Cold Emailing – How to use old data to generate new leads

The Old Cold Employee Method – OCEM

Part 1 in Breaking the Inbox

Breaking the Inbox is a step-by-step series on how to improve your outbound cold email strategies for use in marketing and sales outreach. This is Part 1 of that series.  

Despite the internal politics as a sales professional, marketer or growth hacker, we all share one problem in common – how do we achieve more cut through in our outbound email campaigns.

For sales people it is about achieving more results from often what is manual labor – either extensively crawling Linkedin or setting up extensive drip campaigns in tools like

For marketers – it is about generating MQLs (marketing qualified leads) for the sales team at scale – with messaging that is creative and is alignment with brand values.

For growth hackers – it is about finding a way to get responses in a way that hasn’t been explored before, that incorporates elements of testing and programmatic use of data to create a strategy that works.

Of late the line between growth hacking, marketing and sales operations continues to blur – with either one or all parties having some sort of responsibility in generated email campaigns that work.

The most common method which I see being used lies with Aaron Ross – with whom I have been lucky to exchange a few emails with from time to time. Aaron has many gems in his Predictable Revenue model but two I’d like to raise right now. The first is that Aaron argues sales people shouldn’t be prospecting. I agree – if the above functions are doing their jobs correctly technically there should be enough inbound to create economies of scale for productivity.

Secondly – Aaron states that sales reps instead of using emails with value props should focus on generating an internal referral. Referrals are without a doubt the best way to start a conversation – particularly if they come from the top level but how do we do this at scale to be in alignment with point 1.

Aaron suggests we use messaging which is short and sweet to generate these opportunities – “Hi, First Name, could you put me in touch with the person who looks after X.”

I see templates flying around left and right in my circle. Some people claim they are the ones he uses – others are customized variants which include personalization. The problem is that due to the success of this method – not only has it become over used,  I believe the bar has been lowered for response rate benchmarks. For instance, in my industry circles I often hear that number 2-3% cited commonly as a response rate indicative of success. From what I recall from the book – Aaron cites a number around 10% as the results he achieved with his campaign. Excluding the fact that these people could be writing poor emails (which I don’t think is true) I believe the falling response rates are an example of market fatigue with strategies like this which seem impersonal and in genuine.

The Solution?

Over the next few weeks I am going to be bringing you bits of advice I have learned – dedicating myself to the practice of cold email over the last 7 years (since I was 17 years old). For today’s example – I am going to accept that Aaron Ross’ method is still a practice which does yield better results than generic sales emails; it is also extremely easy to implement by any firm with a licence for a marketing automation tool and a list. However – I am going to give you a way to improve the cut through of these campaigns by using one thing which you wouldn’t expect –  OLD data.

Introducing the Old Cold Employee Method – OCEM

Taking the above example – the first step is to procure information about someone who used to work in a position/department that you want to sell/market to.

In the past Linkedin scraping was probably the only method but now 3rd party data providers have this data available for purchase so you don’t need to wear the dark hat to execute this strategy.

Once you have the data you will need the following fields –

First Name of Old Employee

Last Name of Old Employee

First Name of Contact

Contact Department

Department Type (i.e. HR/Sales/BD e.t.c)

Company Name

Product Name (Key variable – if unknown put *the business*)

Left within the last year

Using the above fields you then can craft a generic referral message which I GUARANTEE is going to have higher cut through than most messages you are using right now. See below


Hi Dan,

I was trying to get back in touch with Timmy Turner who used to work there at *COMPANY NAME* in *DEPARMTENT* there. From what I recall, we talked at length about *PRODUCTNAME*  within the last 12 months and I had scheduled a follow up but I now see they have moved on. Would you mind putting me in touch with someone in *DEPARTMENT* – is there anything I can do for you in return to assist you with what you are doing in *CONTACTDEPARTMENT*?

Greatly appreciated,



Not only is this example a lot more relatable but it benefits from :

  1. Having specificity around role
  2. Provides context for the email
  3. Cites a previous employee for greater relevance and accuracy
  4. Leverages the reciprocity principal to build rapport and encourage a response
  5. Is a believable story
  6. “From what I recall” removes the burden if an organization has an issues with the nature of the message – as it implies a small level of uncertainty (note. Some organizations may want to be stronger here without concern for telling a white lie – in my opinion it is always best to err on the side of caution. You could always replace this with “We were going to talk.”

Thus using the OCEM – old cold employee method – we are giving a boost to what started as a revolution for outbound professionals and over the coming weeks I will reveal more templates and techniques to yield further responses

Stay tuned for Part 2

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube