How Apple’s New Software Update Impacts Advertising

Overview of the change

A new privacy feature was released on Monday 4/26/21 with the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14.5. This includes a new feature called App Tracking Transparency, a significant step for user privacy, giving people more control over their mobile phone app data and how it’s used by companies, like Facebook and LinkedIn, for personalized ad targeting.

The first time users open an app on their iPhone or iPad after they update, they will be prompted with an option to opt out of tracking that monitors their behavior and shares that data with third parties. It’s generally believed that a small percentage of users will opt-in to allow tracking. Time will tell exactly how small, but early predictions have ranged from 2% to 20% opt-in. Recently, a mobile attribution firm AppsFlyer ran a study that showed a 39% opt-in rate.

While it’s an exciting development for users, this update is causing apprehension in business owners and marketers because it impacts data tracking permissions and therefore efficacy of some campaigns. This won’t necessarily mean an end to all tracking, but as more and more users opt out of tracking, we will experience some notable changes in how we’re able to measure performance and tactics/strategies we’ll be able to deploy.

Impact on Facebook / LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

The changes to the Apple iOS 14 App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework including the Identifier for Advertiser (IDFA) will have a limited impact on these types of ad campaigns.

LinkedIn impact:

  • Shifts in delivery across LinkedIn Audience Network placements.
  • Smaller target audience sizes when using Matched Audiences data
  • Smaller audience sizes for website retargeting.
  • Potential decline in conversions, if dependent on IDFA.

Facebook impact:

  • Some campaign results will be counted differently
  • New limit on web events (limited to 8 conversion events)
  • A domain will need to be selected for each ad to measure conversions
  • Audience sizes may decrease

What we recommend for the short term

  • Enable or update to Facebook’s SDK for iOS 14 version 8.1
  • Verify your domain and enable the conversions API
  • Configure and prioritize your 8 conversion events or choose to rely on your website analytics tool to track conversions from your campaigns
  • Rethink the customer journey–review strategies and where you might need to pivot your approach

What we recommend for the long term

Consider developing “value exchange” strategies to collect first party data that you can use to build direct relationships with prospects and customers. First party data includes any data collected directly from your audience, such as the following:

  • Events/Webinars
  • Email subscriptions
  • Resource downloads
  • Form submissions
  • Data collected through web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics

Key takeaway

As digital platforms tighten up on privacy, knowing your customers, their pain points, resources and tools they need is more important than ever. Ask yourself, how current are your personas? Do you need additional customer research? How can you collect more first party data?

Are You Mapping Your Location Data?

mapping your location data

If your business is global, or operating in different regions of the US, you probably have access to large volumes of “geocoded” location data. This is any data that includes specific region, country, address, city, state or latitude / longitude coordinates. Creating digital maps out of your location data can bring robust trends and insights to life, helping to turn raw information into actionable business intelligence.

Business benefits 

Whether in static or interactive formats, maps are the best way to visualize your location data, offering valuable information about what’s happening where (and how much). You can use maps to:

  • Gain marketing intelligence – see where key competitors or customers are located
  • Improve prospecting – target potential customers based on density of desired attributes
  • Support sales pitches – showcase things like global expertise or staff density

Types of map-based data visualizations

Mapping frameworks available today are able to layer data from different sources to help tell a comprehensive story.

Dot maps represent simple objects in a given area.

When to use it: Dot maps can be used to present a general overview of elements distributed over a geographic region. For example, the dot map below could be showcasing office or customer locations.

dot map for business locations

Bubble maps are similar to dot maps but show quantity as well as location.

When to use it: Bubble maps represent quantity and can be used when you need to show the difference in sizes of values. For example, the bubble map below could be pinpointing areas with higher concentrations of potential customers.

bubble map to show high concentrations

Choropleth maps display data in relation to a data variable.

When to use it: Choropleths can be used to visualize data ranges in a geographic region, to see patterns and variations in a desired attribute. For example, the choropleth map below could be examining purchase volume on a state-by-state basis.

choropleth map visualization example

Heat maps use color to display density.

When to use it: Heatmaps use location trends to show density using a color gradient. For example, the heatmap below could help visualize the density of customer service representatives located throughout certain metro areas.

heatmap visualization

Mapping frameworks

There are countless mapping frameworks / platforms available today. These are just a handful to give you food for thought as you start your process.

