A Few Strategies on How To Re-engage Old Leads 

Nobody wants to be that person. You know, the seemingly spammy sales pro regularly adding to the deluge of unwanted emails flooding other people’s inboxes. They’re the worst, right? Delete. Delete. DELETE.

But as b2b sales enthusiasts, we also don’t want to give up on the once engaged contacts who are possibly still interested in our businesses (and potentially a purchase or referral down the road).

That said, thawing unengaged, cold contacts sometimes feels like fighting an uphill battle. Particularly when research shows that the average B2B database decays at a rate of 2.1% per month. That’s an annualized rate of 22.5%!

Of course, some of this decay occurs for reasons outside of our control – contact email addresses change due to new jobs or company acquisitions, unqualified leads opt out, and so on.

So how exactly do we go about reigniting stale relationships and cleaning out the cobweb-covered contacts that are contributing to database decay?

Identify the circumstances around each opportunity

Make a list of cold leads and the circumstances around each missed opportunity to inform your strategy. For example:

If the lead dropped out of the funnel because they were busy, you’ll want to make sure to focus on creating stand-out subject lines and providing as much contextual information as possible upfront to save them time.

  1. If there are lingering questions, make a point of providing personalized answers when you reach back out.
  2. If the deal stalled after you sent a proposal or demo-ed a product, address objections or clarify key details to get the deal back on track.
  3. And, if they weren’t interested in moving forward, skip it.

Send a “9 Word Email”

This strategy was pioneered by entrepreneur and online marketer Dean Jackson for warming up old real estate leads. The format is simple.  Use the customer’s first name as the title (‘Steve’).  The body of the email is (roughly) 9 words: ‘Are you still looking at getting [insert] [your] [service]?’  Then sign off with your own first name.

Make Them Laugh

Send a message that adds a little humor or amusement to their day, while remaining on-brand and appropriate.  People like to laugh. Research from Wharton, MIT, and London Business school has shown many business benefits of a little laughter at work.  And it looks like we need it, too! Adults over 35 laugh only 15 times a day, compared to more than 400 times for giggle-happy babies.

Retarget Through Social Platforms

This is always a great option. You can upload custom audiences to retarget your leads where they already are. The benefit of this is that it also increases the likelihood that they will engage with your brand on social media by following your account.

Scan Their Social Media And Reach Out

If leads have stopped responding to phone calls and emails or have otherwise gone cold, you need to provide more value and possibly differentiate your approach. First, scan their social media to see if they have moved to a new company or have a new role. Sometimes small outreaches, such as congratulating them or wishing them a happy birthday, can open up conversations.

Have A Real Person Email A Valuable Offer

Try sending an email from a real person offering something of value. Reach out with a customized email, sending leads to a piece of content that is specific to what we know about them and their needs.

Bait Them With Content

The easiest and most effective way to reconnect, sharing your content can bring your cold leads back into the hot tub. A free ebook, webinar, case study, something that displays your offering’s value is essential in reigniting interest in your products of services:

  • You provide them with proof of the value you can provide
  • You can measure their interaction to frame the next interaction
  • You build trust and brand awareness
  • You continue to keep them interested and engaged

Consider Where You Choose to Make Contact

Particularly in cases where the deal originally fell through because the lead got too busy or forgot to follow up, making a point of “meeting” prospects on their preferred channel can help you cut through the noise and get this deal back on track.

Look into the demographics of your old leads to identify which channels make the most sense for making a reintroduction.

Older buyers might prefer to use Facebook, while Millennials might primarily use Twitter. Depending on industry or role, LinkedIn might be the best choice, here, regardless of which generation they belong to.

Reexamine The Data

Reengaging cold leads can be achieved by reexamining the data associated with them. It’s important to dig deep into the data to identify the right decision-makers at the right time in their buying journey. New and innovative ways to do this today are emerging, such as the powerful combination of intent monitoring and business contact data.

