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The scandal that is B2B email marketing spam | B2B Marketing

Are you sick and tired of receiving and ‘unsubscribing’ from emails you never subscribed to in the first place? Gary Slack laments the sorry state of B2B email spam

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 USA. 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’s not onerous to do.

Poorly targeted emails

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

Then there are other steps some senders require you to carry out in order 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 usually type in the requested phrase plus a few other choice words…

And some even have the moxie to follow up asking why you unsubscribed when you never subscribed in the first place. Moreover, there are senders who give you options to check, with most including a box labelled ‘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’m not feeling charitable. One time a guy simply wrote me back saying, “Hey, email works, just not with you.”

Martech vendors and database sellers the worst culprits

Next up (and this is the really fun part) are 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. Also, every now and then I’ll receive this one: “Since we last spoke…” Or this variant: “When we spoke a while back…”. All very convincing, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’m feeling more and more, it seems, like Howard Beale in the movie


. I just can’t take it anymore.

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 many of the problems stem from the misuse and abuse of LinkedIn. We use the social media platform to make ourselves more discoverable, enriching our profiles all the time, and look what happens. Sometimes LinkedIn-inspired emails are relevant, but much of the time, they aren’t. And it’s at a flood stage.

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

B2B email subject lines: 6 winning examples

Email open rates in the world of B2B marketing are notoriously bad – and while many blame this on poor data sets, we think unimaginative subject lines should also take some of the heat. We spoke to several experts to find out why creating intrigue is so important and why humour shouldn’t just be seen as the domain of B2C.

Read six winning examples

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