  • Google My Maps: Google Maps is a popular platform that overlays your provided data over map views, giving you options to build in interactive features. Check out this map from CAL FIRE that shows general locations of major fires burning in California.
  • MapBox: MapBox helps you build professionally designed, smooth vector maps that can be customized to your project. This example was created to help a New York bike share system visualize and analyze where and when bicycles are transferred and bike availability patterns.
  • Tableau: Tableau works with multiple data sources to create combined, interactive visuals. Click through this sample superstore dashboard to see an example of what can be done in Tableau.

Questions to ask before you choose a framework

  • How much does it cost? Does it have a flexible pricing structure?
  • Does it require an account or membership to use?
  • What kind of customization options does it have?
  • Is it easy to use? Is there support and/or training available?

Want to learn how to better leverage your location data? The Signal team is here to help.

Increase Employee Engagement with Intranet UX Design

intranet ux design

You know how important it is to give your customers a positive user experience (UX) with your website. Now what about your employees?

If you work for a large organization, you’re probably using SharePoint as your intranet / employee portal platform. But no matter which platform you’re using, in today’s increasingly digital workplaces, your intranet is critical to finding and sharing information, especially for remote workers located across the country – or the globe. The intranet is a vital hub for corporate communications, team collaboration and access to business applications, not to mention HR activities across the employee lifecycle.

Why invest in intranet UX?

The benefits of intranet UX include:

  • Improved efficiency: Making your intranet’s navigation system more intuitive and organizing content allows your employees to independently find information quickly and easily. Better design helps people get their jobs done more effectively!
  • Community building: Branding an intranet for your company makes employees feel it is theirs. Creating ownership can increase usage. Employees feel like spending time learning, exploring and interacting with others there.
  • More effective communication: It’s easy for your intranet to quickly become cluttered and difficult for employees to access the information they need. It’s necessary to periodically clean house with a user-centered approach to ensure content is easy to find any anything outdated is removed.

4 steps to great UX 

Improving the SharePoint user experience for your employees is a four-step process:

  1. Find opportunities for improvement: The first step in the UX process is to use existing data –conduct several interviews or use surveys to gather internal feedback and review metrics like top site search keywords to determine user needs and opportunities for improvement within your intranet.
  2. Optimize your intranet’s structure: Next, audit the tasks and content of your intranet to determine inconsistency, hidden options and clumsy UI mechanics. Use this insight to develop a new site map that removes redundancy and makes paths more relevant and intuitive. In terms of content, determine what content is outdated, edit existing content that needs polish, and develop any new content that may be missing.
  3. Create prototypes: Develop clickable UI wireframes of key pages that address user needs and make content easy to access, understand and use. Use an iterative Agile development process to get direct feedback from users as early and often as possible.
  4. Implement, test and optimize: The last step of the process is to incorporate the updated design, content and functionality into your intranet. Don’t forget to test with real intranet users to ensure optimal UX.

Ready for more? Check out our User-Centered Design Playbook to learn how Signal helped one company improve their website UX.



user-centered design case study

User-Centered Design Playbook

Website case study

User-Centered Design

The world’s largest independent distributor of Toyotas called upon Signal to audit and optimize their finance website to provide customers with an improved user experience for managing their vehicle leases and loans.

Their goals were to improve navigation and usability issues, and to personalize content based on where customers are in the life cycle.

In this new case study, you’ll learn about the steps our team took to enhance the customer experience (CX).





Our UX optimization approach typically follows a 4 step process, tailored based on client needs. With this project, our first step was to understand current website performance and identify opportunities using existing data and information. Evaluating basic website metrics and internal feedback is an efficient way to gain insight into the present state of affairs.

Planning and Research

Put a measurement plan in place

Don’t forget to set your goals at the outset of the project. For a website, this may include things like fewer clicks, faster actions, reducing call center support or fixing reported usability issues. You’ll want to be able to measure improvements on these key metrics later.

We find that more companies are using an organic approach to UX optimization for their websites – meaning they replace full website redesign efforts (every few years) with continuous improvements to ensure the best possible customer experience.

Scrutinize website analytics

Your next step is to take a close look at your website analytics. It’s important to know which pages are getting views, so you can focus efforts on those that are most visited. As Forbes notes1, web analytics:

  • Allow you to personalize things to frequent visitors’ distinct tastes
  • Reveal what’s working – or not – from a UX / CX perspective
  • Enable you to proactively fix site issues before they escalate
  • Inform the customer journey – if you take time to use and listen to the data!

