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How to earn customer trust with inclusive marketing

Inclusivity is a marketing imperative. At SMX Next, Kelli Kemery explained how marketers can make their camapaigns more inclusive.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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IndexNow now officially co-sharing URLs between Microsoft Bing and Yandex

Plus, you can now use’s endpoint to submit URLs.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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DuckDuckGo passes 100 billion searches

DuckDuckGo, the privacy focused search engine, keeps growing steadily.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to build a long-term, search-first marketing strategy

A transformed digital landscape means marketers must think search-first.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Word of mouth marketing: how to drive conversations and sales at the same time

Never underestimate the power of positive word of mouth.

Shout-outs. Positive comments. Reviews and recommendations.

At a glance, these might seem like little more than pleasantries for your business.

The reality? Customer conversations are among your most valuable marketing assets. This is especially true for brands in crowded industries (think: ecommerce, SaaS) where it’s so simple to bounce to a competitor.

And despite popular belief, driving more discussions and recommendations doesn’t happen organically or by accident.

With a defined word of mouth marketing strategy, you can create a consistent flow of customer conversations that regularly result in new business. In this guide, we’ll show you how it’s done.

  • What is word of mouth marketing, anyway?
  • The not-so-hidden power of word of mouth advertising
  • How to build a word of mouth marketing strategy: 8 tactics and examples

What is word of mouth marketing, anyway?

Word of mouth marketing represents brand promotion that’s driven by customer experiences and stories. Common examples include product recommendations, reviews and customer photos. These stories and experiences are typically shared organically (think: not paid), although brands can prompt customers to share them as well. 

Although word of mouth marketing is a form of advertising, keep in mind that WOM doesn’t represent an ad or ads. Far from it, actually.

In most cases, word of mouth is totally free. Organic conversations, feedback and reviews can’t quite literally be bought. This is why word of mouth has such a positive connotation: it’s advertising that often occurs without any sort of sales pitch or sleazy tactics.

Gymshark, Threadless and Casper are shining examples of brands that flourished thanks to community-building and word of mouth. Companies with plenty of positive buzz and frequent social mentions grow rapidly in the age of social media.

What are some examples of word of mouth marketing?

Good question! Here are the most common types of word of mouth marketing that consumers encounter in the wild:

  • Social shout-outs. This includes @mentions of your brand and tagged posts.
  • Employee advocacy. In short, this is when employees or colleagues boost your promotions and content on their own accounts.
  • User-generated content and hashtags. When customers share photos of their photos, experiences or purchases. Typically, these posts are attached to brand @mentions and hashtags.
  • Reviews. Either on-site, social media, Google or third-party review aggregators.
  • Blog postspress mentions and earned media. Coverage in industry publications is a powerful form of word of mouth typically reserved for brands doing something truly noteworthy.
  • Brand ambassadors. In short, customers who consistently promote your products and brand in exchange for discounts or products.

There is no “best” type of word of mouth. Likewise, most brands benefit from having multiple types of conversations around their business as they build trust with different audiences.

For example, user-generated content is more relevant to a past customer that hasn’t made a purchase recently. rating or review is most valuable to someone researching a brand for the first time or buying a new product. See how that works?

The not-so-hidden power of word of mouth advertising

To say that word of mouth is an underrated marketing technique would be an understatement.

In fact, recent research from R.R. Donnelly notes that most consumers (28%) prefer to learn about new brands or products via word of mouth (note that social media close behind at 23%).

But contrast that with the meager 4% of marketers that feel that same.

word of mouth marketing statistics

The disconnect here is telling, though. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer to learn about and research products organically via conversations versus being bashed over the head with ads.

But the data above highlights how marketers at large are still missing this.

Translation? There’s a massive window of opportunity for brands that can effectively encourage and leverage positive word of mouth. Consider the key benefits of doing so below:

1. Increased trust and brand visibility

A staggering 75% of shoppers evaluate and discover products via online reviews and shared content.

Although this isn’t a huge surprise, this stat showcases the importance of people shouting you out.

Consider how the volume of conversations impacts your ability to create awareness. This is fairly obvious on social media: the more positive mentions, the better.

But what about product pages? Search engines? Review sites?

All of these represent places to not only establish trust and increase visibility with customer conversations.

