Isn’t it amazing how some companies know exactly what part of their marketing funnel to show you? How do they know what level of interest you are in, without you having to fill out a survey form? Without you telling them that their offer just caught your attention or that you are actually interested in buying? Such is the power of AIDA.
Table of Contents
What is AIDA?
The Stages of the AIDA Model
How Important is AIDA?
How to Determine Which Stage of AIDA the Customer is in?
What is AIDA?
AIDA is a classic marketing model that has been around since 1898. And although it’s an old advertising technique, it is still very much effective today. Advertisers and marketers alike are fully aware of AIDA’s power in any part of the sales pipeline as it provides a clear structure that allows for a better success rate. In the digital marketing world, knowing how to apply AIDA principles would not only help you achieve your marketing KPIs but ultimately improve sales – as any marketing strategy should.
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, which are the stages of a customer’s interest in a product, service, or brand. While each stage could be taken as a standalone process, applying these concepts would make you realize that they are actually more interconnected with each other.
The Stages of AIDA
Grabbing your audience’s attention can take many forms – but as the name suggests, it’s simply just getting your potential customers to notice your product, business, or services you provide. Taking this principle and using it in copywriting, for instance, would of course take the form of text, image, graphic, or even video.
How exactly can you capture the attention of your audience? Here are some tips:
1. Establish A Sense Of Urgency
As mentioned, the beauty of the AIDA formula lies in the fact that it ties up all relevant marketing concepts together – all of its stages are working towards a specific target. Essentially, you want customers to “take action” – right? While that is technically the “last” stage in the AIDA strategy, having that in mind early on in the process could create a better impact.
By establishing a sense of urgency, you not only take “attention-grabbing” to the next level, but you also begin to tap into your audience’s subconscious and make them think that in order for them to gain the benefits of whatever you’re offering, they have to do something, and do it fast.
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon, then you probably have an idea of what this is like – lightning deals are among the best examples of making sure that your customers know what they could potentially “lose” if they don’t act fast. Nobody wants to miss good opportunities, and taking advantage of this will ensure that you get noticed, and, at the same time, that your potential customers will take action right away.
To understand more about establishing a sense of urgency, read through our in-depth guide to the Principle of Urgency.
2. Appeal To Emotions And Senses
There is a lot of psychology working “behind-the-scenes” when it comes to sales and marketing: and emotions and senses are a big part of this. We all want to feel loved, energized, excited, pleasantly overwhelmed, relaxed, refreshed, joyful – that good feeling we get in everything we do makes a mark in our consciousness: and that is what marketers need to fully utilize to get attention.
You can do this by using uniquely descriptive words that tell a clear story of what you want to convey. If you’re talking about perfumes, for example, you should not focus only on the sense of smell – create a scene and build an image in their minds to feel what you want to portray. Allow your words to give your customers an experience that is not limited to what they can see or listen to on your media platform.
3. Be Short And Concise
As a copywriter or advertiser, you should know that keeping your content short and concise not only grabs your audience’s attention – it also helps you stand out from all the other content online.
In a world full of 15-second clips and Instagram stories, you only have about 3 seconds before your potential customer scrolls past your content. Ensuring that those first 3 seconds are used wisely in any ad – be it a video, a copywriting material, or a thumbnail – will enable you to get better attention for your content.
4. Be Specific
In relation to the above, being specific goes a long way in terms of captivating your audience – again, as people have shorter attention spans, you want to get your message across in the shortest possible time, and being specific about your message is the way to do it.
You can easily find this in popular company slogans – Nokia, Nike, McDonald’s, Apple – they all have specific slogans that tell their audience a lot about their companies with just a few words.
Keeping this in mind, when you create content or when you start your marketing campaign for a brand, focus on something specific that will most likely get noticed by your audience, and then you can build from there.
If you’re creating a thumbnail, for example, use three to five words that are very specific to your brand as a headline. If you are selling foundation, use words that you associate with it, such as “skin” or “smooth” or “clear” – things that can easily be associated with your product.
You want to make your point right away, so they know what you are, what you do, what you can offer, and what they could potentially get from your content.
This doesn’t just apply to company slogans, though. You should also be specific even on your ad headlines and article titles. Since you can’t pretty much narrate everything on the headline, what you can do is choose an advertising angle to focus on, and go from there.
5. Imagine Your Target Audience
There are a lot of marketing tools and apps that could help you narrow down your target audience, but simply knowing who they are won’t make any difference if you don’t put this knowledge to good use. Even before creating your content, make sure that you have a clear image of your audience in your head so you can come up with things that appeal to them.