Analytics for our client revealed a couple of major action items. Their Home, Account Summary and Login pages carried 80% of the visitor traffic, and they needed UX attention. Analytics also revealed more mobile users than previously known – a critical point to keep in mind when redesigning web elements.

Investigate hot site search terms

We always recommend looking at search terms / keywords, because while some people use search as a primary means of navigation, most are using it because they are having trouble finding the information they need. The following top search words helped us prioritize certain information on the site:

Search image


  1. statement, statements
  2. payment history, pay
  3. interest rate, refinance
  4. payoff
  5. extension

Listen to the call center

Employees who work in the client’s call center are on the front lines fielding customer questions – especially those that could be answered by an effective site structure and relevant content. CSRs told us there were a number of areas which needed to be built out on the website. Based on their feedback, we improved instructions and UI to ensure that customers:

  • View the status of pending payments
  • See their outstanding balance, payoff amount, due date and interest rate prominently featured
  • Find an easy selection area for invoice preference (paper or paperless)

Look at customer survey data

Like website analytics, your customer survey data is another fertile source of information about pain points. Dig in and see if there’s anything relevant.

Cool tools for deeper dives

Heat Maps

Heatmaps and recordings

helped us see users’ movement within key pages, giving us a more accurate idea about engagement.



allowed us to be mindful of users’ key characteristics and needs.

Customer Journey Map

Customer journey maps

broke down the steps and phases, so that we could clearly see pain points and capture ideas for improvements.

GET THE DETAILS on these methods in our UX Demystified white paper





If you’ve ever gotten lost, you know about the importance of having a good map to steer you right! The concept extends to the sometimes twisting, turning paths of website navigation. As the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) points out2:

Information Architecture

“Structure and navigation must support each other and integrate with search and across subsites. Complexity, inconsistency, hidden options, and clumsy UI mechanics prevent users from finding what they need.”

Audit website tasks and content

Our first step in thinking about information architecture – that is, the organization and labeling of website information – was to conduct a thorough audit of the client’s current site. This allowed us to create a comprehensive catalog of content and user tasks, segmented by stages of the customer lifecycle.

Action / content Onboarding 1 – 3 months 3 – 12 months 12+ months
Register for an account X
Learn about my vehicle’s features X
View my balance X X X
New lease rates X X
Monthly service coupons X X X
New vehicle offers X
View my payoff X

Use card sorting to optimize information architecture

Using the information gleaned in the audit, we conducted open and closed card sorting sessions with 25 users on a digital platform called Optimal Workshop. Card sorting is an easy UX research method that allows users to categorize content and tasks – as well as to develop intuitive navigation labels. The chart below answers3 some of the questions you may have.

When is card sorting helpful?
  • To find out how users expect to see information on a website
  • To organize a sitemap
  • To organize submenus
  • To classify products or services
How do you do card sorting?
  • Use a digital platform, such as Optimal Workshop, to categorize items and allow session participants sort them into groups that make sense to them.
What is the difference between “open” and “closed” card sort testing?
  • With open card sorting, users can create their own categories or add missing information. This helps you categorize and prioritize tasks/content and label groups.
  • Closed card sorting limits participants to using only those cards provided. The goal is to optimize and confirm your chosen navigation categories and labels.

Card sorting matrix

Develop a new site map

The Signal team combined all the feedback from user research along with IA best practices and testing to create the final site architecture, removing redundancy and making paths more relevant and intuitive to the tasks at hand.




USER INTERFACE defines user interface (UI) as a focus on “anticipating what users might need to do and ensuring that the interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions.”4

Based on our findings from research and testing, we worked with a number of methods to show our client the new user flow, functionality and layouts.

User Interface

Wireframes: a quick and cost-effective way to prove concepts

These low-fidelity iterations connected the information architecture we created to its visual design, helping us:

  • Prioritize content
  • Allocate space to given items
  • Decide where to locate items


Clickable prototypes: conveying intended functionality in the interface

Don’t build it – “fake it” first! Both wireframes and prototypes are mockups of the proposed site or application, but we recommend prototyping to experience functionality. The clickable site prototype gave us something to test, so we could work iterations faster than with fully functional code.

Higher fidelity mockup: the final step before the site build

Finally, we applied styles and branding to give users a preview of what the site would look like. The goal: improve design first before moving into (potentially) more time-consuming coding and development.