Change Your Question

If you have not received a response to your last email to the lead, have a look at what your close was. Most people, instead of saying ‘No’ to a request they can’t fulfill, simply do not respond at all to save themselves from the awkwardness. To get them back in talking mode, approach with a different, more effortless close.

Extend Your Soft Offer

You’ll never buy a car before taking it out for a test drive. Many of your prospects think the same way about your product. If they are going to invest in it, they would want to try it out first. So, when you feel like your lead is starting to act distant, extend your soft offering.

Lure them back in with a free trial or a simple demo to understand the features of your product. Did you know that in the SaaS industry, many product and service providers obtain 100% of their customers through conversions of free trials to paid subscribers? That’s reassuring data for other sectors too. When your charm stops working on them, pull the big guns out and let your product do the talking.

Pick Up Where You Left Off

Make things easy on your prospects by offering a recap of where things were before everything fell apart. We recommend approaching this as a friendly reintroduction, focusing less on conversions and more on restarting the conversation.

Finding Partners using Cold Emails

If you want to be more competitive on the market, you might have to partner with other companies that serve your audience. There are many ways to do this, but one of the best ways is to use email marketing. The key here is, to be honest, and provide value and show how this arrangement would benefit them.

An email to potential partners can help you penetrate new markets in a fast and efficient way, gain credibility from the get-go and score introductions that you could not easily get on your own.

So how do you write this email?

You have to:

1. Define your target clients

Before doing anything else, you must first define your target partner. Who are you trying to attract? This is an important step because it will define who you will reach out to form a partnership with.

2. Find the right partners

Then, do your research to find the right partners. Focus on industry experts, forums, or companies that already have an established relationship with your target clients.

An easy way to do this is by focusing on products or services that are related to your own. For instance, a landscaping business can think about partnering with home builders or interior decorators. If a potential client has already spent money to build a new home, they will likely be interested in landscaping too.

Make a list of these companies and the names of the founders or someone who handles partnership arrangements.

3. What will motivate them to work with you?

After choosing your preferred clients, you must come up with an offer that you believe your potential partners will be interested in.

Asking partners to help you get in front of their audience should not be a one-way deal. You have to offer something substantive in return. The motive could be as simple as financial gain. In that case, you could work out a profit-sharing agreement that works for both parties.

4. Reach out

Most of your effort should go into reaching out to these partners. That is because your approach could make or break the whole deal.

To start off, use tools like hunter.io or apollo.io to get email addresses for the contacts of these companies.

Ensure your email is personalized – make the message as personal as possible. This increases your chances of getting a reply.

Keep it brief – Make sure to explain the basics of your offer, but limit yourself to a couple short paragraphs. If they are interested they will reply with follow-up questions or call you.

Here’s where we come in:

You’ve learned how to pitch to potential partners, if you need help getting this done, then we can:

Find potential partners that serve your audience.

Find their email addresses, contact information, and personalization tokens.

Craft personalized emails and send them to these contacts.

If this sounds interesting and would like to chat more about it, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

How Do You Plan Your Cold Email Experiments?

Getting a steady flow of leads from your outbound campaigns requires a lot of experimentation.

It’s a lot like the scientific method: You need to hypothesize how to grow, run that experiment, track how it performed, and move forward with winning experiments that reached statistical significance.

Most importantly, documenting what you have learned during the entire experiment – did we get more opens with this experiment, more clicks, more traffic to the website, more positive responses, etc.. This information will then inform your future experiments.

Miro, the Visual Collaboration Tool, had this to say about the Experiment Trackers. I adapted their process for us.


  1. Log all ideas you can think of. This usually starts with “We believe if we do X, we will achieve Y”.
  2. Prioritize them by ease of implementation, which ones can you test right away without significant resources.
  3. Decide WHAT you want to test with WHOM and HOW.
  4. Define which data you want to measure and which targets you need to meet to call it a success.
  5. Take time to craft the experiment and run it.
  6. Run the campaign and periodically update your findings. Distill key insights out of it. Any surprises?
  7. Define how you want to continue: Kill this idea right away, give it another chance with some adjustments (pivot) or continue like is (persevere).
  8. Enjoy the journey

Common challenges and mistakes to avoid.

