8 tips for inclusive advertising in 2021, according to Microsoft’s head of inclusive marketing

Advertising can help create a direct connection between consumers and your brand and is an important component of marketing.

And inclusive advertising can produce dramatic results and improve brand confidence, loyalty and overall brand awareness. In fact, 64% of people said they trust brands that showcase diversity in ads more, and 85% of consumers said they only consider one brand they trust.

Advertising that works hard for your business has never been more important as we affect all businesses after a challenging year. However, there is one concept that applied to all of us and that may affect our approach to advertising for 2021 and beyond: We are all interconnected and interdependent, both as consumers and as advertisers.

In this post, you’ll find eight tips from Microsoft’s Purpose Playbook Marketing to help you create bigger advertising, reach more customers, and grow your business.

1. Show the human diversity in your campaigns.

Inclusive advertising means that diversity is presented authentically in your ads and promotions, while at the same time aligning with the composition of the diversity of your local market. It also means taking into account the many dimensions of human diversity, including (but not limited to) age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, location, language preference, and gender expression.

Additionally, you can expand your ability to connect and customize ad themes and promotions with your audience, taking into account the variety of experiences such as ability, parental status, marital status, military status, affinities, and job function.

Inclusive advertising ultimately means understanding who your customers are with empathy, portraying them precisely and, most importantly, recognizing who you are excluding from your marketing materials.

2. Perform a landing page and website check for audience diversity.

Including advertising does not end with the advertisement. In fact, half of the customer experience with your ad is where you send it after the click. This means that it is important that you show diversity on your landing pages or website as well.

Given that 64% of people are more likely to consider or buy a product after seeing diversity or inclusion in its advertising, it is important that you make sure that your landing pages and website represent true diversity.

Does your website’s collection of photos and images match the audience display you’ve created throughout your ad campaign? Does every inclusive advertisement show the customer after clicking on the target page that corresponds to the inclusive spirit of the image? If not, it should.

While it is relatively easy to check a landing page with the appropriate ad theme in the field, how can you collectively check your entire website for the right amount and variety?

To easily check what images are on your website’s web pages, just use Bing.com, type “site:” in the search bar and add your website’s URL after the colon.

For example, let’s look in Bing for the clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger, which looks like this in the search bar: “Site: https: //usa.tommyhilfiger.com”. Then press “Enter”. Bing creates a search engine results page that indexes all of your web pages:

Bing Site Search by Tommy Hilfiger

Then click on the “Images” for your “Site:” search in the navigation bar on the search results page:Images of Tommy Hilfiger models in clothes

This will create all of the images found on the website. You can flip through the pages quickly to get a sense of the variety – or lack of variety – in the collection of images on your website.

Your review can be used as a general review of the website or as a search for specific dimensions of diversity that you think are underrepresented in your upcoming advertising campaign.

3. Align your advertising messages with the nine feelings of inclusion.

Emotions are increasingly linked to brand results. As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Feeling involved, so that a person can feel that this brand is to me, is at the heart of brand trust, love, and loyalty.

There are actually identified feelings of inclusion in advertising that can make connections and instill trust. Inclusive advertising can evoke two main feelings: joy and confidence. As a marketer, it’s important that you look for brand connection points in products or features that can evoke these two main feelings.

But there’s more to it than that – there are actually nine feelings that make up joy and trust, which is good news for advertising. Finding a real and authentic way for your product to evoke one of these feelings can instill inclusion that – you guessed it – builds trust, brand love, and loyalty.

This product marketing approach makes connecting with people easier and making them feel part of a community. Here are some marketing ideas designed to inspire joy and confidence:

  • Celebration: About people, their successes, celebrating holidays, etc. How does your product celebrate them?
  • Citrus peel: For life (for ours, you and the planet). Convey enthusiasm and energy. How does your product create joie de vivre?
  • Hope: Bringing hope to face challenges and / or social problems. How does your product give hope to consumers?
  • Relaxation:Remove tension or fears for your customers rather than depicting the need to be on guard. How does your product cause relaxation?
  • Relief: Remove something oppressive or oppressive out of concern or concern. How does your product bring relief?
  • Security: Create experiences or highlight how your brand increases safety for all people. How does your brand experience make someone feel secure?
  • Trust: Provide a feeling of trust – the belief that we are trying to do the right thing. How does your product gain the trust of your consumers?
  • Adoption: Of the differences of others that should normally be included as part of the group. How does someone feel accepted by your product or does it show that you accept others?
  • Clarity: Bring a sense of security, clarity, and transparency into the ambiguity. How does your product bring clarity to a confusing situation?

4. Incorporate three metaphors of inclusion.

Another customer touch point that can help your brand connect emotionally with people in your advertisement is voice prompts and contexts that evoke positive feelings.

In our study, “The Psychology of Inclusion and the Impact on Advertising in Microsoft Advertising,” we discovered the following fifty language-based clues to inclusion and three metaphors of inclusion that are inextricably linked to emotion.

When used in context and in a real and authentic way in your copy of ad, website, or digital content marketing, these metaphors can help convey inclusion and increase brand performance.