High fidelity layout

Agile development

At Signal, we operate from a place of “customer first.” And for us, that means thinking about what’s important to the end customer – our clients’ clients. This is a cornerstone of the Agile methodology, an iterative design process that aims to get the work into the hands of the customer as early and often as possible. It can be applied to any project, from websites and marketing communications to digital apps.

Learn how we do Agile at Signal!





Conduct user testing

The last step of the process is to test the new design with real website users to ensure optimal UX / CX. User testing doesn’t have to be as daunting – and expensive – as the traditional focus group in a lab environment. There are many digital platforms to help recruit volunteers and conduct tests. We chose, a site that uses crowdsourced testers who are ready and waiting. You can even define your target attributes such as age or gender.

Testing and Optimization

For our client, we assembled 10 tester volunteers for “think aloud” user testing, using’s easy online platform. (For the user experience design geeks out there, “think aloud” testing is one type of remote unmoderated usability study.5)

A remote unmoderated usability study is when participants complete pre-determined activities using a design or interface. The participant decides when and where they would like to complete the study, and uses an online tool to participate, provide feedback, and record the session.”

The male and female testers ranged in age from 18 – 65 and were average computer users. We tested the client’s current design against our new design, using simple tasks such as “Find your payment history” or “Change your user/password.” Listening to real users narrate their way through web pages was incredibly valuable.

  • “Hey, it’s not popping out at me…” [OLD DESIGN]
  • “I’m confused about vehicle vs. account maintenance…” [OLD DESIGN]
  • “Yes, this is where I want to go…” [NEW DESIGN]

Listen to a few clips from the live user testing sessions.

The UX experts at NNG call think aloud testing the #1 usability tool, and for good reason. The benefits include6 being:

  • Cheap, because you don’t need special equipment to gather insights
  • Robust, because it’s easy to get good findings (without a lot of statistical expertise)
  • Flexible, because you can use it any stage of development
  • Convincing, because clients love direct insight into how their customers think and act


  • Improved “time to task”
  • Validated label names
  • Prioritized better navigation and page layout
  • Tone and attitude changes from frustration to confidence from old to new design

Improved key metrics from the measurement plan put in place at the beginning of the process

Final thoughts

User-centered design principles can improve the overall customer journey, which helps you:

  • Better compete in the marketplace
  • Turn happy customers into repeat customers
  • Shorten the customer lifecycle

The UX / CX process we outlined in this case study can be scaled to fit your needs. The deeper you go, the more you can uncover and fix.


Signal’s multi-disciplinary team of writers, designers, strategists and technologists won’t lean towards a one-size-fits-all solution – we’ll craft one just for you.



Why Your Company Needs a Corporate Video

Did you know that watching videos made up 69% of all global consumer internet traffic in 2017? That’s why your company has to have at least one stake in the ground with a good corporate video. We’re not talking Hollywood masterpieces here, but interesting and professional videos that tell your story and show discerning consumers that your company is run by authentic, committed people. This short article, Part 2 of our new series on video marketing, offers some food for thought.

The benefits

  • Increased engagement: Consumers are more likely to press play on a video rather than to read through text on the same topic. Video content is easy to take in, and because the brain processes images faster than text, your message will be more memorable in video form.
  • Social sharing: No less than 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day! People love sharing a creative, engaging videos that entertain, educate or tell a cool story.
  • Better branding: Bringing your products and people to life help an audience form an emotional connection (which means they’ll be more likely to engage and share). It’s all about personality and the human touch.
  • Uptick in SEO and ROI: Videos are awesome at driving traffic and increase the chances that you’ll rank higher on Google. In fact, an optimized video is 52 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results.

Check out Part 1 of our series, Video (High) Resolutions for 2019.

Corporate video best practices

CONTENT: As with any marketing content, make sure that your video is engaging, conveys an important message and adds value for the viewer.

QUALITY: Remember that people will form an immediate impression based on the quality of your images, video, music and on-screen copy. Your video must be high-quality.

CALL-TO-ACTION: Who’s watching this video, and what do you want them to do next? Make sure your video ends on a high note with a key takeaway, followed by a strong CTA.

SEO: Make sure your video includes a relevant, descriptive title and the right keywords. For bonus points, add a transcript.

REPURPOSING: Once you’ve made the investment, max that video content by slicing it into short clips to use on social networks, in emails, at tradeshows – endless possibilities!

Ready to tell your story with a corporate video? The Signal team can help your customers see the people behind the product.

