The AIDA Formula – and How to Actually Use it in Your Copywriting

The AIDA formula stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action and it’s probably one of the best-known acronyms in direct response marketing.

This is a tried and tested way to breakdown your communications, ensuring your copy delivers all the required elements to achieve success.

AIDA serves as a reminder when planning and writing your copy to identify and assess the different stages a buyer goes through to make a purchase.

As a copywriter, using AIDA will help you to attract your readers’ attention and take them through the buying process and instigate a lead or sale.

Attention

Attracting your target market’s attention is vital. If you fall at the first hurdle any following messages will become irrelevant, as the reader will never get to see them.

You need to attract and engage the reader with a compelling hook to encourage them to read on.

Do your research and ensure your opening message is clear, engaging, in keeping with your brand and product, and aimed directly at your target audience.  Think about what you are offering and how it fulfils their needs. 

Attract their attention, identify the need and offer the solution.

Interest 

Ok, so you have your readers attention – how do you take a potential customer to the next level?

This is where you need to explain the benefits of your product and/or service.

Address their needs: Why would they want your product/service? What need does it fulfil for them? Why choose your business ahead of a competitor?

Tell the story.  

Make it personal.  Show your audience that you understand them, that you care about their needs and demonstrate how your product/service offers the best solution.

Desire

The desire and interest stage often go hand in hand. You’ve now piqued their interest and informed the reader of the benefits your product or service can offer – now you need to generate desire.

Move the reader from I like, to I need. 

Here you can drill down on the benefits and how the product/service will solve their problem, meet their specific need and make their life better/easier.  This is about moving the story on from simply outlining the benefits such as a discount, or the practicalities of your offering to more emotive messaging.

Know your customer. If you understand their motivation it will help to hone your message and create desire.  Inspire them into the next step – Action.

Action

The last step is designed to seal the deal.  You’ve attracted the reader with your offering, explained the benefits, created an emotive pull to create desire – now it’s time to convert the prospective customer into a lead or sale.

This is called a call to action (CTA).

Depending on your preferred method, you can use a hard or soft sell approach (see link for a detailed explanation).

For example, a CTA written as hard sell might read “30% off and free delivery if you order before 5 pm.” Here the seller is creating a sense of urgency to motivate the customer into action.

A soft sell CTA could read “Relax in one of the finest spas in Edinburgh, {enter name} a must for guests wishing to truly pamper themselves or a loved one.  Book today by calling {enter number} or enquire here {add link}.

If your copy is for a CTA on a website, many now opt for a call-to-action button that simply states “buy now” or “book now” teamed with a breakdown of the offering and a product image.

Be careful not to become complacent at this point. Just because the potential customer has followed your trail of breadcrumbs through to the CTA stage, a sale isn’t a sale until they’ve purchased something.

Many online sellers use abandoned checkout emails as a safety net to pull back customers that got right to the end of the process but, for whatever reason, didn’t complete the sale.

Don’t miss an opportunity to convert by burying your CTA in too much copy or making the purchase process too complicated. 

You have their attention; their interest and they now desire your product.  Keep it simple and make it an easy next step to complete the sale.

Here are some examples:

  • Using AIDA in Sales Emails:

Depending on the product or service, it can be a bit ambitious to expect sales through an email however, it can lead to concrete action. The email subject line is the crucial part. Focus on one action in the subject line and make it clear and concise. For example: DON’T MISS OUT! 1000’s of lines £20 & under!

The subject line should attract the reader’s attention, piquing their interest to find out more. Create desire with the body copy, ultimately leading to taking action by reaching the CTA button.

  • Using AIDA in blog posts:

AIDA helps bloggers structure their blogs to drive the readers to take action in a specific form. It helps in creating content engagement. Try including “Subscribe here”, or “Leave a comment” to engage with your audience.

AIDCA and IDCA

AIDCA is a variation of AIDA. It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, and Action. Conviction helps you to build trust. You need to convince your readers that the information they’re reading is true, and it is safe to act.

The use of testimonials, endorsements, demos and statistics are all good ways of creating confidence and building trust to achieve conviction.

For IDCA, you need to drop Attention. Here for example, you may not need to attract attention again on your landing page, if the reader has already been guided through via a sales email. In this case, you can proceed directly to the interest stage.

Variations to the AIDA Formula:

Many experts consider the AIDA model to be a little too simplistic and marketing strategy differs when you sell online compared to a brick-and-mortar store. All of which is true.

Copywriting is an art and to be a great copywriter is about understanding far more than just formulas and acronyms.  That said, they serve as a solid foundation to guide you and ensure that you are thinking about the reader’s journey at each step.

Hence there are different variations to the classic AIDA formula:

NAITDASE: Need, Attention, Interest; Trust, Design, Action; Satisfaction and Evaluation

AIDCAS: Action, Interest, Desire, Confidence, Action, and Satisfaction

REAN: Reach, Engage, Activate, and Nurture

Summary 

There are a great many copywriting formulae but AIDA remains a good, solid starting point. A strong headline attracts attention, a compelling introduction will create interest, desire comes from understanding and engaging your audience and finally, close with a CTA.

Frequently Asked Questions

AIDA Definition

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It is a formula that acts as a guide for messaging through the different stages of effective direct marketing.

Who created the AIDA model?

An American businessman, E. St. Elmo Lewis, coined the AIDA model in 1898.

His vision was to create a formula that would optimize sales interactions between a seller and a buyer pertaining to a specific product.

How is the AIDA model useful?

AIDA serves as a solid foundation to guide a copywriter through the stages of effective direct marketing.

The AIDA model is not the only consideration when writing engaging, sale-focused copy, but can keep you on track and focused on the customer’s journey through each step.

How to Implement the AIDA Model?

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. It is an effective way to guide your direct marketing communications.

Firstly, a strong headline or ‘hook’ attracts attention. You should then follow with a compelling introduction to your product or service to create interest and highlight the benefits to the customer.

Desire comes from understanding and engaging with your audience, so they can see how the product will meet their needs.  This will serve to confirm the purchase decision in the mind of the customer and take them through to the final step – Action.  Close with a clear CTA (call to action) to complete the sale.

About Gemma Wright

I'm Gemma Wright, co-owner of ProCopyTips and a freelance PR consultant and copywriter. Having worked as a PR Manager for large financial services companies in the UK, I now focus on helping small and growing businesses to thrive through the power of effective communications.

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