The AIDA model provides a simple four-step process for creating killer copy, no matter what industry you’re in.
Here, you’ll find:
- An explanation of the AIDA marketing model
- Examples of the AIDA model used by major brands
- A step-by-step process for using the AIDA model
- How to apply the AIDA model in the real world
Marketing is full of acronyms and jargon-y industry terms.
It’s almost like a different language sometimes. Do you know who else uses acronyms? Scientists.
When crafting and analyzing your digital marketing strategy, you should think of yourself as a digital marketing scientist (we do!) using data and psychology will help you create successful campaigns.
One psychology tactic that’s useful for marketers: the concept of AIDA (attention-interest-desire-action).
These principles can be vital to constructing the customer journey, helping to grab your target audience’s attention and moving them to action.
But it’s not only about piquing interest. You also need to keep them interested, create desire, and inspire them to take action. And that’s precisely what the AIDA model does.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the AIDA model, how it works, and how you can use it to improve your content marketing.
The history of the AIDA model
The AIDA model has been a marketing staple since it was first popularized by St. Elmo Lewis. He was an American advertising advocate who anonymously wrote about the principles of marketing that he found helpful in his career.
The model is delightful in its simplicity. It comprises four stages — Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action — that you can use as a guide for creating compelling content and campaigns.
The AIDA model can be traced back to Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. He was an American advertising advocate that anonymously wrote about the three principles of marketing that he found helpful in his own career. When Edward K. Strong, Jr. wrote The Psychology of Selling and Advertising in 1925, he attributed the model to Lewis and it has been connected with him ever since.
St. Elmo Lewis originally wrote, “The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it, then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success it is a successful advertisement.”
At the time, he didn’t call it AIDA. Instead, this acronym was coined in 1921 by C.P. Russell in a publication called Printers Ink.
What is the AIDA model?
The AIDA model is a framework used in marketing to guide the creation of effective messaging and campaigns. This model is instrumental in content marketing and something you should always consider when writing.
HubSpot explains, “The AIDA model is considered a hierarchy of effects model, which means consumers must move through each stage of the model to complete the desired action. Just like a typical marketing funnel, each stage has fewer consumers than the previous one.”
The first step in the AIDA model focuses on grabbing your audience’s attention. You can do this with eye-catching imagery, bold headlines, or intriguing copy. The goal is to create a “hook” that draws your audience in and makes them want to learn more.
The attention phase is really about creating brand awareness. This is the first time you’re attracting your potential customer’s interest. They may find you via a social media ad, a blog post, email marketing, or other sources. This is your time to draw the person in and get them excited about your product or service.
Now that you have your audience’s attention, you need to keep them interested. Your next step is to feed your audience more information. In the first stage, your objective is to gain people’s interest; in this step, it’s to retain it.
You can think about this as hooking your prospective customers. You need to reel them in with the details and keep them there.
Develop landing pages that share content about your product or service and highlight its key benefits. You can use customer testimonials, product demos, or case studies as social proof to demonstrate why your product or service is the best choice.
Step three of the AIDA model is all about building a desire for your product or service. You can do this by highlighting the emotional benefits. For example, if a benefit of your product is that it can conveniently be carried with you, rather than saying “small and compact,” you can say “fits in your pocket and goes with you everywhere.”
Another way to generate desire is to write copy for your product that creates a sense of urgency or scarcity or offer promotions and discounts that expire.
The final step in the AIDA model (and the sales funnel) is to get your reader to take action. You want to encourage them to make a purchase or take another desired action, such as signing up for your newsletter, booking a demo, or subscribing to your podcast.
To do this, you need to write a killer CTA (call to action) and simplify the process for taking the desired action – i.e., no complicated forms with 10 different fields to fill in.
AIDA model examples in action
Now that you have a clear understanding of the AIDA model, let’s look at some real-world examples.
Apple is known for its sleek and modern marketing campaigns. They often include very little text and focus heavily on visuals to build a strong emotional desire in the viewer.
For example, the Apple ad above focuses on the camera’s new Action Mode. The ad shows a mother filming her son’s race at school. Intense music makes the rather average scene of a young child’s race in the playground seem much more dramatic and captivates the audience.
The mother runs alongside her son, getting high-quality video of his race, with her feet pounding the floor in time with the beat of the music, adding even greater dramatic effect.
Very little copy is used, just three short phases — “Shaky camera. Stable video. Relax, it’s iPhone 14.”
The thing is: This is sufficient to highlight the benefits of the phone.
It is also important to note that Apple has chosen a scene that almost every person can relate to. Rather than using luxury imagery — such as a family surfing on vacation — they chose an ordinary scene that most parents will find themselves in at some point. This further builds an emotional connection with the audience.
Airbnb is another company that makes good use of the AIDA model in its campaign to launch its “Experiences” service.
The ad starts with exciting visuals of exotic destinations and holds the viewer’s attention with intriguing copy. The copy focuses on the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth, showing thrilling shots of people enjoying exciting adventures that correlate with each element.
The ad also ends with a clear call-to-action to “Book Now” and shows the simple-to-follow link to book an Airbnb experience. It’s important to note that the URL is airbnb.com/adventures. This is easy for the viewer to remember and essential for this kind of video, where the viewer cannot simply click the link on the ad.
