Principles of Accessibility in Content Marketing

No matter your industry, marketers need to understand the importance of accessibility. Accessible content marketing helps marginalized groups to feel seen and empowered by your brand. The last thing you want is for specific groups to feel left out or isolated from your brand simply because of your marketing efforts.

However, not every marketing professional knows the ins and outs of accessibility in content marketing. There are some best practices to follow, of course, but it’s also important to understand the types of content that can help marginalized groups feel included.

Whether your brand has been around for years or you’re a new startup that wants to get your marketing strategy right from the moment you launch, understanding the principles of accessibility should be a top priority. Ensure you’re aware of the main principles, including how you can fluidly and effectively work accessibility into your marketing process. Learn about the different types of content and how they can be made more accessible for everyone to enjoy. Marketing should always focus on content quality over quantity, and you can do that by making sure everyone is able to interpret and participate in what you’re sharing.

Making Changes to Written Content

Written content is the most prominent form of content marketing. Between blogs, social media posts, and web content, the written word is one of the best ways to share what your brand is about.

However, for those living with visual impairments, written content can be a challenge. By optimizing your content for search engines, you’re off to a good start. However, there are things you can do to make the written word more accessible for people that use screen readers, including breaking things down into titles and subheaders.

Clear headings make it easier for readers to digest the information being presented to them in an organized fashion. When your pages aren’t optimized with different headings, screen reader software can only do so much. It will provide text to the individual, but without context or delineation between sections, it will be difficult to understand.

In addition to organizing your content with titles and subheadings, you should keep things clean and clear with formatting techniques, such as:

  • Bulleted lists;
  • HTML header tags;
  • Descriptive anchor text.

If you’re using a single word to direct people to another page or site, it could easily be taken out of context, or even be confusing for a screen reader. Your anchor text should describe exactly what that person should expect when clicking on the words. The more descriptive, the better.

Organizing Your Visual Content

Most marketers know that photo and video marketing are worth their weight in gold. It’s not uncommon for many people to see “wordy” content and gloss over it, only to focus more on the quicker, flashier content from the brand.

The easiest way to make your visual content more accessible is by using alt tags for your images. If you don’t, a screen reader will only be able to say “IMAGE” rather than providing the individual with a description of that image. Alt text should be used to describe images clearly, rather than focusing on specific keywords to boost your SEO.

A good example of alt text for an image is: “Patient smiling with mirror in a dental chair.” A poor example would be “dental office Houston, TX.” It’s obvious to see which one is trying to be helpful and descriptive and which one is keyword stuffing.

When it comes to video content, you should always strive to include similar descriptions of what is depicted in the video. You may also provide transcripts of any spoken parts. That makes the content more accessible to those with a different native language or hearing impairments.

Additionally, some people prefer reading written content rather than viewing it. Offering transcripts or closed captions with each video allows more people to enjoy your content. Just be careful when it comes to automated captions. While they are a good thing and have made videos more accessible, overall, they aren’t always accurate. Luckily, there are captioning services available, or you can provide captions in-house if you have the bandwidth to do so.

Finally, consider universal design when it comes to the overall look and feel of your website and all content marketing efforts. Universal design is a strategy that makes all digital marketing content accessible to everyone, regardless of disabilities, language barriers, or other factors. The principles of universal design include:

  • Equitable use;
  • Flexibility in use;
  • Simple and intuitive use;
  • Perceptible information;
  • Tolerance for error;
  • Low physical effort;
  • Appropriate size and space for each use.

Universal design is important for everyone. No one wants to visit your website and feel overwhelmed or confused because they can’t navigate things properly. However, it’s especially essential for those who are neurodivergent. A neurodivergent individual visiting your website or blog should be able to feel clearly informed and utilize their strengths to easily navigate the site.

Whether you’re building a website from the ground up or you’re making some updates that will appeal to everyone, there are a few tips that can help you along the way. If you aren’t familiar with web design, consider working with a designer who is comfortable and experienced with creating accessible content. Some of the best tips to implement include:

  • Choosing your colors with care, including link and font colors;
  • Installing a site map;
  • Making sure all forms are accessible;
  • Making sure all content can be accessed with a keyboard;
  • Limiting page overlays or pop-ups, as screen readers often can’t grab them.

Installing an accessible-friendly content management system will make it easier to keep things up to date. It’s a worthwhile investment if you haven’t already considered it. However, these ideas should give you a starting point when it comes to what your site should look like.

Inclusive Social Media Marketing

Nowadays, nearly every business is on at least one social media platform, if not more. It’s a fantastic way to connect with your audience, build relationships, and form trust with your followers and fans. Building authentic engagements and interaction is what content marketing is all about, and social media provides that on a daily basis.

With that in mind, it’s incredibly important to make sure your social media platforms are accessible to everyone. A common misconception about content marketing is that it’s all about you and your brand. Instead, you have to consider what your business can offer everyone — and how you can offer it better than your competitors.

When it comes to inclusivity on social media, you can encourage everyone to participate in conversations and engagement by using image descriptions in your posts. While Facebook and Instagram both automate image descriptions, they can miss the mark sometimes so it’s best to make your own. It’s important to note, however, that these two major platforms are doing what they can to make social media more accessible to all.

Instagram, for example, allows you to add alt text to images every time you post. You can even go back and add alt text to your previous posts so your followers can look back on your content with ease.

Finally, don’t go crazy with emojis. While they can be fun and make your business seem more “human” on social media, they often end up as awkward descriptions on screen readers. No one wants to be listening to the content of a post and hear “hands clapping” or “hand waving” at the end of it. It might describe your intent, but it can take away from the experience and leave that person disengaged.

Making Sure Your Content Is Accessible for Everyone

Implementing some of the best practices for accessibility is the best way to start. However, you’ll end up providing more accessible options if you test your content marketing efforts on those who might deal with disabilities or those who are neurodivergent. Accessible content will help you stand out from competitors and show your target audience that you are an inclusive brand.

Think about it this way — if you’re already putting a lot of time and effort into your content marketing, it only makes sense to have the largest audience possible experiencing it.

By prioritizing content that is available and accessible to everyone, you’ll expand your audience and foster a culture of accessibility and inclusivity for all. That will set you apart from others within your industry and boost your word-of-mouth advertising as people start to realize how serious you are about who can enjoy your content. Keep these practices and principles in mind no matter what stage of business you’re in, and you’re bound to see your audience and engagement grow.

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