Digital marketing diversity can take many forms. Most people go out in public with a mixture of people of various ages, sizes and sexual preferences.
Our marketing should reflect the people who interact with our businesses every day, just as in real life. Consumers today want to see the people they like in advertising and marketing campaigns for their favorite brands. Smart brands must be as customer-centric and responsive as possible.
What does diversity in digital advertising mean?
Digital marketing diversity doesn’t only require visuals. This requires thoughtful thinking and lots of research. You need to assess the accessibility of your user experience, your team structure and your core audience.
Diversity means that you evaluate factors such as:
- Ethnicity, race, nationality
- Gender & sexuality
- Health & Disabilities
- Religious affiliation
- Socioeconomic status
- Veteran status;
Digital marketing diversity doesn’t mean catering to every possible audience. It’s about knowing your audience and making sure they are included in your marketing campaigns. It all comes down to the motivation and intent behind a campaign.
Stats: Why diversity and inclusion matter (stats).
Shutterstock conducted a 2018 study on how people and culture are represented in visuals. The study found that 88 percent and 90 percent respectively of Generation X, as well as Millennials, believe that a diverse representation of a brand in a campaign can help improve its reputation. Brands that use imagery that is representative of the diversity of society in their campaigns have a lot of potential for growth, according to the report.
Audiences like to see themselves represented in marketing content. The Female Quotient and Google conducted a survey in 2019 which showed that 64 percent of respondents took action after seeing ads that were diverse or inclusive. 69 percent of Black consumers are more likely than others to buy from brands whose advertising positively represents their race/ethnicity. 71 percent of LGBTQ consumers were more inclined to interact with ads that accurately represent their sexual orientation.
Why authenticity is key to building a diverse and inclusive brand
Diversity is important. But it is more important to know how to represent different groups, orientations, and points of view.
Websites, emails and ads that try to show diversity using stereotypical stock photography seem to be a common sight. It doesn’t matter if it displays a mix of races, genders, ethnicities, and ages, as long as they are smiling with a smile on their faces, it’s okay. Wrong.
These types of staged images do not resonate with real people—particularly today’s digitally savvy consumers who easily see right through these forced attempts at inclusion. In fact, a Stackla study found that 70 percent of people can tell the difference between a brand or stock-created image and a real customer-created image.
Another Stackla study found that 90 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.
It is not enough to simply signal diversity and inclusion. People seek authentic representations of people from different backgrounds, ages, abilities, ethnicities, and orientations to find and feel connected with.
Inclusion and diversity in digital marketing are important for many reasons. It creates a more accurate picture of society and helps companies that strive for greater representation.
Benefits of diversity and inclusion
Inclusion and diversity are key to marketing campaigns’ success.
Reach more people
Your brand will reach more people if you include diverse demographics and display diversity in your marketing campaigns. This will increase your customer base.
Your audience will be closer to you
Brand recognition and respect grows
A brand that is inclusive and offers marketing that reflects the audience will be respected by people. Marketers can earn trust and respect when they understand and speak the language and culture of their customers.
Your bottom line will be boosted
A better bottom line is achieved by reaching a wider audience, building brand respect and understanding your customers. When there is diversity in the campaigns, people are more inclined to buy from that brand.
Branding examples that reflect diversity and inclusion
These are real-life examples that show how large brands can appeal to a wider audience through their advertising and marketing campaigns.
1. Dove’s Real Beauty Promise
Launched in 2004, Dove’s Real Beauty Pledge aims to appreciate women of all ages, sizes, races and more. Their goals include always featuring real women, never models, portraying women as they are in real life and helping build body confidence and self-esteem in young girls.
2. Ad Council’s #LoveHasNoLabels Campaign
The Ad Council’s Emmy award-winning Love Has No Labels campaign used real people’s stories and visual user-generated content (UGC) to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people across sex, gender, race, religion, ability and age.
“We were able to see how people connected to the campaign, and we saw ourselves reflected in the people featured in this video. They shared photos of their friends and diverse partners with #LoveHasNoLabels. [Stackla] made it easy to gather and focus on the amazing content being shared across a variety of platforms.
Carolina Trevino, Digital Product Management at the Ad Council
3. Google Pixel’s “Question Your Lens” Ad
4. Lush’s Movement together for the BLM initiative
Lush Cosmetics supported Black Lives Matter (BLM), by creating the Movement, Together for Black Lives initiative to “support meaningful, lasting change in areas such as inclusion, diversity, and equity in our communities.”
How to make your content marketing strategy more inclusive and diverse
After we have covered the basics of a diverse and inclusive digital marketing strategy, let us now get into the details about how you can achieve more diversity in your marketing.
Know your audience
Digital content is useless if it doesn’t accurately reflect your customers or fans. It’s all about connection. Understanding your target audience is key to connecting with them.
You should research your audience to find out their age, gender, income level and location. To meet people and get to know your customers better, send team members to the field.
Data should be your focal point
Researching and collecting as much information as you can about your target market is a great way to better understand them. These insights can be used to gain important information about your target market and the markets you wish to reach.
Your digital marketing strategy will succeed if you have more data to work with.
Take a look at your team
Do your employees reflect the needs of your audience? Consider who your audience is, and what characteristics they might be lacking in your team. Consider hiring people who can bring a fresh perspective to your brand’s marketing efforts.
Ask your team for ideas on how to be more inclusive. You can also include other voices in your brand by inviting creators, contributors and freelancers to share their perspectives.
For inclusion, add more criteria
For better inclusion, writers and editors should adhere to state style guidelines and rules. The Associated Press Style Book has added sections about race and how to refer to people based upon their racial identity in 2019. The National Center on Disability and Journalism provides support and guidance to content creators.
Brands can also note that content is not limited to “primary” holidays. Chinese New Year, Juneteenth, Heritage Months, Diwali, Eid Mubarak etc.
Real content, from real people
One of the best ways you can incorporate more diversity into your digital marketing strategy is to use visual content. It is more authentic to have your audience see people just like you than content created in a studio with stock images or in a dark room.
User-generated content is one of the best methods to achieve this. UGC makes it easy to be more inclusive. You can use images taken from customers and advocates, and make them a central part of your content marketing campaigns. This is also a cost-effective and quicker way to create new content for your brand.
It is a continuous practice
Diversity and inclusion are a dynamic landscape. It will take constant effort to stay relevant and make your content inclusive. This is something your marketing team should strive to improve.
Keep your data up-to-date, keep track of customer behavior and persona changes, and conduct regular research about diversity and inclusion.
Customers will feel more connected to companies if they see people who are like them in the marketing. It is no longer enough to simply say that they support diversity and inclusion. UGC allows brands to show their support for inclusion and diversity. It’s a great way to do this, by showing real images from real customers.