Digital Tools for Every Stage of the Funnel

When you have just a moment to capture someone’s eye, interactive digital content is a terrific hook. Studies show that interactive content is reusable, helps nurture leads – and aids in retention of your message. Consider great digital tools like the examples below to help customers “live” your brand at every stage of the sales funnel.


When you’re looking to build awareness, even the simplest digital tool can add zing – and make your brand memorable. Quizzes are a popular way to create awareness early on. With a little more work, attention-grabbing photo or social collages are a stellar way to allow people to explore your product or service.



User generated content highlights photos and stories about hardworking people and tools for a unique digital and social experience.


Configurators, selection engines and other tools allow prospects to explore available product options. They also strengthen your value proposition. We also like using assessments and calculators at this stage of the game – entering information and learning about tangible benefits has high engagement value.

Cree Product Selector


The interactive tool takes users through a series of questions to help choose between numerous product options.


Tempting prospects with helpful information is the soul of content marketing. And interactive digital tools help cement the connection.  At this stage, we recommend cool tools like interactive infographics and interactive whitepapers to offer helpful education, data and thought leadership.

GE Selector / Value Calculator


A product selector tool with embedded calculators helps customers access immediate pricing estimates and value calculations.


At this stage, you know prospects are interested. The right digital tool can gather measurable data about potential clients and their needs – allowing you to follow up with targeted information. Try games, assessments and calculators here.

SnapApp Content Land Game


The fun, data-driven game educates users about the value of interactivity and gathers useful lead information.


When it’s time to make the sale, interactive tools can assist customers over the finish line with content such as interactive catalogs or solution planners. Lookbooks and tours can be another tool to use at the sales stage, making it easy for prospects to move from exploration to purchase.

Nuclear Energy Services App


An engaging iPad app showcases GE’s service offerings in nuclear plant safety and maintenance.


Improve customers’ experience over the long term with any of the tools to expand on your brand and help customers learn about products. 

Fly Delta Mobile App


This app offers customers a map view of the last scanned location of their checked luggage, giving them a sense of confidence and control.

Thinking about a new digital tool to capture customers? Learn about Signal’s proven process here.


See how gender behavior drives CX

Gender & Generation Marketing

Learn about gender and generation marketing

Today’s online ecosystem is increasingly sophisticated and complex, making audience targeting and customer experience (CX) insanely important. Success lies in having a deep understanding of your target audience – being able to see your products through their eyes – to deliver the perfect content and website experience. Consider gender and generational differences for a fresh look at your online product marketing for 2018.

Gender behavior drives CX

  • Like to systemize
  • Shopping is a job to get done quickly, without fuss
  • Attracted by website tools / functionality – the utilitarian side of things
  • Like to empathize
  • Shopping is an interpersonal exercise and browsing is fun
  • Attracted by social communication and eye-catching design

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but in general, women focus on the experience while men focus on completing the mission. Women typically enjoy beautiful colors and layout, with social features like reviews. Men are more likely to want to get in and get out with an efficient process. Whether you’re talking to people who are 21 or 51, do your due diligence and user testing to make sure you have the right look to hook your audience.

Don’t call them middle-aged

Women over 40 are part of a growing ageless generation of “perennials” who don’t dress, behave or purchase the way their mothers did. Perennials are a curious, tech-savvy, relevant, engaged demographic who are “ever-blooming.”

  • 96% don’t consider themselves middle-aged
  • 67% feel they are in the prime of life
  • 84% don’t define themselves by age
  • 91% feel advertisers don’t understand them

Forever young

In 2016, 62% of those aged 55 – 64 were employed. And the overall population of older Americans is growing and expected to more than double by 2060. Although Millennials will eclipse other generations in the workforce in the next decade, they’re not there yet. Don’t miss the mark with the big spenders of today – Generation X and Boomers – by focusing solely on Millennials. Including the perennials in your plan is a marketing win.

Need help putting customer data to work for you? Give the Signal team a call.

Switch from cross-posting to cross-promoting


Staying above the endless stream of social media noise is hard work. To keep your audiences engaged, you need to share interesting content constantly. What’s a busy social media manager to do? Check out our recommendations below!

Cross-posting: saving time but sacrificing effectiveness

When you have an item to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other accounts, it’s tempting to cross-post the exact same content on all of them and be done with it. However, you run the risk of repelling audiences with repetition – or content that doesn’t fit. Automating your social updates with cross-posting is not the answer.

Each social channel has its own rules, practices, audiences and quirks – so trying to make one piece of content fit every format isn’t effective.

