Thursday, 19 May 2016

Using emails to find contacts for lead generation

Email address permutation - also called spam

Companies and individuals are increasingly using email validation to help identify valid email addresses, that are usually sold as sales targets for, or by, lead generation companies. There's no doubt that there is a demand - we get asked all the time to create code that lets people just run permutations of names and domains to find valid email addresses.

We've seen a real lift in this over the last couple of years. To "mine" email addresses people just run simple processes that permutate addresses, so [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] etc.  The email validation process sorts out the good addresses from the duds, and there is a list of potential sales contacts.

Except it's not really is it? It's a bunch of email addresses for people who don't know the sender, who haven't asked to hear from them. 

Hippo morals

Every Monday we have a meeting and development is always on the list. Every time email permutating comes up we all feel a bit uneasy and just veer away from it. That's because since 2009 we've been cleaning up bad emails and listing disposable and bad domains, so email creation goes against our Hippo morals.

A year or two ago this felt sort of deeply-murky but it seems to us that the practise is becoming mainstream. We've had an increase in bulk list uploads that have catch-all errors, reflecting the fact that corporate servers can be catch-all servers, innocently designed to make sure emails with typos can get through. 

How to use oars

We've decided not to extend our service to offer the permutation process. To be frank, it’s easy enough for a high-school assignment and we like a bit more of a challenge. However, we can't stop other people from creating email lists and we know plenty of these will come to us for validating because we are so accurate and so quick.  There are steps to take to avoid chewing up our time with catch-all errors, so even though we don't condone email list mining, if it is something that floats your boat, at least let us show you how to use the oars properly. Below is a link to our support documentation, where we've shared an article about list hygiene and best practise in the basics of testing for catch-alls.


Take note – Email Hippo is the only email validation service validating Yahoo domains successfully (>95%) this includes domains that are managed by Yahoo but don't appear as Yahoo. Other email validators will generally identify Yahoo domains as catch-all or unverifiable, or even just rotate the results, so a mix of good / bad and unverifiable, like a multiple choice exam paper where they don’t know the answer but hope to get some right... 

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