What is the AIDA Copywriting Formula?

Have you ever tried to bake a delicious cake to impress your guests without a specific recipe?

It's the same with copywriting. It's difficult without a tried and tested formula at hand. AIDA is a well-known formula that has been used repeatedly with proven success.

What is AIDA?

AIDA is a century-old copywriting formula widely used by writers to convert visitors into paying customers.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, the four stages of the customer purchase process. Think of these stages as the different stages of interaction customers have with a product or service before they finally become buyers.

The four stages of the AIDA formula are:

  1. Attention - Create attention by creating awareness about your product or service.

  2. Interest - Foster interest in your product or service by connecting with the reader.

  3. Desire - Create desire for your product by highlighting the benefits of the product or service.

  4. Action - Compel your audience to take buying action.

AIDA is one of the most simple copywriting formulas used by marketers, salespeople, and advertisers, to engage, attract and convert leads into clients.

The AIDA model can be easily adapted to suit different marketing channels, such as email marketing, sales letter, digital marketing, and social media platforms.

Why is AIDA important as a marketing formula?

AIDA is an elegant formula. It forces you to understand the prospect or potential customer and their motivation for buying. When you know the prospect's desires, needs and wants, you can successfully encourage them to buy your product or service.

It also goes through the natural process we all go through when we want to purchase something. We all become aware of a product or service (attention) but have little interest because we're unsure whether it's for 'people like me.'

We then become interested in the product or service when we see or hear marketing that talks to our desires, needs and wants, which makes us feel that this is something for us (the interest stage).

We start to want the product or service (desire) when we see or hear anything that highlights the benefits of having it in our lives.

Finally, we become buyers when we receive a compelling call to action that asks us to buy.

When you write using the AIDA model, you write copy that hits all stages of the customer purchase process. Missing just one stage completely damages the journey.

AIDA copywriting formula best practices

Here are some tips for success in your marketing efforts using the AIDA formula.

1) Write a compelling headline 

What do you see first when you see an ad? The headline, of course! Creating a great headline hooks your reader into reading through your blog post (the attention stage of AIDA).

If nobody reads your copy, nobody buys your product. It's as simple as that. 80% of readers don't move past the headline, so you can't get to generate their interest, create desire and then compel them to take action.

Some strategies to craft a great headline are:

  • Make it urgent

When your headline conveys a sense of urgency, it implies that if the reader does not take action immediately, they will lose out on something special.

This can improve the click-through rate.

Example: 5 amazing makeup trends you are not aware of!

  • Quote specific numbers

A specific headline grabs more attention. Imagine a headline that is 'How to lose weight!' Now, compare that to How to lose 8kg in 30 days!

Adding '8kg' and '30 days' is more attention-grabbing as it arouses curiosity. A reader will think, "Is it possible to lose that weight in just 30 days? How?"

It also adds credibility. Facts are specific. Lies are vague.

Example: How I made $10,000 per month from writing sales copy.

  • Speak directly to your audience

Know who your audience is and target it precisely. Mention the people you are writing for directly in the headline. Make them think, "This is for me!"

Example: Become a content marketing manager in just 6 months.

  • Bring on the emotion

 Supercharge your copy with emotion. Remember, the buying process is an emotional one. Get people’s attention by using emotion-filled words and phrases.

Example: Powerful stress-busting tips you need to know

2) Speak directly to your buyer persona

Your target audience should feel that you are speaking directly to them throughout the copy, especially in the opening paragraph. You should use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in your marketing language.

This makes your prospects feel that you are paying special attention to them. For example, if your target buyer persona is a marketing manager, address your title to them personally.

3) Use style elements

Style elements like underlining, italics, and bold help certain ideas in your marketing copy to stand out. It's important to remember that prospects are not just attracted by how a copy reads but also how it looks.

Styling it with different style elements helps it to stand out and drive the message home. But at the same time, don't overwhelm your viewer with over-styling. Use style elements only when it is appropriate. Ideally, you want to use them when mentioning anything that makes a reader think, "That's me!" (the interest stage of AIDA) or how the product or service will benefit them (the desire stage of AIDA).

The AIDA copywriting formula broken down

The above best practices are a quickstart guide. If you want to perfect your AIDA understanding to write the absolute best copy, stick around to get step-by-step instructions.

  • Attract attention

It is just like wooing a partner. You need to have a great pickup line, or a hook, to reel your prospect in. Remember, you're competing with hundreds of similar sites.

For blogs and articles, the hook is the headline. For emails, they are the subject lines. 

Before you write a headline, you first need to understand the buyer's needs. Research your customer's background, motivation, demographics, job profiles, etc. Understand why they will be interested in buying the product or service. 

Do:

  1. Direct, actionable language is the best policy. 

  2. Use emotional words to create powerful copy.

  3. A great idea is to encourage a response by asking questions.

  4. Make your copy relevant to your target market.

Don’t: 

  1. Don’t fake your expertise.

  2. Avoid capslocks or using too many style settings. Let your content speak for itself.

  3. Don’t use spammy words and cliches like ‘free’ or ‘urgent.’

  • Create Interest

Once you have caught your audience's attention, the more difficult task is to inspire their interest in your product.

