Is your email strategy inclusive?

3 legal and ethical reasons your email marketing should be accessible, and tips for getting there


Consumers on average receive 121 emails per day. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure all recipients are able to view, read and interact with every email they receive and make sure they’re accessible. So what does email accessibility mean? It’s about making sure that everyone can access and read your emails, including people with disabilities who use assistive technology, such as screen readers, magnifiers, joysticks and eye-tracking devices. This extends to a wide variety of issues, from impaired eyesight and hearing loss to diminished cognitive abilities and mobility.

Why should marketers make emails accessible? Consider these three reasons.

Inclusivity for all

Over 1 billion people worldwide, nearly 13%, are affected by accessibility issues. There are 253 million people worldwide who are visually impaired, 320 million worldwide are colorblind and up to 20% of the global population is dyslexic. As it relates to hearing disabilities, 466 million people globally experience hearing loss. By making your email campaigns accessible, you’re demonstrating that you care enough to consider all your potential customers and their specific needs. And, in order to reach people on a human level, email marketers need to achieve the baseline of enabling all consumers with the ability to experience their emails.

Takeaway: Because there are so many different types of impairments, consider how visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive factors affect the way people experience your email.

Revenue effect

By making your emails accessible to more people, you are ultimately growing your customer base. If you’re not currently making your emails accessible, you could be excluding a sizable percentage of your audience, while also missing out on a tremendous opportunity to tap into $1 trillion in annual disposable income. When someone with a disability is able to access your email, they know that your brand puts their needs first. This kind of customer-centric strategy can create a positive “halo effect.”

Takeaway: Don’t walk away from a potentially lucrative segment of the population. Put the human element at the center of your email strategy, and make sure your emails can speak to all people.

Legal compliance

There are legal obligations that come into play. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a civil rights law that “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.” Because technology has quickly become a significant part of the “public life,” the law was updated in 2010 to include “Standards for Accessible Design.” This includes guidelines on making technologies that can accommodate for disabilities.

Another reason to take note is that litigation around accessibility is ramping up. A number of ADA website lawsuits were filed in 2018 alone. Complexity with the law itself has been a particular problem, but accessibility has also become a major focus as a social justice issue. And, since the ADA already provides best practices for website accessibility, email accessibility is potentially the next digital space that could be targeted for legal concerns.

Takeaway: Take accessibility into consideration now, before stricter laws are articulated and enforced.

Achieving email accessibility can be simple if your organization prioritizes the human experience. Brands that are ahead of the game have already taken steps to make their emails more accessible. To learn how to incorporate accessibility practices into your email strategy, download our whitepaper “Achieving accessibility in email marketing.”