Wait, what do you do?

By Melinda Plemel
Senior Receiver Relationship Manager

I was recently at a big family reunion where I caught up with many relatives, some that I had not seen in more than twenty years. Of course one of the first couple of questions I was asked was what I do for a living. Well, it’s easy to answer that question to people that work in the industry, but to the rest of the world it can be tricky.

Four years ago, when I began working with Return Path, I would describe the company by saying, “We are an email services company. We help businesses get their email delivered to people that want it, and help internet service providers better understand who is a good sender and who isn’t”.

The conversation would continue as follows:

“So you send email?”

“No, we help people that send mail understand how to be a better mailer, so you get less spam”

Some people got it at this point, but most looked at me with a blank expression. Before the reunion, I was prepared with an improved description of Return Path. As my cousins, uncles or grandma asked this time, I replied with, “We are a company dedicated to making the world safer for email. I guess you can call me a spam fighter.”

At this point I generally received two responses. My favorite was the “Oh, YAY!” Clap, clap, clap. “That is great.” The other was, “Well, it looks like you’re losing.” Then everyone ends by asking, “Just, how do you do that anyway?”

Of course I don’t like hearing the second response and it sends me into my defensive mode, but to both responses I begin by explaining how difficult it can be to control spam considering that over 97% of all email sent is considered spam, according to a recent article based from a study done by Microsoft.

Ultimately we are all in this together. The ISPs depend on their subscribers to report what is and isn’t spam to help build their anti-spam network and in combination with Return Path’s reputation services, we can all become spam fighters. I am confident that someday soon we will win.

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