For example, ecommerce brands rely on star ratings and positive reviews to convert first-time customers and skeptics. When your product boasts thousands of positive reviews, that trust is pretty much immediate.

goodr reviews


The same rules apply for SaaS brands. Review aggregation sites are crucial for software brands, as is Google search. Again, a high volume of positive ratings results in greater visibility.

google reviews

And on the flip side, ask yourself: when’s the last time you bought something from a brand with no reviews or significant social presence?

2. Make a meaningful impact on customers through authenticity

Keep in mind that in-depth reviews aren’t the be-all, end-all of word of mouth marketing.

Heck, even the simplest of social shout-outs and recommendations are invaluable for scoring sales.

Food for thought: recent research from Bazaarvoice notes that recommendations from everyday social media users (36%) are the most meaningful to consumers, handily beating out influencers and even subject matter experts.

That’s because social comments are unfiltered and authentic. This circles back to what we said earlier about diversifying your word of mouth marketing: off-the-cuff conversations and formal reviews are both beneficial in their own way.

3. Earn long-term brand loyalty

Encouraging conversations among your audience is central to building customer relationships and, in turn, brand loyalty.

There’s a reason why so many ecommerce brands are going all-in on user-generated content and hashtag campaigns that require customers to share photos and reviews — they get people talking.

Look no further than the recent boom of brand ambassador programs as evidence of how well word of mouth works. When done right, such programs serve as a goldmine of content and social proof.

shein ambassador program

How to build a word of mouth marketing strategy: 8 tactics and examples

Perhaps the biggest upside of word of mouth marketing is that any type of brand can get on board.

Regardless of your budget or industry, there are actionable steps you can take to encourage more comments, recommendations and reviews from your customers. Below we’ve broken down eight tactics to try.

1. Boost positive social comments and customer stories

This is probably the most straightforward way to start building a sense of community and driving conversations.

In short, make a conscious effort to integrate customer reposts (think: retweets, regrams, reposts) into your content strategy.

steel series retweeting customers

Doing so represents a low-hanging tactic to highlight that you’re listening to your customers and want to hear from them. This likewise breaks the monotony of purely promotion posts while also saying “Hey, check out our satisfied customers.”

Random photo tag? Someone share a positive review? Boost it!

2. Extend your brand’s reach through employee advocacy

This is especially important for B2B brands.

If you’re posting solely from a brand account, your reach is largely restricted to our own followers.

But if you have your employees boost your content, you’re immediately reaching an exponentially larger network.

word of mouth marketing with ugc

Think about it. Ever notice that a lot of brand content on LinkedIn doesn’t rack up a ton of likes and shares? Seems like personal counts get the most love, right?

Whether you have just a few or a few hundred employees, investing in an employee advocacy program is a surefire way to introduce your brand to more players in your industry. As an added bonus, employee advocacy is an example of word of mouth marketing where your brand has a sense of control over conversations and comments.

Check out Bambu by Sprout if you’re interested in getting your employee advocacy efforts off the ground!

3. Actively gather and and curate user-generated content

While big-box brands can generate user-generated content by simply existing, up-and-coming brands need to actively promote their company #hashtags and customer photo campaigns.

Likewise, you can’t be shy about asking people to share photos and feedback. If your tags are underperforming or you want to increase the visibility of your UGC, consider:

  • Feature a hashtag (and call-to-action) in your bio (think: Instagram, Twitter) encouraging people to share photos
  • Include invitations for customers to promote hashtags on-site, in-person and via email (see an example below)
  • Regularly publish and repost UGC as part of your content calendar (circle back to tactic #1)
encouraging ugc via email

4. Monitor mentions and respond ASAP to keep conversations rolling

When word of mouth ramps up, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

Sure, conversations with customers are awesome.

But when they start flooding your @mentions and inbox, you have to start prioritizing tasks and making sure you’re responding accordingly. After all, your responses highlight your brand voice and likewise signal that you want to hear from your customers.

Other priority tasks to take care of as you keep an eye on your mentions include:

  • Responding to all customer questions, comments and concerns
  • Defusing difficult situations and negative comments (hint: escalation management)
  • Keeping track of your conversation history so you can build better relationships with customers

This is where a tool like Sprout Social can help in a big way. With our Smart Inbox, you have a bird’s eye view of all your social media mentions and messages across all platforms. You can also measure your average response time and make notes on specific customers.

Sprout Social smart inbox

5. Ask for reviews and recommendations directly (hint: provide an incentive)

Fact: 41% of shoppers say that “robust” online reviews (featuring photos, keywords and more) are important for a positive shopping experience.

