How We Found Our Prospects’ Email Addresses

When we decided to pivot, the first thing on our to-do list was to find a place from where we would acquire our new prospects and their email addresses. Obviously, the easiest way out would be hiring another company to build our prospect base for us. Unfortunately, that was not an option for a bootstrapping start-up at a very initial stage of development. We had to get our prospects’ email addresses on our own.

Where did we start from?

We had a clearly defined prospect persona we wanted to start with: an independent personal fitness trainer working with their clients one-on-one (defining the persona isn’t an easy task, too – we’re more than aware of that, but that’s a topic for another time).

The next step was to find a place gathering fitness professionals like those who we wanted to invite for interviews and testing of our software.

We were happy enough to find two such major health-and-fitness organizations’ portals, one in the UK ( and one in the US (, plus a few minor portals for local personal trainers as well. But that was just a start.



Portals like those do not make the trainers’ email addresses available to the public. They do, however, provide links to the trainers’ websites. Bingo! Each website provides some contact information – most of the websites provide email addresses.

How we got the emails

And that’s where the laborious part began. I went through hundreds of websites one by one, looking for emails of the right people. Looking back now, I must admit two things:

First, and obvious – it took hours and hours (we were doing this at the time when prospect list building tools were not as numerous and popular as they are nowadays).

Second – it gave me hours and hours of experience with our prospects’ group and created opportunities to see who they are, understand their mindset, discover their priorities, and learn their language.

In the end, it was easier to write the email I wanted to send them. I could imagine exactly who I am reaching out to.


What if the email on the website isn’t the email to the right person?

Ok, so we were lucky because we managed to reach our prospects websites from a single place. Additionally, our prospects were usually single-person businesses – so when I sent my emails, I knew they were going to reach the right person in the company.

And what if you’re aiming at a group of prospects that is not gathered into a single place? What if you aim at people who work in greater companies?

Well, you still need to get to the company’s website and find the right person in there. As Iris Shoor points out in her great article, it is crucial to reach out to a specific person, not a company in general. “Hi there” cold emails do not get high response rates.

If you need the email address to the right person in a company (and it is not public) you might want to check out the article by Bryan Harris, who gives a step-by-step instruction on how to acquire the contact to the exact person you need.

What’s in it for you?

To make your emails really encouraging and effective, you need to get to know your prospects.

  • Who are they as people?
  • What do they care for the most?
  • What are their greatest pains?
  • What is the language they use as professionals (keywords)?

As soon as you know the answers to the questions above, you’ll know what to put in your email and you’ll know how to put it right.

If you’re at the point we were, you may check how this kind of prospecting works for your company. I realize it’s difficult to perform because it requires a lot of time, but in the end you will appreciate the effort just like I did.

If you’re at the point where you have the resources to order a ready-made base of your prospects’ contact details – that’s great, it saves lots of time. But before you get about writing your emails, check out some of your prospects.

Take a look at their websites, blogs, social media profiles or other places on the net. See who they are, what they care about, what they fear of, and how they speak. This will really help you find the right ideas and the words for the emails you’re going to use in your campaign.

See also:

How We Got Our First 10 Customer Interviews with Cold Email >>

25 Tools & Services for Outbound Prospect List Building >>

  • Which is more less what we do here. Usually I’d use a data mining tool to speed up the process and at least create a spreadsheet with all details (except for email) that I later pull into the CRM.

    My clients are usually also small businesses or freelancers who in most cases make the email avail on the site. So I have the list/XLS with website URLs and then the last step is not automated. Would be cool to find a way to automate getting an email from such a website in a smart way.

    • Thanks for sharing your process, Partyk. You’re right, getting the emails directly from websites is a part we weren’t automating as well — it takes lots of time to go to each website and get the address to a spreadsheet. But if except for the domain you also collect first and last names of your prospects, you can use tools like FindAnyEmail or FindThatLead to get their emails automatically. The tools are usually not 100% effective in finding the email address, but you can always give them a chance and then find the rest of the addresses manually.

      If you check the websites one by one, you can also test Chrome extensions like this one to see if it will save you some time.

      Thanks again!

    • Cole Fox

      Obviously there are many great paid tools out there, but one way I’ve done it to avoid any cost is just use scraping tools like, or Data Miner (chrome extensions), then the Concatenate function on Google Sheets to smash their first name, “@”, “” together. Then you send emails. You might get some bounces though.

  • Thiru

    Cathy, Thanks for sharing your experience and realistic information’s.

    Understand that, how you were searching hundreds of websites one by one to find prospects email addresses.

    Likewise many starts ups were struggling in building their prospects list, we made prospecting very simple with our eMail Prospecting tool.

    Our eMail-Prospector finds anybody’s business email address. Just type in Name and Company. The software then searches the Internet to find the person’s work email address and phone.

    Try now :

  • Cathy, thank you for this useful article. I love how you included examples too. You can check out a tool that we have at to make it more effective to build a targeted list for your business.

  • cedaly1968

    My business still does this today. We spend time tracing a particular vertical looking for contact information. Fortunately, our CRM has a browser attachment that can scrape the contact information off the site directly into CRM. But the best part of this is we learn alot about what the clients are trying to sell and we have keyword etc. that we can find from their own posts. We have an Evernote Subscription that enables us to actually capture a page and examine content to understand their messaging better and deliver solutions to them to spread that message toward targeted customers. Lots of leg work but it is an excellent project for interns and entry-level personnel learning how to collect and “profile” a customer so that your lead entry is highly relevant.

  • Cathy, this is exactly what I’ve started doing for my business a few weeks ago. It’s indeed a long and manual process. However the personalization becomes a lot easier.

    When you mention exactly what they do, either they perceive you as a fan or a potential client. Which causes them to open the email. They also feel valued when they know you understand them.

    Thank you for sharing you process. As I’m very new to this concept it further reassures me that I’m on the right way. What’s more exciting for me is that I’m aligned with a pro like you.

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