Say you’re creating content for makeup – looking at a simple Google Analytics or any CRM platform report of your data could give you the types of customers you would want to target.
Now, let’s say your report says your brand appeals to women in their 20s – young, probably fresh out of college and just starting to gain a little money but would definitely not splurge often on a $200 foundation. Knowing this, you can create copywriting material that sort of “paints a picture” of what most millennials are doing in their lives. Maybe a story about how your foundation stays on even after a night out, or a lipstick that doesn’t smear all over your face when you make out – things that your target demographic tend to care about.
The key here is to understand your target market to the core in order to create the best ad copy. The best way to understand your target customer is to draft a target persona. If you don’t know how to, have a look at our article on creating the perfect target persona.
In a perfect world, you would want everyone to avail of your product. However, that’s never the case: so put yourself in your customers’ shoes and “get in their heads”. This way, you’ll get a better understanding of what drives them, what motivates them, and what will ultimately make them decide that they want your product.
Nobody ever wants to be told what to do, and this is what most beginner digital marketers tend to not realize. To get better results in marketing, what you can do is to make your target audience think that they are coming up with the idea on their own – driven by their interest in the product that you build up through your content.
It is in the Interest stage when marketers typically use long-form content. This is where audiences want to really know more about the offer, so they would be willing to read long content or watch videos for an extended period.
In essence, at this level, you are actually driving them towards your intended action, without them realizing that you’re leading them on. Here’s how to do that:
1. Provide Useful Information
Whether you’re creating promotional material or a complete marketing strategy – you need to make sure that your customers remain interested in what you have to offer. To do so, you should be able to tell them what, where, when, why, and how they should avail your product. This would not only make it easier for your customers to decide, but it will also give them the feeling that they are making a well-informed, conscious decision about your product.
The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How parts could also be interpreted in various ways when it comes to building interest with your audience. While the What and Where parts are pretty self-explanatory, the other questions need to be answered with a little more detail.
WhoThis is actually straightforward. Who is this for? Who will benefit from it?
WhatThis mentions what the offer is all about. What is it for? What does it do? What will the customer miss if he doesn’t get it?
WhereThis might sound like an unusual part to add, but this is actually important as well. Where can your customer get it? Where can it be used?
WhenThis can include a sense of urgency. When can the customer get it? When is it available? Until when is the promotion?
WhyThis allows you to dig deeper into how the customer can benefit from your offer. Why should your customer choose your product over something else? Why should the customer get the item now and not later?
HowThis describes the process. How can the customers benefit from the product? How can it make their lives more convenient? How easy is it to purchase?
If you can come up with a simple yet attractive way for your customers to understand these, then you are on your way to keeping them interested.
If you don’t want your customers to be overwhelmed by too much information, you can create a separate page for other details about the product, such as features and benefits (FAB) or a specifications page.
2. Maintain Consistency
Since you’ve already captured their attention from stage one, the key strategy here is to be consistent – and this can be done in various ways.
Within a promotional campaign, you can build and maintain interest by sharing regular updates (be that by email, Instagram, or any other platform). In your copywriting content, you can make it more interesting by breaking down your points into easily digestible information and building it up to get to that “action” stage.
A good place to look at and learn from when it comes to “building interest” is any popular Youtube channel – anyone who’s ever found success in this platform will tell you that consistency is key. You have to keep doing it regularly to get more traction, and you have to constantly “be there” in a sense – otherwise, your customers will lose interest, or worse, totally forget about you.
You also have to make sure that you are consistent with the information you put – if you say it says 30% off on your banner, then it should also say the same on your landing page. If you have mentioned that the item you are selling is 5 inches in size on one page, then it should be consistent on any and all the other pages. If you are using a specific image on your native ad, make sure this image is also available on the landing page.
In any case, you have to make sure that the information, timing, and relevance are consistent with your business.
3. Don’t Focus on Selling, Focus on Improving Lives
Even back when going to physical stores was the norm, people don’t typically like the feeling of being sold to. While it’s understandable that salespeople would approach you all the time in malls as it is their job, customers prefer to have the freedom to make their own decisions.
Imagine going into a store that sells mobile phones, and you get approached by a salesperson right away: talking about a specific mobile phone, how it is the “newest” and “the best” there is, and how great its specs are.
Then, you tell the person that you actually are looking for something between $300-$350, which of course isn’t the price of the newest model, and then the salesperson directs you to the phone within your price range, but then he goes on talking, again, how it is “the best” phone there is (within the price range you mentioned, of course).
This entire encounter could potentially leave a bad taste in your mouth, and this could easily happen even through digital marketing.