As noted earlier, a lack of meaningful reviews is a red flag for new customers. Getting more reviews not only represents positive word of mouth but also a proven way to gain trust.

Much like UGC, sometimes scoring reviews is as simple as asking. Ideally, this can be done non-intrusively via email. Many brands implement post-purchase autoresponders to ask for reviews by default, meaning that each purchase is a potential opportunity to earn a much-needed review.

But how you ask for reviews matters. Beyond putting on a smiling face, also consider additional incentives (think: discounts or free shipping). Your customers’ time is valuable and sweetening the deal is worth it if it means a rave review.

review request email example

6.  Assemble your army of influencers and brand ambassadors

Although most word of mouth marketing is focused on organic engagement, don’t neglect the value of influencer marketing.

Having influencers shout out your product or give it a review not only introduces you to a new audience but once again serves as social proof. In fact, recent data shows that reviews are actually considered “the most valuable type of content” that influencers publish. Chances are there are relevant influencers out there that’d be the perfect fit for your brand.

If you already have a dedicated customer base, you might alternatively consider starting your own ambassador program. Doing so does require an investment of time as you manage relationships with your ambassadors. That said, fostering a community of people that already love your product is easier than reaching out to influencers cold.

7. Provide customer service that overdelivers

It’s been proven time and time again that social customers will show unprompted love to brands that provide stellar support and service.

For example, brands like Sweetwater and Chewy are regularly praised and put on a pedestal for regularly going above and beyond for their customers.

Remember that customer service and word of mouth go hand in hand. Stepping up your response time and personalizing customer care can cement your positive reputation.

8. Run campaigns that are actually worth talking about

Piggybacking on the point above, word of mouth promotion isn’t something you can force.

Instead, you encourage it.

And what better way to get people talking than actually doing something that gets people buzzing? We’re not talking about PR stunts or viral marketing attempts, but rather:

  • Launching a genuinely unique or high-remand product
  • Running a creative campaign or giveaway
  • Promoting a steep offer or sale

We get it: “just do something awesome” is easier said than done. Even so, injecting a bit of excitement and creativity into your social content can go a long way.

What does your word of mouth marketing strategy look like?

Listen: word of mouth should be a top priority for any business today.

But this is particularly true if you’re selling through social media.

As consumers become wary of ads and seek out authentic recommendations, word of mouth becomes even more valuable. Ask yourself: what does your strategy look like?

If you need more inspiration or are looking to build a tight-knit community that talks up your business, make sure to check out our guide to building customer relationships.

The post Word of mouth marketing: how to drive conversations and sales at the same time appeared first on Sprout Social.

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How to Get Verified on Instagram: The 10 Essential Steps

For brands and social media creators on Instagram, getting verified is the greatest form of validation. Securing that “blue tick” not only validates your authenticity, it gives you more control over your online presence by ensuring your profile is the only one representing your brand.

Now, getting Instagram verified is not easy, and it’s not something that everyone is able to do. But if you want to earn this recognition, this article will guide you on how to successfully apply for and receive the coveted verification badge on Instagram.

Let’s get started.

What does Instagram verified mean?

In Instagram’s words, getting verified means that the platform has confirmed your profile as “the authentic presence of the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents.”

So, if you come across an Instagram account that has a blue tick in their bio, it means you’re looking at the official account of that brand or personality, as opposed to a fake, unofficial or fan account.

Here’s an example of Netflix’s Instagram profile showcasing the blue verified badge:

Brands like Netflix showcase Instagram's blue verified badge.

Instagram’s verification badges help brands and creators stand out, look credible and avoid getting impersonated. At the same time, they help Instagram users find the right profile when searching for their favorite brand or personality.

To qualify for Instagram verification, however, you need to meet certain criteria.

What are the requirements to apply for a verified badge on Instagram?

Anyone can request verification on Instagram, but you need to meet certain criteria to get approved for the blue tick.

Although the exact process and requirements for getting a verification badge on Instagram are unclear, the platform offers some guidelines to help you find out if you’re eligible.

First, make sure you’re adhering to Instagram’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Use. Other than that, your account also needs to be:

  • Authentic: Your account should belong to a real person, business, brand or entity.
  • Public: Private Instagram accounts are not eligible for verification.
  • Complete: Your profile should have a bio and photo, and you must be active on the platform. We have a whole guide on how to create an Instagram business profile, if you need to get started.
  • Unique: Your account must be the only one representing your unique self or business. Instagram does not verify multiple accounts for the same person or business. Also, general interest accounts are not eligible, only individuals or businesses.
  • Notable: Your account must represent a publicly known, highly-searched for person or business that has been featured in multiple, authentic news sources. Paid or sponsored media sources do not count.

