What we learned from EMC’s first accessibility report
The Email Markup Consortium is a community-led group working to improve the user experience, accessibility, performance, consistency and reliability of email markup. The group has 3 founding members, one of which is our very own lead developer Hussein Alhammad. Hussein and his EMC colleagues have recently published an insightful report on the state of accessibility in HTML emails based on their analysis of over 35,000 emails.
The EMC has been working on creating a diverse data source containing HTML emails in multiple languages, from various industries and sent via different ESPs. While it is unlikely the data source has a 100% coverage, it is noted in the report that around 50% of the emails analysed were not in English; a reasonable percentage given the majority of content on the web is in English.
Only 11 emails were found not to include any accessibility issues. This is less than 0.1% of the analysed emails. This means the majority of businesses are sending emails that are made difficult for a percentage of their audience to consume. Whether you are trying to increase conversion or simply communicate better with your customers, making an effort to send accessible HTML emails to your audience can make a huge difference.
Unlike what many believe, accessibility is not just about making a document accessible to blind people. While this is important, it is not the only goal. Businesses may assume they do not need to worry about accessibility because their products or services are not helpful to blind people. However, they forget about potentially large percentage of their customers who could be colour blind, dyslexic or need to use assistive technologies or alternative input devices. (Read our previous article on how to improve cognitive accessibility in emails.)
Automated testing is immensely helpful, but more attention is required to truly produce HTML emails that are accessible to your audience. Accessibility work should not only happen during development after everything has been decided but should be a core part of all stages.
For example, the design choices you make can have a major impact on the accessibility of your email. Your colour and typography choices have an impact. The legibility of text embedded in images has an impact. Understanding email clients as a medium helps designers with these tasks too. The lack of control in dark mode in many email clients means designers need to produce dark mode friendly images to ensure the email remains as accessible as possible in dark mode too. (Read our other previous article on accessibility in email.)
There are also some best practices to apply when writing copy for your emails, such as being mindful of not using ‘click here’ calls to action (read our other blog on this to find out why this is bad practice), being aware of SEO for email, being sure to address the correct audience (using persona and audience insights to inform your campaign creative) and creating subject lines that will help you improve your open rates. This is a big topic, so we plan to write more about this in upcoming blogs.
Your unique audience could be more diverse than you think. Brands sending communications to audiences based in multicultural hubs like Dubai need to pay attention to the translatability of their emails. Many people in such cities can orally communicate at a basic level in a widely used language in that city, but they may not be able to read in that language at a high enough level to comprehend the messages you send them. This is why translation software can be considered an assistive technology. And when it comes to email, many email clients including Gmail and Outlook have a built-in translation feature. Ensuring any text that is critical to delivering your message is not embedded in an image is crucial here. Translation software is not going to translate embedded text for the user. You could make key information inaccessible by embedding it in an image.
Do you need help with improving your email accessibility, deliverability or generally your CRM practices when it comes to communicating with your audience? Then look no further, as the Flourish team are here to help. Working alongside our in-house experts like Hussein, we can help you optimise, elevate and transform your use of email to deliver the best customer experience. Get in touch to discuss your challenges and to request a free email review.
Find out more about the Email Markup Consortium: