AIDA (Attention Interest Desire Action) is arguably one of the most well-known and widely-used copywriting formulas out there.
It’s a guide for writing persuasive copy that grabs the reader’s attention, generates interest, creates a desire for the product or service, and encourages the reader to take action.
A classic marketing model still relevant today
Attributed to Elias St. Elmo Lewis, the Attention Interest Desire Action formula was created after Lewis wrote about 3 principles all advertisements should include:
“The mission of an advertisment is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisment 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 advertisment contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisment.”E. St Elmo Lewis
Lewis coined the AIDA formula in 1898, yet it still holds a special place in the hearts of copywriters worldwide.
And when it comes to formulas in marketing, few are as universally recognized as this one.
Because it works.
It works well because it’s rooted in a proven marketing technique.
The AIDA model in marketing follows the consumer’s cognitive journey (or customer journey) from developing an awareness of the brand to purchasing and becoming a loyal customer.
As HubSpot lays it out, you will bring your customers on a journey from “What is it?” to “I’m getting it.”
Attention – Using a stellar headline, tell your reader what they’re looking for and why they should want it. (based on your research).
Interest – Show potential customers (your one reader) why your product is fantastic using facts to engage their minds.
Desire – Show your prospective customer how life will be different after using this product. Find that deep emotional benefit.
Action – Give your target market a clear way they can take the next step (but only ONE next step).
Don’t worry. We’ll walk through each of these so you can use the Attention Interest Desire Action model to write copy that sells.
Grab your customer’s attention and entice them to read more
It’s said often (and quoted even more) that five times as many people will read your headline as your body copy.
If your headline isn’t catching a potential reader’s attention, they won’t waste more time reading. Even though your body copy might be outstanding.
Your headline has to pull the weight of your entire page…
in basically one sentence.
Here’s how you write a headline that grabs the attention of consumers:
- Figure out what your customers want to hear about. Why would they be interested in reading your webpage or Facebook ad?
- Answer this question from your customer’s perspective: “What can I get out of this solution that I can’t get – in the same way – anywhere else?”
- Don’t sound like clickbait – avoid using all caps, the word FREE all over the place, or making a false claim.
This example from Apple (because their copy is just so darn good) shows how you can use a play on words to get attention.
Pro anywhere – Go anywhere. As simple as it is, you’ve got to admit it’s clever.
They’re emphasizing the portability of this laptop, as you’ll see in the Interest section next.
Pique their interest by giving them the facts and benefits of your product
The Interest part of the AIDA formula is where you tell the customer all your product’s awesome features.
We’re still in the logical frame of thinking, so your customers need to know the details and the hard reasons they might want to consider buying your product.
For some brands, this might be a list of specs, but for others – like you savvy folks soaking up all the Copyhackers knowledge – this looks like an explanation of how your features will benefit the customer.
You’ll lay it out for them.
You won’t make them overthink why they need it.
You’ll tell them.
Like Apple, they’ve got a bunch of stats in this paragraph, which all sound like good things to have in a laptop.
But why are they necessary?
This is where you can start to lean into the Desire part of the formula because, in my opinion, they mesh so well together – as they should!
Don’t spend all your time creating a features list for your customers without having the benefits (aka Desire)
The Desire section of AIDA should always be right there with the Interest section.
You get your customer’s interest by pointing out the stellar features, and then you show them why they need these features in their life.
On their product page, Apple creates another section of Attention Interest Desire to further explain why the customer needs these features and how they’re going to help them.
They know their customers and speak about the tasks they can perform with this laptop and how fast they’ll be able to do them.
But here’s a secret…
You can give your customers as much Attention, Interest and Desire as you think they need to make an informed decision.
In fact, Apple plays with this formula across the entire page. They’ve used variations of AID and ID about a dozen (yes, 12 times).
On this one page.
You don’t have to elaborate on every element of your product, but find out which features your customers like best and draw attention to those.
Lead your customers to your ONE call to action
Your final step in the AIDA formula is an easy-to-follow call to action.
All of the work you’ve put into your webpage until this moment has been convincing your customers that they need the product you’re selling.
Don’t ruin all that persuasive copy now by confusing them at the very end.
By this, I mean don’t give your customers a bunch of options.
Stop it. Just pick one.
Now, Apple includes a “Learn more” option here. But it’s strategic.
They’re directing customers to other products that are very similar. Not asking them to do something that directs the reader away from the main objective: to get the sale.
They’re aware that customers who have gotten to the bottom of their product page are interested in buying a Mac, but they might want to look at other Apple options. They’re not likely to leave the site.
The Attention Interest Desire Action formula is all about giving the facts and showing the benefits
Take the parts of this formula and play with them like Apple has.
AIDA is a great way to start inputting the different aspects of your product and then using your customer knowledge (research!) to focus on why those features are what your customers need.
Plus, it also helps lay out your marketing message on the page.
Here’s the best way to get started
Work on gathering the voice of customer (VOC) research first.
The research will tell you what your customers care about and what you need to write to grab their attention, pique their interest, enhance their desire and persuade them to take action.
Then copy and paste your voice of customer research into the appropriate section of the AIDA formula.
(You can use a tool like Airstory to quickly organize your VOC research into the AIDA formula).
Once you’ve put your research into the AIDA formula, you can massage that research into a draft.
Then, edit in the awesome. Execute the 7 sweeps.
Finally, go back and level up your headlines and calls to action.
- Use this FREE Calls to Action Crash Course to help craft the perfect CTA.
- The Copyhackers Ultimate Collection of Headline and CTA formulas will ease you into writing effective headlines and CTAs.
- Have a look at this Tutorial Tuesday lesson from Joanna Wiebe on creating a headline that shows your value proposition and grabs the attention of your ideal customers.