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MailChimp — the email marketing service provider used to send more than 4 billion emails a month, including this blog — recently asked and answered a great question:

If all you knew about someone was their email address, what would you know about them?

After pointing out the obvious prefix clues (John=male, grl=female), John Foreman of MailChimp took a look at the clues a domain name provides. One insight? The account used indicated the age of the user.

  1. Gmail median age: 31
  2. Hotmail median age: 31 (the author attributes this to its Microsoft ownership and tie-ins with xbox)
  3. Yahoo median age: 34
  4. AOL median age: 43
  5. Comcast median age: 49

The links between age and email habits showed up several ways in MailChimp’s analysis. For one, the older you are, the more likely you are to have/be willing to pay for service with AOL and Comcast. Age also influences interest. MailChimp looked at what type of content folks were subscribed to based on their email domain.

MailChimp data shows interests vary by ISP
Graphic courtesy of MailChimp.

This data aligns with Creating Results’ experience in email marketing for senior living communities and with our research into Social, Silver Surfers. We are unsurprised that the older AOL and Comcast users aren’t interested in emails about social networking. Our survey data shows the older you are, the more likely you are to view email itself as social.

Chart - Seniors are most likely to see email itself as a social networking tool.

And, the older adults Creating Results surveyed showed a strong preference for web content related to restaurants — 70% of all respondents said they frequent food/restaurant sites. Our poll didn’t offer “Politics” as an option but it did include “News,” which often has a political flavor.  News was the second most popular category of websites among “silver surfers,” visited by 73% of our respondents over 40 years old.

It’s worth noting (as we do in the Social, Silver Surfers ebook) that Yahoo! and AOL aren’t just email services. They’re portals that provide news, politics, home & garden and even games all in one place.  So we’d suggest many older adults may not see a reason to subscribe to that same content by email.

Marketers, what is your experience? Do you find a higher percentage of Comcast and AOL users in email lists for services targeting older olds? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

RELATED: “Beyond the Blast – the nuts ‘n bolts of email marketing” – 2012 presentation to Planned Giving Group of New England

About The Author

Erin Read

For nearly 13 years, Erin Read spearheaded integrated and digital marketing programs for Creating Results' clients. She directed and co-authored four national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish and three editions of Social, Silver Surfers) and served as the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters. Now a consultant to the agency, Erin is leveraging her expertise in marketing to baby boomers and seniors while tackling new challenges. Find her on LinkedIn .