So you’ve heard the buzz about Hunter.io and want to know if it’s a good fit for your business and your budget?
The truth is that running email outreach campaigns can be as easy or as difficult as you make it.
If you want to make the job of finding professional email addresses as easy as possible the Hunter might be exactly what you’re looking for.
So let’s take a deep dive into Hunter and see why it’s so popular with Internet marketers and SEOs.
It might not be perfect…but it comes pretty darned close.
Table Of Contents
- What is Hunter.io?
- How Does It Work?
- Who uses Hunter.io?
- Hunter.io Features
- Hunter’s Evolution
- Is Hunter.io Reliable?
- How Much Time Can Hunter.io Save?
- Is Hunter.io Free?
- Hunter.io Pricing
- Hunter.io Alternatives
- What’s Not so Good?
- Wrapping It Up
What is Hunter.io?
Hunter.io is an email discovery tool that simplifies the process of quickly finding the correct email address for a person or a range of email addresses with a bulk domain search.
Hunter.io also allows you to verify prospect’s email addresses, locate email addresses for the author of an article, and also includes ‘Campaigns’, a basic bulk/cold emailing outreach tool.
It provides a complete feature set for anyone wanting to run an email outreach campaign, combining several tools into one sleek suite.
How Does It Work?
Hunter scours the public Internet for email addresses, processing over 700,000 web pages per minute, adding new addresses to its database from public, verified sources.
Hunter allows a person to either claim or delete their personal information from its database as well as blocking Hunter’s robot from visiting their site.
This is unlike other email verification tools that often use undisclosed data sources. And that, of course, can result in people asking you where they got their private and unlisted email addresses from.
Hunter does fill some of the gaps in its database by using pattern matching to guesstimate what the email address of a specific person is.
So if a company website uses a firstname.lastname@example.org format, then it’s relatively safe to assume that a person named Jane Doe working there will probably be contactable at email@example.com.
Doing this manually would require hours, if not days of guesswork on your part but Hunter provides you with the same data in a few mouse clicks.
This means you’re working with “guessed” contact information at times but Hunter’s pattern matching works better than anything else we’ve seen.
Who uses Hunter.io?
Hunter has several use cases spanning multiple industries.
For example, journalists looking for contact information, sales and marketing teams working on lead generation, or SEOs running link-building campaigns can all directly benefit from its feature.
But you’ll most often hear Hunter being discussed in affiliate marketing groups and forums i.e. what’s the best email discovery tool on the market right now?
Hunter is also used by several big names in tech including IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe.
So it hits the mark in terms of features and performance required by large and small businesses alike.
And now it’s time to get into the meat of our Hunter.io review with a look at the inner workings of its tools.
By the time you’ve finished reading this section, you’ll be able to make a call on whether or not this is the email finder and verifier you’ve always wanted.
There’s very little point in claiming to have the best email hunter on the market if its user interface is a mess.
So how does Hunter fare in this regard?
They’ve embraced a purely minimalist design.
So, although it might look a little bare at first glance, it also means there’s no clutter. And that means less work and time wasted when navigating to the feature you need.
Hunter is more about function than form.
You simply enter the domain you want to find email addresses for, choose from ‘All’, ‘Personal’, or ‘Generic’, and press the spyglass icon to initiate the search function from your home dashboard.
So you don’t even have to dig further into the interface than the homepage to search for email addresses.
Now let’s take a look at Hunter’s ‘Email Finder’ feature and how it differs from what’s offered on their homepage.
Hunter.io Email Finder Tool
This feature is made up of two different components:
- Email Finder – used to find the email address of a person at a given domain
- Author Finder – used to find the email address for the author of an article
The Email Finder is ideal if you’re only looking for the contact details for one person:
And the Author Finder is the same in that regard – it does a solid job of tracking down the email address of an author of a given article or blog post:
But what if you need to find every email address for a domain, or search for several article authors at once?
That’s when you’ll need to open up Hunter’s ‘Bulks’ (bulk tasks) feature:
From here you can run bulk searches for email addresses by:
- Domain search
- List of people
- List of articles
You can use the ‘Email Verifier’ here to test if a given range of email addresses is valid i.e. your email won’t just bounce off the server.
Being able to verify emails in advance is a real timesaver for any kind of outreach work, be that for sales teams, customer service, or just plain old link building.
Let’s look at Hunter’s bulk email finder in a bit more detail.
