Marketers engaging better with disabled consumers but barriers remain

A barrier blocking a road.
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

83% of businesses are doing more to provide accessibility in digital marketing than in the past, demographics such as age, gender and race are more often prioritized in marketing efforts.

This is according to the 2022 Accessible Marketing Survey conducted by Capterra, an online marketplace vendor serving as an intermediary between buyers and technology vendors within the software industry.

One in four American adults live with a physical or mental disability, yet they are often excluded from digital marketing messages due to accessibility barriers. 

Across different types of accessibility, marketers tend to focus on providing visual and hearing features before cognitive features. This may be because they wrongly believe visual and hearing impairments to be the most common disabilities in the U.S., when in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report cognitive disabilities to be more prevalent (10.8% of Americans). While 53% of marketers do account for cognitive disabilities in digital content, improvements can be made to bolster features for consumers who face cognitive challenges such as difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.

The survey also reveals that marketers recognise the need to be better educated on accessibility. In fact, 45% of marketers say that education would motivate their company to be more proactive in improving accessibility. Training can also help marketers better understand specific disability compliance laws.

Beyond the need for more education, cost and technology barriers hinder improvements to accessible marketing. Cost is the most prohibitive challenge: 69% of marketers strongly or somewhat believe that it’s expensive to create accessible digital marketing. One in four marketers say that the lack of technology to implement features is a top barrier to creating accessible content.

Accessibility implementation is a challenge regardless of platform. Nearly half (49%) of marketers rate social media as the most difficult platform to provide accessibility features for – possibly due to its ever-evolving nature that is challenging to keep up with. Despite its longevity compared to newer social media channels, 43% of marketers still cite email as the most difficult platform for accessibility, and 39% report the same for websites.

Meghan Bazaman, senior marketing analyst at Capterra, said: “While accessibility in marketing is gaining more traction, businesses need the right resources, including training, budget and technology, to make improvements.

“By taking a more proactive approach, marketers can reach more customers while generating a positive brand perception.”

Beyond just doing the right thing, businesses that have incorporated accessible marketing report improved customer relationships. Of the marketers who currently provide accessibility features, 53% and 44% say that it improves customer service and customer loyalty/retention, respectively.

Delivering accessible marketing is beneficial, but it’s an ongoing process in an evolving online environment. Accessibility software and free online resources can help marketers implement accessibility features. View the full report for more actionable insights to help businesses improve marketing accessibility.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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