The longer they stick around, the more they're likely to move to the desire stage and then the action stage.

Another advantage is that the longer a reader sticks around, it signals to Google that your content is interesting and relevant, which means the content ranks higher on Google search results. 

Do:

  1. Personalize your content to connect with readers so they think, "This is for me."

  2. Promise a solution to their problem.

  3. Show them that you understand their needs and wants.

  4. Use industry terms and speak their language.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t overwhelm viewers with a lengthy, complicated copy.

  2. Don’t add irrelevant content (this can only happen if you don't know your audience).

  3. Don’t focus on your own goals and benefits. Focus on the reader's goals and benefits.

Create Desire

Once you create interest in your customer for your content, you can generate the desire to buy your service or product. Generating desire is the cornerstone of effective copywriting.

Do:

  1. Tell them your offer (no one likes 'blind' copy).

  2. Pitch the benefits of your offer (not just the features).

  3. Show them how you are unique from others.

  4. Increase your credibility by highlighting demonstrative examples or testimonials.

Don’t:

  1. Don't go overboard with promotion.

  2. Don't bury your offer by writing too much content.

Call to Action (CTA)

This is the final stage! Your call to action should be clear and concise.

Tell your potential lead exactly what they need to do. Anything wishy-washy, and you'll lose momentum and lose the sale.

Do:

  1. Clearly outline the CTA steps.

  2. Reduce 'buyer's remorse' friction by using encouraging language.

  3. Make their job of taking action as easy as possible (i.e., don't have lots of hoops they need to jump through just to buy).

Don't:

  1. Don’t use vague directions ('click on the button directly below' will convert far more than 'click' - what should they click?)

  2. Don't pile on too many call-to-action options as you risk choice paralysis.

Case Studies

AIDA writing formula case study - Casper

Let's go through the AIDA formula step-by-step to see why this is a successful copy.

Attention:

The headline, 'How to get pee out of a mattress: 6 easy steps' grabs attention and arouses a ton of curiosity for parents and pet parents.

Casper knows its target market and, therefore, its pain points, needs, wants, etc. This is a common problem with children.

And using a specific number with '6 steps' arouses further curiosity and credibility.

Interest:

They swiftly move on to the task of keeping the reader's interest by making them feel like this content is just for them.

They talk about 'hours of scrubbing' and 'lingering scent' because they know that's what their target audience experiences. Notice how they use emotional words and phrases, such as 'sinking feeling.' You can only write effective copy like this when you know your audience.

Desire:

They announce that they will deliver on their promise of six steps to get pee out of a mattress. But just before they do, they also mention that prevention is better than cure - a mattress protector.

This is a clever way to place a marketing message. They've just given you the solution to prevent this problem from happening again.

Action:

There is no vague call to action. There's no confusion about what a reader should do next to buy a mattress protector.

There is a clear button inviting them to 'Shop Waterproof Mattress Protector) - what else would you press a button for on this page?

AIDA writing formula case study - Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been around for almost as long as AIDA. And like AIDA, it's still going strong!

Whether advertising Coke Zero, Diet Coke, or any product, the AIDA formula stands.

Attention:

Whether in print, on TV, in digital ads, etc. Coca-Cola is great at grabbing attention because they understand its audience.

In this example, they know their audience loves the hissing sound that comes from removing a bottle cap.

Interest:

In most Coco-Cola content marketing, there are images of people representing the typical Coca-Cola customers.

This helps potential customers think, "This is me."

You'll also see content customized toward different events and holidays in the year. Again, this fosters a sense of "this is for me" when their target audience sees people doing things they are doing during that time of year.

Desire

Coca-Cola is very clever in positioning its products as the fun-creating solution to any day or event.

As far back as the 30s, Coca-Cola depicted Santa drinking Coke to help him muster up the energy for a night of delivering toys to children.

Since then, Coca-Cola has been synonymous with Christmas, and sales of its products go through the roof during this time of year.

Action

Coca-Cola ensures in all its marketing messages that everyone knows they can get their product from most food stores and use language to entice people to go and buy now.

One of their most successful call to action was 'Share a Coke.' See how calls to action like this not only encourage consumers to buy but also evoke feel-good emotions by encouraging you to gift the experience of Coke to a friend or loved one.

 

Why the AIDA method is timeless for digital marketing

It's timeless because Coca-Cola spends millions using the formula. They've been doing so since its inception. Tech giant Apple also uses the AIDA formula in print and digital ads. Steve Jobs even used it when giving speeches.

Whether you're writing a blog post, paid digital ads, sales page or other marketing materials, the AIDA model works because the journey is the same. You need to grab the reader's attention, keep their interest, build desire for what you're selling, and then give them the pish to buy.

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