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What is Catch-All email address and is it safe to send emails to them?

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What is a Catch-All Email Address?

The catch-all emails are also called accept-all email addresses. The catch-all email basically means that the email server accepts emails at any address even if the individual address does not exist and most likely redirects them to a specific address that an admin can read. So, if you send emails to these addresses, your email will not bounce even if that individual address does not exist. However, you may receive soft-bounces from them, which are basically a reply email from the email server. Soft bounces are generally not harmful to the email server’s reputation as they are just a reply emails mostly. Catch-all addresses are domain-specific, which means if a domain is catch-all, all of its addresses will be catch-all.

How Reoon Detects Catch-All Addresses?

Reoon Email Verifier uses different methods to detect the catch-all status of an email address. However, here we describe the simplified version of the full process for easy understanding. At first, our system checks the deliverability of the submitted email address by pinging their email server (many complex processes are involved in this step). If the response from their email server is valid, the system then generates a random email address for that domain that cannot have a real user and tries to verify that address in the same way. If their email server still responds as valid to that verification request of that certainly invalid (randomly generated) email address, the system can say that this domain is accepting emails to any of its addresses. So, it must be a catch-all email server.

Should You Send Emails To Catch-all Email Addresses?

First of all, you need to understand that the catch-all email addresses are not invalid. In fact, they are very close to a valid email address and the chances are most of the catch-all email addresses in your email list will be valid. So, the decision should be taken based on how the email addresses were collected.

  1. If the contacts in your email list are your own subscribers, you should definitely continue sending emails to them. Subscribed users generally tend to put valid email addresses and if they get out of business, the status of just one email won’t change. It is more likely that the status of the whole domain will change in case of company status change and in that case, the email verification system will most likely detect that address as an invalid address. Of course, still, there will be a little chance that you can receive a soft bounce. But it should be worth the taken risk.
  2. If you are sending to a purchased or scraped email list, you should avoid sending emails to the catch-all email addresses from your main domain. Because you mostly do not know the actual status of such addresses and there is a chance that the majority of these email addresses can be invalid, which is not good. However, these emails still might be important to you. In that case, it is recommended to send email to these accept-all email addresses from a different email domain.
  3. If you are checking the email during user registration on your website, you should definitely allow the catch-all emails to register on your site as they are most likely to be valid.
  4. However, you should avoid sending too many emails to the catch-all email addresses of one domain as any unmatched email will be forwarded to a default mailbox and many emails can pile up there. The system/person checking that mailbox can mark your email as a spam sender.

We have mentioned the most important decision-making factors above. However, you should always do your own research and based on that research you should make the decision. Everyone’s use case and requirements are different. So, one solution/answer won’t fit every person’s requirements.

Can You Verify Catch-All Email Addresses?

The short answer to this question is No, but there are some alternatives. A true catch-all email server will accept emails sent to any of its addresses. In many cases, the catch-all email server won’t send a response email (or bounce). In such cases, there won’t be any direct way to distinguish the valid and invalid emails.

However, the alternatives can be searching each email across different platforms (search engines, databases, etc) and trying to figure out which email address has a good online presence. But this approach still can’t tell the current status of that address. Also there there is a very high chance that you will lose a good percentage of valid contacts.

Can You Verify Catch-Alls by Sending Real Emails?

First of all, we want to inform you that sending real emails for email verification purposes is just a form of spamming and not a legal approach. If you even take such a service from a different company, you will be basically participating in annoying real people by sending spam emails to them. So this process is not recommended at all.

It is still not possible to determine all the non-existing email addresses of a catch-all domain server. Most of the time the catch-all email server does not send any bounce or reply email. In such cases, as the email will be delivered from you as intended and no bounce will be received, it won’t be possible to detect such non-existing email addresses.

Final Thoughts

Although catch-all emails are not invalid, you should carefully make the decision based on your conditions. It’s important to know that, If you send too many emails to catch all mailboxes, it may not be a good thing. You should always try to maintain a good ratio between them.

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