Businesses live and die according to their ability to serve their customers’ needs and, often, exceed their expectations. In today’s increasingly crowded and competitive market, providing an exceptional customer experience is perhaps more important than ever before.
Despite the pivotal role that customer care plays in supporting an enterprise’s longevity and growth, too few business leaders seem to recognize the centrality of accessibility to the customer experience. For content marketers, moreover, the failure to prioritize accessibility can have significant and long-lasting repercussions both for the success of the marketing platform and for the well-being of the company.
This article explores the preeminent importance of accessibility in content marketing and describes key strategies for creating accessible marketing content for your business.
As the name suggests, accessible web content refers simply to material that consumers can consume and experience regardless of any physical, sensory, developmental, or cognitive impairment.
Ensuring that all audiences, regardless of any disability or health condition, can access content and enjoy an experience equivalent to that of the general population is the ultimate goal of web accessibility. This generally requires content developers to provide material in an array of forms to meet the diverse needs of the target audience.
For example, you might provide alt text for images, which describes what is depicted in the image. This allows audiences who are blind or have low vision to use screen readers and other adaptive devices without missing out on any of your web content.
One of the most important strategies you can use in ensuring that your web content is accessible is to develop content for a myriad of platforms, channels, and media. For instance, providing closed captioning or transcripts for videos can not only make your material accessible to end-users with hearing impairments, but it can also allow users without them to access your material even in situations where audio playback is not appropriate or feasible.
The result of your efforts to provide materials in a range of media, channels, and platforms is twofold. First, you avoid alienating, marginalizing, or excluding large segments of your target audience, as an estimated 41.1 million Americans have a disability of some form.
Second, when you take pains to craft accessible content, you are also simultaneously telegraphing to your audience — both those with and without impairments — that the user experience is your top priority. There are few strategies more effective for winning the trust and loyalty of your customers than by showing them you care about their needs, expectations, and satisfaction.
No organization is going to be able to meet every need represented in your target audience. There simply is too much diversity of ability and impairment to accommodate everyone, all the time, every time.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t strive your utmost to accommodate as wide and diverse an audience as possible. You should also aim to meet the current accessibility requirements put forth by the American Disabilities Act. This, however, is probably going to require you to do a bit of research to understand exactly who your customers are and how they expect, hope, and need to consume your content.
One of the first and best strategies for understanding your target audience’s accessibility needs is to listen to the voice of your target consumer. There are a plethora of efficient and effective ways to do this. Customer satisfaction surveys may be the most obvious, but you don’t have to end your engagement there.
Connecting with your target audience on social media, through your company’s website, and even in online reviews and discussion forums can provide enormous insight into what you need to craft an accessible, customer-focused, content marketing strategy.
When you’re attempting to define the particular accessibility requirements of your target audience, it’s also important to unleash the power of internal and external data in formulating your accessible content strategy. Internal data is used to evaluate the specific needs and interests of your workforce. This data involves information that is unique to your organization and includes everything from employee engagement to productivity levels.
External data, on the other hand, refers to information that is not specific to your company but that reflects the market, the consumer, and/or your competitors in general. This might involve anything from population data to industry trends.
Taken together, internal and external data can be used to create a holistic profile of your target audience and how you might best ensure their access to your web pages and marketing content. Your internal data might reveal, for example, that employees with accessibility needs are reporting lower levels of satisfaction. Content marketing sometimes applies to current and prospective employees — so this information may be used to enhance internal marketing communication.
External data, on the other hand, may reveal that your website experiences a high bounce rate. You might compare this data point with external data that speaks to the average bounce rate of similar-sized companies in your particular market sector. If your site’s bounce rate is higher than the average, especially among older consumers, this may mean you have an accessibility issue. Your target customer may, for instance, click on your site only to find that the print is too difficult to read or the page is too hard to navigate due to a lack of clickable links, and so they bounce right off again.
Similarly, you could track user activity on mobile devices. Mobile devices are typically more accessible to customers with disabilities. If user activity is low, you may want to optimize your website for mobile users. This is important for all audiences, but it is especially so for garnering loyalty from customers with disabilities.
In today’s highly competitive environment where content marketers must stay at the top of their game to win the interest and attention of their target audience, the importance of making web content accessible can’t be overstated. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to put accessibility at the forefront of your marketing strategy. The key is to do your homework, striving to understand who your customers are, what they want, and what they need.
About the author
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.