Consider Instagram’s love for clever hashtags and banishment of hyperlinks as part of posts. Those hashtags won’t play as well on Facebook, where the hyperlink gets great traction. Cross-posting may provide an appealing level of efficiency, but it also comes with a disenchanting level of effectiveness and lost engagement.

Cross-promoting: adapting content to increase engagement

Cross-promotion involves tailoring content to each social media network. The process is more time-consuming but the ROI is worth it. If you have your core messages defined, cross-promoting can be pretty easy.

Where cross-posting may seem lazy or robotic to folks who follow you on multiple platforms, cross-promotion suggests that your brand is human and relatable. Adapting your content for each platform allows you to speak the language of that platform, hold your followers’ attention and get the most possible engagement.

Best practices in cross-promotion

First, make sure your posts maintain the human element. Provide points of interaction in your posts – ask questions, request opinions, engage followers and be sure to respond to them personally.

Consider these best practices to max out your engagement:

  • Use a strong headline and message. Take the time to find just the right words and make sure that headline is a great hook! Consider doing some A/B testing to determine what kinds of messaging work best for your audience.
  • Share to the most relevant networks. Not all content is suited for all networks.
  • Optimize your content. Follow the network’s unspoken rules and expectations for sharing to get the best performance out of your content.
  • Stagger your posts. Post at the optimal times for each network. (See our cheat sheet!)
  • Include a clear call-to-action. Your messages should ultimately be tied to a larger purpose beyond being seen or liked.

As with any social media strategy, the proof is in the ROI. Let us help you build a stellar social media presence today.

paid social

Is organic social media costing you customers?

paid social media strategy

A recent article on the popular Occam’s Razor marketing blog caused a stir by suggesting that marketers stop all organic social media marketing activity. We compiled the key points – and a suggestion for how you can get the biggest bang for your buck with social media.

The dream of organic reach

When they first launched, popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter offered an exciting opportunity to relate to customers on a more personal level and to build meaningful, long-term relationships. Brands began to have actual conversations with their customers, becoming a presence in their lives. Some companies got on the content marketing bandwagon, using the opportunity to share interesting content worthy of customers’ attention.

Unfortunately, many brands fell into the same old sales pitch habits on social media. And as customers ignored the “buy me!” messaging, platforms like Facebook restricted how much organic brand content users saw. This triggered a “death spiral” of ever-decreasing brand reach as brand posts saw even less engagement. The result? An almost negligible return for time spent creating all that social media content, across many platforms.

The low value of organic social

Want to gauge the value of your own social media posts? It’s pretty simple:

  • Measure your likes, shares and other engagement against the number of times your post was viewed.
  • Measure your post views against your total page likes.

Your numbers may shock you, but you aren’t alone. Consider a major customer management software company:

  • More than 30,000 clients
  • Facebook page with 1,433,784 likes
    • Most recent share was for a giveaway (a post that naturally draws more attention than others) and has been viewed 24,000 times and shared 59 times
  • The post has 743 likes and 141 comments

Those 24,000 views (.02% of the 1,433,784 page likes) are actually high for a post. Still, of those views:

  • .03% clicked a thumbs-up or other happy icon
  • .002% found the content worth sharing with friends
  • .006% left a comment

All that engagement still doesn’t come close to 1%!

What’s the return?

On the other hand, the company claims to reach more than 4.5 million readers each month with its blog. Based on the numbers above, it’s a sure bet those readers aren’t coming from organic social media marketing.

Is it really worth the company’s time, energy and marketing dollars to reach less than 1% of their page followers for not even half a percentage point in engagement? The math just doesn’t add up.

Now, consider the more than 4.5 million people who read the company’s newsletter, most receiving it by email on a regular basis. Even if only 1% of those folks actually read the content and choose to interact with the company, that’s 45,000 people.

The solution: Move to a paid social strategy 

Organic social media marketing may be on the way out – but social media is here to stay. Make one change and you’ll start seeing results: switch from a “fuzzy” organic strategy to paid social marketing.

  1. Test different targeting tactics in multiple channels to reach your ideal audience.
  2. Refocus your KPIs to metrics that show a direct line to company profit.
  3. Measure your impact and improve or eliminate under-performing efforts.

Don’t ditch your social media strategy – make it better! Reach out to see how we can help you shift to targeted paid social media marketing.

