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Accessibility in email marketing
Katie BrennemanJan 17, 2023 6:28:23 AM6 min read

The Importance of Accessibility in Email Marketing

Our current marketing landscape offers a variety of tools. Email marketing has been a feature for a couple of decades now, yet it can still be effective. Even as many brands focus on social media and live streaming, newsletters and offers in emails can provide a personalized and in-depth form of outreach. It’s affordable, engaging, and has distinct creative possibilities.


Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you can approach email marketing casually. One of the most important considerations is how accessible your emailed materials are. In an increasingly digital marketplace, your brand has a significant ethical responsibility to ensure equal access to your services. Not to mention that any suggestion of discrimination can be disastrous for your reputation. You can also find that a lack of commitment to inclusivity even in your marketing can impact the wider culture of your business.

Image Source: Pexels

As such, it is vital to adopt strong accessibility standards in your email marketing. While the methods may be relatively simple, you also need to commit to applying and assessing these actions consistently. Let’s take a look at some of the key areas you should place your focus on.

Table of Contents

Prioritize Clarity

The first element of email marketing accessibility is one of the simplest. Yet, too many businesses still overlook it. You need to make sure that each of your emails prioritizes clarity. If your recipients aren’t able to easily read and understand your content, they’re unlikely to engage with it. Not to mention that it is your ethical duty to ensure all those who want to connect with your brand can do so.

This starts with using straightforward language. Avoid including technical jargon unless it’s necessary or you’re pitching to a technical audience. Keep your sentences and paragraphs relatively short. This not only aids comprehension of the text, but it can also be more comfortable for those living with visual processing challenges.

Another important point of clarity is the layout. Yes, text on its own can be less dynamic. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t clutter the post with various videos, images, and interactive elements. This can make navigating your marketing material more difficult and can potentially be overwhelming. Anything that isn’t necessary to the immediate message of the marketing can be offered in the form of links. Enable your recipients to simply grasp the core concept of your email and empower them with guidance on how to explore further if they want to.

Be Mindful of Color and Contrast

When people think of emails, they tend to envision the usual plain white background and black text. From a marketing perspective, it may seem as though this is uninspired. This leads too many professionals to make email design choices that creative considerations and overlook important aspects of accessibility. The way you utilize color and contrast shouldn’t exclude members of your audience.

In many ways, the traditional appearance of an email represents a good guideline for accessibility. It’s dark text on a pale background. Some people living with visual disabilities and learning differences find text that is too close in contrast to the background difficult to distinguish. Web accessibility guidelines recommend a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 between text and background. Wherever possible, you should implement black text on a pale — but not white — background, as this can support consumers with dyslexia.

Another important aspect of color consideration is to avoid using it as a descriptor. It may seem convenient to direct consumers to click on the red button for a specific offer and the green for a different offer. However, this tends to exclude those living with forms of color blindness. Rather, you should insert hyperlinks into text or alternative descriptors.

Consider Neurodivergence

When people consider accessibility in email marketing, this is too often limited to the more visible challenges people live with. Yes, it is vital to ensure that your emails don’t discriminate against consumers living with physical disabilities. However, it is vital to recognize that some of your consumers may experience hurdles to accessibility that aren’t always traditionally included in web accessibility guidelines. One of the most common of these is neurodivergence.

”Neurodivergent” is a term used to describe a range of neurological differences. It can include various diagnoses, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While not necessarily a disability, neurodivergent individuals tend to experience life in a neuroatypical way. This means certain features in marketing emails may be inaccessible to these consumers. It is vital to take steps to address the potential to excuse this segment of your audience.

One approach is to minimize the audiovisual “noise” in your emails. Some neurodivergent individuals find specific types of stimuli overwhelming. As such, it’s important to ensure music or videos in your emails don’t autoplay and that users have full control over pausing, stopping, and volume control. Sticking to plain sans serif typography, such as Arial and Verdana can also make it easier for some neurodivergent consumers, particularly those with dyslexia, to distinguish between letters.

Make Considerate Media Choices

Images and videos can form an important part of the design of any email newsletter or marketing campaign. They provide consumers with value by offering video tutorials. Graphs and charts can make complex statistics easier to interpret. Not to mention that photographs can reinforce brand values. However, it’s important not to approach the use of these with the assumption that all recipients can engage with them equally. This can be considered ableist and could disrupt your reputation and meaningful connections with consumers.

The most basic consideration here is the use of alternative text. This is simply providing a text description of what is happening in an image or video. This means that those who are unable to view the media can still benefit from its inclusion. However, it’s important not just to outline what visual details are in the image. Wherever possible you should provide context for the pictures and how it relates to the subject of the email.

In addition, if you embed videos into your emails, ensure these have sufficient captioning available. Don’t just rely on auto-generated caption software, either. This may seem like a convenient tool, but there can be mistakes in both the content and the timing of the captions. It is both respectful and ethically sound to take the time to manually insert video captions. This ensures all audiences can benefit from accurate interactions with your media.


Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective forms of outreach for businesses of all sizes. However, it is important to understand that your ethical duty to accessibility extends to how you use this tool. Not to mention that a more diverse range of consumers is always advantageous in business.

Make sure that every email prioritizes clarity in content and format. Avoid close contrast between text and background and minimize color-based descriptions. Reduce audiovisual noise and give neurodivergent consumers control over embedded media in your email marketing. While your images and video may be dynamic additions, be sure that you provide alternative text descriptions and accurate captions.

There is no quick and simple route to email marketing accessibility. It takes work, assessment, and focus to do well. But by investing time here, you and your consumers can benefit from positive interactions.

Make Your Email Marketing Profitable


Katie Brenneman

Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.