To start the process click on Bulks –> New Bulk:
Give your “project” a name:
Choose if you want to search by domain name or company name:
You can then choose to either paste in a list of domains from another source or upload them directly from a data file:
You can then filter by the number of email addresses reported per domain, as well as whether or not you want to verify them during the discovery process:
And then finally you can pre-filter discovered emails based on whether they’re ‘Generic’ or ‘Personal’, as well as by the specific department they work in:
This saves you from having to potentially filter through dozens of email addresses for a company when all you needed was to find the head of their IT department, for example.
You then click on ‘Upload’ and wait for the results, which you can preview before downloading:
Generating the above list of verified emails only took a minute or so.
So, as you can see, that beats trying to find them manually – a process that can take hours.
If you can even find those email addresses in the first place.
Hunter.io Email Verifier Tool
Finding the email leads you need for your planned outreach efforts is only the first step of any campaign.
Let’s say, for example, that you didn’t verify the addresses during the discovery process. In that scenario, all you have to do is fire up Hunter’s bulk ‘Email Verifier’ to begin verifying emails.
Why bother verifying emails with Hunter?
Because you get a better ROI on any outreach campaign you run in addition to being proactive about data hygiene.
Again, you can copy and paste a list of the email addresses you want to verify or upload a file instead.
But we already have a file to work with from our previous example, so let’s do that.
Note: There’s a limit of 10,000 verifications per bulk task and each verification uses a “credit” from your account when verifying email addresses. We cover this in more detail later on.
It’s also worth mentioning that Hunter will not attempt to verify a Gmail account or similar free email addresses.
This is because Hunter is designed to only look for professional email accounts and not personal ones.
So this simply falls outside the scope of the service they offer.
So, how good is Hunter’s email verifier at tracking down invalid emails?
Based on our own internal use and testing it does a great job, relying on pinging recipient SMTP servers rather than sending fake messages to accounts.
The truth is that you don’t really know how effective any email verification process is until you start emailing contacts and then measuring your bounce rate.
But so far we’ve been more than pleased with the results that Hunter delivers.
Up to quite recently you would have had to take Hunter’s data and then export it to dedicated email marketing software like MailShake, Mixmax, or Reply.io as the next stage of the outreach process.
But this meant paying for yet another SaaS tool, adding to your monthly expenses.
So, Francois and the team at Hunter made the very smart business decision to add an email outreach tool to Hunter in the form of ‘Campaigns’:
It allows you to use ‘Attributes” to personalize your emails, create email templates, and schedule follow-ups in the same way a typical autoresponder or email outreach tool does.
And, yes, you can create custom attributes if you want to.
Does this mean you can run all of your email campaigns directly from Hunter?
Well…more or less.
While the ‘Campaigns’ feature does add a whole lot of functionality to Hunter it lacks some of the more advanced features you’ll find in email marketing software like Mailshake, for example.
But Hunter does provide you with enough features to get the job done in terms of automating outgoing emails and follow-ups as well as tracking open rates.
So while ‘Campaigns’ might not fulfill the needs of a pro sales team, most SEOs, marketers, and digital agency owners will find it does as good a job as they need it to.
Hunter.io Chrome Extension
But what if you want to check a handful of sites for relevant email addresses – do you constantly have to go back and forth to the Hunter.io dashboard?
The Hunter.io Chrome Extension allows you to scan their database for email addresses related to whatever site you’re looking at.
And when you find an email address you want to add to a campaign later on, you simply click on the little plus button beside their contact details to ‘Add Lead’.
So you can do lead gen without being tied to the dashboard, and then sort and verify those leads later.
Note: The Hunter.io extension offers the same functionality for both free and paid Hunter accounts, and is also available for Firefox users.
Managing all the new leads you gather with Hunter could quickly turn into a nightmare unless you’re exporting it to a CRM tool of some kind.
Or you can simply rely on Hunter’s scaled-down ‘Leads’ CRM tool.
While this isn’t going to revolutionize the customer relationship management software industry it follows the same basic logic as ‘Campaigns’.
And that is to provide the end-user with enough functionality for basic lead prospecting or outreach for link-building campaigns.
Google Sheets Addon
What if you already have a ton of data stored in Sheets or simply want to work directly from Sheets because it’s part of your existing CRM workflow/outreach process?
Hunter has an addon for Google Sheets to cover this.
It allows you to search by Domain and then creates a new spreadsheet with all the email data it finds.
But you can also take first and last name data from your existing spreadsheets and then run Hunter’s ‘Email Finder’ to pull all that contact information directly into your sheet.