Website Accessibility 101

Reduce your legal risk & increase your reach

The World Health Organization estimates that more than a billion people in the world today live with a disability.1 And those people want and need to use the internet in their daily lives. Web accessibility makes the entire web more useful to everyone. It’s become even more critical thanks to the recent Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores case, where the court ruled that the supermarket chain’s inaccessible website violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark ruling could have implications for future lawsuits – and sets an important precedent for other digital accessibility cases. The bottom line is that businesses without accessible websites and mobile apps are now exposed to greater legal risk. And while things are still evolving in this space, there are steps you should take to cover your bases today.

The Winn-Dixie Ruling

Landmark case puts website accessibility front and center

On June 13, 2017, a federal judge in Florida ruled that Winn-Dixie’s website violated a blind man’s rights under the ADA. Juan Carlos Gil was unable to use screen reader software to use coupons, order prescriptions and find store locations on the website – depriving him of the access that the store’s sighted customers have online.

Why is this so significant?2,3,4

  • Digital accessibility lawsuits are on the rise, with a dramatic increase in the past two years. There were more than 6,600 lawsuits in 2016. Winn-Dixie is the latest – and most noteworthy – case in this arena.
  • Winn-Dixie must meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.05 in making its website accessible.
  • Winn-Dixie must provide accessibility training to all employees who work on its website – and ensure that linked third-party vendors, such as Google and American Express, also offer accessible websites.
  • Additionally, the court ruled that Winn-Dixie is even responsible for those parts of its website that are operated by third-party vendors.

It’s interesting to note that Winn-Dixie redesigned their site in 2015 and refreshed it in 2017. They admitted that they never thought about making their website accessible during the redesign process.6 This is a regrettable error that certainly cost them – both in dollars and in reputation!

Your websites should be accessible to disabled users or you could potentially be sued for ADA discrimination. You could also be held responsible for the web accessibility of any third-party vendors who interface with or operate your website.

Access to physical space… or electronic space?

Another critical piece of the Winn-Dixie ruling was the confirmation that Title III of the ADA applies if the website is “heavily integrated” with and serves as a “gateway” for physical stores. We know what you might be thinking: “We’re not a retail business. We don’t have stores, just offices!”

The courts ruled on this point in the National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp. case, noting that people with a disability “have a right to access the services OF a place of public accommodation and not services IN a place of public accommodation” (emphasis added). The ruling went on to say that the “purpose of the ADA is far broader than physical access as it seeks to bar actions or omissions that impair a disabled person’s full enjoyment of the services or goods OF a place of public accommodation” (emphasis added).7

Translation: You don’t have to have physical “stores” for your website to be subject to Title III of the ADA.

Laws & Standards

Most legislation is primarily targeted at governmental entities, which must offer web accessibility. But as the recent Winn-Dixie case and previous cases such as National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp have shown, private companies are not necessarily exempt from having ADA-compliant websites.

Major legal requirements for website accessibility in the U.S.8
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Requires information, programs and services be available to people with disabilities unless the provider can demonstrate it would be an undue burden to do so.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Prevents the federal government from purchasing technology that is not accessible.
  • States have smaller versions of 508 that are intended to guarantee accessible state purchases.
  • Federal and state laws requiring equal employment opportunities also impact digital content for employees.

Winn-Dixie is “the first decision to hold, after a full trial, that a public accommodation violated Title III of the ADA by having an inaccessible website… this decision makes the possibility of an adverse verdict much more real.”9

The Benefits of Accessible Web-Design

Corporate social responsibility

It’s not just about avoiding legal issues. Providing digital access is simply the right thing to do. Can you imagine your life without the internet? It’s a critical resource everything from commerce to healthcare, from government to personal interaction – and disabled people must not be excluded. The World Wide Web Consortium (the group who devised the WCAG standards) notes that an accessible web:10

  • Provides equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities
  • Fulfills a basic human right to access to information and communications technologies (per the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)
  • Supports social inclusion for not only the disabled, but older people, people in rural areas and those in developing countries

Seen in this light, web accessibility is required of any good corporate citizen.

1 in 5 adults in the U.S. has a disability.11

Good business sense

Web accessibility also dovetails with web management best practices you’re probably already implementing – things like creating a positive user experience (UX) and focusing on mobile web design and search engine optimization. It also significantly increases your audience reach.

Website_Accessibility_101 infographic

WCAG 2.0 guidelines are your best way to minimize legal risk for now.

What is it?

