Email has long been one of the key channels for businesses to communicate with clients or customers, highlighting important information about the business, delivering news of specific interest to existing customers around offers or sales, and allowing for convenient mass communication with specific customer groups.
Ensuring that your email communications are accessible and well thought out can be a key component of successful email campaigns; improving engagement with your email content, improving value for customers (and so improving customer or client retention), and ensuring the channel is an appropriate time investment for your business.
Optimising email content
Ensuring your content is accessible to everyone is the first priority for any email campaign your business runs, regardless of the campaign focus. By focusing on the use of language, avoiding abbreviations, and minimising jargon that might unnecessarily complicate your message, you can create content that is available and easily understood for readers of all levels – as well as devices like screen readers and other physical accessibility tools.
Making sure that your content is optimised to be engaging is the next most important step! Many brands are resorting to gifs or emojis in an attempt to increase engagement, but this can have a huge impact on accessibility; By using a form of language predominantly utilised by specific age groups, your campaigns risk alienating elements of your audience. Assistive technologies may also struggle with these formats, making an email hard to interpret.
Components that have strong visual appeal might encounter difficulty in delivery when being interpreted by a screen reader – or even certain types of email client or browser. Relying too much on quick animation or embedded video may make your communications harder to read and understand, or even easier to ignore despite using a form of content more appealing elsewhere!
Optimising visual elements
Once your coding and content meets best practices for accessibility, it’s time to look at visuals. Aesthetically speaking, a poorly constructed colour scheme or flamboyant and distracting visual layout can undermine all the pre-work done to make email content accessible.
Remember to also consider readers with colour vision deficiencies. While colour is a great branding technique, relying solely on visual representation for brand communications can exclude some of your customer base. A helpful tool to use in increasing visual accessibility is alt text. Alt text is the copy displayed when an image fails to load, offering a description of what visual should usually be there. What is lesser known is that it’s what screen readers use to convey visual elements – Alt text is an important part of every brands’ online communications and should always be used behind images in email campaigns.
The path forward
Steps taken to make your campaigns more accessible may seem minor in workload, but are meaningful in impact. They can go a long way in making an email campaign truly accessible. Keep these optimisations in mind when crafting your next campaign. This will ensure your email campaigns follow accessibility best practices and are inclusive to your entire customer base.