Hunter.io Review and Quality Test (2019 Edition)

This is a comprehensive review and test of the Hunter.io software service.

If you’re new here, Full Time Blog is a place where I teach people how to make money online.

A key component of making money online is outreach.

If you’re new to outreach or a seasoned veteran, you probably understand the benefits of an efficient streamlined process.

And part of streamlining an outreach process requires a tool like Hunter.io to help businesses in the prospecting stage of their outreach.

Hunter.io is for businesses who already have a list of websites they ‘think’ might be good targets, but still require contact information to make their first touch.

Simply put, Hunter.io helps gather emails addresses quickly…

I classify Hunter.io as a “Contact Information Scraper”, which is a key tool in any half decent prospecting process and significantly speeds up the outreach process.

My review criteria for this type of tool consists of four main things that I’ll go into further detail down below. These are:

  1. How reliable is the contact information that is returned?
  2. How useful is the data the tool creates?
  3. How much time can the tool save a business?
  4. How much money can the tool save a business?

Let’s get into this review shall we?!

What Hunter.io and How Does It Work?

What is it?

Hunter.io is an online software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool that scrapes websites for contact information.

Hunter.io is one of the first major players to gain traction in the email scraping service, and it has received significant exposure as an early adopter getting picked up by many marketers as a “must have” tool.

Its ability to quickly provide a relatively reliable list of email addresses has spurred a new market with new competitors popping up every day.

How does it work?

As mentioned by François Grante (founder of the software), Hunter.io works by searching and indexing emails it finds on company websites across the internet. For email addresses it finds, Hunter.io will log the common email patterns and apply that logic to websites its users are searching.

Take a look at the below excerpt from François on Quora for a use case on Hunter when using it with LinkedIn. Please note, the LinkedIn functionality was deprecated in August 2017, but the use case still applies to website research in general.

how-does-hunter.io-work
A simple use case of using Hunter.io to get contact information.

Overall, using Hunter.io is easy.

You can either enter websites to get a listing of contact information Hunter.io has for the domain, or enter a person’s name to find a specific email address.

What’s most important about Hunter.io are its bulk features. These help speed up the outreach process significantly.

hunter.ios-bulk-tools

When I use Hunter, I pretty much only use the bulk domain search and the bulk email verification tools.

The bulk email finder can be good if you have lots of names and companies but not email addresses, which should be a rare scenario, because when would you know who you need to talk to but not their email address… and in bulk?

Just seems weird.

Anyway… take a look below for a quick demo of how Hunter’s bulk domain finder works.

hunter-bulk-email

The bulk domain feature is by far the best option when trying to do large scale prospecting.

As for the bulk email verification tool…

You might be asking yourself, “Why does Hunter even need an email verification tool? Shouldn’t all the emails in their system be good already?”

There are two reasons why you might want to verify their emails after an export:

  • Hunter.io’s email database is simply a scrape and collection of all the emails it finds on the internet. There’s no guarantee that the emails haven’t been deleted, changed, left dormant, or placed as spam traps. The verifier tool can help filter out deliverability issues.
  • The second reason is if you want to verify emails you pulled from a different tool other than Hunter.io.

What Is Hunter.io’s Pricing?

Hunter.io isn’t cheap.

As of 1/1/2018, Hunter.io charges $39/1,000 requests for their annual plan and $49 if you want to pay month-to-month.

A Hunter.io “request” is when Hunter successfully finds an email for a website, a verification that an email is deliverable or not or a search for an email based on a name and company.

hunter-pricing

Because Hunter.io has been around the longest of the email scrapers, it has the deepest database of emails and the greatest amount of community trust.

This gives Hunter some authority to demand a higher price point vs. some of its newer competitors.

Overall, I think the pricing is a bit high, but the value Hunter.io delivers is significant given the amount of data they also provide with each email (more on that later). Also, outreach is incredibly important to the overall success of a business. Hunter.io facilities that, therefore is probably worth the price of admission.

Is Hunter.io Reliable?

Okay…

At this point in the review, I’m going to start getting into the actual performance of the tool based on the criteria I outlined earlier.

This section will focus on the reliability of the contact information generated from the web scrape that Hunter.io performs.

Helpful tip: Hunter.io is meant to find professional email addresses only as opposed to @gmail, @yahoo, etc email addresses, which are skipped in a web scrape. In my experience, these domains tend to still be used by sites and could result in losing prospective links from quality websites.

Ideally, you would want Hunter to be able to pull the best contact email address for the website you prospected. By “best”, I mean the email address of the person that is most likely to take the action you want.

For example, if I want to get links to a new article I published, I would need to find someone with the authority to change content on the website.

This key person might be the owner of the website (if it’s small), a managing editor, the author of the article or someone else entirely. Once captured, I would need to email that person and ask for the link.