So, how do you solve this?
You have to remember that whilst people do want information about products that they purchase, don’t train the spotlight on the offer alone – you have to put the focus on your customers as well.
In short, customers don’t want to feel that you are selling to them for a profit; they want to feel that you are selling this to them to help them.
In traditional marketing, people would just go on and on about their products without adding any kind of creativity or relevant content – they focus on the product more and try to shove that information down their customer’s throats.
Successful marketers started seeing better results when they tell good stories, ask customers questions, and get the audience to engage in conversation – basically putting the spotlight on the customers rather than the product.
With digital marketing, the approach might not be much simpler but it is definitely more manageable: because now you have a lot of different platforms and tools at the palm of your hands – literally. For instance, you can easily personalize emails for your customers using MailChimp, or create more captivating stories through audio and video editing tools.
You’ve caught their attention, you’ve piqued their interest, now it’s time to fuel that desire, so to speak. By this stage, your audience should have already been captivated by your content. But to close the deal, you need to make sure that the customers get to that point where they feel that what you are offering is a MUST HAVE.
To do this, you must:
1. Add Value
In the Desire stage, the focus is to further build on the customers’ attention and interest by stepping up to the next level: that point where the customers have nowhere else to go but move forward. They now have a somewhat general idea of what you’re offering, but the customer’s question remains: is this something I want? What value does this add to my life – will this bring me convenience, joy, wellness, or entertainment?
Going back to the make-up foundation example, you can get people to desire this product if you could showcase the value it adds to their life: it stays on longer than most foundations, it looks good in any type of lighting, or it covers imperfections perfectly. Take this opportunity to establish the most desirable traits of your product.
The preferences of your target customers might differ, but their motivation will always come down to this: the value it adds to their lives.
2. Stimulate, Excite, Ignite!
Use the content from the Attention and Interest stages to further “push your sales pitch” without being overly “sales-y”. Again, you can use the “appeal to emotions and senses” at this stage to continue to stimulate your target audience and give them that extra nudge towards the action stage.
Take Coca-Cola, for instance: they have the highest market share in the carbonated drinks industry, and almost everyone, anywhere in the world knows them even with plenty of competitors in the market.
In the early years of Coca-Cola, they marketed it as some sort of “medicine” or “health drink” – they even sold them in pharmacies! However, of course, by now we all know that it has a high sugar content and that it is no longer as healthy as we used to think it is, but how did they manage to stay on top?
They launched ads that had people singing by the hilltop, or a polar bear that couldn’t wait to taste their product or that earworm of a Christmas song that makes you feel all gooey inside (you know what this is).
They basically made sure that the product is consistently “desired” by changing with the times and creating new content that ensures that it stays relevant – no matter how much things have changed.
Plus, they put the focus away from the product (and its contents), and towards the satisfaction that people receive. So even if you know it’s basically bad for you, when you hear that song or see that commercial, you’d surely want a drink.
Some products like Red Bull and Mountain Dew exude that sense of excitement in their marketing campaigns, which has made them appear like a go-to drink for athletes, especially those in extreme sports.
In reality, people associate this high-adrenaline rush to sports. And even when they are not doing any of these activities, they have an idea in mind that if drinking these drinks could give them the rush they need to do 360 degrees on a half-pipe, then it should definitely give them the boost they need to survive an 8-hour workday with back-to-back boring meetings.
Igniting that sense of passion for an activity, an event, or a place could easily make your products or services more desirable.
3. Options For Everyone
Having the freedom to choose is always a good feeling, so use this to your advantage and ensure that you have at least a couple of options for your customers. For example, you can sell “packages” or “sets” of your products that could get them more interested in the offer (which also takes into account that “added value” to your customers).
A pack of 6 with a 20% discount makes your product more desirable as opposed to them buying just one item every few weeks. It could even help your customers save on shipping costs (again, added value!).
Creating variety in terms of the products you have is also good, as it broadens your reach and you can cater to as many potential customers as possible. Even when you’re only selling one specific item, say, a deodorant – having two to three varieties (e.g. soap, floral, sporty) is a lot better than just having one version.
Be careful, though, as some inexperienced marketers tend to overwhelm their potential customers with a multitude of options – which could easily backfire if you don’t know what you’re doing. Provide options, but limit them to a considerable amount.
4. Creating Memories
Be honest: you know that the products you really want right now are the products that are actually memorable to you, in one way or another.
One of the best examples of this Desire stage is the De Beers company’s marketing campaign for diamonds. At the time the company started, diamonds as engagement rings (or even engagement rings in general, for that matter) are not a thing.
