In 2018, catch-all emails are striking fear into the heart of B2B marketers. What is a catch-all email? A catch-all email account is a mailbox address that is specified to “catch all” of the messages that are addressed incorrectly or to email addresses that no longer exist in a domain’s email server. While this may be an easy solution for IT departments, it poses a huge problem for marketers.

What’s the big deal? Let’s say you send an email to the wrong address (e.g., versus and it goes to a catch-all email (e.g., Since you don’t receive an Undeliverable message or Unknown User bounce code, it simply remains in your database. One incorrect contact record is no big deal. Overtime however, if you accumulate hundreds of incorrect contact records, this poses a huge problem.

Why Catch-All Emails are on the Rise

The turnover rate at companies has increased dramatically in recent years. According to the Work Institute, 1 in 4 employees will leave their jobs in 2018.  Rather than having a late employee’s email forwarded to a single point of contact, many companies are opting to have catch-all emails take care of it. While these catch-all emails are convenient for companies with high turnover rates, it is wreaking havoc on B2B email metrics and databases.

Why Catch-All Emails are Problematic

Here are the five reasons why marketing leaders need to be aware of catch-all emails. Catch-all emails:

  1. Increase the cost of your database. Database integrity is paramount to successful marketing. If you’re actively sending marketing emails, you’re guaranteed to accumulate incorrect contact records as a result of catch-all emails. Incorrect records drive up both the cost and maintenance needs of your database.
  2. Increase cost of marketing automation. If the price of your marketing automation is based on the number of contacts you send to, you can expect to see an increase in the cost of your marketing automation thanks to catch-all emails. Having contacts is not cheap and these inaccurate contacts will cost you – a lot.
  3. Inhibit strategic decision-making. When incorrect contacts don’t bounce, it increases the size of the denominator for all of your email metrics. This means open rates, click-through rates, all decrease due to catch-all emails. With inaccurate metrics, knowing which programs to modify or repeat becomes a shot in the dark. As an example, let’s pretend you sent an email campaign to 200 contacts and there was a 4% click-through rate. This might lead you to believe it was only somewhat successful, so you choose not to repeat it. However, you find that 100 contacts were inaccurate, making your click-through rate 8%. This would make the campaign quite successful and not repeating it is a missed opportunity.
  4. Undermine your ability to prove marketing’s value. First, poor metrics make it nearly impossible for you as an executive to showcase the good work your team is doing. Second, you’ll be caught in a catch twenty-two of not being able to show positive results from your emails marketing, while needing to fight for a budget increases to accommodate the growing cost of your marketing automation tool. Not a good position to be in!
  5. Leave you in the dark. You’ll never know if the intended recipient received your marketing message. For example, let’s say you sent a prospecting email intended for a CIO. This person has left the company and the company has a catch-all email. This catch-all email is reviewed by an IT administrator once a week. What is the likelihood that this IT administrator will open your email, read it, and forward it to the new CIO? Sounds pretty unlikely. Why you ask? Because your email (the subject line, the body copy, etc.) was all designed to entice a CIO to open it and take action – not an IT administrator. Now this email remains lost in the catch-all inbox, while leading you to believe that your message was not effective for the intended audience.

Unfortunately, companies do (and will continue to) use catch-all emails. The most important thing you can do is to be cognizant of the issue, particularly if you’re seeing poor email metrics and specifically, low engagement.

But there’s hope!

We can give you visibility into your database – today! With ELEVATE’s Strategic Data Alignment Audit, you can get complete visibility into your database to understand the integrity of your contact records, confidence in email marketing metrics, and much more. Fill out the form on the right to learn to schedule a consultation with our data gurus to learn more about our data audit.