You’ve Got Influence! Does Having a @aol.com Address Make You More Likely to Be an Influencer?

Last week USA Today’s Paul Signer wrote about an odd outlier that was discovered when the digital marketing firm Fluent conducted online campaign fundraising research. [See: “AOL.com’s Trump Card,” Fluent, January 19]

“A January study by digital marketing firm Fluent concluded that only 4% of subscribers to political email lists had AOL.com email addresses, while 48% of subscribers had Gmail accounts. But those AOL users accounted for 22% of total donations during the study period — November and December 2015 — with an average donation of $159. Gmail users accounted for only 13% of donations with an average gift of $31,” Signer said.

In 2011, Politico’s Ben Smith wrote about the aol.com email address being a status symbol. The article highlighted some of the nation’s most influential politicos and media types that use AOL.

POLITICS: David Axelrod, Jim Messina, John Weaver, Joe Trippi, Mandy Grunwald, Dick Morris (a recent defector to gmail), Frank Luntz, Ed Rollins, Guy Cecil, Al Franken, Aaron Schock.

MEDIA: Matt Drudge, Arianna Huffington (who was holding onto an AOL account long before AOL bought her company), David Brooks, David Corn, Robert Draper, Rick Perlstein, Ann Coulter, Tina Brown, Lawrence O’Donnell.

From a personal review of my contacts, I can say that the 79 with aol.com email addresses outweigh the influence of any other randomly-selected segment of my contacts. Included in the 79 are a former gubernatorial candidate, foundation executives, non-profit executives, several heads of government relations, a number of current and former state legislators, and a state cabinet head.

There are some likely reasons for this. For example, these individuals likely established this email address 20 years ago or more. This already means that they are at least in their mid-to-late 30’s. Usually they are even older because the fact that they are still using this account means that they were resistant to change when new and better email services emerged. Often this was because they were already doing significant business on their account. As a result, usually you will find that these individuals are mostly in their 40s-60s, which means that they are in the prime age bracket for professional influence.

Also, they didn’t succumb to peer pressure to change their emails when AOL’s hipness ultimately succumbed to other email players like hotmail, yahoo, and then Gmail. They were at a point in their career where they weren’t concerned when articles like “Is Your Email Address Preventing You from Getting the Job You Want?” started popping up.

So next time you hear you’ve got mail and see an email from a @aol.com, you might just want to read it, it could be from someone very important.


Mr. Cirame is the Founder of Cc: External Affairs, Inc.