WCAG 2.0 is a complex set of guidelines14 outlining a set of success criteria that websites must meet to conform. There are different conformance levels15 – A, AA and AAA, kind of like minor league baseball. offers a great summary of conformance levels:16

  • Level A (minimum) – the most basic web accessibility features
  • Level AA (mid-range) – deals with the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users
  • Level AAA (highest) – the highest level of web accessibility

In a nutshell…

Confused? Your website should address the following:17

Perceivable Available to the senses (vision and hearing primarily) either through the browser or through assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers, screen enlargers, etc.).
Operable Users can interact with all controls and interactive elements using either the mouse, keyboard, or an assistive device.
Understandable Users can interact with all controls and interactive elements using either the mouse, keyboard, or an assistive device.
Robust A wide range of technologies (including old and new user agents and assistive technologies) can access the content.

See Your Next Steps for the best WCAG 2.0 resources!

Implementing an ADA-Compliant Website

Wow, this sounds hard. Will it be a costly hassle?

The WCAG guidelines may look daunting, but accessibility is not difficult to implement if you plan accordingly. We’re talking about some extra attention to web design, content and functionality to meet specified standards. In most cases, accessibility won’t change the look and feel at all. And remember, you’ll likely save money due to the greater reach and efficiency of your accessible website.

Accessible web design best practices

If you’re wondering exactly what to DO to make your website accessible, we’ve assembled this checklist to help you get started.18,19,20

  • Pair images, video and audio with text for visually impaired people who rely on screen readers or people who are hearing-impaired. Text can include captions videos, text transcripts of video content and descriptive alt tags coded on images and graphic elements.
  • Insert headings, lists and other structural elements to help users navigate within a page.
  • Provide headers (the <th> element) for data tables to help users navigate and understand the data.
  • Ensure users can complete and submit all forms and that every form element has a label. Elements include text fields, check boxes and drop-down menus.
  • Make sure that links make sense out of context. People using screen readers can choose to read only the links on a page, so position your text links on adequately descriptive phrases. Break the habit of saying “click here.”
  • And make sure you have working links! Broken links and improperly embedded resources can be a challenge for disabled users.
  • Include download links for media players, so users don’t have to hunt them down online.
  • Ensure the accessibility of non-HTML content – including PDF files, Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Adobe Flash content.
  • Don’t rely on color alone to convey meaning – those using screen readers and those who are colorblind will be left out.
  • Make sure content is clearly written, easy to read, and in a friendly font.
  • Make sure that JavaScript doesn’t require use of a mouse and that your page does not rely on JavaScript to function.
  • Avoid using strobe effects or repeatedly flashing images. These can trigger seizures in those who have epilepsy.
  • Make sure Java applets, scripts and plug-ins are accessible. Disabled users rely on a host of assistive technologies to help them with computers: joysticks, trackballs, screen enlargers, speech synthesizers and screen readers are a few examples.
  • Give users a way to request accessible information or services by posting a phone number and/or email address on your home page (or throughout the site in a fixed position). Ensure that anyone reaching out through these posted channels gets a quick response.
  • Consider conducting periodic user testing with disabled groups to test your pages for ease of use.

Remember, the adaptations you put in place will make web content accessible to users with a range of disabilities. But everyone will benefit from things like good organization, well-written content and clear navigation. It’s the proverbial win-win!

Should I try an accessibility evaluation tool?

There are many tools available21 to help you determine if your websites are accessible. These tools can save you time but they are no substitute for conducting a manual evaluation.22

At Signal, we often use the WAVE tool23 to double check a website’s accessibility. WAVE was developed by WebAIM, a top provider of website accessibility expertise. The tool is easy but meticulous, requiring users to go through every page of the site and fix issues individually. The red “errors” highlight the most egregious issues.

Your next steps

Next steps Resources
1. Familiarize yourself with WCAG 2.0.
2. Audit your websites and mobile apps.
  • WAVE tool or other evaluation tool
3. Complete updates.
4. Create a plan to help you manage ongoing efforts.
5. Conduct regular audits and training of all web staff (and vendors)

Final thought

Are you at risk? Do your websites need to be compliant? There are no hard lines but with the landmark Winn-Dixie ruling, it’s clear that businesses without accessible websites now run a greater risk of violating the ADA. And apart from any legal requirements, accessibility makes the web available to people of all abilities and offers great business benefits. Let the Signal team help make your websites accessible.

Please note that this paper is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. 


  4. Level Access webinar on July 11, 2017,
  6. Level Access webinar on July 11, 2017,