Over the past few years, we’ve been fortunate enough to witness and be part of a shift in the hegemonic understanding of gender. For fear of over-simplifying, I won’t even try to list the socio-political pressures that have lead us to this important cultural moment. Rather, I’ll focus on the actionable steps we can take to address gender inclusivity through our email programs.
While we certainly can’t ignore that diversity and inclusion are good for business, my aim in this blog post is to stray away from your company’s bottom line and instead focus on you. How can you make meaningful changes to your email program that reflect the importance of gender inclusivity and connect with all of your customers? How can you use your powerful platform as a marketer to represent more types of people in your email marketing programs?
Here are some easy ways to get started:
Use gender-neutral pronouns
Language is obviously an incredibly powerful tool that we as marketers (and human beings) have at our disposal. However, as we all know, language is incredibly fickle– words and phrases that may have been widely accepted even 5 years ago may no longer work in today’s world. And, even trickier, words can take on new meanings altogether. They is a perfect example of this and is in large part why Merriam-Webster named it their 2019 Word of The Year. According to the dictionary publisher, lookups for they increase by 313% over the previous year.
Accordingly, one of the most simple ways to make your emails more gender inclusive? Ditch gendered pronouns like he and she and use the gender-neutral they instead. Using they instead of he and she allows you to be more inclusive of those whose gender identity is non-binary. This easy change will allow you to include a group of people who up until recently were not represented in English pronouns.
Segment based on behavior rather than gendered assumptions
In their study, the American Psychological Association found that a person’s gender has little to no bearing on their personality. More than that, a study found that 81% of Generation Z believes that gender doesn’t define people as much as it used to. With such staggering findings surrounding gender, it’s time that marketers stop making assumptions about their customers purely based on gender.
When segmenting audiences, avoid grouping customers based solely on gender. As evidenced by the aforementioned research, many people have interests that don’t conform to “traditional” gender roles. Rather than using gender as a criteria for segmentation, focus more on customers’ behavior like their tendency to open your emails. This sort of analysis will allow you to target more nuanced personas rather than just those of the staunchly blue or pink variety.
Add more gender options to your email sign-up process
Sign-up is a great time to collect important personalization data about your customers. Beyond asking users what their email is and what types of messages they’d like to receive ask for their gender pronouns. This will allow you to not only learn more about who is engaging with your email programs but will allow you to personalize when necessary. For instance, if a customer writes in with a question, it’s important to have this information so your support team can address the customer in the most respectful way possible. In order to be sensitive to and understanding of your customers’ needs, sometimes all you need to do is just ask!
I encourage you to employ these 3 tips when structuring your email marketing program. Small adjustments like these can mean a lot to an individual customer. And, while at the end of the day our goal as marketers is ultimately to sell, I believe we can do so responsibly by understanding, representing, and even empowering customers through the language and marketing strategies we choose.
P.S. Do you have more strategies for creating gender-inclusive emails? I’d love to hear them! Drop me a line on LinkedIn.