4 Free Email Lookup Tools To Find Editors & Marketing Managers

Carol Tice

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Ever waste half a day in a fruitless search for the email address of an editor or marketing manager? Well, I recently found a simple email lookup system that reliably reveals whether you have the right address.

There’s one catch here: If the person you seek doesn’t use any social media, this system won’t help you sleuth out their address.

But since most folks in business are on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ — some social media platform or other — this system is highly useful.

I’ve found this combo better than Rapportive, or Email Hunter (now known simply as ‘Hunter‘), or any of the other popular email lookup tools you may have heard about.

There are four free things you need to use my system:

  1. A Gmail address (just get one, if you don’t already have).
  2. Google Chrome as your browser.
  3. FullContact for Gmail, a Gmail extension for Chrome only. (Heads up: You may need to refresh your Gmail after you install.)
  4. An email permutator that suggests all the likely possible email address formats for any given name (I use a free handout from Rob Ousbey at Distilled that you can download from this page). You could live without this if you’re highly creative in guessing emails, but I found this tool a real time-saver that helps you easily track which versions of your target name you’ve already tried.

You may know that I’m not very tech-savvy, so I want to reassure you these are easy installs to do. I was able to get this hooked up on my own, and didn’t even cry once. Here’s a look at the download page for FullContact, for instance:

Banner Ad for FullContact a free add-on for google chrome; reading "your Gmail. On Steroids. Know everything about your Gmail contacts, right from your inbox."

See? You can click that button and follow the prompts. I believe in you!

You’ll know you’ve got FullContact set to go when you log into your Gmail account using Chrome, and the little red rolodex-card FullContact logo pops up over on the far right, near your own account graphic:

Screenshot example of Fullcontact icon location on Gmail page showing a red rolodex-card FullContact logo pop up over on the far right, near your own account graphicfind editors' emails

Once you’ve got that installed, you’re ready to use FullContact to find editor’s emails.

How to use FullContact for email lookup

To show you how easy this is, let me share a couple recent searches I did to find executives at companies where I was seeking interviews. Finding editors at publications works just the same way.

If you know their name and the URL of their website or company, you’ve got what you need.

For instance, I was trying to reach a program manager at Microsoft, for a recent assignment. My first try at guessing his email handle showed it wasn’t an email address he’d used in social media:

Screenshot FullContact empty search result for contact email

See how it says ‘No other contact information found’? That means this address is a dud. The subject hasn’t used it on any social media accounts, so it’s probably not their email address.

When that happens, it’s time to get out the permutator and start running through all the possibilities in a systematic way. Here’s the top of the permutator I use (filled in with the creator’s name and company), but the full sheet has several dozen common permutations you can try:

Screenshot example of distilled email permutator

After a few more attempts, I tried this version of his name:

Screenshot of FullContact email search 1 result match for LinkedIn

Bada-bing! See how that little LinkedIn icon appears at the bottom of the result? That means Cory uses that email address as his contact address on LinkedIn.

The more social media profiles appear, the more confirmation you have that this person uses this email frequently — and the more likely that it’s a good email address for them.

For instance, look at how many social-media account hits I get on this address for a Costco board member who was an early Microsoft executive:

Screenshot showing contact with multiple social media result matches

The more positive results you get, the more likely that person will be reachable at that email address. Simple as that.

Finding names on LinkedIn

If you don’t know the name of the person you want to reach, you’ve got to find that first. These days, I like LinkedIn for that.

For instance, what if I want to get editor names at, say, Redbook magazine? Here are the first results on that search:

Screenshot of top 4 search result matches for Redbook magazine on LinkedIn

Presto! Names. From there, you do a quick Google search for the magazine’s URL. Then, you’re ready to hit FullContact and the permutator and figure out their email address. Reading the masthead or media kit for the magazine may give you a good guess on their naming convention, too.

One LinkedIn tip — if you’re searching up names on LinkedIn, stop and check to see if they’ve set their profile to accept free InMails from all comers. Sometimes, you can hit them up with a quick note right on LinkedIn, and skip the email-finding process for now.

The drawbacks

Obviously, this method is not foolproof. Sometimes, people set up a social media account under an email, and then wander away from that platform, get a new job, and don’t update it. So you get a hit on FullContact for a social media profile, but it’s no longer a valid email.