Now Hunter.io might pull email addresses for this fictional target website, but they might not pull the BEST email address.

Therefore, I might end up emailing some random person who couldn’t care less about my cool new article and my outreach campaign promptly dies in a fire.

That is bad.

When it comes to outreach, there are many places where it could potentially break down and reduce your conversion rate. Gathering the right email is critical and is something a tool needs to be capable of doing.

That being said…

I thought a simple test of Hunter’s ability to capture the RIGHT email address could be a fun idea. This is by no means a scientific experiment but gives some insight into how well Hunter gets the job done vs. having an assistant manually cherry pick the correct email address from the target.

See below for the details of the experiment.

Experiment Overview

The test was performed as apart of the normal outreach process for a client of mine.

He recently published a really great linkable article here that was scheduled for outreach.

This provided a good opportunity to do some outreach on it to measure how often Hunter.io produced the “best” email using its bulk email finder.

Mind you I also used my custom built email minifier to sort and filter the Hunter.io results to get us to the best emails as quickly as possible.

See below for the exact steps of the experiment.

Experiment Procedure

  1. I performed traditional link prospecting to gather 151 qualified prospective website link partners.
  2. Each website was manually reviewed and I grabbed what I considered to be the “best” email address from each website.
  3. That same 151 qualified list of websites was fed into Hunter.io’s bulk domain scraper tool.
  4. I took the results of the scrape and used my email minimizer tool to quickly sort and pick the “best” emails within the Hunter.io data.
  5. The final results of my manual review of each website were compared to the results that came out of Hunter.io to see how well Hunter did vs a manual review.

Again, the “best” email being the one that is most likely going to result in the action I want to be taken. In this case, the action I want to be taken is a link back to the article being promoted. Thus the best email would be of the website editors, the author of the article found, or possibly the webmaster depending on how large or small the site is.

Just to recap, here are the details of the procedure:

Websites Gathered: 151 qualified prospective domains
Evaluation Criteria: (1) How often does Hunter.io pick up an email when scraping a qualified prospecting list?
(2) Of the emails uncovered, and how often does Hunter.io pick the “best” email as defined above.

Experiment Results

The results of this small experiment were relatively surprising…

But before I show the findings, let me just go over what we’re looking to see here.

In order for an outreach campaign to be successful, you need two main things:

(1) A relevant article/website prospect: When doing outreach, relevance is by far the most critical factor. If what you are promoting isn’t relevant to the outreach prospect, then your campaign will fail.

(2) The prospect’s email addresses: If you find a relevant target, GREAT, but that means absolutely nothing if you can’t find someone to actually communicate with. Even further, not just anyone will do. You need to find the email of the person that has the power to do the thing you need to be done (e.g., edit a page and add a link, sell your products as an affiliate, etc)

Again…

If you miss either item above, your campaign will likely fail.

That being said here are the results…

(drum roll)

Hunter-Results_test_1

So what’s this all mean?

The above table shows us that out of 151 qualified prospects that have passed the relevance test, Hunter.io was only able to grab 112 contacts from those same web domains.

Of those 112, Hunter.io only found 57 of the best email addresses.

This means that out of 151 qualified possible prospects that have been hand-picked, Hunter.io is only capable of finding the best email 57 times or 38% of the total prospect list.

Again, take these findings with a grain of salt as your results may vary by niche, but they do emphasize the point, you WILL be reducing your chances of outreach success when you use a tool like Hunter.io for link building.

You will also be burning lots of good prospects very quickly that may be bad if you are in a small niche where there aren’t many people to reach out to.

How Useful is The Hunter.io Data?

When it comes to the data that Hunter.io provides, I am really impressed.

Unlike many of its competitors, Hunter provides additional pieces of data along with the email to help you make a better decision while performing your outreach.

hunter-data-with-headers
Excerpt of the raw data provided by Hunter.io

For those of you are trying to push the limits of your outreach processes, having this additional data is extremely valuable.

Why?

Because it helps you pick out which emails are the most likely to respond to your outreach request. For Hunter, I’m specifically looking at the “position” data point.

By knowing the position of the person you’re reaching out to, you have some idea that they have the power to do the thing you want them to do.

Most other scraping tools don’t provide this data point, making your outreach less targeted and less likely to convert.

There are other data points provided by Hunter, but nothing else is as helpful as the position information.

The confidence score is helpful to a point, but I’ve found it to be mostly useless as the emails that I know to be 100% deliverable were occasionally given low confidence scores.

I love the data Hunter.io provides. I love it so much, I built a free tool to help speed up the email selection process even further. If you have Hunter, I recommend giving that a look as it saves hours of time manually looking through each row and column. Click here to check it out.