Best practices AIDA model content writing
Now that you understand what the AIDA model is and how it works, let’s take a look at some best practices for using it in your copywriting:
1. Know your audience
To effectively use the AIDA model, you need to know your audience. You have to understand their needs, wants, and pain points.
What will grab the attention of and create desire in one audience will be boring to another. Use extensive audience research to create a message in your campaign that speaks directly to the people you are marketing your product to and addresses their top concerns.
2. Write scroll-stopping headlines
Your headline is the first part of your content writing that anyone will see. You need to use catchy copy that will stop your audience mid-scroll and intrigue them enough to click.
Use powerful words, numbers, and emotional triggers to draw your audience in and make them want to learn more.
Remember that misleading headlines will do more harm than good. Don’t create click-bait headlines. While they can grab attention and build curiosity, they will ultimately build distrust if the content does not correspond to the headline.
Research from Princeton University supports this and shows that clickbait headlines decrease the reader’s trust in media.
3. Keep it simple
Your message should be clear and concise. Focus on the benefits of your product or service rather than the features.
You should also avoid jargon or technical language that might confuse or alienate your audience. Keep your audience and their pain points top of mind, always.
4. Use visuals
Images and videos are great at capturing people’s attention and creating desire.
Just think about the iPhone ad above. It was totally visual. But if was effective because it showed how almost anyone can turn an ordinary moment into a feature film-level video.
Of course, you don’t need a million-dollar production team to create a successful ad. You can also use your phone camera to create authentic videos about how your product works and behind-the-scenes content to grab your audience’s attention.
5. Make it easy to take action
Never forget your CTA. Once you have created desire, you need to quickly point your audience toward purchasing a product, downloading a freebie, or whatever other action you want them to take.
Make your CTA clear and easy to follow. Use actionable language (buy, download, contact, discover, etc.) and make it clear what will happen when they click that CTA button.
For example, if your CTA says ‘Download Now,’ it can be frustrating to the user if you then take them to another page where you ask them to go through additional steps to get that download.
6. Test (and test again)
The AIDA model is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every audience and every product is different. You should try different variations of copy and design to focus on your product’s benefits and the pain points your audience may have.
Test different variations of the copy and creatives to see what gets the desired response from your audience. Then take that campaign and refine and improve it over time. Writing copy and designing creative is a constant process that can always be further optimized.
Keep testing and looking for ways to improve, and never settle for thinking you have found the best variation possible. Tools like our own ConversionIQ can provide insights into your A/B testing.
3 ways to apply the AIDA model in the real world
Now that you understand the AIDA model and its best practices, it’s time to put it into action. Here are some practical tips for applying the AIDA model in your own work:
1. Use AIDA to guide your marketing communications
Whether you’re writing a blog post, a social media ad, or an email campaign, keep the AIDA model at the front of your mind as you develop your marketing plan and create your content.
Start with attention-grabbing headlines. This applies to all types of content. Your headline is the first thing that people will read, so make sure it has a punch.
When writing your main copy, use storytelling to create and hold your audience’s interest. It’s also worth mentioning that for longer forms of content, your audience probably won’t read the whole thing.
To keep their interest as they skim through it, make sure that your content is well sectioned, with clear subheadings, and that you bold the most important information in your copy so that your audience can find it quickly.
2. Write for your audience
It should be obvious to any marketer that when you write copy, you need to focus on your audience. But it’s good practice to go back to your audience research and refresh your mind with who your audience is.
When you work for the same brand for a long time, it’s easy to start thinking you know your audience inside-out. But audiences change over time. And often are segmented into multiple groups.
Clearly define which audience you are writing for before you start writing. Refresh yourself on their pain points and what features they use most in your product. This can vary a lot from segment to segment.
For example, let’s say you are a car salesman selling SUVs. One section of your audience may be families who enjoy the spacious seating that can comfortably fit three children in the back and a large trunk to carry all the luggage on a family trip.
But you could also be selling to an audience of younger, childless people. They might enjoy the high ground clearance that lets them get to exiting off-the-beaten path locations and the great sound system that can turn a long drive into a party.
As you can see, these two audiences get very different benefits from the same product, so focus on which audience you are writing for and remember you don’t need to list off all of your products’ benefits, just the ones that the audience cares about.
3. Include personalization
Personalization is an effective way to grab attention and build interest and should be incorporated into your AIDA model. Use data to tailor your marketing message to your audience’s interests and needs. Remember, your goal is to stand out in a crowded market, so speaking directly to your customer will help you do this.
You can use data about your customer, such as their location, browsing history, or purchase history, to craft a message that speaks directly to them.
For example, if you’re a retailer, you could email customers in a specific location promoting a sale at their local store. Or, you could use retargeting ads to show customers products they’ve previously viewed on your website.
The AIDA model is a powerful framework for creating effective messaging and campaigns that engage and motivate your audience.
Use the four stages of the AIDA model to help you follow best practices for content marketing writing. When you keep this model in mind, you can create messaging that speaks directly to your audience and drives real results for your business.
So next time you’re generating advertising messages, remember to keep the AIDA model in mind and watch your engagement soar.