What they did was target couples and convinced them that diamond rings signify commitment. This inevitably made them believe that every engagement should involve a diamond ring. Diamonds are forever, yes?
Another great example of creating memories and making people connect with it immediately is the KFC marketing campaign in Japan back in the 70s. Back then (and even until now), Japan isn’t actually a predominantly Christian country – so Christmas is a totally Western thing.
However, the marketing team of KFC, knowing that Japan is becoming more open to Western culture and portraying that Christmas is a time for family (and lovers, although that’s an entirely different story), they launched a campaign for KFC being a convenient option for Christmas dinners.
(Image from Traveller.com.au)
Since Christmas is not a public holiday in Japan, anyone who wants to share a hearty meal with their family can simply pick up a Christmas bucket from KFC after a long day at work. It’s been almost 50 years since this campaign and this “Christmas tradition” has lived on – with orders being placed months in advance!
In some cases, creating memories is not limited to a full-on campaign, it could also be just a memorable image, logo, tune, or character. Anything from the time of the year, the colors of the seasons, or things that could give that sense of association with milestones and significant parts of people’s lives are a definite way to induce desire.
If your ad or content can easily get your audience to remember it and/or associate it with a memory that they are fond of, then you are on the right track.
In the end, you want your audience to TAKE ACTION: because otherwise, all your efforts would have been for nothing. In traditional marketing, observing this “action” part from potential customers could come far later – a marketing campaign you executed today could take weeks before you see any tangible “action”. Nowadays though, getting your audience to act on whatever it is you want them to do can take as little as a few seconds – probably even shorter than the time it takes you to read this whole sentence!
1. Clear and Convenient
There’s a story that went around on the Internet about a mom opening her door to six different kinds of food delivery people, and apparently, all orders were made on her name, all already paid for: which of course caught her off guard. She is sure that she didn’t order the items, and she was just about to tell the delivery people that they must have gotten it wrong, when her 5-year-old son comes rushing to the door, happily taking all the food and bringing them inside.
When mom checks her phone, she finds out that her son had made over a hundred dollars’ worth of purchases on a popular food delivery app – and she can’t believe that it happened! Well, better believe it, ‘cause the app designers obviously made it so easy for the Action stage to be completed that even a 5-year-old could do it.
The Action stage in this scenario is broken down into two parts: first, the payment method, and second, the “buy” action – which is what closes the transaction. Apart from making the payment method secure, you should also be open to different types of payment methods that your customers might have. For instance, AliPay, TenPay, and WeChat are popular payment options in China, whereas Japan has PayPay, Rakuten Pay, Apple Pay, and LINE Pay. The US has Apple Pay, MasterCard PayPass, PayPal, Chase Pay, to name a few.
To close the transaction, the “Action” itself should be very easy to do – just a click of a button will suffice. You can further streamline this by creating presets for your customers, as is the case with the Amazon platform – customers can save addresses and other information so they can simply click on the 1-click option upon check out.
Purchasing isn’t the only action desired by marketers today. The action stage can vary from simply asking your customers to take a survey, give feedback for your products/services, refer friends to your business, sign-up for a newsletter, “allow” websites to send push notifications, and so much more.
Either way, the best way to go about this is to make everything easy for your customers – from the layout/design of your app/website, the size of the CTA button, to the overall process of getting to check out and the time it takes them to complete the transaction.
It is therefore vital that you up your game when it comes to Call-to-Action creation, else all your efforst to catching attention, building interest, and enhancing desire will be for naught.
2. Safe and Secure
Anyone who’s ever had to deal with identity theft and scammers online would understand how annoying and scary the whole endeavor could be. Calling your credit card company, calling PayPal to stop the payment, having to prove that you didn’t make the purchase and that you are actually who you say you are – everything is just a mess.
No one wants to deal with this kind of issues, so to get your customers to the Action stage, you have to be able to establish a safe and secure platform for them. This is especially true if your intended action is the input of credit card or online payment details.
Safety and security are not only limited to payment methods, but rather, it should be incorporated in every step of the way. Giving the assurance to your customers that their information are safe and that their interaction with you, your business, and your platform (be it a website, an email, or a DM) is a good marketing standard to follow.
3. Free Trials, Warranties, and Guarantees
Creating a plan for warranties and guarantees will not only make for a better overall customer experience, but it will also help you establish a name for your business. Warranties and guarantees are essential in any product or service as it gives your customers the impression that you believe in what you are selling.
Of course, warranties and guarantees will vary between products, but a rule of thumb is at least a year for the warranty for products, and a convenient money-back guarantee for services that can be tried for a limited period.
