – success with both her old and new company emails
- Mike – success, with just one request needed to reach his email
As long as you know the target domain and the name of the specific people you’re looking for, Voila Norbert returns very accurate results. This is why it is one of the leading email finders.
Before I go ahead and wrap up my findings, here’s a couple of tools I found which, whilst not fitting our focus on free tools to find specific emails, could be great catches for different purposes.
Atomic Email Hunter
Atomic Email Hunter is a powerful tool that extracts email addresses with usernames from webpages.
A targeted email list is the first step towards the success of your email campaign. Once you add website addresses to Email Hunter, it will harvest and collect thousands of relevant email addresses from them in minutes.
This easy-to-use program provides a strong solution for those who are looking for fast email extraction with complex filtering rules.
The older, more professional counterpart to Clearbit Connect, Clearbit Prospector is a much larger product designed to gather huge numbers of emails at once, whether by manually searching for types of employees on a specific domain (eg, “engineers at clearbit.com”) or by integrating with other programs.
The price is a little steep (starting at $1k a month), but for large-scale email lookups, Prospector may well be worth a look.
People Search by Workable is similar to the main tools assessed earlier – it’s a Chrome extension which lets you search someone’s name to see a profile which collects data from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other sources.
It succeeded in finding the correct email addresses for Ben, Ina, and Mike, but the free plan has a limit of 3 searches per day and 10 maximum per month. After that is has a “Recruiter license” for $300 per month which has no limit to the number of searches.
This is why People Search is down in honorable mentions – the tool itself seems very useful for getting a thorough summary of a person, but is geared towards recruiting purposes rather than purely finding emails.
Qwilr Sherlock is a more basic tool than the others in this list, in that it’s more designed to generate possible variations for a person’s email from their first name, last name, and domain.
It’s a Chrome plugin that, by entering a person’s first name, last name, and their domain, will copy a list of variations of their email address to your clipboard, which you can then paste somewhere else for verification.
By itself this wouldn’t be too useful, but combined with the next tool it’s a lot more viable…
Rapportive is a Gmail plugin which checks email addresses you enter, then displays profiles associated with them.
Again, by itself this wouldn’t be too useful to find email addresses, but when combined with Sherlock it checks all of the variations and shows you any that are linked to an existing profile.
It’s a little more work than just looking up a domain with Hunter, but if you don’t want to leave Gmail (and don’t want to use Clearbit Connect) it’s a pretty effective solution.
Find 92% of email addresses using Hunter
Although most of the tools above are useful in one way or another, the clear winner for performing small-mid scale email lookups is undoubtedly Hunter.
If you hadn’t already guessed, the feedback it gives is the killer.
For example, nowhere in Slik’s app does it notify you how many sources it retrieved the email address from, what those sources are, what kind of verification the address has been put through, or even how likely emails to that address are to bounce.
Hunter, meanwhile, has a competitive pricing plan, a generous free plan, a 92% success rate, and gives you all of the information you need to know to judge whether you need to check the address yourself.
Most of the other apps take a risk with the emails they find, then don’t tell you how big that risk was. This means that you’ll have to check every email they retrieve – if you’re searching for specific emails in the first place, chances are that they’re important enough to need to be correct.
On the other hand, if you’re told than an email is 30% certain and still use it, the only one at fault is yourself for ignoring the risk.
Have any email lookup tools to recommend? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Maybe, you should try FullContact as well, for finding the person behind an email address.
Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll be sure to give it a try 😀
Another one to try is Lusha Plugin. Very high accuracy. https://www.lusha.co/
Always good to have some more suggested tools. I’ll take a look. 🙂
Yes hunter is a wonderful tool but you have to do all the search by hand.
What I’d you could give a bots some keywords and let it do all the work?
Here come http://www.magicsourcing.com yes bad name I agree.
Disclaimer : I’m the developer of this tool but I think you could love it.
Thanks, that looks like an interesting tool (I love the concept of just plugging in keywords and letting bots do the work). The pricing model is also cool, being that you only pay for 100% verified emails.
Could you tell me a little more about how they’re verified though (as in, are you shown a breakdown of the validity score)? I only ask because that ended up being a massive factor in deciding that Hunter was the best out of the tools I tested. Being shown exactly how their “confidence” score meant that I knew exactly how much I could trust the emails I retrieved.
This breakdown would be even more important (I believe) for a tool which mass gathers emails based on keywords, since you’re greatly increasing the number of email addresses you’ll have to double check if you do end up doubting their validity.
I watched the demo on your site but could only see the URLs where the email was retrieved from. 🙂
Hunter is a very useful tool, combined with Linkmatch for instance you can generate a lot of new leads just clicking on contact in linkedin. Thanks for this article. I really appreciate.