Table with 50 words signaling the admission

5. Practice inclusive and authentic image selection.

An authentic representation in advertising is important. It builds trust and brand support – so the images you choose matter. It’s worth noting that in the Microsoft Advertising study on trust, we found that there is a strong correlation between trust, love, and loyalty.

Statistics of women, men and ethnic minorities who are more confident when they see themselves represented in ads

Once trust is established as a foundation, a brand can begin to build love and loyalty. To do that, brands have to go the extra mile to make someone feel understood through inclusion, and that means authentic imagery too. Inclusion turned out to be a key feature of the brand that creates loyalty.

The same stories are woven through our inclusive advertising research. Our research has shown that an authentic representation in advertising creates trust and brand support. 72% of respondents say they are more likely to support brands with authentic advertising.

Choosing images is an important part of the process in creating a meaningful and inclusive customer experience. Inclusive advertising is not just about representing everyone, it’s also about making everyone feel that your product or service is for them.

Here are some tips for identifying and choosing integrative images:

Tips to illustrate “connection”:

  • Have more than one person in a picture
  • Include realistic diversity: Use authentic and real imagery that is best conveyed through real people who reflect themselves and reflect everyday life, rather than through actors engaged for a role
  • Create a visible relationship between people that is positive
  • Take photos of people instead of just showing the product

Tips to illustrate “openness”:

  • Include people with disabilities
  • Show non-traditional dimensions of diversity like people with larger bodies
  • Include unique subsets of different populations
  • Include multiple colored people
  • Have people with intersectionality in diversity

Tips to illustrate “balance”:

  • Everyone is introduced with the same level of awareness
  • Equity is conveyed
  • Make sure that there are multiple dimensions of diversity in one image
  • Let the subject within your campaign represent the range of people your potential customer base could be

Finally, it is a good idea to include a diverse representation of people in the review of your subject in order to uncover blind spots such as unobvious negative connotations, stereotypes, cultural inaccuracies or negative associations.

6. Run an accessibility check on your ads, content, and landing pages.

Do you want to prevent one in four people from buying your product just because your ad or website is not in the right format for them?

Conversely, don’t you want to increase your reach by 25%? I hear you say, “Yes, of course!”

Without accessible advertising, no matter how perfect your product or offering is for someone, one in four people in Europe or the US may not get your message. This is the ratio of people with disabilities to the general population. According to the United Nations, there are more than a billion people with disabilities worldwide.

Digital inclusion is important as it gives everyone access to services, products, data, information and education. As advertisers, we can identify and resolve these exclusions and make a difference for one in four people – and also for our business performance.

  • Download the plug-in for your browser https://accessibilityinsights.io/ and learn how to make your landing pages accessible for your campaigns. This free, open source tool from Microsoft shows what accessibility problems exist and how to fix them. It couldn’t be more turnkey, it’s free.
  • Use the accessibility checker in Microsoft 365 to improve access to media or content.
  • Get to know the ten principles of accessibility right from the start to build accessibility into your advertising.

7. Develop a comprehensive keyword library.

Nothing can replace the value of firsthand customer experience when you develop a comprehensive library of keywords for your brand. With customer focus groups, start with the audience you want to reach and you’ll be amazed at what you discover. You can even get this information from your internal employee resource groups.

To develop a comprehensive library of keywords, you should consider the consumer’s choice of the product or service you offer. Next layer on the journey for the consumer with a physical disability, cognitive difference, military status, age consideration, gender expression, or other dimension of diversity.

Include their experiences and assign the unique keywords they may use to search for your product. Once you understand consumer choice from their perspective, you will develop your own comprehensive keyword strategy for your business.

A simple example is understanding gender differences. In Microsoft Advertising’s Inclusive Automotive Marketing webcast, we shared the difference between men and women in how consumers decide when to buy a car. A comprehensive keyword strategy can not only inform your search engine marketing (SEM) but also influence your content marketing.

As mentioned before, don’t stop at the usual dimensions of diversity – go ahead and see what you can discover to network and make people feel like “a brand for someone like me”.

8. Distort your ads and your data.

Struggling with and striving to remove bias applies to us all. As marketers, our job is to understand and identify potential biases that may appear in our datasets and marketing models. Data distortion leads to distorted models that can be discriminatory and harmful. Bias can lead to missed marketing opportunities or even damage your brand’s reputation.

There is a long list of types of distortion, and many of them are good to familiarize yourself with. A great resource is the Harvard Implicit Bias Tests, which you can use to examine and learn about the variety of biases.

For example, a marketer might conclude that a luxury accessory brand should target women because gender appears to be correlated with a higher likelihood of purchase. You might assume that only women buy luxury handbags. However, the gender can only be a red herring. Income could be much more correlated with conversion.

The resulting tendency to only address women would limit your options. I invite you to be intentionally curious about longstanding beliefs as you may inadvertently leave out other buyer personalities.

Additionally, it is important that you understand gender-neutral pronouns in your marketing materials. When writing about people, refer to “she” or “she” (rather than “he” or “she”) and make sure you offer at least a third option when asking for gender on customer profile forms.

We hope these eight inclusive advertising tips will help you find new ways to increase business impact while making a positive impact on the world. Let’s work together to build a more inclusive world today.

Advertising plan

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