It’s no secret that barriers exist in the digital world. One billion people around the world live with a disability. However only 2% of websites meet accessibility standards. As more and more information and services come online, millions of users are struggling.
For marketing and sales professionals, tackling digital accessibility is, quite simply, good business. It is not legally required, but more than that, it is the right thing to do. Accessible and easy-to-read digital content can generate more business leads and generate income as it reaches more people. Additionally, many people are more likely to buy from brands that align with socially responsible actions.
In most cases, the responsibility for a company’s website, external communications, and brand reputation rests with the marketing team. This makes digital accessibility a must for sales and marketing professionals.
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How digital accessibility impacts your business
Digital accessibility is about creating an inclusive experience for all users. By improving digital inclusion, businesses improve their reach and protect their brand reputation.
Prioritizing digital accessibility is the right thing to do, both socially and economically. More 61 million adults in the United States live with disabilities, such as vision loss, hearing loss, and learning disabilities. Also, more than 15% of the world’s population has some of the symptoms of dyslexia. These include difficulty reading, poor spelling and writing, or the mixing of similar words. This means that many websites, campaigns and social media posts are not easily accessible or understood by many users.
Accessibility is also a legal obligation. In recent years, the number of web accessibility lawsuits has grown rapidly. In the United States alone, there are thousands of them every year. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all businesses to provide and maintain websites that people with disabilities can use and access.
It is also important to recognize the impact that prioritizing accessibility can have on brand reputation. For marketing and sales professionals, few things are more important than boosting and protecting brand reputation.
Organizations that demonstrate a clear commitment to accessibility and embrace good corporate social responsibility (CSR) are reaping the rewards. 62% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that support important issues. 56% of people are willing to pay more if a company is known for its commitment to social values. Companies are now expected to use their resources to support causes they believe in and support. Demonstrating a commitment to inclusion has proven to be a huge differentiator for many companies in competitive industries.
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Three steps to improve the digital accessibility of your business
Improving the digital accessibility of your business is an ongoing process, but getting started doesn’t have to be difficult.
1: First of all, do your research. Understand the problem. Put yourself in the shoes of your users. It is important to recognize exclusion and its impact. Learn about users who may be facing challenges and the issues they are having online as a result. Try to talk to these users if possible. Ask them where the obstacles are on your website and how easy it is for them to consume your content. Tools such as ReachDeck can help automate this process and report many issues.
2: Second, make sure you have internal support. Improving digital accessibility isn’t just about fixing a few mistakes on your website. Changes need to be made across the business. Consider forming an inter-departmental team to make sure accessibility is always a priority. The team can include content, design, sales, and development people. A cross-functional team will be able to create processes in which:
- Accessibility checks are carried out regularly and any problems are quickly resolved
- The content is readable and accessible, without jargon wherever possible
- Everything is truly user driven with decision making and design
- Accessibility becomes a priority as new initiatives are planned
3: Third, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Identify your biggest problems and solve them first. Create an action plan to achieve your goals. Most importantly, recognize that accessibility is not a one-time fix. It is an ongoing process that must be integrated into the heart of your marketing and sales teams and adopted at all levels of the organization.
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