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Accessibility in Email Marketing

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If you have experience with web design, you’re probably familiar with the practice of designing content so people with all abilities can access, perceive, and interact with that content. Good accessibility is really just good usability, which happens to be really good for business. For most companies, having a website that meets accessibility standards is generally regarded as a must-have. The same goes for email.

Accessibility by the numbers

People with disabilities rely on accessible content to read email, make purchases, and generally interact with the web. Some also use screen readers or other assistive devices to navigate content and read text aloud. Research shows that people with disabilities bring roughly $225 billion to the consumer market in the United States alone. From a business perspective, this means making your content accessible is well worth the investment.

Where to start

We find that it helps to boil down this broad concept of accessibility to a few core principles that you can use to guide your content creation.

Structure your email properly

It’s important to note that screen readers use HTML page elements to navigate through content, and they read content in the order it’s displayed. Use heading attributes to communicate the hierarchy of your content, and always use a responsive template to make sure your campaigns display properly across different devices. If you use a Mailchimp template, we’ve got you covered—all of our templates are built to be responsive.

Surface your message

When it comes to the actual content of your email, the name of the game is clarity. Use your subject line to tell subscribers what’s inside your email, choose meaningful link text that tells your subscribers what they’re clicking on, and present the important parts of your message in text rather than in images. If you want to dig in a little more, our internal style guide offers some tips.

Use color contrast

We all put thought into the colors we choose for our designs, but it’s important to use sufficient contrast for subscribers who may be color blind. There are plenty of tools out there to help you assess your color scheme. If you have a paid Mailchimp account, you can do this yourself with our Inbox Preview tool, which tests your campaign in different email clients and includes a color blind view.

Use proper alt text for images

Alt text, or alternative text, is usually what comes to mind when people hear the term accessibility. It’s a short description that’s displayed in place of an image when content is read by a screen reader or images are being blocked. Mailchimp’s File Manager lets you enter alt text when you insert your image, or you can add the alt attribute directly to the image tag in your HTML. For more on implementing these practices in your campaigns, check out this article.

The bottom line

Improving the quality of your content, increasing ROI, doing the right thing: there are plenty of reasons to love accessibility. Want to see how it can work for e-commerce? Check out WooCommerce’s blog post about accessibility in online stores.

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