  • Start with more than one experiment and loose focus
  • Overestimate the success of their solution, keep in mind: If you don’t reach the target you might consider to kill the idea
  • Set the bar too low. A good benchmark for cold email replies are between 1% and 5%. If you need more benchmarks, here’s a list of cold email statistics to use.
  • Are thinking too big creating the first experiment. What is the minimum thing you need to do to learn?

Why Experimenting with your Cold Email Campaigns?

Outbound marketing experimentation is essential. It enables you to evaluate your different methods and make adjustments based on what’s happening. This usually requires getting a pulse on what campaigns were initially done.

Generally, folks would experiment or run AB tests on messaging, subject lines, or even something as broad as how they’re packaging different things.

This is great, but the thing is, it generally not recorded anywhere. All information is stored in the outbound automation tool, which just has the data.

It wouldn’t have enough information on the learnings, what we should do or do not do in the future, and if there was any bottlenecks or unexpected issues arising during the campaigns.

So how do you organize, keep track and learn the things you need to learn in an effective way? In this post we discuss how to organize outbound marketing experimentation with the use of an experiment ledger.

The experiment ledger is typically on an excel sheet (there are also a few tools out there that can do this). You need to be able to track the specific details of the experiment in order to ensure its success.

For example, you need to be able to track what experiments you have already done, what experiments are coming up in the future, and what success looks like for each.

For instance, an experimentation idea can be going after Director of IT with a certain type of messaging and shooting for a 10% response rate and a 2% meeting rate. Getting into these level of details allows you to know for sure what is working and what is not.

Even though we also want to see our stats on opens and clicks, we also have to place attention on the kinds of responses we are getting, who we are actually engaging, what the specific value proposition used, and determine if there are any learnings there.

All of that will be documented in the experiment ledger. This will allow us to suggest a clear path forward for connecting with prospects, at scale, include nuanced insights gleaned from our various experiments, as well as tailored channel strategies to increase response rates.

Why you should not copy email templates online

It’s easy when creating an outbound campaign to rely on our own judgment or other people’s insights into what worked in the past.

We might even fall back on templates found online, “the email that got 300-400 appointments in one day” or “the sequence that saved my company from the brink of disaster and delivered $3 Trillion dollars in sales, download it now!” or whatever Breakthrough Email or Predictable Revenue’s Aaron Ross is “working” now – copy it word-for-word, then wonder why we’re not getting the same amazing results that that company got. The problem is that everyone else is also using that same template.

The truth is, when you’re creating your next campaign, you shouldn’t look at the campaigns of others and do what they do. Instead, you need to do a test and find out what works for you.

You’re unique, special, and no one knows your journey better than you, no one knows the ins and outs, challenges and solutions your company solves, and trying to copy the successful campaigns of others is no guarantee they’ll work for you.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. A solution that requires some work, creativity, and a lot of patience.


Treating each campaign as a test or an experiment. Trying different variations and measuring the results against a predetermined hypothesis.

It would require a lab coat, clipboard, clicky pens, pensive looks, and lots of hmm and aaah. Hmm, Sales Directors w/ 15 years in this game knows the importance of a CRM, lets do a shorter, to the point, discovery messaging to that audience. Aah, more positive replies compared to other campaigns. Pensive look. Que clicky pen and clipboard and measure the number of meetings or positive responses received against your other campaigns and determine if it’s worthwhile to continue that campaign.

Running outbound experiments is a fantastic way to find out what exactly works best for your business, rather than relying on wishy-washy ‘gut feeling’, short is better, long is doom, first line personalizations fad, and general ‘best practice.’