The Untapped Potential of Accessibility in Digital Marketing

Did you know that 80% of people with a disability won’t do business with a brand that doesn’t provide and value accessibility? As a disabled person who has experienced challenges caused by inaccessible accommodations, and a digital strategist who has built a career on data-driven emotive marketing, I leaped at the opportunity to outline the growth potential for brands.

Studies suggest that about 15% of the world’s population has either a short-term or long-term disability, with an even higher assumed percentage if you include those who may remain undiagnosed. With a total disposable income for this population at about $490 billion, there is a significant opportunity for businesses to increase accessibility within their marketing.

But this isn’t just a marketing conversation. Accessibility goes beyond clicks and conversions to impact brand, culture, recruitment, purpose, and value, and has the potential to both drive growth and inspire change. As marketing leaders, we must commit to doing better to ensure the strategy, content, and experiences we design are diverse and inclusive.

User Accessibility Today

It’s no secret the pandemic drove people to find connections online, resulting in a surge in wellness communities on social media. Healthcare companies put forth a lot of marketing efforts to relay wellness information, primarily governed by peer-reviewed research from within the medical community.

Social Media and assistive technology have also unlocked a new group of content creators who were otherwise silenced. Hashtags like #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs have risen in popularity within disability awareness communities.

TikTok’s FYP (For You Page) is a prime example of how social algorithms are helping individuals with disabilities find like-minded people and information. It provides access to user-generated content beyond WebMD and has led to a rise in disability awareness and self-diagnosis in the US. TikTok enabled more equity in the patient voice and grew to be a diverse and accessible network of diagnostic criteria, support, and candid personal experiences.

It’s clear that teams looking to drive successful campaigns, reach untapped audiences, deepen organizational culture, or diversify recruitment efforts should explore the untapped potential of accessibility in digital marketing. After all, what connects people is much stronger than what sets us apart.

Here are some tangible ways brands can expect to see performance gains by embracing accessibility online:

The Power of Choice

The best thing an organization can do for its outreach messaging is to provide users with options instead of presenting decisions. This illustration outlines the cognitive load required by a user to make a decision and as marketers, it’s our job to help lighten that load. Simply put, at my college job scooping ice cream I learned you can sell a lot more ice cream by asking customers, “Can I get you anything else?” rather than “Does that complete your order?” which invites a halting, “yes!”

Drive Personas, Not Pipelines

Conversion pipelines aren’t linear anymore and are driven by personas. Any page to a website can be a front door, so they should be optimized for accessibility standards so users can decipher where to learn or act as they choose their own adventure. Brands need scalable site architectures that map user intent to human behavior. Performance data can’t measure what isn’t currently accessible. Inclusivity exists when secondary and primary research is conducted together to craft pipeline strategies. Website projects that prioritize time for research, discovery, and planning typically result in lower bounce rates and increased conversions because they approach user experience design with greater thought and intention.

Inclusive Experiences

Imagine what could happen if product detail pages were optimized for the kind of preferences disabled communities are searching for. Women contribute to 80% of buying decisions and were not included in testing for the diagnostic criteria for autism until 2013. Autism is a spectrum of sensory processing traits that can positively or negatively affect how people experience the world around them. There is a reason why video is on the rise for eCommerce—it’s because customers want to understand the sensory experience of a product beyond what it looks like. For this reason, things such as influencer demos and interactive product experiences should be prioritized.

We Can All Do More

Everyone can increase access simply by being more thoughtful and intentional when considering user experience which will unlock a positive impact on awareness and engagement. My role as a digital strategist (since I first coded my AOL AIM Page in 2006) has been fueled by a passion for connecting people to technology. As a disabled human, I hope you join me in asking, “How can we uncover opportunities for connection through more inclusive marketing choices?”

New Park Creative is a team of diverse marketers whose biggest superpower is listening to elevate a brand’s online presence. Follow us on LinkedIn for more tips on how to optimize digital strategies for human-centered outcomes.

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