The risks and rewards of emailing catch-all addresses (what every marketer should know)

If you’ve ever entered the world of email marketing, chances are that you’ve heard of catch-all email addresses. They’re kind of a big deal, but they’re also a mixed bag. 

On one hand, they can be a bit of a troublemaker, causing bounces and potentially messing with your email deliverability. Traditional tools like ZeroBounce and Apollo often result in 50% of your list being classified as invalid or catch-alls. Not so great, right?

But on the flip side? They can also be like hidden treasures, leading you to some valuable contacts and leads that people wouldn’t normally target. That is, if you validate catch-all emails properly. 

So before you jump into your next cold email or marketing campaign, it’s important to understand what catch-all emails are all about, whether it’s safe to send to them, and understand the rewards and risks so you can make your move. Got it? Perfect, let’s dive in. 

What is a catch-all address? 

A catch-all email address is like a safety net of the email universe. It’s there to capture any emails that might have gone astray and ensure that even if someone makes a small mistake or typo, their message still reaches you.

So, let’s say you send an email and maybe you mistype something. Instead of your email messages getting lost in cyberspace, these catch-all email servers swoop in and catch it. They make sure every single email has a place to go, so nothing important just disappears.

For example, suppose you’re trying to send an email to ‘johndoe@example.com’ which is set up as a catch-all account. However, you accidentally type ‘johndoee@example.com’ (maybe you were a bit too enthusiastic with that extra ‘e’) and send it to an incorrect email address.

In a regular scenario, this email would be lost because of the typo. But thanks to the catch-all email account setup, your email won’t be lost. Instead, it’ll be redirected and still reach or land in your main inbox (to the johndoe@example.com email domain). 

Advantages of Using Catch-All Addresses

Catch-all addresses come with a slew of advantages:

1) No more lost emails because of silly typos:

We’ve all been there, typing too fast and with a slip of the finger, making a tiny mistake. It happens to the best of us. But with catch-all mailboxes, even if you type ‘johndoee’ instead of ‘johndoe’, the email still finds its way. No more “Oops, I made a typo” moments causing important incoming messages to vanish.

2) One-stop email shop: 

Think of it like a big catchall mailbox where all the general emails land. Especially for businesses that get tons of emails, it’s a game-changer. No need to jump between different inboxes; everything’s in one place. Simple, right?

3) Keep things smooth with suppliers and customers:

Picture this: a big client sends an email but gets your address slightly wrong. Without a catch-all, that email’s gone, and maybe the deal with it. But with catch-all? The email’s saved, the deal’s on, and you look super professional. No pesky error message. It’s all about making sure you’re always in the loop, even if someone else slips up. 


Disadvantages of Using Catch-All Addresses

While catch-all email addresses offer numerous benefits, they come with their own set of challenges. 

1) The Influx of Unwanted Emails: 

Catch-all addresses are like big nets, catching everything that comes their way. And while that’s great, it also means they catch a lot of stuff we don’t want – like spam, random offers, and unsolicited emails. This can clutter your inbox and make it challenging to identify the emails you need to respond to.

2) Distinguishing Genuine Emails from Spam Emails: 

With so many emails pouring in, telling the good from the bad can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. You’re spending time sifting through, trying not to miss anything important. And even though there are filters to help out, they’re not perfect. Sometimes, they might even toss a good email into the junk pile.

3) The Challenge of High Bounce Rates in Marketing: 

For businesses trying to reach out and connect, catch-all addresses can be tricky. Since catch-all addresses collect all emails, including those sent to a non-existent email address, the chances of emails bouncing back increase. This can tarnish your sender’s reputation and the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.

Is it okay to email catch-all addresses? 

Sending emails to catch-all addresses without validating them first can lead to high bounce rates, damage your domain deliverability, and cause poor performance of your email marketing campaigns if sent in high volume.

This is due to the fact that sending emails to a high number of incorrect or nonexistent email addresses can significantly lower your email engagement rates.

A decline in engagement rates might harm your sender reputation and reduce the effectiveness of your next email marketing campaign. One minor mistake can cause a chain reaction of negative occurrences, such as a decline in your email deliverability, increased bounce rates, and the risk of your domain being blacklisted.

It’s crucial to use a tool to verify your catch-all addresses safely at scale. Using our catch-all email validation tool at Scrubby, you can do exactly that and get 100 emails validated completely free of charge. 

It’s crucial to understand how to verify your catch-all emails and why you should verify them. 

What to do with catch-all emails for B2B marketing?

For B2B email marketers, sending to catch-all addresses without validating them first can lead on average to a 9% bounce rate and will damage your domain deliverability. Similarly, 23% of your catch-all emails from your lead list will hard bounce. It’s crucial to validate catch-all emails properly using the right tool. 

Traditional B2B tools like Apollo or ZoomInfo perform basic validation of emails, sorting them into either an invalid email address or valid email address category.

The issue is that 50% of your email list when run through these tools on average will come out as invalid or catch-all emails.