This saves you having to import the data to ‘Bulks’, run it through the ‘Email Finder’, and then export it again.
But if you have more than 500 rows of data in your spreadsheet you’ll get faster results if you use the bulk tasks function instead.
Hunter also offers an API (Application Programming Interface) that you can use to integrate its data with your in-house solution to generate leads, etc.
Hunter was once able to integrate directly with LinkedIn, which made it an incredibly powerful way to harvest and verify email addresses for real businesses.
But LinkedIn changed their ToS and now prohibits Hunter and other tools like it from connecting to their site.
Sad face 🙁
Hunter is straightforward enough for most people to be able to use it.
But what if you run into problems – what kind of support can you expect?
You can ask questions via their online chat tool…but that’s only available Monday to Friday from 9 am to 10 pm (CSET).
So you’re out of luck if you run into a serious problem during a weekend.
Email support isn’t specifically provided, but they do have at least one public email address.
Apart from that, you have to rely on their knowledge base for videos and other tutorials that help with the most common problems.
Hunter paid plans do come with “Priority Support” as standard which means your requests are answered more quickly than with a free plan.
Francois and the team at Hunter.io know that you can’t sit still in the SaaS industry – constant iteration is the norm.
So here’s a quick list of the improvements made to Hunter.io in just the last 12 months:
- Custom attributes for ‘Campaigns’ tool
- Connect multiple Gmail accounts to Hunter
- Support for templates in the ‘Campaigns’
- Ability to archive campaigns
- 10x increase in web crawling capacity
- Improved verification process
- Almost real-time new email prospecting
- Support for images in ‘Campaigns’
The neat part is that many of the above improvements have been the result of implementing customer feedback.
So, don’t be afraid to approach Hunter support with ideas and feedback.
Is Hunter.io Reliable?
Yes, Hunter.io is reliable because it only adds publicly available email addresses to its database, while also actively practicing data hygiene.
So when you use Hunter for your outreach email campaigns you can be certain that you’re working with clean, verified data because it’s their own database.
How Much Time Can Hunter.io Save?
The best way to explain this is to use a real-life example.
Let’s say you want to email the top 200 sites in your niche to request a backlink, so you export this data from Ahrefs, or similar.
Each email address takes you 3 minutes to find and verify, so that takes 10 hours to complete at the absolute minimum.
Then you sit down and manually email each of those contacts, with each email taking you 5 minutes to write.
That’s another 16 hours of work, assuming you have no interruptions, don’t eat, or take a toilet break.
And then you manually track and follow up with each contact, requiring 2 minutes per email, or another 6.7 hours of work.
So that brings us to 32.7 hours, or 4 working days to complete these outreach processes.
The same amount of work when using Hunter instead would break down as follows:
- 5 minutes to import and pre-filter the Ahrefs data in Hunter
- 10 minutes for Hunter to find and verify all valid email addresses
- 30 minutes to manually filter the addresses to remove junk contacts
- 45 minutes to write a solid outreach email
- 15 minutes to write your follow up email
- 5 minute to automate your emails
Total: 1hr 50 minutes
Hunter just bought you almost 3 entire additional days to dedicate to other projects.
You can’t truly understand how powerful this software is until you try doing outreach manually. Then when you’re done tearing your hair out, you’ll see how much easier it is with Hunter.
Is Hunter.io Free?
Hunter.io is available in two different versions, and one of them just happens to be a free tool.
And as with most “Free” SaaS products, you get a limited version, and in the case of Hunter, the ‘Free’ plan is limited to 25 email searches and 50 verifications per month.
The cool thing is that anyone using the free plan still gets access to Hunter’s ‘Bulks’, ‘Leads’, and ‘Campaigns’ features.
So, in theory, you could run a limited outreach marketing campaign using nothing more than what you’ll find in the free version of Hunter.
But if you’re serious about using it as an outreach/lead generation tool then a paid monthly subscription simply makes more sense.
Here’s a side by side feature comparison of the free and paid versions of Hunter:
Which leads us nicely to the next part of our review – how much does Hunter.io cost?
Once you step away from their ‘Free’ plan you’ll have to pay at least $49 for a ‘Starter’ plan if you pay monthly, or $34 per month if you pay annually.
The next step up from there is ‘Growth’ at $99 per month, ‘Pro’ costs $199 per month, and finally their ‘Enterprise plan’ costs $399 per month.
