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While it might seem like a nearly impossible task, you don’t need to go full “Nic Cage in National Treasure” to find even a CEOs email address. It’s about drive, determination, and a knowledge of the amazing tools that are already out there to help.
To get you going, here’s a list of the best tools and tactics that you can use for whomever’s email address it is that you need to find. From there it’s going to be about crafting the kind of outreach email that someone really wants to read.
The Dos & Don’ts of Cold Emailing
Before you let loose on finding every email address you can, let’s cover the basics of cold email etiquette. While you don’t have to follow the exact same formula for every email, there are always certain things you should be sure to include, and many you should totally avoid.
Do: Keep it short
There’s no need for an email to be more than 150 words, and LinkedIn often recommends that you keep messages under 100 words. You want to stand out, and when we see long blocks of text it’s easy for our brains to go into “scan” mode.
Don’t: Embellish on every single detail
I get a lot of PR pitches, which has led to a lot of valuable lessons in dos and don’ts. Something I often see is people giving away far too much detail—so much so that the message gets lost in the block of text.
Stay on target. Say what you need to, and leave the rest for follow up.
Few email crimes are worse than a typo. Do yourself the favor and read over the email before sending it off. In fact, wait about 10 minutes before you go back and proofread. Distract yourself, take care of another task, and then come at it fresh.
Don’t: Use generic names
The person you’re reaching to isn’t named “Madam or Sir,” nor are they the entire “Department of X,” just like their name isn’t “Whom It May Concern.” If you’re going out on a limb to do cold outreach, make sure that person knows that you know who they are. Show them you’ve done your homework.
Do: Offer a value-add
The best way to get someone’s attention isn’t to tell them you’re deserving of something, or that your product is really great. Instead, you need to tell them how it brings value to what they’re already doing. You’re selling something, not just presenting it and letting it stand on its own merit.
Don’t: Ask for a favor
Language like “please” or “it would mean so much,” has no place in a pitch. They’re not doing you a favor; they’re making a smart move by following through with you. Remember: you add value!
Pro Tip: The best time to send an email
A Mailchimp study says mid-morning during the week, Customer.io goes one further saying Tuesday Evening. In my experience, it’s about knowing your audience. As a full-time entrepreneur working on multiple projects, I don’t have a lot of time during the day to work on outside ventures. But, that also means I’m going to be up later than the conventional 9-5 worker—and there’s a good chance I’m going to be up starting at my inbox closer to midnight.
And while that makes sense for me, the same doesn’t necessarily hold true for business owners, reporters, or people with young kids.
Email Finder Tools
Now let’s take a look at some of the best tools out there on the market for tracking down the emails of prospects that you’re ready to reach out to. These are a handful of what I’ve found to be some of the most effective. As many of these are free or offer free trials, I would encourage you to play around with them and see which ones meet your needs best.
As far as premium services go, I’m a big fan of toofr. It’s extremely straightforward, giving you access to a massive bank of email addresses—providing you with a confidence meter to determine how much of a gamble it really may be. They charge pennies per query, and throw you twelve credits for free.
Datanyze offers a full suite of prospecting tools, not the least of which is their Insider email finder. Like toofr it also offers the option of being used as a Chrome extension, which makes it super convenient when you’re doing a marathon of research.
SellHack, also working as a browser extension, goes inside social profiles to find the “hidden” email addresses that aren’t always seen to the naked eye. Like a good research assistant, this one does a lot of the heavy lifting for you, finding publicly available information that’s otherwise obscured.
We’d be remiss not to give Content Marketer a shout out here, it’s what our service is designed to do! Whether you want to scan a recent post or search for a specific person, our software will go deep to uncover the email addresses you’re looking for. Not tooting any horns, but we offer a killer free trial, too!
Like the AskJeeves of content marketing in 2015, Norbert is a simple-looking genie type tool that searches its broad data bank for the email address you want. It’s totally free, so if you know where they work and their first and last name, it’s a great first option.
This one’s much more guess-and-check. I don’t mean that you keep sending messages to different variations of an email address hoping for a response—don’t do that. Rather, Rapportive is a Gmail add-on that lets you see the LinkedIn profiles of anyone whose email address you type in. Guess the email address in the “To” section of the email, hit enter, and see if their profile comes up.
If your email search query isn’t going quite as well, you go broader to a trial-and-error based approach rooted in theory. With these tools, you won’t get an exact email address, but rather the pattern by which the company gives out emails.
Emails For Corporations will be your most basic starting point. They have a pretty sizeable databank on major companies across the country. If they work for one of the big guys, this will be a great place to start.
Email breaker has an extremely simple interface, making it quite easy to figure out if they have the associated domain or not. Just begin to type the word and autofill will take care of the rest. Once you discover the domain, they’ll give you all the possible formats.
No that’s not a typo, this website has actually done the leg work of gathering emails from the c-suite so that you can “get the response you want.” Just make sure you’ve got a damn good email on your hands.
Email format is just a massive bank of emails waiting to be scoured. This one will certainly be more time consuming than others, but if you have exhausted other options, they certainly have a sizable chunk of domains for you to sift through.
If you feel like up until this point you’ve been stabbing around in the dark, and need something more concrete in terms of your leads, then you may want to switch over to a more network-oriented method.
Whether you’re using your social media connections, calling in favors from friends, or using the tools below, you’d be surprised how effective a simple request can be—and you may be even more surprised to discover who knows who.
Conspire smartly links in with your network and, like Google’s best crawlers, helps you to find the best path to whomever it is you want to connect with. It’s as simple as signing up and giving your email address.
Whenever you search for someone’s profile on LinkedIn, they tell you how you can get introduced to that person, no matter what level of influence they’re at. It doesn’t always show you the direct connections, but it can certainly give you a lead on you who you can email to track down a different name.
Advanced Search 2.0
If you’re looking to practice your amateur spy skills, then the advanced search method is probably for you. While some of the tools listed above may try to do this work for you, a little creativity can prove to be quite industrious. Here are a few examples of how to go about your “advanced search.”
Finding the Source
For a given website, go into the source code, and then hit ctrl + f (or whatever your command for “find” is) and start to look for an email address. It’s a simple as that.
Basic Google Queries
There are myriad combinations that you can do here, but sometimes someone’s email information is a lot more publicly available than you’d suspect. Here are a couple of combinations to try querying:
“[first name] + [last name] email address”
“[first name] + [last name] contact”
“[last name] + [company name] contact”
Keep trying iterations of those basic searches and you could come up with something pretty quickly.
Finally, there’s the advanced Twitter search. Upon going to Twitter’s advanced search page, start a query based on a specific user. As I’ve shown in the screen shot above, effective keywords from the start are “(at)” and “(dot)” as that’s how many people will display their email so that it’s not scraped by bots and used for spamming. Try some of those combinations, and generally avoid the word “email.”
What are some of the methods for finding emails that you have found to be most effective? Anything that I missed?
And if you can use these methods to track me down, feel free to send me any questions you have—I’d love to get to know you!