Improve Content Marketing with an Inclusive Strategy

April 8, 2020

Video, mobile phones, social media, and websites ensure your audience has constant opportunities to consume marketed content nearly 24 hours a day — and for good reason. Content marketing generates three times the amount of leads that paid ads and pay-per-click campaigns do, according to Textbroker.

The payoff is worth it for getting your company’s message out to consumers. But those messages are rendered useless if a segment of your audience — consumers with disabilities — can’t access them.

Images are a big deal

Did you know that, after hearing information, people only retain 10% of it after three days? However, throw in a relevant image, and three days later they’ll still remember 65% of the same information.

In HubSpot’s 2020 survey, marketers reported that using posts with photos and images was the most successful content strategy for engaging social media audiences.

Photos and images — they’re kind of a big deal in the content marketing world. They can make complex concepts simpler and are useful for many people, including some consumers who have cognitive disabilities.

But no matter the purpose of your image, it needs to be accessible to everyone, including people who are blind or visually impaired. Images on their own can't be read by assistive technology like screen readers, so you must add alt text. Think of alt text as another text-based way to drive home your message to consumers. Alt text can serve the same purpose as an image — it can capture what you want your audience to know in a succinct text-based form.

Integrating alt text into images provides a couple of benefits for businesses. First, it widens your audience reach because it enables people who are blind or visually impaired to understand the content and purpose of ads, photos, and images. Secondly, it improves search engine optimization (SEO). HubSpot’s survey discovered that placing alt text with images was one of the top strategies used by marketers to improve site performance.

What your audience needs to feel motivated

Eighty-five percent of businesses use video as a marketing device. Ninety-two percent of marketers who use video report that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. And notably, 88% of video marketers say that video provides them a positive ROI. But the purpose of video is lost on audiences who can’t access it, destabilizing crucial marketing strategies for most businesses.

To create accessible videos, content marketers should consider needs like captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions to enable blind and visually impaired as well as deaf and hard of hearing consumers to access content.

Consider this: Say you’re a nonprofit who creates a video about your mission, and you need your audience to feel motivated to donate money or volunteer. Without text transcripts and closed captioning, it could mean lost opportunities and money down the drain. But adding those elements opens up your opportunities to connect with a wider audience.

Accessibility in color

An inclusive content strategy considers color strategy. Businesses should ask themselves whether graphics use appropriate color contrast ratios and color combinations. Color choices must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards.

When colors stand out enough against each other, it allows most people to read the material. Fortunately, it is easy to check color contrast compliance. The a11y® Color Contrast Validator tells you immediately whether your colors pass or fail — just enter foreground and background colors and your color contrast ratio will be generated.

One of the other accessibility basics every designer should know is to not use color as the only visual means of conveying information.

Planning ahead

Content planning is essential to content marketing success. It’s also a great place to incorporate accessibility into your content marketing strategy. When marketers create editorial and social media calendars, it’s a good idea to consider what types of media you’ll want to pair with content and what your potential accessibility needs are.

It’s a harder and more expensive to backtrack and scramble to figure out how to make content accessible. So, why do that when you can prepare to meet accessibility needs from the start (and potentially avoid a loss of business and costly lawsuits)? You’ll increase your audience, improve your company’s reputation with positive marketing strategies, and likely increase sales or use of services.

Further reading: When Is the Right Time to Plan for Digital Accessibility?

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