One twist: I’ve discovered some big companies no longer have predictable email format conventions. Amazon and Microsoft are among the companies that seem to encourage employees to pick any email handle they like. The days may be ending when finding one email that’s firstname.lastname@company.com means you’re set to reach anybody at the company using that same email format.

A pox upon this trend! The permutator may still win for you, if you hang in long enough and keep trying…it just takes longer without conventions to guide you.

All in all, I got way more useful results using FullContact than any other method I’ve tried.

Final tip: Remember, you can always try calling the publication or company to ask for an email address, if you’re really stumped.

What email lookup tools do you use? Share your approach in the comments.

P.S. Want to see a video of this email lookup method in action? I just made one for Freelance Writers Den (and we’re opening for new members tomorrow).

Banner Ad; Freelance writers Den reading have fun, get help, earn more.


  1. Megan Nye

    Carol, this post is perfectly timed! I ended last week fighting a losing battle with Hunter over the E-mail address formats of some banking execs I was trying to reach. Thanks for saving my time (and sanity)!

    • Carol Tice

      Megan, I recently had a huge project where I had to find a lot of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft execs to talk to — and Hunter was a total fail, due to these companies’ lack of an email convention. I kept getting results where Hunter had very low % confidence in its result, and the emails would bounce time and again. I’ve learned early employees may often be joe@microsoft, while later ones will have another convention — it depends on the era when they joined. And if they’re new, it could be anything.

      I love how with FullContact, you get confirmation that at least at some point in time, this was a real email for this person — they’re using it on one of their social media accounts. I had a lot more wins this way.

      Also, one bonus I probably should have noted in the post — it also tells you what social channels they use! In many cases, the only success I had was via InMail or a tweet, depending on where I saw they were active, and email still failed.

  2. Firth McQuilliam

    This cogent approach to winkling out small but tasty anchovies from the virtual sea of information that surrounds us just tickles my fancy. Quite apart from that, your explanation of how to deploy it is enjoyably comprehensible and easy to follow! I look forward to using this terrific specialized toolset. ^_^

    Naturally, the other side of using such a tool is strict observance of the implied and expected courtesy of only sending businesslike communications that get right to the point. That means no opening silliness with internet memes or wandering thoughts that only annoy busy people with little time to waste. ^^;

    • Carol Tice

      Guess I didn’t say that — but of course, this isn’t emoji-chatting with your friends we’re talking about here, but a business reachout for an interview source, or possibly to ask if you could pitch an editor a story. I’m running on the assumption writers know the difference. 😉

      • Firth McQuilliam

        Oh, goodness, Ms. Carol Tice — I wasn’t implying that you’d advocated, egged on, encouraged or even mentioned frivolity. Your closing thought was what I meant — to wit, that professional writers would presumably know already to stay on point after having flushed out the email address for a key person. ^^;

        Having said that, I totally plan to send you a random kitten video before then wandering into a vague query about writing a guest post for your blog that explains in great detail how to arrange wardrobes for fashion-impaired llamas. ^_^

        • Carol Tice

          That would probably fit right in with the emails I get every day, insisting that I’ll no doubt be excited to post something on my blog about fashion, or employment agencies, or whatever. The spam is everywhere — so writers should be laser-focused in their pitches, to stand out from all that!

  3. Viola Gary

    Carol, you have a very refreshing sense of humor. I like it. This info is first class and coming from you it is reliable to at least try.

    Perhaps you can guide me a little here. I want to write 200 word sales letters for the bread companies, specifically, Spelt flour. Now, I need to construct a intro letter to who? Should it be to the main boss, the asst to the boss, or who? Helpful advice from you Carol is always welcomed. I thank you.

    Viola Gary
    Entrepreneur DRSW-Direct Response Sales Writer(in training).

    • Carol Tice

      Fascinating, Viola. I have a few questions:

      Do you have the sense that spelt-flour companies write sales letters? Why only those companies? Seems like that would be a pretty tiny market, even if they did turn out to do direct response.

      Why 200 words? I find writers who come at companies with these sort of preset conceptions of what they need don’t tend to make many sales. The attitude of asking questions and finding out what they need in their marketing is a faster route to identifying a real opportunity and closing a sale. I personally wouldn’t dream of pitching a company with this level of specifics about what I think they need. After all, they know more about their business than I ever will.

