The Pros and Cons of Using Catch-All Emails
For a business owner, this makes sense. Unfortunately, the reality of catch-all addresses from a marketing perspective is that catch-all inboxes often go unchecked, and catch-all email addresses often end up on email lists.
If a catch-all address ends up on your mailing list and the company who manages the address doesn’t check the catch-all inbox frequently, it means any emails you send to that address will go unopened, and may even bounce if the inbox fills up.
There are also benefits to catch-all addresses: if a company regularly checks the inbox, they will catch communications from marketers that may have been incorrectly addressed. Also, a catch-all address prevents an immediate bounce, which can help your sender reputation and improve your email deliverability.
- prevent an immediate hard bounce due to typos or invalid addresses
- potentially save missed opportunities for communication
- inboxes go unchecked, leading to low open rates and engagement rates
- full inboxes lead to bounces
- unopened emails skew your engagement data
- resource waste (catch-alls take up space on your mailing list and count against your sending limit)
- increased bounce rates and low engagement harm sender reputation
- potential for spam traps, as well as for spam filters on inboxes to flag emails sent to catch-all addresses as spam
Strategies for Managing Catch-All Email
As an email marketer, you strive to create engaging content that delivers value to your subscribers. You don’t want your emails going to unchecked or useless addresses, but you also don’t want to remove potentially valid and engaged subscribers from your email list.
Here are some steps for managing catch-all emails.
1. Identify Catch-All Addresses
It’s impossible to tell whether a catch-all address is active simply by looking at it, or even by using an email verification tool. However, you can figure out which addresses on your list are catch-all addresses, and then run tests to see which ones are valid.
Use an email validation tool like MailerCheck, AbstractAPI, Bouncer to identify the catch-all addresses on your mailing list.
2. Test Catch-All Addresses
Once you’ve determined which addresses on your list are catch-all addresses, figure out which ones are actually opening your emails by including them in a few specially targeted email campaigns. You’ll quickly be able to weed out the inactive and invalid addresses.
3. Remove Inactive Catch-All Addresses
Once you’ve figured out which catch-all inboxes are opening your emails, you can remove the ones that aren’t. Your email service provider provides tools to help you unsubscribe invalid email addresses from your list.
How to Validate Catch-All Email Addresses
So how do you go about identifying the catch-all email addresses on your list? Let’s take a look at how to verify catch-all addresses using AbstractAPI’s Free Email Validation API.
How Does the API Work?
The AbstractAPI Free Email Validation API is an online service that accepts an email for validation via a network request, and returns a JSON response containing information about that email address.
The API verifies emails across a number of criteria: formatting, SMTP validity, MX records, whether the address is a disposable or free address, whether it is a role-based email, or whether it is a catch-all address.
Getting Started With the API
Navigate to the API home page and click "Get Started.” Sign up for an account and get an API key. There are several pricing tiers, and you can remain on the free tier for life.
After you’ve signed up or logged in, you’ll land on the API dashboard, where you’ll see your API key and links to documentation, pricing, and analytics. You’ll also see a link for a “Bulk Upload (CSV)” option.
You can use the API key to send one-off requests to the API from your application or website for real-time validation. For now, though, let’s take a look at the bulk upload option, which allows you to upload your entire email list for validation at once.
Locate Your Email List CSV File
Every email marketing service provides the option to download your mailing list as a CSV. Depending on which email service provider you use, the instructions for how to do this will vary. Let’s use Mailerlite as an example.
Navigate to your dashboard and click “Subscribers” in the left menu.
On the Subscribers page, click “Action” and then choose “Export CSV” from the dropdown menu.
Upload Your CSV File
Return to the AbstractAPI dashboard and click “Bulk Upload (CSV)” and then “Upload CSV.” You’ll be shown a file dialog. Choose your CSV file from its saved location.
Receive Results Via Email
Once you’ve uploaded your CSV file, AbstractAPI will analyze every email address on the list and send the results to the email address you used to sign up for your account. The results file will include columns for “is free email,” “is disposable email” and “is catch-all email.”
Once you’ve identified which addresses on the list are catch-all addresses, you can easily remove them using your email service provider.
Incorporating Email Validation API in Your Strategy
Bulk validation of your email list is an important piece of your digital marketing strategy, however, real-time validation is also crucial for maintaining a healthy email list.
Incorporating a service like AbstractAPI into your website or app code will allow you to send validation requests at the moment a user signs up for your mailing list. This way, you can catch catch-all emails before they ever make it onto your list.
Testing and Monitoring Engagement
Tracking your analytics is crucial to maintaining a healthy email list. Check the open and engagement rates for each campaign you send to make sure they stay healthy. A healthy open rate for most campaigns is between 17-28%. If you start to notice your numbers slipping, it may be time to clean up your list.
It’s recommended that you clean your mailing list at least once every 6 months. This means running the list through a service like Bouncer, NeverBounce, MailerCheck, or AbstractAPI’s Email Validation API to find invalid addresses so you can remove them.
Additionally, you can use segmenting in your email marketing software to mark those addresses that have low engagement and periodically unsubscribe them.
It can be scary removing hundreds of email addresses from your list, but remember: it’s better to have an empty spot on your list than an invalid or inactive address in that spot.
Conclusion and Best Practices
Catch-all emails are an important tool for businesses to catch important messages, but they can be tricky for email marketers who need users to open and engage with their email messages.
Managing catch-all emails on your list isn’t as easy as simply deleting them: you should identify catch-all inboxes on your list and then test to see which ones are actually opening your emails. Don’t remove engaged and active catch-all addresses from your list.
Use an email validation tool like AbstractAPI or Bouncer to identify catch-all addresses on your list. You can also use these services to perform real-time validation at the moment users sign up to prevent catch-all addresses from ending up on your list in the first place.
What is the impact of GDPR on catch-all email addresses for businesses in the EU?
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) imposes strict rules on data privacy and handling, affecting how businesses in the EU can use catch-all email addresses. Businesses must ensure that personal data collected through such addresses are processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose, maintaining the privacy and rights of individuals.
Can catch-all email addresses be used effectively for customer support?
While catch-all email addresses can technically receive all emails sent to a domain, using them for customer support can be challenging due to the potential volume and variety of emails received. It's important for businesses to have a dedicated system or process in place to filter and prioritize customer support emails to ensure timely and efficient responses.
How do catch-all email addresses affect email verification processes?
Catch-all email addresses pose a challenge for email verification processes because they accept all emails, making it difficult to determine if an email address is valid and actively used. This can lead to lower accuracy in email verification results, and businesses may need to use additional strategies or tools to assess the engagement and validity of email addresses associated with catch-all domains.