The Scandal That Is B2B Email Spam

The Scandal That Is B2B Email Spam

Gary Slack | July 27, 2017

Are you sick and tired of receiving and “unsubscribing” from email you never subscribed to in the first place?

Oh, I sometimes wish I lived or worked in Canada.

Not just due to Trump, but due to Canada's much stricter laws about email. You can get seriously penalized if you send spam.

The reality is, B2B email is at a scandalous level in the U.S. Salespeople galore, from young and untrained know-nothings to older sellers who should know better, are coating the business world in spam, and I for one am sick of it.

I receive at least 10 poorly targeted emails from real people every day, and I can't unsubscribe fast enough. I know many readers may not have the ridiculous patience I do to constantly unsubscribe, which doesn't always work, and too often send tartly worded “tsk tsks.”

Sure, as we all know, most reputable firms generally follow sound email practices, and when I do unsubscribe it is not onerous to do.

But, man, the overuse of that word “unsubscribe.” 99% percent of the time I never subscribed or gave permission to be emailed to, but they have the gall to use that term.

Then there are other steps some senders require you to do to say sayonara. For example, having you type in your email address. Are you kidding me? You’re the one who sent the email. You figure it out. Don’t make me enter it for your benefit.

Yet others require a Captcha exercise to get rid of them. This takes unsubscribing to absurd heights. Then there are those who make you type “Unsubscribe” or “Remove” or “Leave” on the subject line. I will type in the requested words plus a few other choice words.

Then some have the moxie to follow up asking why you have unsubscribed when you never subscribed in the first place. Moreover, there are senders who give you options to check. Most include a box labeled “I never signed up to receive email,” but amazingly some don’t.

On occasions when I'm in an avuncular mood, I’ll send a note back to the sender explaining why their email is little more than spam and why their company should review its email practices. Then, I’ll get a note back from the same people with the nerve to say I've been carefully targeted, followed by another pitch.

Don't even get me started on the nastier (for me) cease and desist messages I send to some of the more brazen senders when I am not feeling charitable. One time a guy simply wrote me back saying “Hey, email works, just not with you.”

Next up and the really fun part:  all the catchy and highly original spam email opening lines. Actually, there's mainly just one, a version of this line: “Hope you're doing well.” I'm sure you really feel that way. Every now and then this line: “Since we last spoke...” Or this variant: “When we spoke a while back...” all very convincing.

I'm feeling more and more, it seems, like Howard Beale in the movie “Network.” I just can't take it any more.

The worst B2B spammers, it often feels, are those who ought to be most concerned about correct marketing behavior: list and database sellers, marketing technology sellers, B2B platform reps, etc.

I have a theory that a lot of the problem is misuse and abuse of LinkedIn. We use the platform to make ourselves more discoverable, enriching our profiles all the time, and look what happens. Sometimes LinkedIn-inspired email is relevant, but much of the time it isn’t. And it’s at a flood stage.

Canada, you're looking better all the time. Glad it's summer.

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