Keep in mind that there’s no exact number of followers you need to have to qualify for a verification badge. Whether you have 100,000+ followers or less than 10,000 followers, you can still apply if you meet the criteria noted above.

Also, note that even if the Facebook Page that’s linked to your Instagram account is already verified, you will still need to apply for a verification badge on Instagram.

How to request verification on Instagram

  1. Log into your account and navigate to Settings from the menu on the top right.
  2. Inside Settings, click on “Account” and select “Request Verification.”
  3. Complete the required fields and then hit send to start the review process.
Side-by-side screenshots showing where to and how to apply for Instagram verification within your Instagram account settings.

As Instagram states, just because your account may be eligible for verification doesn’t necessarily mean it will be designated as such. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed timeline for when you’ll be notified whether or not you’ve been verified. But if denied, you’ll have to wait 30 days before attempting to request verification again.

10 Helpful tips for getting verified on Instagram

If you’re ready to apply for verification on Instagram, we’ve got some tips you can implement to increase your chances of scoring the blue badge.

If it doesn’t work out, or if you decide not to go for the verification process, you can still find success on Instagram in general by keeping these best practices in mind.

1. Complete your Instagram profile

One of the ways Instagram verifies your identity is by looking at your profile.

Make sure your profile is 100% complete by adding a well-written bio and a profile photo that represents your business, brand or self. For example, you can add your company’s logo to the profile photo, and your brand’s tagline and website in the bio.

Brands like Equinox fitness showcase the blue Instagram verification checkmark.

Ensuring your profile is complete and authentic can also help you build credibility to your audience, which is a great way to get more followers, engagement and media attention.

2. Build your social profiles

Establishing a strong following on other platforms can help make your Instagram account appear especially genuine.

For instance, there are strong links between Twitter and press announcements. Use that to your advantage! When your name appears in the news or media, use that exposure to build your social profiles and following.

How do you get more followers on Instagram and other platforms? Try these tips:

  • Build your personality with a consistent voice and theme: A lot of brands try a shotgun approach to connecting with their audience. However, it’s much easier to make a strong connection with people if you show your unique voice online.
  • Post frequently and consistently: With any social network the more active you are the more likely you are to convince people to engage with your account.
  • Develop great content: Just as you’d post great pictures on Instagram to improve your following you should be developing insightful content for your other channels too. Find out what your followers are looking for from you and adhere to their needs.

3. Look out for impersonator profiles

While claiming that your identity is at risk might feel a bit like crying wolf–this tip actually comes straight from Instagram:

“Accounts representing well-known figures and brands are verified because they have a high likelihood of being impersonated.”

Your verified badge sets you apart as the one-and-only you. It builds trust in your followers by letting them know that they’re not following a random impersonator. People want to know that they’re following the real deal.

Birchbox's verified account status helps ensure users they're following the right account.

Letting Instagram know that you’re at risk of being impersonated may help push them to act.

4. Stay active on your account

This may seem obvious but you’ll likely never be Instagram verified if you don’t actively use the platform. When admins come to see if you’re worth Instagram verification they’ll be looking for regular activity. If you’re not using the platform, there’s no benefit in initiating the verification process.

It goes the other way, too. What’s the point of verification if you’re not active on Instagram? To improve your chances of getting that blue Instagram verified badge:

  • Stock up on great photos: Instagram is all about aesthetics. Influencers earn followers because they know how to appeal to their audience. Find out what your followers like to see on your page and get snapping.
  • Take advantage of Insights: Head to your Instagram business page and use your Insights to plan content that resonates with people on your feed. Make sure to post at the time when your followers are most active. Use third-party tools like Sprout Social to learn more about your social followers and adjust your campaigns.
  • Engage with your audience: Don’t forget to spend time responding to comments, liking posts and exploring relevant hashtags. Engagement is key on any social platform.
Screenshot of Sprout Social's Engagement Report and your brand's personal response rate.

Sprout’s Instagram Audience Engagement Report provides detailed insights into trends, hashtag usage, likes and other engagement metrics. This is critical for any brand trying to make analysis easier across accounts or brands.

5. Boost your earned media

Want Instagram to give you that seal of approval? Show them you’re worth it.

