7 ways to ensure your email is accessible to all

Email accessibility.

That’s not a phrase we hear too often, is it?

That’s because email accessibility is often an afterthought. Tagged onto the end of a design process.

When in reality, accessibility should be something that is integrated throughout the entire email process. And should lead the email design, just as mobile has done in recent years.

Read on to learn more about the importance of email accessibility. And how you can take steps to ensure your emails are more accessible for all.

What do we mean by email accessibility?

Email accessibility is focused on ensuring that all email recipients are able to access the information within your emails, regardless of their physical and developmental abilities.

It means that whoever the user is, they can easily read, understand, and engage with your email in whichever way they choose. With no challenges or restraints.

As well as general usability in email, email accessibility pays special attention to recipients with impairments who may also want to engage with your email communications.

Of course, there are many different types of impairments that should be taken into consideration when creating an email. Below are just some examples that you should be mindful of to ensure inclusivity.

Visual

Visual challenges, such as reading your email or understanding image-heavy emails, may be experienced by recipients who are blind, have visual impairments, or have colour vision deficiencies.

Motor

Some recipients may have difficulty in using their hands to navigate your email. This could include tremors, slowness of muscle, or loss of muscle control. This can, for instance, make touchscreen devices particularly challenging.

Auditory

Individuals may have auditory impairments or may be completely deaf. This is relevant if you plan on using video within your email.

Seizures

Recipients who suffer from seizures could experience triggers from strobe or flashing imagery and effects. Again, something to consider if using video or GIFs within your email.

But email accessibility doesn’t exclusively refer to recipients who have a permanent disability or impairment. Email marketers should also consider other users who may struggle with elements of email. This could include older users, those with technical restraints such as older computers, and recipients using assistive technology.

It’s clear that email accessibility really does encompass a wide range of challenges that any user could face. The goal of the email marketer is to ensure their emails are accessible and inclusive to as many recipients as possible.

Read on to find out how.

7 ways to make your emails more accessible

As marketers, learning how to make our communications as accessible and inclusive as possible is an ongoing education. And one that we should always be striving to be better at.

So, here are 7 ways that you can make your emails more accessible with simple, but effective, tweaks.

1.

Make your subject line descriptive

First things first, you want to get your email opened. So, it’s important to get your subject line right.

To make your email immediately more accessible, be as descriptive as possible in your subject line within the space you have. Keep it relevant to your email content, and introduce recipients to what they can expect when they click through.

Even better, use a subject line testing tool to AB test for the copy that performs best.

You can check out our post on subject line best practices to learn more.

2.

Build for keyboard users

Some disabled users will utilise their keyboard to navigate an email, instead of a mouse. In this instance, they will often tab throughout an email.

Therefore, tab order needs to be clear, moving the recipient from one logical field to the next.

This can be particularly problematic when filling out forms. So ensure they are designed with keyboards in mind, and that they clearly show any error messages if a field has been missed.

3.

Consider font and sizing

Key to any email is how readable the copy is.

This is largely based on the font and the size that you choose.

Industry-standard for emails is a minimum of 14 pixels, and maybe even 16 pixels for mobile. This size ensures that recipients with or without screen readers won’t struggle to engage with your emails. And that copy won’t become distorted if zooming in is required.

And of course, don’t overlook the font style you choose. Keep to well known, well-used fonts that are easy to read and you can be confident will format correctly on multiple devices and email platforms.

Consider fonts such as Arial, Calibri, or Tahoma.

Email Marketing Accessibility

4.

Include adequate spacing

If there isn’t enough spacing between your content, then usability will quickly decrease.

Inadequate spacing can make copy difficult to read, result in incorrect links and CTAs being clicked on, and generally will disengage any recipient.

Therefore, the industry standard is to set your line height at 4 pixels to ensure the readability of your copy. And always ensure enough white space between your paragraphs.

White space should also be considered around links and CTAs. Try not to include links in the copy as these may be difficult to click. Instead, opt for clear CTAs which have adequate white space surrounding them.

5.

Utilise alt text

But use it correctly. Keep in mind that this text may be used by screen readers, so should describe the image, instead of simply giving it a name.

For instance:

“Woman wearing Zara camel trench coat with hood in size medium” instead of “Zara trench” 

6.

Don’t rely on colour

It is estimated that there are 300 million people in the world with colour vision deficiency.

For these people, it can be difficult to differentiate between colours, which becomes problematic for emails that rely on colour alone for visual clues. An alternative, for instance, could be using icons and shapes to differentiate instead.

If you do choose to use colour, ensure that it is contrasting so that it is clearly identifiable to anyone with colour vision deficiencies. Or, use black and white for your most important information.

You can download our 10 Steps to the Perfect Email Template if you’d like to learn about using colour in email.

Email Marketing Accessibility Example

7.

Re-think your emojis

Emojis are fun to include in emails and can add an extra level of engagement for many recipients.

However, ensure that emojis aren’t replacing words within your email. In doing so, they may not be picked up by screen readers, load correctly, or they may simply be misinterpreted by some recipients.

Do you want to improve your email accessibility?

The world is learning more and more about the importance of inclusivity, and you don’t want your brand to be left behind.

Ensure that your communications are accessible for everyone by working with our team of email experts and all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform.

Get in touch today to find out more.

Meet the author

Komal Helyer

VP Marketing