Obviously, the free trials won’t be applicable to certain products like consumables, but if you can, you would want your customers to have the option to avail your product with “no strings attached” – this will make your business even more appealing as it gives your customers a taste of what you have to offer. Sometimes, you can even use these trial periods to get customers to promote your products/services for you, as they have already had the experience and can therefore vouch for your items.
4. Incentives and Moving Forward
Even though you’re already at or you have already completed the Action stage, there is still a lot to do to improve your digital marketing strategies.
For example, if you want to really gain and retain loyal customers, giving them the option to receive incentives is a good way to go. TransferWise, a money transfer service that is slowly becoming a competitor for WesternUnion, offers referral incentives to their customers. American Express also does this, in addition to their rewards points for using the credit card itself.
If you can set up an incentive program for your customers and make that Action part easy for them, then you can get the most out of your marketing campaign. It is more efficient and affordable to maintain a current customer than to attain new ones, after all.
How Important is AIDA?
It’s quite uncommon to capture one’s attention and expect him to go through Interest, Desire, and Action stages from the same click. If it has happened to your marketing campaign before, then you got lucky! But you can’t rely on luck forever.
Knowing which stage of AIDA your customer is helps you adjust your marketing strategy based on the stage reached. This is where remarketing comes to play. It is well-known that retargeting increases conversion rates; but only when done right.
If the user is on the Attention Stage when he left, then when you remarket to this user, the goal is to push him to the Interest Stage. Remember when you click on an ad for a certain product before, and you left without reading anything? Don’t be surprised if you see another ad of the same product, telling you a benefit that you didn’t know before. This can encourage you to click and learn more about it. The marketing principle of curiosity is used here most often.
If the user is on the Interest Stage when he left, then your ad should be towards the Desire Stage. A typical ad that encourages the user to move to the Desire Stage is one that uses the principle of urgency. This could mention a limited time or limited stocks which would push the user to add the item to his cart. It can also be mixed with benefits that solve the pain points of the user.
And finally, if the user is already on the Desire Stage, the remarketing ad would be towards the Action Stage. For example, if he has added the product to his cart but left without completing the purchase, the ad that should be displayed is one that shows a promotion that you shouldn’t miss. This could be a discount, free item, or free shipping. If you’ve ever received a reminder of your cart and completing the purchase, whether via push notification, email or text message, then you are surely being directed towards the Action Stage.
How to Determine Which Stage of AIDA the Customer is in?
How exactly would you know if your customer is in the Attention, Interest, Desire or Action stage? The Attention part is pretty easy to determine; the moment the customer clicks on your ad and viewed your landing page, you already know you caught that user’s attention. But how about the rest? Here are some ways:
1. Use Google Analytics or Other Tracking Tool
If you link your landing page to your Google analytics or any other tracking tool, you’ll be able to monitor how much time your audience spent on your page, if they bounced or went for a different page in your website or funnel. This can help you evaluate the level of interest the viewer has on your offer.
You need to run several test and collect data to know how much time spent on a page means they moved from attention, to interest, to desire. You can also split some pages between interest, desire, and action stages to easily know what level your viewer is at.
2. Use Heatmaps
A heatmap shows you how far along the viewer has checked the page. If you have long-form content, you’ll see which part of the page the user scrolled down to. You can also see which parts of the page users click -- whether it’s on a white space, a word that they might have thought is a link, or your CTA button.
Based on the part of the page your audience reached and the buttons he clicked (or tried to click), you can determine the stage he is at. There are different types of heatmaps that you can use to your advantage. Go through our ultimate guide to heatmaps to further understand how it’s used.
3. Remarketing Programs
Many marketing programs and traffic sources already monitor your customer’s level of interest. You can remarket to your audiences based on what ad they clicked, which page they landed on, if they clicked on a specific button, and so on.
You can use Brax’s platform to manage your initial native advertising campaigns, as well as the remarketing ads, if the traffic provider you are working with allows this.
It’s Time for Action!
Now that we’ve caught your Attention and maintained your Interest until the very last part, I’m sure it is now your Desire to use the AIDA model for your marketing campaigns. What’s left but to take Action?
The goal in copywriting, advertising, or digital marketing is of course to acquire and retain customers, and all these stages come together to create an impact that would enable your business to thrive. To do so, you’ll need to basically “live and breathe” AIDA – and when you do, you can be sure to notice significant improvements in all aspects of your marketing content.
Taking time to fully evaluate how you execute your marketing and advertising strategies could help you improve your business overall.
If you’re feeling stuck, you can always reach out to us! Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. And when you’re ready, try Brax for 15 days for free.