      In general, there’s very little print direct response any more, in any industry — how much of it are you getting in the mail these days? Um-hm. Though I find writers who have bought pricey AWAI courses labor under the impression this is still a hot market.

      Some of the high-end flour companies do fantastic catalogs — my food-porn guilty pleasure is reading the King Arthur Flour catalog, personally. Mouth-watering stuff! But I don’t see them writing 200-word sales letters. Which is a very, very short length for a sales letter, BTW.

      But this is not to discourage you from pitching prospects in your chosen niche — go for it! I’d just be a little more responsive to what’s going on in their marketing, rather than writing them to diagnose that what they need are 200-word sales letters. If they’re not doing those, you’re unlikely to convince them. It’s sort of on the order of trying to convince companies that don’t have a blog that they should start one.

      As far as who to pitch copywriting work to, it depends on the size of the company. If it’s tiny, and there isn’t a marketing manager, the owner/CEO may be the one. If there’s a marketing vp or manager of any kind, I’d start with them.

      In general, writers seem to spend a lot of time obsessing over who the exact right person to pitch would be — and should spend less time on that, and more on the content of what they’re going to say. Those pitch letters are a writing audition, and writers underestimate the degree to which they need to be amazing to get a call.

  4. Maxine Brink

    Wow. I didn’t even know I wanted this and now I do. Thanks for clearing the road ahead of us.

    • Carol Tice

      I know! It’s easy to waste hours poking around the Internet, hoping you’ll blunder across someone’s email address. This process makes it a lot faster.

  5. Linda Formichelli

    O.M.G. A participant in my Volume Marketing Challenge for Freelance Writers just posted this to the Slack group, and I think it’s the most helpful thing you’ve ever written, EVER. And that’s saying a lot. 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      It’s a sneaky magical kind of toolset, eh?

  6. Damien

    Wow I had never heard of Full Contact. Will definitely be trying out this combo of tools to connect with editors and publishers. Thanks Carol.

  7. Diane

    Thank you so much Carol.
    I have spent a lot of time looking for contact information and appreciate something that could make that quicker and more effective.
    You provide so much that is truly informative and useful for writers.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad folks are finding this useful, Diane! I like the permutator to help me systematically check all the obvious possibilities. Really helps you hit the jackpot.

  8. Holly Bowne

    Thanks so much for walking us through this cool way to find email addresses, Carol. I like Hunter a lot, but it doesn’t always work for me so it’s great to have another tool in the toolbox. I thank you from the bottom of my non-tech savvy heart. :o)

    • Carol Tice

      I liked Hunter, too…until I found this method. 😉

  9. Leo Tat

    Carol, thanks so much for this post. It’s come at a right time for me as I am starting to outreach for bloggers and realized that email hunter is no longer free. I’ve not heard of rapportive, but it seems interesting to know at a glance other information about contacts on Gmail. I’m going to try the FullContact method you set out next week when I look for email leads.

    • Carol Tice

      Leo, most bloggers are pretty easy to find an email on, as they usually have a contact on the site — but if you get stumped, definitely try this!

  10. arpita gaur

    HI Carol, nice post and building email patterns using linkedIn is certainly something reciters are doing since a long time. BTW, if the number is not too high, you can use linkedin premium or sales navigator too to send in mails though it gets really costly and only come with 15 (I think) in mails.

    Also just wondering, have you heard of software like AeroLeads ? such software automate big part of email prospecting specially if you are looking for few hundred and more prospects.

    A quick tip – you can go to Google and search “@domainname.com” to find email patterns of the company and based on that, build for others too which you want to target.

    • Carol Tice

      Arpita, as I said in the post, many companies are defeating that approach of trying to suss out their email conventions, by not having any and letting workers pick any name they want.

      And it would sure be expensive to send all these as InMails! Which is why I love the system I document in this post.

      Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone successfully automating email prospecting, or succeeding with a list of prospects they bought. Good prospecting in our niche is about YOU qualifying good prospects — my Get Great Clients ebook has a lot of strategies for quickly locating good lists for the type of client you want, for free.

  11. Glenna

    Hi Carol. Thanks so much for the tips on using FullContact. I had downloaded the tool, but it was just sitting there because I didn’t know how to use it! Your explanation made the tool come alive for me!

    • Carol Tice

      So glad to hear, Glenna! I’ve definitely had that experience, where I download a tool and think, ‘Now what?’ Glad these instructions walked you through it. 😉


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