An interesting discussion topic was raised during a recent DMA meeting; one which is highly relevant in terms of email marketing, however isn’t as widely discussed or documented as you’d expect. That topic was:
How well do you understand your recipients’ needs?
Sound like you’ve heard this before? As an email marketer, I’d assume if you’re sending targeted communications based on recipient preferences or behaviour and you’d consider yourself as having asked this fairly recently.
But have you ever considered their needs in the context of anything which would potentially make them unable to access, open, read or respond to your emails due to being a ‘vulnerable user’?
Vulnerable users defined and the current approach
I’d define a vulnerable user as: anyone who is unable to access email content easily due to a health condition, disability, impairment or age.
Chances are there are people on your mailing list who are vulnerable email users and there are countless difficulties and limitations these people could face when dealing with email. However, at this particular point in time it’s rare for companies to have policies in place to cater for vulnerable users. As email is vastly opt-in, it’s often assumed that recipients understand and are able to interact with the content they’re being supplied with.
When considering the potential issues vulnerable users could face, it’s prevalent that it would be near impossible to ensure your emails cater for every recipient eventuality; however there are places you can turn to for advice on how to tackle this issue.
What can I do to improve my emails?
The Business Disability Forum offer advice to members on how to tailor communications and marketing materials for the relevant audience. They recommend that email features such as fonts, colours, sizes and languages should be considered when creating marketing communications.
From an email marketing perspective, how do you learn about your recipients? Do you ask questions such as “do you have any disabilities or impairments which could potentially affect how you read or receive emails?” or do you think approach is too direct? A preference centre could be utilised to enable users to specify whether they’d like to receive emails in larger fonts, certain colours, or would prefer a telephone call over an email where company resource allows. For now this topic is fairly new, but it’d be interesting to see how companies incorporate strategies to understand whether their recipients are vulnerable users, and to see how this could potentially develop the future email marketing landscape.