How to Make Your Digital Ads More Inclusive

How to Make Your Digital Ads More Inclusive


In 2021, inclusivity has been the term that’s on nearly every marketer’s mind. This should come as a little surprise, as there are plenty of reasons to prioritize your marketing campaigns’ inclusivity. Nearly all of the benefits can ultimately boost your bottom line as a company. 

Consumers, naturally, prefer to see themselves reflected in advertisements, have their values mirrored in the companies they do business with and be represented by products they choose to spend their money on. The more inclusive your advertising then, the more customers you’re likely to gain and the greater your revenue will be.

Inclusive marketing requires a keen understanding of various target audiences and an ability to consider their multitude of perspectives. With ever-changing demographics — brought about by globalization, immigration, and shifting cultural attitudes — the big question for marketers is how to pull off inclusive advertising effectively and authentically. 

Understand Inclusive Marketing

Inclusive marketing is more than just a wink and a nod given to different groups of people. Diversity is indeed a part of inclusive marketing, but for a campaign to nail inclusivity it also needs to make an authentic effort to properly represent those groups.

To do so, you’ll need to consider the multiple layers that make up a person. These go deeper than sex, gender, or skin color, and include sexual orientation, immigration status, socioeconomic status, military service, religion, occupation, disability status, etc.

Additionally, inclusive marketing is built upon six basics that you’ll want to keep in mind as you approach your digital ads and communications with customers:

  1. Hitting the right tone
  2. Using the right language
  3. Ensuring proper representation
  4. Respecting context
  5. Avoiding appropriation
  6. Countering stereotypes

That’s a lot of factors — more than you can account for with any single image or slogan. So, how do you show customers that you’ve embraced the perspectives of a variety of communities with diverse sets of experiences and identities? How does one even truly begin to recognize and understand a varied array of customers? Although inclusion is a constant process, it begins by getting to know your customers. You’ll need to develop proximity, which starts with doing a bit of research.

Learn About Your Audience

Inclusive marketing doesn’t necessarily mean cramming every single group of people into every advertisement. It’s more about finding the balance between representing the customers who are interested in your products/services, and acknowledging that those customers aren’t a monolith. Every customer is different and may vary in gender, age, race, geography, income, etc.

To learn about the demographics you should include in your marketing content, you’ll need to perform some audience research. Developing multiple personas based on whatever data you’ve managed to collect through your CRM software is a good start, but you’ll need to go further if you want to get a more clear picture of who you’re dealing with.

Focus groups and other in-person forms of interaction will allow you to better understand the totality of characteristics that make up your customers — the stuff that you won’t find just looking at data. Once you have a good idea of who you’re representing, it’s time to get to the more challenging step of making sure you’re including them in the process.

Assemble the Right Marketing Team

If your marketing team is homogeneous, it’s more than likely that you’ll make some avoidable errors when it comes to reflecting the cultural intricacies of your target demographics. You want your team to mirror the diversity in your audience since they’ll be able to provide authentic insights you’d otherwise not have access to.

This doesn’t mean you have to clean house and hire a brand new team from scratch, mind you. When you’re filling vacancies or contracting out, though, keep inclusivity on your mind and consider how your choices will (or won’t) include new voices on your team.

Create Content That Reflects Reality

This is where things can get tricky for many marketing teams. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just a smidge of representing different identities here and there is equal to true inclusion. In truth, you should avoid simply using identity to sell your brand.

You’ll want to drill deeper and put forth a realistic portrayal of diverse peoples in your marketing content. Show the positive aspects of the groups you’re targeting. Celebrate cultures without appropriating them. This will all go towards showing potential customers that you’ve embraced inclusivity not as a side venture, but as a core value of your brand.

Coincidentally, this is also an area where your audience research and varied team composition will come in handy. Make sure you’re ready to put what you’ve learned about your customers into practice. More than anything, be prepared to revisit the drawing board when a member of your team questions how certain elements of your advertisements may be perceived.

Make Your Marketing Content Accessible

You want your digital ads to reach a wide audience, so taking web accessibility seriously will be another important component in your inclusive marketing strategy.

Not everyone is on the same level of ability when it comes to navigating online spaces. Some individuals may have physical limitations or sensory disabilities that impair their ability to access websites that don’t offer accommodations. 

Implementing digital accessibility features on your web pages and in your marketing materials will make it much easier for these individuals to enjoy and share your content.

Remember that there are a lot of details that go into making accessibility on the web a reality. If you’re having trouble grasping it all on your own, you might also want to check out accessibility training courses that will show you the ins and outs of creating a website with accessibility in mind.

In Summation

Inclusive marketing is a must if you want your business to keep pace with America’s shifting demographics and changing attitudes on diversity and representation. 

Creating inclusive marketing content isn’t a once-in-a-while fix like changing the UX on your eCommerce page. It’s a long-term commitment that will require you to rethink how you approach your audience, your team, and how you tell their stories.

Embrace this opportunity to become a better representative of both your customers and your business. Start thinking about how you can incorporate diverse voices, then cultivate the workplace and team dynamic that will help you make inclusion a reality.


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