But it’s a little bit more complicated than just the raw price – each plan comes with a number of “credits” for email searches and verification:
|Free||Starter plan||Growth plan||Pro plan|
|Searches per month||25||500||2,500||10,000|
|Verifications per month||50||1,000||5,000||20,000|
|Full database access||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Connect Google Workspace||No||Up to 5||Up to 5||Up to 5|
|Track links in emails||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Insert images in emails||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
So, even though the ‘Starter’ plan is very affordable you’re limited to 500 email searches and 1,000 email verifications each month.
Put simply, anyone running a serious outreach campaign will need to upgrade to the ‘Growth’ plan. We use their ‘Pro’ plan, which we need for the amount of link-building outreach we do.
This is a clever pricing strategy on the part of Hunter but we’d imagine it leaves some of their users feeling left out in the cold.
Hunter isn’t the only tool of its type on the market.
Several others might be a better choice for you, depending on what functionality you need.
So let’s take a look at Hunter’s main competitors:
Snov.io is very similar to Hunter.io in terms of its capabilities.
You can search for, find and verify email addresses by domain, and you also get bulk search and verification functionality as standard.
Then, once you have your prospecting list, you can filter the results and drop them into an ‘Email Drip” outreach campaign.
Snov.io has come a long way in the last few years in terms of accuracy and features such as their LinkedIn prospecting tool and built-in email marketing functions.
It is cheaper than Hunter by about $10 per month, but the interface is far more cluttered – it can be a real chore to find the feature you’re looking for.
Snov.io also doesn’t filter out personal email addresses, so that’s a quick way to waste ‘Search’ credits.
Voila Norbert is another tool that’s popular with cold email outreach and lead generation audiences.
There are some pretty big differences between it and Hunter.io, though.
You can’t just search for contacts by domain name; for example – you have to use a prospect’s full name + their domain name.
This means this tool is better suited to lead generation and qualification instead of pure lead prospecting.
Apart from that Voila Nobert performs all the typical functions you’d expect, like verifying email addresses, basic CRM and emailing capabilities, a Chrome extension, and integrations with external tools such as SalesForce.
One nice touch is ‘Email Enrichment’, which looks for additional information on a contact so that you can personalize your outgoing email(s).
But you have to pay 4c per email (less in bulk) for this information.
In summary, Voila Norbert costs the same per month as Hunter.io but has fewer features and is less powerful.
Find That Lead
Find That Lead might look like a lead generation tool from the outside. But it’s got a lot more in common with Hunter.io than something like Voila Norbert.
It allows you to search for, verify and email prospects without using external tools or services.
Just like Hunter.io.
But it’s got some features that Hunter does not, such as the ‘Social’ search function that allows you to “scrape” Twitter and LinkedIn profiles for email addresses.
Or the ‘Local Businesses’ function that allows you to search for the contact details of local businesses based on their industry plus geographic parameters such as “‘state’. It’s like a scaled-down version of Crunchbase but at a fraction of the monthly cost.
If Find That Lead can match Hunter’s email prospecting accuracy, that would make it a serious competitor because they cost roughly the same amount per month.
What’s Not so Good?
So is there anything we don’t like about Hunter?
Well, it’s not exactly cheap.
Yes, the ‘Starter’ plan only costs $49 per month but that only provides 500 searches per month and 1,000 verifications.
So, a more realistic plan for the average lead gen or outreach business is ‘Growth’ for $99 per month. That means adding $1,200 per year to your current business expenses.
And that leads us on to the next point – the quota system.
Any email finder tool we can think of operates on a “credit” system, where 1 action = 1 credit used. So if you buy 5,000 credits, you can use them however you see fit.
Hunter, on the other hand, gives you two separate quotas:
- Email searches per month
- Email verifications
So you could find yourself hindered by this limitation to the point where you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan to get the number of credits you need.
But – in Hunter’s defense – these are minor complaints around a tool that does offer a whole lot of value.
Wrapping It Up
And that brings us neatly to the end of our Hunter.io review.
So, the big question here is…do we recommend Hunter?
It is a best-in-class tool to not only find but also verify email addresses. You get a basic cold email tool in the form of ‘Campaigns’ added to provide you with a complete outreach solution.
Their ‘Free’ plan offers an incredible amount of value for…well…no money at all.
And their paid plans take that experience to the next level allowing you to scale up your outreach efforts using their suite of tools.
You can continue struggling with doing outreach manually.
Or you can take Hunter for a free test drive by clicking here instead.