No problem Julien,
Always happy to hear you enjoyed the article. 🙂
Have to admit that I haven’t heard of Linkmatch – I’ll have to take a look and test it out. Is it a tool you use often?
Great list, thanks!
Here’s my contribution: Saleslift.io, a Chrome extension that lets you find emails and phone numbers through LinkedIn profiles, and Googlesheet addon too.
P.S. – Bruce Wayne is the set-default for user credentials? That’s so cool. 🙂
Sounds great – especially with a Google Sheets addon to help you organize everything. It can be a real pain to have found all of these emails and names, only to forget where you stored them! XD
Heck yeah Bruce Wayne is a default – that’s just how our team rolls 😉
Also, could someone pls share some thoughts on Rapportive’s performance recently. It’s not working properly for me. Is there any solution to sort it out?
Well, that’s a good list of tools to find one’s email address. Our team tried out few lead generation tools which are integrated with CRM’s like Zoho and Salesforce. I would like to mention AeroLeads and Salesloft being very useful.
Thanks for the suggestions – I’ll make a note to jump on them and put them through their paces.
Out of curiosity, which did you find to be the most effective of the ones you used?
Wow! So many tools in one place. Good job! Add https://getprospect.io into your list too, please. It gives good results.
We’ve had so many great suggestions in the comments of this post – it’s super cool to see all of these options!
I’ll make a note of that to give a go and see what we think. 🙂
Hi Ben, I’m a representative of SignalHire team(https://www.signalhire.com). Must say that it was very interesting to see the results of your tests, because we are familiar with all these products and recently made our own research. According to its results, SignalHire extension provides you with much more accurate data and truly valid emails (we don’t even return invalid ones).
SignalHire extracts contact details (emails/phone numbers) from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub, MeetUp and Google+.
Take a look and let me know your thoughts!
Hi Ben, I graciously appreciate your tips. While all the mentioned tools are great I would like to add a tool named http://getthat.email which I created for my own need doing idea extraction in smaller (30-80 people) companies because in these type of companies crawling does not work because owner do not publish their email address in social media or on their website. Take care, Jan
I would like to suggest you B2BSprout for find the right email of person.
Nice article! Developing a platform is first step further finding prospect and lead is one of the hardest thing for any business growth, As you have mention tools above and tool which I have use AeroLeads, Rapportive it’s really save our back and help us to increase our reach.
Very informative post!! I have used few prospecting and Lead generation tools like AeroLeads, rainClutch , Rapportive and it’s really helped me a lot to increase my business reach!
Great post! I use http://proofy.io/, verifier tool which has a 95% deliverability guarantee and surprisingly also the lowest cost in the entire market of companys that verify email addresses.
Hi Ben, Great article with details pros and cons. Another one to try is LeadMine – https://www.leadmine.net
Thanks for the kind words! We’ll definitely be updating this post at some point with a few more tools that stand up to the test, and I’ll happily add LeadMine to the list of ones we need to try out.
I appreciate your efforts to bring all email address finding tools at one spot, i would be very happy if you add this eMail prospector tool also into your list https://www.egrabber.com/emailprospector/ , it brings results from anyone’s name and company.
I’ll add it to the list of tools that we’ll have to test out when we do a second round on this post! 🙂
Ben, have a look at https://www.leadcandy.io/ when you get a chance? It provides verified email address, social network profiles, as well as mutual contacts (across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google/Gmail).
BTW, your collection of best SaaS sales emails – http://insidesaassales.com/ – is one of the best I’ve come across!
I’ll take a look, thanks. 🙂
I’ve also gone ahead and replaced your old comment with this one like you asked on Twitter (it’s so annoying when links don’t format properly, right?).
Thanks so much! Inside SaaS Sales was actually mostly Ben Brandall’s work, but I’ll pass on the cheer to be sure.
All the best,
CLEARBIT is also a winner of our 2017 Appealie award, check here: appealie.com/saas-award-winners-2017/
Hi Ben, We are trying to upload a csv with the following information:
My question is, are there any tool that will allow us to search emails in bulk (.csv) without providing a domain? I’ve seen tools like Hunter that would allow to search using Name and Company Name only but seems not effective because the company name on our spreadsheet does not have a consistent format. Any recommendation?
Hey Lynn, check out LeadCandy’s Data Enrichment feature – https://www.leadcandy.io/data-enrichment.
Thanks for your updates, please can you give research tools that work like ZoomInfo and leads site that is reliable and way cheaper
Hai! Thank you very much for sharing this. This really helped me 🙂
Might also try https://www.prospectlinked.com it is currently free for single lookups. Accuracy is similar to hunter but is improving every day as the crawlers build up a larger and larger database of addresses and patterns.
