Accessibility in email marketing
As someone who suffers from screen fatigue, I often use screen readers at home to read or listen to my emails and sometimes I really struggle when my screen reader doesn’t recognise pieces of text because the email isn’t set up to be accessible. I feel ignored in the consideration for the layout of the email and I may not be the only one who cannot get the full benefit of the email I’m reading (or listening to).
When someone mentions accessibility they often think of the physical aspects rather than the virtual ones. Virtual accessibility is equally important when considering how to build your campaign, as someone trying to get into a physical location with visual, physical or cognitive and neurological disabilities.
Accessibility in a virtual environment
Accessibility is all about the user experience, it’s not just about ensuring that someone with disabilities can access, read and engage with your content; it’s making sure that everyone can. A positive user experience with your campaign emails can encourage reopens, social sharing, forwarding, and further engagement through clicks and beyond.
Above is an example of a campaign that is not accessible (this is a campaign that we have created ignoring the WCAG 2.0 guidelines). As you can see, there is a contrast of mixed colours, the text decoration (the text colour and font) are not readable), it’s also not mobile responsive.
NewZapp’s 10 tips for an accessible campaign
- Assign alternative text to all your images – this must be a description of the image not a file name, to do this use the image properties tools in your editor
- Using the online campaign link, view your content scaling to see if it is accessible at 150% (Safari: View> Zoom Text Only Firefox: View> Zoom > Zoom Text Only Internet Explorer: View> Text size)
- Check your contrast if you are not using black text https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/ be aware that text decoration (applying colours to text) can be difficult to read dependent on the background of the block or email
- Don’t make the language used in your campaign difficult to understand or read; to check the readability of your campaign, grab the online link from your campaign (by sending it to yourself and select view this email online, collect the URL from your web browser) then visit webpagefx.com/tools/read-able – this will give you a readability score for your campaign
- Create a plain text version of the campaign and attach it to your campaign as a landing page this will mean that you are accessible for all subscribers. You may also wish to use a PDF for your plain text email
- A 50/50 split for images to text is recommended for a smooth user experience, remembering that a good portion of emails are read on mobile devices (also a good split helps with deliverability)
- Don’t use tiny text. We recommend a 13 or 14 pixel text size dependent on the font style in your campaign. We only use web safe fonts in NewZapp, this is to ensure readability across all browsers and devices. Also bear in mind that justification of text can cause issues with spaces being recognised in screen reader or assisted software
- Be mindful that your campaign could be read by a computer program, therefore we advise expanding all acronyms or spacing them (B 2 B) otherwise the screen reader could just try and put the letters together. As a student, I will often use Google Translate to listen to my assignments, I just copy and paste the content in and press the speaker. It really helps!
- Use clear unambiguous calls to action, things like ‘read more‘ or ‘more‘ are not clear when listening to an email as they just blend in to the rest of the text. A command such as ‘click here for more‘ or ‘for more information follow this link‘ are clear actions that the user can take
- Experiment with your own PC/Laptop/Tablet/iPad/phone accessibility options. I actually found that I needed to be zoomed in for my devices to comfortably read emails, web browse and write text. This can help your own user experience and provide you with some insight into others!
If you want to read more about web accessibility, the World Wide Web Consortium (W 3 C) have created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0).
If you fancy making an accessible template you can follow the WCAG guides for colours, contrast, text size and text decoration (font colours). If you want your current template updated or want to design a new template to incorporate accessibility please get in touch with us on 01392 447 200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Marketing Executive at NewZapp