I used that tool in the experiment above.

How Much Time Can Hunter.io Save?

Hunter.io can save a ton of time.

The very nature of this type tool is to save the user time they would otherwise be spending on manual research for emails within websites.

The real question is if Hunter.io can save you MORE time than its competitors performing the same function within the business.

Given the fact that Hunter.io has the deepest database of emails with the most data points for each email, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that Hunter will save you the most time.

But!

I am not a fan of assumptions and guesswork, which is why I decided to include an additional test of Hunter’s ability to gather an email address for each website I entered into its system.

See below for the details of this experiment.

Experiment Overview

To test whether Hunter.io has the deepest database of email addresses and would save the most amount of time looking for emails, I decided to measure the % return for each domain I entered.

Ideally, Hunter would return at least 1 email per domain, but in my experience, this isn’t the case. On more than one occasion, domains that I thought would be easy for Hunter to snag an email for came up empty.

This test will measure how many times Hunter is able to find a match.

This test will also measure Hunter against its main competitors performing the same task as well as my link building team. The competitors included in this experiment are:

hunter.io-comparison

I plan on doing a full-blown comparison of these services (as well as other tools) in the future, but I thought including this basic test could provide some helpful insight.

Experiment Procedure

The experiment procedure is fairly straightforward but here are the steps I took during the test.

  1. I performed traditional link prospecting to gather 151 qualified prospective website link partners.
  2. Each website was manually reviewed, and I grabbed what I considered to be the “best” email address from each website.
  3. That 151 list of qualified websites was fed into Hunter.io’s, Snov.io’s, Anymail Finder’s, and Find That Lead’s bulk domain scraper tool.
  4. The final results of each email scraper platform were compared to see how well each performed vs a manual review.

Ideally, each tool would pick up at least one email for each domain. Also, just to clarify, this is not a test of the quality of emails selected, just a measure of the tool and if it is capable of extracting at least 1 email per domain to see how much time Hunter.io saves versus its competition.

Just to recap here are the details of the experiment:

Websites Gathered: 151 qualified prospective domains
Evaluation Criteria: (1) How often does Hunter.io find a matching email for a domain? (2) How often does Hunter.io find a matching email relative to its competitors?

Experiment Results

As opposed to the previous test, the results of this review were a little less surprising given that Hunter.io has been around the longest and has had the first mover advantage as a tool with the sole purpose of finding an email.

Hunter.io was a clear winner compared to its competition. Take a look at the results below.

Hunter-Results_test_2

Again, this was not a measure of how qualified the emails were, but if they could produce at least 1 email per domain.

Given these results, I can safely say, that using Hunter is likely to provide the most emails, which you can then further refine by using the position data point within their bulk export.

Something I found interesting, was that the only other tool to have the position field was Find That Lead, which was a pleasant surprise, although there was as much data filled in per domain.

Anyway… how about that verifier tool Hunter.io has?

How Good Is Hunter.io’s Email Verifier?

One of the other main tools that Hunter.io has in its arsenal is the email verification tool.

hunter.io email verifier
Screenshot of the location of Hunter.io’s email verifier

The great thing about these email scraping tools is that they scrape the internet far and wide to help you reach prospects in their inbox.

But at the same time…

They also pick up a lot of crap like old emails, invalid emails, spam traps, and scrambled emails that can only be described as complete gibberish.

When using a tool like Hunter you should consider using their email verification tool in tandem with their bulk email scraper to reduce the amount bounced emails you get per campaign.

excerpt of hunter.io verified results
Screenshot of Hunter.io verified email results

Why?

Because of your email reputation.

When you send an email and it bounces, that sends bad signals to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you might be conducting something shady. Even if you’re not, your behavior will resemble other spammers and reduce the deliverability of all emails coming from your domain.

The last item I wanted to test was quality of Hunter.io’s email verifier and answer such questions like:

  • Does Hunter.io remove all the undeliverable emails?
  • Does Hunter.io accidentally remove good emails from a list (i.e., false positives)?

Experiment Overview

To test Hunter.io email verification tool I decided to test its ability to kick out bad email addresses from a list, and keep good email addresses.

There are a TON of other services on the internet that can facilitate “cleaning a list”, which is essentially what is going on here.

Without going into too much detail, the “gist” of what these email verifying services do comes down to 5 main things:

Does the email look like an email? (e.g., john@xyz.com)
Does the email look like gibberish? (flfhdkhf@xyz.com)
Does the domain have Mail Exchange (MX) records setup?
Does the domain have Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) setup and does an email bounce when sent?
Does the domain have a “catch-all-policy” which means all emails sent to the domain accepted and not checked to see if an actual email box exists before accepting

Helpful Tip: Hunter.io throws out all regular (@gmail, @yahoo, etc) email addresses during the verification process. In my experience, these domains tend to still be used by sites and could result in losing prospective links from quality websites.