Google yourself to see what comes up. Nothing? Fix that, because if you don’t have a widely recognized brand, there’s nothing to verify.

Remember, it’s not an algorithm deciding who should get a blue button on their Instagram account. Real people review every request manually and they likely head to search engines like Google to see what comes up for outside credibility.

Ultimately, figuring out how to get verified on Instagram involves putting in the work before you make a request.

It’s tough, but that’s why verification badges are so highly sought-after.

6. Don’t try to buy an Instagram verification badge

The only way to get verified on Instagram is to apply through the app or via Facebook’s media partners. Don’t try to take any shortcuts, like buying your way in.

Trying to purchase a verification badge is not only ineffective and a waste of your money, but you can get penalized for violating Instagram’s community guidelines.

For instance, providing any false or misleading information during the process can get your account removed from the platform altogether.

Instead, try to get more real Instagram followers by creating engaging and useful content. While there’s no proven correlation between a high number of followers and getting verified on Instagram, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Plus, the more followers you have, the more likely you are to become notable and talked about on authentic news or media sources.

7. Remove Any Cross-Platform Links From Your Bio

According to Instagram, verified accounts are not allowed to encourage users to add or follow other social media profiles in their bio, such as Facebook or YouTube.

However, you can still add links to your website, landing page and other web pages in your bio. Think of the Instagram link in bio as another strategy avenue to drive traffic to multiple campaigns, profiles or sites.

Brand's like Nature's Path Organic showcase a custom link in bio to drive traffic to multiple landing pages.

Avoid adding cross-platform links that promote your other social profiles to increase your chances of getting verified on Instagram.

Alternatively, be sure to add links to your Instagram profile on your business’ website, in marketing emails or on your other social media profiles. While it may seem hypocritical to avoid cross-platform linking on Instagram, using your other social profiles to link to you Instagram shows validity in your profile ownership.

8. Improve your searchability

One of the key requirements for getting verified on Instagram is to be well-known and highly-searched for. This means you need to be more active on the PR front and try to get your name out there organically.

For example, you might want to publish press releases for upcoming company announcements or product launches. Instagram does its own research, so applying when your name has recently been in the news can fire up your chances of getting verified.

Another thing you can do to get verified faster is to optimize your posts with branded hashtags.

This can help you appear in organic searches and on Instagram’s Explore page. The more searchable you are, the more likely you are to get verified.

9. Personalize your posts

Creating and maintaining an account that is unique and authentic is extremely important for getting verified on Instagram.

That’s why we recommend personalizing your posts to help you differentiate your account from impersonators.

For example, you could adopt a specific brand voice, visual style, feed aesthetic, content theme or hashtag strategy that’s unique to your account and difficult (or impossible) to replicate.

Other ways you can personalize your posts? Share behind-the-scenes content to give your audience an inside look at your brand! Who else would have this type of unique content besides you?

Alternatively, encourage followers to tag you in posts to increase brand awareness and engagement through user-generated content (UGC) or branded hashtags.

10. Hire a publicist or agency to help

If you’d rather hire someone to help you with the process, look into a professional PR or digital agency that has access to Facebook’s Media Partner Support tools.

They will be able to submit requests for verifying your account, claiming usernames and merging accounts on your behalf through the industry-only portal they’re able to access.

Keep in mind that the method above is a legitimate source of assistance on the process, unlike “buy” or bot tools that provide you with artificial likes, engagement or verification in exchange for money. So while there’s no guarantee that a digital agency will be successful in your IG verification, it can increase your changes.

Losing the verification badge or not getting verified on Instagram

Even if you do get verified on Instagram, know that you can lose that blue tick. This is usually the case if you fail to follow Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, or if Instagram finds that you provided misleading or false information ini your verification application.

To keep your verified status, make sure you play by the rules, stay active on the platform, publish unique and engaging content and keep your account public at all times.

If you fail to get verified for any reason, you can re-apply for verification after 30 days.

If you’re still unable to get verified or aren’t eligible for applying, continue to use these tips outlined above to guide you to demonstrate your authenticity and build credibility in front of your audience.

Remember, getting verified is just the tip of the iceberg. Building an audience, establishing your credibility and demonstrating authenticity takes time. It’s a long-term strategy to regularly engage with your followers and produce unique and helpful content. And by doing so you’ll hopefully earn and keep your verified status on not just Instagram, but also any other social media profiles.

Is getting Instagram verified worth it?

