The need for websites and social media networks that offer accessibility features has been a long-standing need ever since the world has made everything more ‘digital’. As a digital brand, it’s important to ensure that you are developing a product or service that can include as many people as offer. When it comes to digital marketing, accessibility is the intent to create an experience that can be accessed by as many as possible. This should be inclusive of individuals with disabilities (such as hearing or sight). Nowadays we are seeing social networks and other web services begin to recognize this trend. For example, Instagram rolled out a new feature in 2018 allowing users to add alternative image text to images posted in the feed.
Recent studies have shown data to support the need for marketers to focus more on this population. In fact, 15% of the population (people with disabilities) represent the world’s largest minority market. 82% of shoppers with disabilities would spend more money online if websites were accessible.
Hearing-Accessible Digital Marketing
The most common accessible marketing technique we see is closed captioning on video content. Doing this is important so that hearing-impaired viewers can reap the same benefits from your videos as those you can hear any narration, music, or other audio information. Both YouTube and Facebook have a closed captioning service embedded in their video uploading mechanisms. Be aware, however, that these automated captioners aren’t always accurate. It’s best to utilize their options to caption the video yourself. If your content is lengthy or you otherwise don’t have the time to spend captioning, online services like SpeechPad will charge to caption your content for you.
Other auditory content marketing like podcasts are also important to transcribe for hard-of-hearing and deaf audiences. Either by writing your episode out as a blog post or a downloadable transcript, this will help reach more people who may have otherwise been unable to benefit from your expertise. For example, we at Go Getter Marketing Group try to always provide a written version of our podcasts that can be read on our blog.
Pro Tip: Whenever possible, use standard HTML for your website content so that screen readers can maintain the structure aloud. Screen readers recognize divided structural elements (i.e. header, navigation, main, footer) and can announce them to the user, allowing for easier navigation on your pages.
Sight-Accessible Digital Marketing
Podcasts and radio advertising aren’t the only avenues to include blind and sight-impaired audiences in your digital marketing. One way to market with them in mind are to make sure your design elements are accessible. People with visual impairments such as color-blindness or low vision may not be able to read ads or images with low color contrast or tiny words. Make sure the colors you use are distinctive and your text is easily legible.
Another tactic to help potential customers who may not be able to see your products is to use the alt-tags feature on your photos. By writing a portrayal of the image in the alt-tags, assistive technology will not only recite your product descriptions to visually impaired persons, but be able to tell them about how the product looks as well.
Pro Tip: A fair number of marketers are known to use alt-tags as another place to boost their keyword count for search engine optimization. While this might look good on your analytics report, this is not helpful to your customers who rely on alt-tags to learn more about your business. This feature for people, not metrics.
Lastly, using images or video content that flashes is inadvisable. Many types of bright, flashing animations or lights can trigger photosensitive conditions in afflicted viewers, such as epileptic seizures and migraines.
Mobility-Accessible Digital Marketing
Some of your brand’s audience may not, due to age or motor impairments, be able to use a mouse or keyboard to navigate your digital marketing materials. What you can do to optimize your website for these users is ensure your operable and navigable settings follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The Web Accessibility Initiative who created these guidelines has regularly updated information and instructions for all stages of the technical web content process: development, content, and end-user.
Pro Tip: To enable keyboard navigation, structure the underlying source code to correctly order the content and navigation. Using CSS can control visual aspects of the elements to do this. Also, make sure to allow users to bypass navigation windows if there are too many links in drop downs. Some key keyboard shortcuts to know are:
ENTER: activates a focused link
SPACE BAR: activates a focused form element
TAB (as known as INDENT): navigates between elements
ESCAPE: closes a focused element
Inclusivity is the foundation of marketing: every customer is valued, no matter their background. Your digital marketing efforts deserve to be seen by everyone! By making sure your brand is reaching all audiences, your products and services can reach optimum success. If you have any other queries about how to improve your digital marketing campaigns, please contact us.