Notwithstanding personalization etc., email design, broadly considered, is still choreographed toward a relatively homogeneous customer base.
More often than not, businesses happen to willfully ignore the interests of people living with blindness, color blindness, and learning disabilities while designing their email campaigns. As a result, they put their ventures at a disadvantage, both from a legal as well as commercial front.
Today, we the reasons why failing to incorporate email accessibility in your marketing philosophy can hurt your email marketing campaigns. Read on to find out!
Your Business is Not Reaching More People
According to the World Health Organization’s latest report, globally, approximately 2.2 billion people live with some kind of visual impairment. What’s more, in the USA alone, over 40 million people are afflicted with dyslexia.
A major portion of your target audience can be either blind, color-blind, or have dyslexia. Which means some cannot read your email, others will struggle to distinguish the colors in your email, and still others, if your email is text-heavy, won’t be able to perceive it.
If your email design is not also tailored to improve the experience of these subscribers, your campaign is underperforming, no matter your deliverability and open rates.
You are Compromising Engagement and Retention
Why should subscribers continue to engage with your emails if they can’t read them or interact with them? While they might not unsubscribe right away, they will no longer be interested in your emails.
Often, users lose interest in your content because their own interests change over time. You can track your subscribers’ interests and restrategize accordingly.
But where the issue is inaccessibility and you are not aware of it yourself (which is often the case, given that few brands recognize the need for email accessibility), you are wasting your time in trying out mainstream strategies to woo back fallen subscribers.
Inaccessible Emails Hurt Your Conversion Rate
Conversion is the end goal of marketing. Having invested time and money in your email design, you want your email to convert. If a portion of your target demographic is unable to access your emails, what’s the point of it all?
In seasonal branding, for instance, when almost all of your emails will contain special offers and deals, lack of accessibility will severely hurt your conversion rate at a time when customers are primed to convert.
You Blunt Your Business’s Competitive Edge
The age of mass marketing is long gone. Today, it is the individual who counts.
So, businesses strive not only to personalize their messages, but to identify with the core values of their customers. Humane marketing is the fulcrum on which 21st-century branding rests. It is what provides businesses that additional spark. Failing to cater to your customer’s unique needs means losing your edge over your competitors.
Email Accessibility is a Sanctified Right
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (commonly referred to as ADA) has enshrined email accessibility as a consumer right. Over the years, many organizations have had to wrestle with lawsuits due to their failure to abide by the ADA requirements.
In 2019, a blind man sued Domino’s, one of the world’s most celebrated pizza retail chains, over bad site accessibility. Siding with the prosecutor, the Supreme Court wrote, “ [the] alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”
Lack of email accessibility is equally risky. At best, you will be guilty of providing poor user experience. At worst, it will not only bungle your email marketing campaigns, but inflict great damage to your brand reputation.
How to Improve Email Accessibility?
Instead of signing off on a pessimistic note, we leave you with some of the best practices for improving email accessibility.
- Color-blind people will find it difficult to distinguish between colors. Therefore, use colors wisely in your email. Consider using color contrast checkers, such as WebAIM, to create the right contrast.
- Avoid overusing animated GIFs which may cause harm to people with photosensitive epilepsy.
- Use larger fonts. For desktop viewing, the font size should be at least 14 pixels. For mobile devices, we recommend at least 16 pixels.
- Make your email copy scannable by avoiding huddled text. Maximize the use of negative space around, above, and below the block of text.
- Don’t use justified copy. Understand that ‘justified’ plays havoc with the spacing between words, which will make it difficult for people to read. Always left-align your text.
- Consider using the popular Flesch-Kincaid readability test to make your copy more readable to disadvantaged users.
- Your choice of typeface will affect the readability of your emails. So, be extra cautious in that regard.
- Make your CTA buttons unambiguous and large for improved skimming and clickability, respectively. This is particularly suitable for mobile viewing.
- You will be sending HTML emails, so you must use ALT text. Since many email clients block images, the ALT attribute will help your subscribers see your email, especially if they are using screen readers to read it.
- Keep the overall layout of your email simple. Avoid relying on too many tables, images, and columns. Choose single-column layouts over multi-column ones.
Email accessibility is part of your content marketing strategy and is not to be understood in the context of technicality. It has broader implications than that. Legally as well as commercially, lack of email accessibility is a major hindrance to your business objectives. As far as email marketing is concerned, email accessibility is really the foundation of success. No amount of inventive design and copy will work if your emails cannot be read, let alone understood.
About the author
Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing custom email design and coding companies, and specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free responsive HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz and eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.