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Understanding Catch-All Email: A Guide for Marketers

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As a seasoned digital marketer, I’ve been asked time and again: “What are catch-all emails?” 

Essentially, a catch-all email address is one that cannot be definitively classified as deliverable or non-deliverable. In the face of this uncertainty, many email service providers simply aren’t able to make a definitive decision.

Despite utilizing meticulous, proprietary processes for identifying email deliverability, email append/verification providers still classify a segment of email accounts that exist in the database as catch-all. It’s an inevitable part of email marketing, but not one that’s insurmountable.

So today I’m here to help marketers like yourself better understand what catch-all emails are and what to do with them when you have them. 

Let’s get started.

Handling Catch-All Emails: Mitigating Risks and Maximizing Opportunities

Once you understand what a catchall email is, the next question then becomes what to do with these catch-all emails. At The Data Group, our industry experience has shown that it’s best to approach this situation cautiously. 

When appending emails to a customer list, reputable data providers will typically remove these potentially risky emails from your output file, particularly if they exist but aren’t collected via 1st party.

Why is this caution necessary? Because it only takes a small percentage of invalid emails to wreak havoc on your sender score. 

This can not only prevent good emails from being delivered, but if a significant number of invalid emails are sent and you become blacklisted, your entire email list could be rendered undeliverable. 

Resolving this issue with the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can be a laborious and expensive process.

Effective Segmentation Strategies for Catch-All Emails

If you’ve just completed an email verification on a house file, our advice is to segment this list from your other emails that are flagged as deliverable. 

Ultimately, the decision of how to handle a catch all account rests with the sender, and we recommend a careful approach of segmentation and testing versus indiscriminately sending all the catch-all’s in a separate campaign.

Some additional data points to consider when segmenting your catch-all list include the recency of email collection or the last date of successful email delivery. Sending emails to those whose last delivery date is older tends to be riskier.

We generally recommend starting with catch-all emails that have been successfully delivered within the last 90 days, and gradually work your way back. 

Once you see a negative impact on your sender score, stop sending to that list immediately.

Next Steps: Email Append and Choosing the Right Verification Service Provider

Once you’ve reached your internal limit of sending to contacts in your catch-all file, consider performing an email append to the remaining customer records. This can provide new, 100% deliverable email addresses for those customers that you don’t want to contact using older catch-all email addresses.

Another crucial aspect is the selection of your email verification service provider

Evaluate the percentage of catch-all emails you receive that bounce back from processing. Typically, a higher number of catch-all emails indicates a less robust process, as a superior proprietary process will reduce the overall bounce rate and percentage of catch-all’s received.

A simple test involves sending the same random sample of 1,000 emails to a few providers to see which ones can validate the highest percentage. 

If you’re looking to get started today, click here to get a free match report from The Data Group and gauge the quality of your data.

Follow this up by sending to those emails marked valid to ensure the data quality is up to the mark. 

Unfortunately, we often see organizations opting for cheap email verification providers, only to receive an excessive number of invalid email addresses or emails flagged as catch-all, resulting in a loss of communication with a substantial percentage of customers.

With you partner with us at The Data Group, you get the best of both worlds. We’re proud to own an industry-leading 55% match rate and offer the lowest prices on the market at $0.02 per match. Because you don’t deserve to sacrifice quality for price. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our services or want to start a free trial, click here.

Conclusion: Strategize Wisely, Communicate Effectively

Catch-all emails can be a challenging aspect of your email marketing efforts. However, with careful strategies in place, you can navigate this area effectively, safeguard your sender score, and maintain seamless communication with your customers. 

The goal is to utilize these emails wisely, testing and segmenting them in a way that not only ensures the validity of your data but also safeguards your reputation as an organization and a sender.

Remember that catch-all emails are not necessarily ‘bad’ emails. They present an opportunity, a way to refine and improve your outreach strategies. 

The importance of choosing the right email verification provider for your business cannot be overstated. A quality provider not only reduces the number of catch-all emails but also provides accurate, actionable data that can greatly enhance your marketing efforts.

While catch-all emails may appear to be a small cog in the large machinery of email marketing, they carry significant weight. 

Handle them wisely, and you’ll unlock a more efficient, effective, and responsive email marketing strategy, ensuring your marketing messages reach their intended recipients.


What is a catch all email account?

A catch-all email account is a mailbox that receives all emails sent to incorrect or non-existent addresses at a specific domain, thereby preventing potential loss of communication. It is an email flagged via email verification as basically unknown meaning the provider can not determine with absolute certainty if the email is deliverable or not.

How do catch-all emails affect email marketers?

Catch-all emails can pose challenges for email marketers as they carry the risk of damaging the sender’s reputation if they contain many invalid addresses, potentially leading to lower email deliverability and possible blacklisting.

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