There’s a lot of planning and effort involved in Instagram verification, so make sure you have a good reason before you get started. Fortunately, there are plenty of benefits to being verified, from better brand credibility to a stronger social search presence.

IG verification differentiates you from the crowd and makes it easier for you to reach the people that matter most to you. Used correctly, it makes you more trustworthy on social media and boosts your conversion rates. All you need to do is show that you’re worthy.

Still looking for ways to boost your Instagram strategy? These tips on what to post on Instagram can help guide you.

The post How to Get Verified on Instagram: The 10 Essential Steps appeared first on Sprout Social.

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Amazon Sponsored Products: Advanced Practices for 2022

Using Amazon Sponsored products is a great way to build a profitable business. Here’s how you can use sponsored products to take your businesses forward.


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Secure Your pass to Hero Conf with an Exclusive Discount for Readers!

Enjoy 10% off your Hero Conf pass with this exclusive Hero blog readers discount code.


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A must-have web accessibility checklist for digital marketers

30-second summary:

  • Accessibility underpins stellar user experience and positive brand perception, the key factors that appeal to value-driven consumers
  • According to WebAIM, 98 percent of US-based websites aren’t accessible
  • Though not a sparkly aspect of digital marketing strategies, there are multiple layers to “why?” and “how?” brands must be accessible across the internet

Marketers develop and execute numerous strategies to broaden their business reach. But one critical factor that most marketers neglect is web accessibility. And this neglect leads to their business being closed off for a large majority of potential customers.

What is web accessibility?

Web accessibility ensures that the internet is accessible, usable, and beneficial for everyone alike. It considers all possible disabilities to ensure marketing messages are delivered to every kind of audience and get the most value out of the website.

As important as it may seem right now, web accessibility is often the last thing marketers think of when building a website. And then, too, it is often brushed under the rug.

Despite the World Wide Web Consortium, commonly known as W3C developing dedicated web content accessibility guidelines to make the internet more accessible, digital inclusivity remains a rarity.

And this unfortunate reality acts not only as an accessibility barrier, but a growth barrier as well.

The value of web accessibility in modern marketing initiatives

Acknowledging and adopting web accessibility enhances the customer experience, opens new doors for your business, uplifts marketing outcomes, and boosts revenue in more ways than just one.

1. Extends your market reach

15 percent of the world’s population is disabled and belongs to a highly valuable market segment with strong spending powers.

With a digitally inclusive web presence, your business interacts with an increased volume of people who it would’ve missed otherwise. In this way, web accessibility brings a whole new community of prospects you can interact with, win as customers and boost your revenue.

2. SEO benefits

Search engines prefer to rank websites that are secure, accessible, and valuable to all kinds of users. Moreover, they perceive digitally inclusive websites as authentic sources of information and favor them in rankings.

As a result, enhancing web accessibility undeviatingly supplements your online marketing with an SEO boost, helping you get to the coveted top position in SERPs. It opens another channel for web traffic that connects you with your target audience.

3. Enhanced user experience

User experience is at the heart of your digital presence as it relates directly to conversions. The basic principle of UX optimization dictates that you research what your target audience wants and deliver it.

In the case of differently-abled audiences, it’s common sense that they would want you to deliver a website they can interact with and benefit from.

By optimizing your website’s accessibility, you boost its usability which is a core element of user experience.

If all other elements of UX are optimized, enhanced usability wins customer satisfaction and gives the prospect a final push towards conversion, contributing to your revenue.

4. Positive brand perception

Web accessibility enables your brand to appear as a strong advocate of digital inclusivity and works to build positive brand perception. Now isn’t that a critical outcome of modern marketing?

Today where people seek a business’s values before engaging with it, a concrete stance on digital inclusivity reflects your values of empathy, compassion, and equal opportunities for all. This builds your community of like-minded people who then contribute to your revenue.

Five-point checklist to get started with web accessibility

For maximum effect, web accessibility should be considered a priority rather than an afterthought and must be included in your digital and marketing strategy.

Following are a few ways through which you can uplift your digital inclusivity and leave a larger impact:

1. Multilingual SEO

Web accessibility not only aims at eliminating accessibility barriers for people with permanent, temporary, or situational disabilities. It also removes linguistic barriers, so people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds can have equal access.

Given that English is spoken by a meager 4.83 percent of the world’s population, multilingual SEO eliminates linguistic barriers and helps searchers from all linguistic backgrounds to benefit from the internet.

