The Art of AIDA Copywriting—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

January 23, 2019

Having a sound text structure in place before you start writing a piece of content is a great way to make sure the end product reads well.

Just take a look at any great novel and you’ll see that it’s constructed around a carefully planned structure. All good essays are by definition always based on a well-devised structure. Most screenplays follow three-act structures. Music is essentially all structure.

Copywriting for marketing purposes is not an exception to this rule.

There is a surplus of structural tactics marketers lean on when writing content, but none of them are as battle-tested or wide-spread as AIDA copywriting. This acronym is based around the idea of giving a piece of content four ingredients necessary for an effective marketing copy: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

And sticking to this structure is how professional marketers write content that sells.

AIDA has been gradually developed over the long history of professional copywriting and it has been the industry’s ideal standard for decades now. And it’s easy to see why this is the case—if applied correctly, the AIDA formula can create a psychological slippery slope with your readers. It grabs their attention, raises interest, creates a sense of desire for what you are selling and motivates your readers to take action.

In other words, AIDA copywriting takes readers on a fast-paced, gripping journey from being completely oblivious about what you are selling to a point where they are eager to buy your product or service.

How AIDA Copywriting Works

Before we venture any further, you need to understand that AIDA is not a magic wand you can use on a piece of content and then wait for it to miraculously start selling what you have to offer.

No, AIDA is much more akin to a framework, a guideline upon which you can structure a piece of content in a way that will maximize its marketing potential. And, as such, it works best when you use the formula before you actually start putting words on paper.

So, how do you start using AIDA? Well, just as you would start any other marketing-related activity—you need to begin by fully understanding your potential customers and their desires. You need to figure out what makes them tick, what they want to see changed and what they expect from their products.

It’s only after you’ve walked a mile in the mindset of future customers that you can start aligning the AIDA formula with the requirements and wishes of your prospects.

And now we’ll teach you precisely how to do this.

Breaking Down the AIDA Framework for Effective Content Writing

If what you’ve read about AIDA so far has sparked some interest in you to keep on reading, what you’ll find below is a guide on how you should treat each step of the formula and ultimately get the most out of using it.

Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready to start implementing AIDA on your own. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking with the first step of our AIDA formula: catching the reader’s eye.

1. Attention

In our media-filled world, people are literally bombarded with ads in all spheres of their lives. As a result, most of them have trained themselves to completely ignore commercials coming their way.

Unfortunately, this state of mind makes the first step in AIDA arguably the most problematic one.

If you’re hoping to grab the attention of potential customers, you’ll have to be quick and direct—which is, as you might expect, easier said than done. To get their undivided attention, you want to start with a concept that’s deeply relevant and timely to the audience you’re trying to reach (that’s why you put in hours getting to know your audience in the first place).

Here are some questions that can help you write a perfect attention-grabber:

  • Who will be reading this piece of content?
  • What is the reader’s most pressing problem related to the topic at hand?
  • What kind of a solution are you offering to solve the reader’s issue(s)?
  • How, specifically, will it solve their issue?
  • How does your audience talk about their problems?
  • Are there any words that would immediately create resonance?

Answering these questions will allow you to figure out what the best way of attracting your targeted prospects is.

In most cases, content writers will rely on three different methods when trying to catch the reader’s eye and spark interest:

  • A powerful headline,
  • A hero image,
  • A video of some kind.

Of course, nothing’s stopping you from combining two or even three of these. Besides your headline and the accompanying image, your lead paragraph is another important factor when it comes to capturing your prospect’s attention, so keep that in mind as well—just remember to keep it engaging and to the point.

While the Attention stage is challenging and will in large part be dictated by your target audience, it’s also the easiest link in the AIDA chain to identify as a problem. If your readers are not sticking around long enough to read your content, you can be sure that the Attention stage is where you dropped the ball.

2. Interest

Once you have grabbed the attention of your target audience, you’ll need to overcome another challenge and that’s keeping them engaged long enough for them to want to spend their precious time reading the rest of your content.

That’s where the second stage of the AIDA copywriting model comes into play.

While it may not appear that way on the surface, gaining someone’s interest is a significantly deeper process than grabbing someone’s attention. You might have a tad more time to do it, sure, but by this point, the readers are expecting a lot more from you than to simply appear entertaining.

