Why embracing digital inclusivity leads to wider brand reach
27 May 2022
There’s no doubt that the pandemic changed everything in favour of digital, marking a historic shift in the way information was delivered and consumed. Brands were forced to lean heavily on digital channels. 97% of students switched to online-first instruction, 6 million UK adults used online banking for the first time, and there was a 46% increase in e-commerce sales across Western Europe. In the US, about 93% of children engaged in some form of “distance learning” from home. Online banking adoption also increased among US senior citizens, with seniors and boomers accounting for 23% of new logins to Bank of America’s online platform and mobile offerings in April 2020.
Suffice to say, consumer needs in the digital space have skyrocketed. Brands are facing the challenge of providing the same inclusive and empathetic experience that consumers are used to in a physical environment, now in a digital one.
On May 11, RWS organized a partner webinar on the ways that digital inclusivity and content speed affect key marketing metrics. The webinar was led by experts Chad Weibel, Global Sales Leader at RWS and Viktor Petersson, Product Owner at Siteimprove.
Digital inclusivity for brands
Digital inclusion is about making the web and other digital content accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Organizations that foster brand inclusivity help users, prospects, and customers feel more comfortable and gain trust in the brand. As Viktor pointed out in the webinar, brands that don't incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion will be left behind. 60% of customers believe they're more inclined to buy from a business that uses inclusive marketing, making it more important than ever.
Major digital trends for 2022 and the years ahead are digital-first interaction, brand values, and accessibility. According to Forrester, 8 out of 10 consumers will see the world as digital-first. More and more consumers, especially millennials and Gen Zs, are leaning towards value-driven consumption. Companies are investing significant time and money to tie their brands to certain values. In that process, however, it’s crucial that the values they choose represent those of their consumers.
The importance of accessibility
Without accessibility, digital inclusivity is simply a distant dream. Accessible design and development are the keys to driving inclusivity. By increasing accessibility, your brand will not only better serve the elderly and disabled populations, but every user who visits your website. When design is accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and offers an intuitive user experience, a truly welcoming and inclusive digital experience is created. Ultimately, this helps brands expand their reach and increase engagement.
Providing an accessible experience is necessary to effectively reach those with disabilities, a market of people 1-billion-strong, possessing $1.9 trillion in annual disposable income. Viktor also reminded us that there are ~55 million elderly consumers in the US, and while they have the lowest digital maturity, they also possess the greatest purchasing power in the country. During the pandemic, they were forced into digital adoption. Now, there’s an opportunity to capture this consumer demographic by creating a clear and accessible UX that elderly consumers can navigate through without help.
Key elements of a great digital experience
So, what makes a digital experience great? The elements to focus on are accessibility, readability, usability, representation, and language. The order of priority of these key elements can vary by the industry and the status of the technical stack, product, service, etc.
During the webinar, Chad brought up an interesting question with respect to how technology can play a role in addressing accessibility. Viktor responded that technology needs to help bring the focus back on the user, foster an emotional connection, and make consumers feel that the experience is made for them, their demographic, and their country.
Tridion, a Digital Experience Platform (DXP), is an example of technology that helps brands bring focus back on the user. The tool automates the process of generating, maintaining, and successfully exploiting digital touchpoints for brands across languages from a single source of truth. It unites the disparate solutions currently used to manage interactions throughout the customer journey. Tridion helps mix and match content from across thousands of different files, in text or image, in any language or country, to deliver customized content to the user.
Without a doubt, content speed, has a huge effect on the content consumption experience. It significantly impacts satisfaction level, engagement level, and reach.
As of now, the recommended content load time for a web page is under 3 seconds. And with the meteoric rise of super-short video apps such as TikTok and Instagram Reels, users’ attention spans are expected to fall even further.
In the window of page load time from 1s to 3s, Google reports that the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases by 32%. The probability increases by another 123% if the page load time grows from 1s to 10s.
In the webinar, Viktor made an excellent suggestion for brands that struggle to increase content speed due to legacy systems. He suggested that brands focus on enhancing the user’s experience by reducing the “perceived” loading time. This can be done by displaying some pleasant animated or informative content to engage the user while they wait for the real content to load. Reducing perceived load time, if done correctly, can help improve user satisfaction metrics such as engagement and bounce rate.
The device inclusion gap
Currently, there’s a considerable digital disparity among users due to geographical, economic, cultural, cognitive, or generational gaps. As an example, while most of the average users in Western Europe and the US use an iPhone, a majority of the users in other parts of the world use a mid-range Android phone.
In his presentation, Viktor made a critical point for marketers: optimizing the digital experience for only high-end devices or the best scenarios can lead to severe disparity and leave out a large section of potential consumers. Brand should instead strive to optimize their content for the worst-case scenario and provide the most optimal experience for low-end devices. In doing so, this will also enhance the level of service for customers with high-end devices.
What will have the biggest impact on marketing performance?
At this point, it’s pretty obvious that digital inclusivity and content speed play a major role in driving user satisfaction. Beyond that, these two elements also lead to improvements in several marketing KPIs such as ROI, lead-to-customer ratio, landing page conversion ratio, social media traffic, and SEO ranking.
When deciding how to set the baseline for performance measurement, Viktor suggested a two-pronged approach:
1. Technology focus: Brands should use technology to carry out automated testing and auditing to prioritize areas of improvement based on baseline parameters.
2. Human-driven elements: Brands should use human-driven elements such as user testing, user interviews, and testing for digital experience in worst-case scenarios.
Overall, combining these two approaches can improve digital inclusiveness. Siteimprove puts inclusivity at the forefront, giving organizations the tools they need to provide better experiences and reach more audiences than ever before. With built-in automated testing and auditing software, the Siteimprove platform has been helping brands successfully build digital inclusivity for the last 20 years.
With the increasing digital demands and decreasing attention spans of today’s consumers, brands need to step up to the plate. By creating a more inclusive and efficient digital environment, brands can provide a better experience to more users than ever.