I haven’t been following AOL for some time until now. Yes, the reason it came to my mind means that AOL has been forgotten. I just opened up an old chapter of “you’ve got mail” from my past.
Well, AOL is no longer a search engine – it’s powered by Google as it boldly remarks on its web page. Instead, it’s a portal. But let’s dig into this.
The first question I had in mind upon landing on the website was: Does AOL want to acquire new users, or do they want to retain their loyal users?
I doubt the latter, because from my humble research through Alexa, AOL users are primarily 45 – 54 year old males. Basically, they are the early adapters of the age of the Internet – those who started using AOL since 14.4Kbps modems were still a world at hyperspeed. Well, the funny thing is, its famous messaging tool with the yellow-running-man – AIM – is popular amongst teenagers and young adults, particularly in the 18-24 year old female group. Now… What on earth is wrong here?
Here’s my point of view.
1. AOL.com needs a makeover. Its dark navy-blue color theme, its cluttered layout needs to be simplified, and brightened up. Maybe people who’ve been loyal users for the past 10 years can find their way around: as for me, wow…. I’m that person who accounts for the high bouncing rate.
2. Target the right audience. What I mean is, if in fact Alexa’s stats are true, stop targeting the 45-54 year old males. That’s not where you want your new traffic coming in. Target the young, bright, tech-savvy, wild, totally viral and buzz-building 18-24 year olds. And yes! They are already your loyal users – AIM proves it!
3. Find a merging point. Find that synergy. Find the touchpoint that lead your young, energetic crowd from AIM to AOL. Social networks are good, but here’s what’s wrong: connecting AOL users to go on their favorite social networks? nah… I wouldn’t go in AOL in the first place. Think the other way around. Bring people in from social networks into AOL. Bring AIM users into AOL. And stop installing search bar tools – they will hate you more for that.
4. And lastly, start targeting traditional channels as well in your marketing- you know, how ’bout college dorms? Maybe a free lanyard can help them from losing their college and fake IDs. Advertising seriously needs a cocktailful mix.
It’s sad to see such a big brand – so big that a movie was made about – become a fogotten and obsolete tool. And do you realize how easy it is to type aol, vs. google or yahoo? Take use of that. Play with the word: An Owl Laughed.
Have some competitions. Make some noizzzzzzzze!