Here’s a guide I created on multilingual SEO to get you started.

2. Voice search

The introduction of smart assistants such as Alexa has pioneered a new era of voice search ubiquity and the consequent web accessibility.

As an excellent avenue to pursue for businesses looking to be more digitally inclusive, voice search unlocks your website’s chances of interaction with people who cannot search the conventional way.

Here are some best practices to optimize voice search SEO:

  • Use long tail keywords that are specific, descriptive, and natural for users’ language
  • Serve up content that gives direct answers
  • Optimize your ‘Google My Business’ account
  • Create voice search FAQ pages
  • Implement schema which is a code that you can add to your website that improves search visibility

For more depth, check out this voice search SEO guide for trends and best practices.

Example of schema that improves web accessibility
Example of schema that improves web accessibility

3. Alternate (Alt) text

Alt text helps visually impaired visitors understand what a web image depicts. Hence image optimization allows web visitors to absorb the information your website offers in its totality and ties back to enhanced user experience.

Tips for using alt text:

  • Keep it descriptive and keyword specific, this will show up in case your page loads slow or if there was an audio description needed
  • For ecommerce sites, make good use of structured data to give the search engine more specific details about your products’ color, type, size, and a lot more

If you need more details, here’s an evergreen image optimization guide.

4. Hierarchical organization or content using H tags

Hierarchical layout shapes your web content in an easy-to-read structure. A critical part of web accessibility (and SEO), a hierarchical organization can make your website usable and understandable for users with certain cognitive disabilities and people with short attention spans, boosting their satisfaction and your websites’ overall UX.

Check out this guide on optimizing meta tags.

5. Color contrast

Color contrast involves adjusting the color of foreground web elements (for instance, fonts) against the color of the background elements to ensure that the foreground elements, which bear value, stand out and are easily readable for people with visual impairment.

The Bureau of Internet Accessibility has identified a color contrast ratio that ensures that your website is visible and readable for people with color-related visual impairments.


Web accessibility is a necessity, but unfortunately, it doesn’t get the same limelight as other digital marketing avenues that promise increased reach, better perception, and higher revenue.

This reality can work in your favor if you capitalize on the lack of web accessibility and gain a competitive edge by adopting digital inclusivity.

There are numerous marketing benefits of web accessibility, most significant of which may be the development of positive brand perception in an era of value-driven shoppers.

Inclusive marketing initiatives are commendable. But they are only valuable when backed by conscious efforts of enhancing your business’s digital accessibility. So, endeavoring to actualize web accessibility strategies can help you become the pioneer of an internet era where digital inclusivity is a priority.

Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist, having interests in doing websites/apps optimized for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

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The post A must-have web accessibility checklist for digital marketers appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to Make Your Email Marketing Campaigns More Accessible

Not everyone reads emails in the same way. Some people may use dictation or magnification to consume your email, while others may only see grayscale or certain colors.

It’s important to make your emails accessible so anyone can read them, regardless of disability. Plus, an accessible email is also valuable to many other people in your audience.

Headers and appropriate colors make emails easier to read, image ALT tags help out people experiencing low internet bandwidth, and simple fonts keep readers focused on your content.

Good news. It’s easy to make your emails accessible. Simply consider color contrast, screen readers, and ADA compliance when you’re composing your emails. 

Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the process. 

But first, let’s examine why accessibility in email marketing matters and some best practices for making all your emails accessible. 

What is email accessibility?

In a nutshell, email accessibility means crafting email content that people with disabilities can understand and interact with. Accessibility for differently-abled customers is just one of the ways you should be adopting diversity and inclusion practices in your business model. 

To create accessible emails, you first need to understand the ways people are reading them. Many people use tools to help them, also known as “assistive technologies.” 

Some common types of assistive technologies include:

  • Screen readers, a type of software interface that allows visually impaired users to navigate digital tools like email by reading text aloud or converting text into Braille 
  • Magnifiers, an accessibility tool that makes text large enough for visually impaired individuals to see
  • Joysticks, a tool that can be used instead of a mouse for navigation
  • Eye-tracking technology, a tool that allows people with disabilities to control their computers and devices with eye movements
  • Sip-and-puff technology, another accessibility tool used for control and navigation through inhaling and exhaling 

See how a screen reader reads an email

Why is email accessibility important?

It’s important to make your emails accessible to every current and potential customer. Here’s why:

Ecommerce is likely an important source of sales for your business. In fact, ecommerce makes up 40% of retail sales — how much of your business depends on online sales?

