Our digital environment is an increasingly accessible and vibrant space. From a marketing perspective, this is an exciting opportunity to drive engagement. The right website can become an agile tool to capture the attention of millions of visitors. It’s genuinely difficult to overstate just how powerful a website can be today.
As with any tool, though, your approach to using it makes all the difference. Among the aspects that can impact your website’s efficacy is your attention to cultural sensitivity. We live in a progressive society where consumers place focus on diversity and inclusivity. Neglecting to be accessible to all cultures can be damaging.
It’s worth taking a deeper dive into this issue. We’ll examine what the benefits of utilizing cultural sensitivity in your website are, and how you can best go about implementing this.
Why It’s Important
Cultural sensitivity on your website is a clear demonstration of your ethical values. When you fail to include elements on your site showing your respect for and inclusivity of cultures other than your own, it sends a clear message that your priorities are not geared toward supporting diversity. On the other hand, taking time to apply cultural sensitivity — both as an overall guiding principle of your site and in discussing your efforts on your blog — makes it clear your service ethics include a commitment to inclusivity.
From the perspective of the developing marketplace, it’s also worth considering that demonstrations of cultural sensitivity help your relevance to the rising generation of consumers. A recent Pew Research study found Gen Zers in the U.S. are more racially and ethnically diverse than the generations preceding them. Not to mention both they and Millennials are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on brands' adherence to socially responsible actions. Your website is therefore likely to better capture the attention of consumers and serve them more effectively by using culturally sensitive actions.
This approach also has a place in the practical functionality of your website. Elements that fail to consider multiple cultures do nothing but present roadblocks to engagement. For instance, complicated or ethnically nuanced language can both confuse and repel educationally, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse visitors. While keeping things simple makes for a more welcoming atmosphere and supports tools like language translation apps.
Educate Your Staff
So, how do you start incorporating cultural sensitivity into your website in ways that can make a difference? Well, you need to focus on not just the content you put onto the website, but the underlying actions of everyone contributing to it. In essence, you should be giving your staff — including any freelance web designers, content writers, and marketing professionals — the educational tools they need to maintain a website that is cognizant and considerate of cultural differences.
A focus on improving intercultural communication in your organization has to be a priority here. This is a process that supports cultural sensitivity by implementing behavior to create a meaningful shared experience between people of different cultures, languages, and backgrounds. You need to help all members of your organization to recognize the hurdles standing in the path of good intercultural communications — language barriers, ethnocentric attitudes, and even anxiety about differences. From there, you can start to build protocols geared toward providing regular education on positive cultural engagement, and help you and your staff to celebrate and respect diversity throughout your business and your website.
This also provides opportunities to involve your entire staff in informing the positive direction of your website. While they will all have individual roles in the practical elements of design and maintenance, you should hold meetings in which all stakeholders can collaborate in bringing their cultural insights to the website project. Through their training to gain a deeper understanding of the value of diverse cultures, they will each have perspectives that can make your site more inclusive and avoid any costly errors.
Push for Authenticity
You can’t hope to benefit fully from cultural sensitivity on your website if this is a purely superficial act. Indeed, many businesses have found themselves losing the engagement of consumers by performatively featuring social causes and professions of solidarity on their online channels. Worse, there are increasing examples of “woke washing,” in which businesses use their marketing to suggest a commitment to progressive standards, while their organizational structure and behavior demonstrate the opposite. The best option for your success and for your website to have a positive impact on the community is pushing for authenticity.
This begins with meaningful multicultural community engagement. In many ways, the success of a business is very much tied to the success of a community, and prioritizing efforts to contribute to the development and enrichment of diverse populations begins a cycle of mutual benefit. This could include hosting and participating in charity events that are important to a community, sponsoring organizations dedicated to cultural elevation, and even partnering with small business owners from marginalized backgrounds. This not only solidifies your connections to the community but can actually form an important part of your website content. Blog posts and videos can show your consumers the culturally supportive efforts you’re making, while also encouraging them to do the same.
Another significant element of authenticity is accountability. Your willingness to express that your efforts are still a work in progress, and being open to criticism can boost your credibility with your website visitors. Dedicate a section of your website to outline your motivations, your commitment to due diligence, and inclusive actions. Make sure this includes an invitation to raise concerns with you or provide feedback. Your visitors will appreciate this meaningful dialogue alongside your openness. This is also a way in which cultural sensitivity benefits your business — you get valuable insights into how you can be better.
No doubt including elements of cultural sensitivity on your website can boost your engagement with your audience. However, this should never be applied as a simple marketing tactic. Your business and your consumers will always get the most out of your interactions when you approach inclusivity with a commitment to continued education and authenticity.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.