90% of B2B marketers will either exclude catch-all emails from their email lists because they can bounce and hurt email deliverability or they will completely throw them out (which is the equivalent to throwing money down the drain). 

Instead, you should focus on validating your catch-all emails and understand all of the untapped opportunities that come along with it. 

Detecting and Verifying Email Addresses in Catch-All

In the world of email marketing, especially when dealing with catch-all addresses, verification is paramount.

Before hitting the ‘send’ button on your campaign, it’s crucial to ensure that your emails are directed towards valid inboxes. Sending emails blindly, especially to catch-all addresses, can lead to high bounce rates, negatively impacting your sender reputation. Proper verification ensures that your emails reach genuine recipients, increasing the chances of engagement.

To verify catch-all emails, you can use a verification service like Scrubby.io. Scrubby is the only email validation tool that can validate risky and catch-all emails. The best part? You can validate up to 100 emails completely for FREE. No strings attached. Here’s how:

Scrubby complements ALL SMTP-based email tools such as MillionVerifier, ZeroBounce and NeverBounce

Recommendations and Best Practices

For optimal results when dealing with catch-all addresses and mail servers, we recommend certain best practices. 

Post-campaign analysis is essential. Dive into those numbers – open rates, click throughs, and how engaged people were. It’s all about understanding what worked and where you can make the necessary adjustments for future email campaigns.

Nobody likes their emails bouncing back and getting an error message. But let’s not lose sight of the big picture. It’s all about those conversions, the ultimate goal of any marketing campaign.

Instead of getting fixated on bounce rates, focus on conversion metrics. How many recipients took the desired action? How can you improve these numbers in subsequent campaigns?

Focusing on constant testing and iteration can help you streamline your campaigns and close more deals.  


As you can see, navigating the maze of catch-all email addresses can feel a bit like a rollercoaster ride. They’re a double-edged sword, offering both promise and pitfalls.

On one hand, they’re like the superheroes of the email world, ensuring no incoming messages get left behind. But, just like any superhero, they have their vulnerabilities from the influx of unwanted emails to the risks of harming deliverability and engagement for B2B marketers. 

For email marketers, especially in the B2B space, understanding the ins and outs of catch-all addresses is like having a secret weapon. It’s about knowing when to harness their power and when to tread carefully. With tools in hand and best practices in mind, you can make the most of these addresses, striking a balance between opportunity and risk.

So, as you step back into the world of email marketing, armed with newfound knowledge, remember to verify, analyze, and always keep your audience in mind. After all, in the end, it’s all about making meaningful connections. Happy emailing!

Frequently Asked Questions 

The realm of catch-all email addresses is vast, and several questions often arise. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:

  • Is catch-all email a good idea?

    A catch-all email can be beneficial for businesses that want to ensure no email goes unnoticed. However, it also means an influx of spam and potential deliverability issues. The decision should be based on a business’s specific needs and the challenges they’re willing to manage.
  • Are catch-all emails safe to send?

    While catch-all emails will not bounce back, there’s no guarantee your email will reach the intended recipient. It’s essential to verify these addresses using tools like Scrubby before sending out bulk campaigns.
  • What is a catch-all email address?

    It’s a default email address set up to receive all emails sent to a domain, especially those sent to non-existent addresses within that domain.
  • How do you deal with catch-all emails?

    Regular verification and filtering are crucial. Using email verification tools can help filter out invalid addresses, ensuring better deliverability.
  • How do you use catch all?

    It’s typically set up through your domain provider or email hosting service. Once set up, any email sent to a non-existent address within your domain will be directed to the catch-all address.
  • What to do with catch-all emails?

    Regularly monitor and clean the inbox. Use verification tools to filter out spam and ensure that genuine communications aren’t overlooked.
  • What happens if an email is sent to a non-existent address without a catch-all?

    When an email is sent to a non-existent address on a domain without a catch-all setup, the email will typically bounce back. This means the sender will receive a notification that the email couldn’t be delivered. This can lead to missed communications and potential business opportunities.
  • How often should you verify a catch-all email address?

    Regular verification is crucial. It’s recommended to verify catch-all email addresses before every major email campaign or at least once a month. This ensures that your emails are being sent to valid inboxes, reducing bounce rates and improving engagement.
  • Are catch-all addresses recommended for businesses?

    The answer varies based on the business’s needs. Catch-all addresses can be beneficial for businesses that want to ensure no email goes unnoticed. However, they also come with challenges like increased spam and potential deliverability issues. It’s essential for businesses to weigh the pros and cons before implementing a catch-all address.
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Kristel Kongas

Kristel Kongas is a lead generation and fintech growth strategist, serving as the Chief Marketing Officer for Vendisys, Scrubby, Golden Leads, Inboxy, and other Vendisys entities. She is also the Founder and CEO of The New Cup Agency, a boutique marketing firm, and an active member of the Estonian Business Angels. Alongside her professional roles, Kristel is a dedicated life and fitness coach, blending her business acumen with a commitment to personal well-being.