May 29, 2020

How to Create Inclusive Digital Experiences

Social distancing has accelerated the offline to online shift, and we’re seeing new demographics adapt to the digital world. We recently wrote an article about how older demographics are adopting Buy Now, Pay Later Platforms, and News Corp just announced that it will move almost all its community and regional and newspaper titles to a digital-only format

According to Michael Millar, News Corp Australia’s Executive Chairman, digital advertising has been migrating away from print and the number of Australians that are willing to pay for content online has hit a tipping point.

Old-age dependency ratios are higher in regional areas, reflecting the trend for many Australians to leave major cities on retirement. Older generations are also a lot more digitally literate than we give them credit for. According to the Understanding the Digital Behaviours of Older Australians Summary Report, 60% of older Australians have a high level of digital literacy.

But, older generations and distant regions are often discounted from our thinking. In 2019, Brian Gallagher, chair of the Boomtown committee and Southern Cross Austereo’s chief sales officer highlighted that ‘only 10% of national media budgets are spent regionally, despite 36% of the country’s population living in regional markets. That’s 8.8 million Australians being ignored by advertisers in an extraordinarily uncluttered environment.’ 

In fact, ‘you probably lose the nuance if you think blanketly about ‘regional Australia’ as one thing. If you’re thinking about metro Australia being hip and on-trend and regional Australia not – you’re probably missing something,’ said Ranita Cowled, the marketing manager of Arnott’s recently. ‘Reflecting Australia in all its diversity, regional Australia and the changing dynamics of multiculturalism, is a key thing for being a marketer in Australia.’

Amidst this digital evolution, it’s important to think inclusively and empathetically about the diverse communities that your business can help. This need is further highlighted by Google’s Page Experience Update this week. By 2021, how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page will become an important ranking factor.

How could researching unique geographic, demographic, and cultural needs help your brand to better serve the community? How could localised and contextual digital content delivered inclusively across the nation increase connectivity and economic value for all?

Here is a mixture of our practical tips as to how you can reshape your thinking and provide inclusive digital experiences.

  • Cultivate and hire a diverse team and create a safe space for multiple perspectives.
  • Undertake robust market research. Sift through layers that go beyond gender and skin colour – like age, geographic, socio-economic diversity, relatable jobs, and sexuality. Most importantly, challenge your existing beliefs and stop analysing your target audience through the lens of a stereotype.
  • Be aware of your own biases, blind spots, and empathy delusion. Reach Solutions recently discovered that ‘people in ad land unconsciously see, experience and interpret the world differently to large swathes of the UK population.’ 
  • Are you buying media for yourself or your customers? Try to avoid overbuying against channels that you use, rather than what your audience uses. 
  • Constantly look at your brand personas and targeting practices with fresh eyes. Are you excluding or including people based on a stereotype or preconceived idea?
  • Audit your website and check if it is compliant with accessibility laws.
  • Assess the content, layout, and usability of your website through multiple lenses and user testing.
  • Optimise your site experience across all devices so that everyone can interact with your content no matter what technology they have access to.
  • Improve load times, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads.
  • Ensure that your analytics and tracking technology is correctly deployed so that you can gain true insights into how accessible your website is to its users.
  • Likewise, use UX and CRO tools to get a better understanding of how users interact with your website and potential pain points.
  • Ask for feedback as much as you can, from every stakeholder in the business: including team members, end consumers, suppliers, board members, community, and the environment.
  • On that note, provide as many avenues for customer feedback as possible. On your social channels, through your live chat, customer service team, and post-purchase initiatives.
  • Use the digital tools and data available to you. For example, we often use Google’s Dynamic Search Ads to find new keywords and search terms that we hadn’t anticipated through our own ideas and research. It all equates to making our clients more discoverable and they can help new users.
  • Use social listening services to understand how diverse audiences relate to your brand.
  • Develop creative user-generated content strategies and see what your customers share with you.

Inclusivity in digital marketing is a bigger challenge than one company can solve, but our collective efforts certainly make an impact.

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