Hi Ben! Good job, I can see that you put a lot of hard work into this list. You can also take a look at https://www.oxyleads.com. It could be a great addition to other tools out there 🙂
I love this article which is very complete! Another one that you could try if you have time is Dropcontact (https://www.dropcontact.io/email).
Great article. It still is very accurate. I use Rocket Reach because it’s gotten better and it provides more email addreses. But it still runs into some of the problems. The truth is these are so much faster than manual checks, that I use a combo of Rocket Reach, Hunter, and mailtester.com (which is free) to make sure everything is really solid. If something bounces or doesn’t reach them, then you’ve just wasted time anyways, so might as well put a little more effort into confirming accuracy right?
Nymeria.io is the best to find private emails.
I also tried hiretual, dux-soup and improver but no one can beat Nymeria.
Thank you for this article, Ben! Also, feel free to check out SignalHire. The software has leads database with around 250 million profiles. Each profile has contact details section with email addresses which are verified in a real-time mode. For more information visit our website http://www.signalhire.com
Ben, thank you for this useful article! I would like to add one more tool you might like: Improver https://improver.io/. This Chrome extension will help you to find personal emails for LinkedIn profiles. It has great match rate and friendly design.
Hi very great and useful article. Thanks for this article and i always like your article.
Great list of email finder tool! I would like to add that it is important to collect verified email address or at least an email needs to be verified by using tools like https://debounce.io
Hello Ben, I would like to recommend our email append tool https://b2bsprouts.com/email-discovery-tool/ for finding business emails. Unlimited real-time email discovery with accurate result.
So much useful information, thank you!
I also highly recommend https://getprospect.io/ I have been testing it for a while and it’s super easy and quite cheap.
If you use an email provider tool or you can extract emails from Linkedin, you can’t 100% sure about the authenticity of those email addresses. After you collect your emails, use an email validation service. That way you can clean your list. After validation, you’ll have a fresh list of valid emails.
re Hunter: your text says
A “request” is counted as a domain search which retrieves any results (10 are shown at a time), with a new “request” used to see the next 10 emails gathered from a search. A “request” is also counted when using the verification tool on an email address.
their text says:
How are requests counted for Domain Searches that return thousands of email addresses?
For a Domain Search, a request is counted every 10 email addresses returned (every page). For example, if you fetch 176 results from a domain, 18 requests will be counted.
So…what’s a ‘fetch’? I is confuseled….
Please clarify, thanks.
The word fetch is being used as a verb there rather than necessarily as specialist terminology. It could be replaced with “retrieve” or “get”. In the sentence, it’s just telling you the total number of results returned by the request.
It’s confusing as they’re using the word “request” in two different ways – one, in its normal language usage, and the other as a means to describe the 10 results you are shown.
So you make a request (normal usage) and it finds 100 results. But it only shows you 10 at a time. Each time you want to see another 10 of those 100 results that counts as another request (their terminology).
I hope that clears things up a little!
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You can find the subscribe field at the bottom of the article, just above the comments. Cheers!
This is an end to end package of tools for executing quality email campaign. Dux-soup is another great tool and has a free tier, that needs Sales Navigator to work but is an awesome tool for companies that prospect on LinkedIn. It automates profile views, sending out connection requests, custom message etc plus also lets you download a list of prospects too.
( P.S. I dont work for Dux-soup or am a benefactor, I have used Dux-soup personally and I think it is a great tool for a startup to leverage LinkedIn )
I know the post is now over a couple of years old and there have been quite a few new entrants into the market since 2017, would greatly appreciate if you can take a look at https://www.antideo.com as a potential within you list, the next time you update the post with new tools
Great research Ben. Your tests are really insightful about all these tools. Been using Clearbit and Hunter for like 2 years to capture good quality individual leads but through your article I came to know about several other tools such as Silk prospector and didn’t knew that it’d work this well.
Considering the price part, they seem to be tad a bit costly. Also I prefer automating email prospecting part of the lead generation process. Thus, would recommend this tool called email extractor online ( https://www.emailextractoronline.com ). Thinking about the fact that such kind of automation tools are able to find good amount of email prospects on automation quickly saving a lot of time and effort which can be invested in other parts of the sales process. Nevertheless I really appreciate the effort you have put in for testing these tools. Cheers!
New competitor in the market here! We are trying to change the game by offering a data + email automation platform that is affordable for all companies. The best part is that our all-in-one pricing plan has no limitations for contacts per month. That said, check out our video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCxUOE9PQLk. cheers!
wow ben, great research.. Thanks for sharing..
A few months ago I used (joined) Rocket Reach, and sent at least 600 emails to specific executives and a few celebrities. I didn’t receive one response. What company is best?
This is the most useful, informative article I have read on this topic, Ben. You’ve cut through to provide a professional evaluation, while others provide a listing with no evaluative value. Have you done an update in the 4 years since the original?