Knowing your audience and what they want has always been a cornerstone of marketing, but the standard for modern, successful campaigns has grown to include what your audience cares about as well.
Customers are no longer just voting for brands or products via their purchases. Now, they’re also voting for the future they would like to see the world move towards — a future in which climate change is being addressed, centuries of socioeconomic and racial injustices are being corrected and equality and inclusivity are available to all.
This means that brand values are now part of your unique selling point — and if you’re not promoting values that align with your audience, it’s likely that one of your competitors will. However, inclusive marketing isn’t just a tactic to pander to audiences. It’s here to underscore the common struggles and humanity we face while recognizing and celebrating our differences.
It can also help propel your brand towards its business goals: More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents to an Edelman study said they bought from a brand for the first time because they agreed with its position on a controversial topic, while 65% said they wouldn’t buy from a brand when it remains silent on issues they care about. And, inclusive ads drove a 23-point lift in purchase intent among consumers belonging to Gen Z, whether the person experiencing the ad was represented or not, according to Microsoft, meaning that inclusive marketing can help drive your sales funnel as well.
To help further your understanding and strengthen your messaging, we’ve compiled a list of resources that can serve as the foundations for your brand’s inclusive marketing efforts.
Evaluate your own biases
Relying on your own judgment when auditing your implicit biases means that you’re the judge and jury, which can lead to a self-defeating exercise. Instead, try resources like Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT).
The IAT can help you identify your implicit biases across many categories, like gender and career, skin tone, religion, disability, sexuality, weight, age and more. Once you’ve taken the IAT, share it with your team so that everyone can keep a watchful eye over how their own biases may make their way into your marketing campaigns.
Inclusive marketing resources from Search Engine Land
As the need for inclusive marketing has grown, we, the editors at Search Engine Land and the programming team behind SMX, have created a number of resources for brands to consider as they build inclusivity and diversity into their organizations and campaigns.
- 5 ways to promote inclusion in your marketing organization: A recap of Dr. Lauren Tucker’s 2021 SMX Next session, in which she shares her inclusion-first approach for promoting diversity within organizations.
- The cost of ignoring website accessibility: Non-compliant sites are vulnerable to lawsuits, but SEOs can help protect them by advocating for accessibility, which can serve both differently-abled audiences as well as your business goals.
- (Video) Addressing diversity, recruitment and retainment in agencies and marketing teams: A panel discussion featuring CJ Bland, Zenia Johnson and Jackie Leuing about why diversity is good for business, what intentional commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives looks like and how employees can initiate change in their companies.
- (Video) Microsoft’s “The Download” Episode 8: Search Engine Land Editor George Nguyen sits down with Microsoft’s Nora Xu for a conversation about the importance of inclusion in marketing after a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Search Engine Land also presents an annual award for Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Search Marketing to recognize the individuals and organizations that are driving positive change in the search community. The 2021 winners are Rejoice Ojaiku, for her work in founding B-Digital, “a digital marketing platform aimed at showcasing and inspiring Black talent,” and hasOptimization, a New Hampshire-based agency whose marketing efforts are complemented by their work for both inclusion and diversity across many areas of focus.
We’ll place a link here when we begin taking nominations for the next Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Search Marketing award — it is free to nominate both individuals and organizations.
Inclusive marketing guides
Google and Bing, the search platforms that are at the center of many of our campaigns, have recognized the value and need for inclusive marketing by publishing their own resources on the subject.
- Microsoft’s Marketing with Purpose Playbook: Available as a free download, the Marketing with Purpose Playbook is one of the most comprehensive resources for inclusive marketing statistics (which can help you secure executive buy-in) and tips. The 101-page PDF is divided into three important areas for marketing (responsibility, values and inclusion) and covers a wide range of audiences.
- Google’s All In Inclusive Marketing Insights: Created from the lessons Google learned as it began its own inclusive marketing practices, this resource center has strategies for building teams, making inclusive creative choices, embedding inclusion into your strategy as well as audience insights to help eliminate stereotypes in your creative.
Inclusive language guides
Creating a welcoming environment for diverse audiences starts with the language in our messaging. Below is a list of language guides from various organizations that can help you ensure inclusivity in your creative assets and content.
- LinkedIn’s Inclusive Language for Marketers: This pocket guide provides a concise summary of inclusivity considerations for your messaging and brand identity.
- Google’s developer documentation word list: This style guide for developer documentation contains safe alternatives for biased wording, like the use of “slave,” “tribal wisdom” and more.
- Northwestern University’s Inclusive Language Guide: This general-purpose guide features explanations for why certain language is considered exclusionary or biased, as well as alternative phrases to use instead.
- GLAAD Media Reference Guide: Intended for use by journalists, GLAAD’s guide focuses on language as it pertains to the LGBTQ community.
Accessibility for differently-abled individuals or those that rely on assistive technologies is often considered by marketers to be “someone else’s job,” but inclusive organizations recognize that the responsibility is shared by all. Here are some resources that can help you evaluate and improve your site’s accessibility, while potentially opening up new audiences for your brand and protecting you from ADA-related lawsuits.
- The cost of ignoring website accessibility: An analysis of the potential consequences of overlooking website accessibility.
- 10 principles of digital accessibility for modern marketers: A list of key accessibility principles that should be relatively straightforward to implement.
- W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium with the goal of providing a single standard for web content accessibility, the WCAG explains how to make content easier to access for people with disabilities.
Inclusive marketing for your campaigns
Numerous platforms have added ways for businesses to showcase their diversity. Below are some articles covering features that you can use to immediately add an element of inclusivity to your advertising or online presence.
- Microsoft Advertising launches Marketing with Purpose Business attributes. The company later added Asian-, Latin-, Women-owned and Diabetic-friendly business attributes as well.
- Yelp introduces a searchable Asian-owned business profile attribute. The company also added an LGBTQ-owned attribute; both attributes join the pre-existing Women-owned, Black-owned and Latinx-owned profiles attributes.
- Google Business Profile adds “Women-led” icon and attribute to listings. The “veteran-led” and “Black-owned” attributes are also available for local listings.
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