Email marketing is an integral part of growing and facilitating these online sales. After you make a sale, your customers expect order and delivery confirmation emails.

All of your customers need this information, but they won’t all read your emails in the same way. That’s why you need to make them accessible in every way someone may consume the email content.

Keep in mind, email is also one of the best ways to get previous buyers to purchase again — driving up to 20% more sales.

In the US there are 61 million adults living with a disability — that’s about 26% of the population. If your email marketing isn’t accessible, then your company could be mis-serving a large portion of their customer base.

So how do you serve everyone? Well, start by following ADA compliance and PCI compliance standards to stay out of legal trouble. You should also consider the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG).

Read on: We’ll cover the basics.

Email marketing accessibility best practices

According to WCAG, in order for content to be accessible, it must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. That way, people with disabilities like hearing and vision impairment, physical immobility, and other disabilities can interact with it. 

Here are three important ways marketers can implement accessibility best practices today:

1. Use accessible typography (colors, fonts, etc.)

Colors are often used in marketing materials to convey certain meanings, but not all people can distinguish between colors or see color at all. 

Color Blindness affects 300 million people worldwide, so it’s important that marketers don’t rely too much on color to convey their message. Instead, you can place more emphasis on the font and font size.

Color is just one example of how you should consider typography, aka the style and appearance of your text.

Here are some other ways that marketers can make their email text more accessible:

Use simple fonts

The most accessible fonts are Tahoma, Calibri, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman. Learn more about the most accessible fonts.

Simple vs complex fonts

Break up large sections of text with images

Image vs no image around text

Align your copy to the left

Rather than the center or right. Screen readers are better at reading left-aligned text in a comprehensible way.

Left aligned text vs center aligned text

Create clear spacing

Create clear spacing around your lines, letters, and paragraphs. For example, your line height should be 1.5 times the font size. Learn more about accessible spacing for your text.

Spacing vs no spacing with email text

Plain text

Include a plain text version of all of your email communications (in AWeber, this is included and can be automatically created or manually edited).

An example of a plain text email

2. Create accessible content

Text color and font are just the beginning of creating content that is accessible. Next, it’s time to look your GIFs, videos, and images and how their text content is delivered. 

For example, don’t add important text to your videos or images — many screen readers won’t be able to read it. Then the person consuming your content via screen reader will miss out on something potentially important. 

Would you want to miss a sale because your sale code was hidden on an image?

Even without words in your images and GIFs, it’s important to use alternative text (ALT text) that clearly explains what the photo/GIF is about. This way assistive technologies can accurately describe what’s being shown.

Pay attention to your links, too. Anchor text (the words you link) should be descriptive enough that people with disabilities can easily identify where the link might lead them. Don’t use ambiguous phrases like “click here.” 

It’s never really a good idea to use links in headings and subheadings, but especially not from an accessibility standpoint. It can be difficult for screen readers to understand, and that information could end up getting left out. 

Here are some other things to consider when creating accessible content:

  • Avoid giving instructions that must be seen or heard in order to be followed
  • Provide clear, direct CTAs and simplified explanations for complicated terms
  • Follow a logical structure to optimize readability, where each point you make clearly and logically leads to the next point 
  • Create descriptive and specific subject lines

3. Use drag-and-drop features to create customizable emails

Creating accessible emails is as easy as using the drag-and-drop features like what AWeber provides. The elements that you can utilize in the drag-and-drop indicate content hierarchy and other factors that allow assistive technologies to accurately relay information. 

You can further customize your emails by including unique graphic design elements related to your brand in your emails as well. These elements could easily be created using a graphic design platform such as Canva

GIF showing how Canva and AWeber work together

Email accessibility test

There are many tools available for marketers to test email accessibility, which becomes even more important once you start messing with different customization and drag-and-drop options. 

Testing your email for accessibility can help you and your developers learn how to improve future email campaigns and create more accessible content. 


Crafting accessible email marketing campaigns can help increase your ROI by allowing you to reach a more diverse audience. 

However, email accessibility is about more than just money. It’s about creating a brand that is focused on inclusive practices and improving user experiences for all of your visitors and contacts. 

There are a number of free online tools available to create accessible email templates to use over and over so you can streamline campaign creation without cutting corners and compromising accessibility. 

The post How to Make Your Email Marketing Campaigns More Accessible appeared first on AWeber.

Reblogged 1 week ago from