Data from The Relevancy Group’s most recent research indicates that marketers are currently ignoring or underserving a large section of their crowd. Chief Research Officer Nicholas Einstein shares his insight.


As a long-time practitioner of consumer marketing, I’ve worked hard over my career to connect with a wide variety of diverse audiences and tailor messaging that is relevant, engaging, and able to drive value.

Recently, however, I learned that much of the work I’ve done to date has not been optimized for an important segment of over 1.3 billion consumers worldwide – those with visual impairments.

…much of the work I’ve done to date has not been optimized for an important segment of over 1.3 billion consumers worldwide – those with visual impairment.

At a conference earlier this summer, I sat in on a session presented by John Theis, co-founder of email testing company Email on Acid.

The session was focused on ‘email accessibility,’ and I found it enlightening. As John articulated, the World Health Organization estimates that over 1.3 billion people worldwide are currently living with some sort of visual impairment and over 217 million with moderate to severe impairment. The range of challenges people face runs from color blindness to more severe, total visual impairment, but all impact the ease with which these users engage with brands online – and marketers can help.

By designing emails, forms, and web pages with the visually impaired in mind, marketers can make their brands much more easily accessible to a wider audience.

Tactics like increasing contrast ratio between background and foreground, increasing the font size and left justifying text are all best practices that can make a meaningful impact. Adhering to certain coding best practices, like setting language attributes, using semantic code, and appropriately encoding special characters in the HTML to ensure text to voice applications can effectively render messaging are also important. The crew at Email on Acid has several solid resources on the topic.

On my flight home from Vegas to Seattle I wondered how many enterprise marketers are currently optimizing their campaigns for the visually impaired, so (as Chief Research Officer at The Relevancy Group) I asked our executive marketer panel, and the data just came out of the field.

It turns out that 44% of executive marketers across business verticals currently optimize the format of their digital campaigns for the visually impaired. And while the majority of enterprise marketers still do not, only 15% report having no plans on doing do in the future, while 36% are planning to optimize in the next twelve months.

The US Department of Labor estimates that Americans with disabilities have over $175 billion in discretionary income

The US Department of Labor estimates that Americans with disabilities have over $175 billion in discretionary income, so marketers currently catering to the visually impaired as well as those planning on doing so soon aren’t necessarily being altruistic – they’re making smart business decisions.

As we draw the curtain on Q3 and gear up for the holidays, I encourage you to take some time to examine your programs through the lens of the visually impaired and take strides towards optimizing.

The best shows get the entire audience involved.

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