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What is the AIDA model?

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Last editedMay 20212 min read

Marketing is filled with acronyms, including the AIDA model. AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action, describing the customer journey throughout the sales process. It’s been used for well over a century, but what does AIDA mean for businesses today?

What does AIDA mean?

This acronym describes a marketing funnel outlining the four steps a customer goes through from first noticing an item to making a purchase. AIDA stands for:

  • Attention: you must cast a wide net at the top of the funnel to attract the customer’s attention. This can either create brand awareness or draw attention to your product or service.

  • Interest: with attention captured, you narrow the funnel. Businesses must generate interest in the product or service’s benefits, encouraging the buyer to learn more.

  • Desire: create an emotional connection with the buyer to help them transition from interest to actively “wanting” the product.

  • Action: spark the buyer to take action, whether it’s making a purchase, contacting your business, or signing up for a mailing list.

The term was first coined in 1898 by E. St. Elmo Lewis, an American businessman looking for a way to optimize sales interactions. The AIDA model has shown sticking power since then, refined and developed to stay relevant with modern marketing tactics.

How to use AIDA marketing effectively

The AIDA model works best when it’s viewed as a checklist to run through. Here’s what to keep in mind at each step. 

Step 1: Attract attention.

How will the customer become aware of your brand or specific products? Capturing attention can be achieved in many different ways, whether it’s through targeted advertising, provocative imagery, striking graphics on a billboard, or a viral YouTube video.

Step 2: Generate interest.

Now that you’ve attracted attention, hold the viewer’s interest in this second step of the journey. Think about things like your content strategy, providing more detailed information on your social media profiles, product brochures, or website. Highlight which qualities make your product stand out from the rest, using interesting illustrations, automated alerts, and attention-holding subheadings.

Step 3: Make it a must-have.

Steps two and three go hand in hand. As your buyers learn more about the products, they should become enticed. Ideally, your product or service is strong enough on its own to make a viewer want to own it. Appeal to your buyer’s emotions by showing how the product would fit into their lives. Interact personally with your audience using tools like online chats, Twitter responses, and in-person launch events.

Step 4: Call to action.

Finally, make it clear how and why the customer should take action with a targeted CTA. Include a clear message across your social media platforms, advertisements, and website. For online shops, the AIDA model culminates in the shopping cart process. Make it as quick and painless as possible with clear incentives to buy, such as limited time deals and free shipping.

Rethinking the AIDA marketing model

One of the reasons for AIDA’s enduring popularity is its simplicity; it’s easy to grasp and implement. However, this same simplicity also draws criticism, particularly regarding its linear nature. With more ways to reach out to customers than ever, AIDA may not adequately consider different points of sale and the difference between online and in-person shopping habits.

Some experts tack an “S” to the end of AIDA to signify “satisfaction” while others include an “R” for “retention,” both noting that the product or service has to satisfy the customer to generate future sales.

A few additional variations of the original AIDA funnel have arisen to fill in these gaps, including:

  • REAN (Reach, Engage, Activate, and Nurture)

  • AIDCAS (Action, Interest, Desire, Confidence, Action, Satisfaction)

  • DAGMAR (Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results)

At the same time, buyer psychology hasn’t changed enough to discount the AIDA model entirely. Ecommerce businesses must attract interest before they can seal the deal with action, which is why this type of marketing funnel is still well worth considering.

Whether you use the AIDA funnel as the foundation of your marketing strategy or simply keep it in mind when writing social media content, it’s a helpful way to take charge and guide your customers through their journey.

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