Your best bet here is to remove as much friction as possible and help the reader pick up on the messages that are relevant to them quickly—use bullets and subheadings, and break up the text to make your points stand out.

At the end of the day, there’s only one goal you have during the Interest stage—make the readers see how well you understand their problem. Make the prospects experience that magic moment where they feel like running into your website was not a coincidence and they’ll be eating out of the palm of your hand in no time—and that’s precisely where you want them to be.

3. Desire

The Interest and Desire segments of a successful AIDA model go hand-in-hand on many levels and in many ways overlap each other. As you’re building the reader’s interest, you should also be demonstrating how what you’re offering can help them in a meaningful and impactful way.

There are four popular ways of implementing a strong sense of desire into your copy:

  • Showcase the most important benefits of using your product,
  • Explain how your product can change the reader’s life for the better,
  • Show the results other people achieved via testimonials,
  • Demonstrate condensed and inspiring case studies.

The Desire segment of the AIDA copywriting formula has a lot to do with clearly communicating what you can do for anyone who decides to spend their hard-earned money on your product or service. Don’t just spit out facts and expect the audience to work out the benefits for themselves—instead, guide them by putting the biggest benefits of your product front and center.

That’s how you create a sense of desire without which you will not be able to sell anything.

While showcasing the benefits of your offer in a positive and inspiring fashion is how most marketers structure their copies, there is an alternative route you can take here. You can consider tapping into the emotion of fear when trying to prove your product’s worth.

The fear of being caught in a situation without your product can have a great effect on some marketing strategies. Just make sure that this approach is appropriate with whatever it may be you’re trying to sell.

4. Action

Finally, we arrive to the very end of our AIDA copywriting journey, an exclamation mark that makes or breaks the entire formula. The Action stage is where you inspire readers to take the leap of faith and actually commit to what you are offering.

By this time, your prospects should be very interested in what you are offering, but that does not mean that the Action step should be considered a formality in any sense of the word.

The golden rule of the Action phase is to be as clear about what you want your readers to do as possible. Don’t beat around the bush and don’t try to be subtle—by this point, the readers should be fairly aware of what’s on the table and all you need to do is provide them with a straightforward way to close the deal.

In other words, you need to anticipate and eliminate the risk that would stop people from doing what you want. You definitely don’t want a scenario in which you are shooting yourself in the foot like this.

Powerful calls to action is how most well-structured copies handle the Action step in the AIDA model.

An ideal CTA will underline the value of clicking on it. This means you should stay clear of generic texts and instead get a bit creative with the words accompanying your CTA.

Also, keep in mind that the design aspects of your calls to action matter a whole lot. Your layout, button structure, how the CTA fits with the page, all of that matters to readers, albeit on an unconscious level.

Summary of the AIDA Copywriting Formula

Before we part ways, let’s take a quick look at the gist of what the AIDA copywriting formula is about:

  • You need to get your readers’ attention, an effect usually best achieved with a headline, video or hero image,
  • Maintain their interest by making them see that you understand their problem and that you have the perfect solution to it,
  • Instigate desire by showcasing the life-altering benefits of your offer and by demonstrating your product or service in action using photos, videos and testimonials,
  • Use a clear, unapologetic and obvious call to action that compels readers to act on the spot.

And that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

So, is AIDA the be-all-end-all of effective copywriting? In all honesty, probably not. There are a plethora of examples out there where marketers were able to sell something without completely implementing the formula, adapting the AIDA structure to the features of particular products and services.

Taking that into consideration, should you stick to the AIDA formula then? The short answer: yes. A slightly longer answer? Yes, but never be afraid to adapt. No matter what you are trying to sell, implementing AIDA will provide you with an ideal framework upon which you can adapt your text for maximum conversion efficiency.

It will make sure that your offer is attractive, interesting, desirable and appealing—and any marketer worth their salt will salute these features with a standing ovation.

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Andreja Velimirovic

By: Andreja Velimirovic Copywriter & SEO Specialist

Andreja is an avid fan of movies and modern art, but his true passion can be found in wordsmithing and (as far as his boss is concerned) digital marketing.