What I wanted to see in this experiment was how often a bad email was kept in the list and how often a good email was removed.

See below for the steps I took in this experiment.

Experiment Procedure

Again, my experiments aren’t meant to be complicated but here are the steps I took for full disclosure!

  1. I performed traditional link prospecting to gather 151 qualified prospective website link partners.
  2. Each website was manually reviewed, and I grabbed what I considered to be the “best” email address from each website.
  3. The list was fed into Hunter.io’s email verification tool for processing.
  4. The final results of the verification were compared to the actual results I found after I conducted the outreach.

Experiment Results

Ready for the results?

Right off the bat, 15 of the emails found for prospective websites were thrown out because they were non-business (Gmail/Yahoo) email addresses, which leaves 136 emails left to verify.

How did they fare, check out the table below!

Assuming you email all the emails marked “Deliverable” and “Risky” would’ve emailed about 85% of the original population.

In actuality, there were only 12 bad emails in the bunch, so Hunter would’ve removed some good ones by being too strict. Also, of the 12 that were actually bad (and I know this cause I checked the email records), Hunter.io only got 5 of those emails, which means that 17 of the 22 emails marked “Undeliverable” were actually deliverable.

So…

Moral of the story is that with speed comes sacrifice.

The verification tool does a pretty good job weeding out the bad emails but is still not a full replacement for manual review.

In a niche where good prospects are hard to come by, this might matter to you, but in a large niche (fitness, health, etc) this might not matter.

Can Hunter.io Save You Money?

The very last section of this guide comes down to dollars and cents.

Will Hunter.io save you money?

Maybe.

As you’ve seen in the previous ultra-scientific (sarcasm) tests documented above, there is definitely an element of sacrifice when using Hunter.io.

Right now, I pay about .10 cents/website researched to URL reviewer. If I have a campaign where I want them to research 1,000 domains, that would cost me $100.

If I wanted to process those 1,000 domains through Hunter.io, that would cost me roughly $50 assuming you do the month-to-month starter plan with Hunter.io and every domain has at least one email to pull from it. As a reminder, you get 1,000 requests from Hunter. Each time you process a domain you use up 1 request.

Easy math.

By using Hunter.io you are saving the time it would take for your link builder to research those domains plus the $50.

In exchange, you are taking on a bit of risk that some of the websites you entered will not return an email from Hunter’s database, and the email that is returned might be the wrong email, which in both cases, may result in a failed outreach attempt.

As my experiments showed (again not scientific, but still insightful), Hunter.io only gets an email about ~70ish% of the time and when it DOES get an email, it grabs the “best” email only about ~40ish% of the time.

What does this all mean?

The savings you realized by using Hunter.io are going to be offset by the increased amount of link prospecting you’re going to have to do to gather more domains to reach out to.

This is bad because there are a finite amount of domains that can be reached out to for a given outreach campaign.

As a result…

You’re going to need to run more outreach campaigns to get the same results as if you just had someone manually research each domain.

If you have tons of outreach campaigns you can do, you might come out net positive, but if you have a limited amount of potential outreach campaigns then you might want to consider avoiding Hunter or any similar tool and sticking with manual outreach until the tools get better over time.

Here’s a quick example from a buddy of mine…

Say you are a website and have 10 really great pieces of content you want to promote. You do your prospecting and get a list of domains to reach out to for each piece of content.

Some of those pieces of content are in topics that aren’t very popular so there aren’t that many domains you can ask to help you promote it with a link or a social share.

If you use a tool like Hunter.io, you’ll end up burning through all the prospects and your outreach campaigns may be less successful had you just done manual outreach.

In situations where the number of prospects is limited, I would say that you may end up losing money if you used Hunter.io.

Final Thoughts…

Overall, Hunter.io is a GREAT TOOL and one that I highly recommend if you are a one man/woman team and don’t have the time or budget to hire additional help.

Hunter can spit out and verify a ton of data very quickly.

What I like most about Hunter is their simplicity.

They truly focus on pure email/lead capture and verification.

A lot of other tools are trying to bake in outreach, verification, scraping, social media following, etc and it gets overwhelming and hurts the core product.

The only downside to using Hunter is that it will inevitably miss some good prospects that may have converted for your outreach campaign.

As we’ve seen in the above tests, with speed comes sacrifice.

But hey, we all try to abide by Pareto’s 80/20 law right? Should you care about a few missed contacts…

That’s a decision I can not make for you 😉

Note text

Leave a Comment

[Free] Build A Profitable Blog In 2019 Crash Course

Get Our Free 6-Part Build A Profitable Blog In 2019 Crash Course. Enter your email to get part #1 right now!