How to Use the AIDA Formula
Content writing and marketing isn’t as straightforward as many people would like to have you think and sometimes, the creative process can make your head feel like it’s about to explode, when trying to come up with ideas.
Most writers and marketers have some kind of system to gain inspiration in place, but it’s not just a case of coming up with titles when it comes to content. For many years, those in the marketing and advertising industry have used something known as AIDA to help break down what’s needed in content.
Despite being around since 1921, AIDA remains relevant to today’s marketing professional and has been adapted to encompass the world of digital too. AIDA is intended to help marketers grab reader’s attention and prompt them to continue reading and take action.
What is AIDA?
The acronym is used to describe common events that take place when a consumer is exposed to some form of advertising, which in the modern world equates to online as well as offline, TV and radio.
It can be broken down as follows:
A = Attention – how you can grab the attention of the reader and prompt them to carry on reading by engaging them.
I = Interest – then it’s necessary to build interest by giving useful information, educational content or engaging on an emotional level with the use of humour, controversy etc.
D = Desire – this is where you want them to become interested in your product, service or content to the point that they desire more information and they relate the content to themselves.
A = Action – then the desire is acted upon by producing a CTA so that they will take the steps that the marketer intended them to.
Is AIDA still used?
Despite being a historical model when it comes to marketing, AIDA has been adjusted here and there as the discipline has involved. You may also see it referred to as AIDAS (S = satisfaction) and AIDCAS (C = confidence). Obviously these refer to aftersales for the former and confidence in the company or product.
It’s also been adapted to three steps and this is known as CAB:
• Cognition (awareness or learning)
• Affect (interest, desire, emotion)
• Behaviour (action)
As you can see, there isn’t really a great deal of difference in the models and they work in a similar fashion. Another, related model, REAN was developed in 2006 and relates to the consumer lifecycle.
This is more driven to the sales funnel than the business of content production and is a useful model in itself, but can’t be applied quite as successfully when it comes to planning and creating written content.
Breaking it down
First of all, in order to use the AIDA formula, it’s necessary to break it down into the four parts that you’re addressing. So the first thing you will be looking at is Attention. Think about how you can grab the reader, the audience it’s aimed at and what they want.
This can be taken from an overall strategy plan, with regard to learning about the target readership and this should tell you:
• Audience demographics
• Buyer persona
• What kind of solution to their problem does the piece address
• What kinds of imagery can be used that the audience can relate to (in terms of storytelling, rather than actual images)
It’s important to pay attention to audience and the sort of language that will catch their attention and make them think it’s worth reading. For example, if you’re writing to a law firm, then your language will be substantially different than if you’re writing for teens or young adults.
Next it’s necessary to think about how you can pique the interest so that they’ll keep reading, now that you’ve grabbed their attention. Again, this is made easier by knowing the audience that you’re addressing and why reading on may be the solution to a problem that they have. In order to engage, it’s necessary to make the reader think that you have experience of their problem and can help them address it.
• A well-constructed argument
• Personal anecdote
• Persuasive information, backed up by proof if possible
• That it educates or entertains
It’s important for the web that this is also formatted properly, with sub-headers, short paragraphs, bullet points, images and so on, so that the information is easy to scan and digest. It’s equally important that you use language that can be easily understood and don’t attempt to be too overly descriptive, using complex words and jargon.
This is because if someone has to stutter over a word or sentence, having to go back to read and make sense of it, then you are more than halfway to losing them.
Moving on to Desire
The major difference in interest and desire is that the latter makes the reader imagine themselves using a product, taking advice or educating themselves on something they can imagine will impact them positively.
So imagine that you’re talking about a particular product or service and what it means to your audience. If you just write fluff that’s nothing more than a filler piece, then it’s not going to have any use.
However, if you use statistics, case studies and prove the value of that product or the information, then this means that you can hold their interest and begin a process where the consumer wants the product, service, or information.
And … Action!
Now it’s all about creating a strong call to action (CTA) in order to make the reader want to take action on the information that you’ve given them. For example, if you’re a social media management firm and the piece has centred on proving ROI, then this must be maximised upon.
In order to do this, some numbers are good, as is the suggestion that not only can you prove ROI, but you can also do this for them. It’s also useful to think about how they can take action, is there:
• An email address that they can use to get more information
• A button taking them to a product/service comparison page
• A button so that they can login/register
• A phone number
• A guarantee on the services offered
In order to get someone to take action, you have to make them sure that they are not wasting their time, as well as give them a real incentive to go forward. This could be a discount for the first month, or a tailored plan, or free evaluation of their social media strategy.
The most important thing is that it must give the reader value and they should feel that they have come away with something to take away, in one form or another.
We all know just how important content is and this is something that is growing, rather than lessening, so having some kind of framework in place to ensure that content is working for your business is a must.
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