You learn a lot of things in Marketing 101. Things like “Starting sales copy with negatives is a negative thing.” You learn that meeting a customer’s eyes is important, as is active listening. By the time you’re done with the course, you can sell sand to a man in the Sahara. Of all the things you learn, however, a few stick with you more than most. One of them is AIDA.

A.I.D.A.

AIDA is an age-old marketing concept. The acronym stands for: Awareness (or Attention), Interest, Desire, and Action.

The purpose of this method is to allow you to target your niche or demographic with systematic diligence, so you can create a sales funnel that truly works.  Below is a breakdown of each individual part of this classic acronym and what it means.  Let’s discover how each can be used effectively as part of your SEO and Internet marketing techniques.

Awareness (Attention)

Awareness has two tiers to it: branding (image) and attraction.  Generally, the AIDA method refers to the ability for your advertisements, website and landing page to attract that initial attention or awareness to begin with.  How is this accomplished?

A/B Testing can quickly reveal which attention grabbers are working, versus those that immediately bounce (Teflon, anyone?). It isolates two versions of an element (ad copy/headlines, pictures, graphics, layout, navigation, search results links and website content), and allows you to compare minute or major changes in the element. For example, a small A/B test can be changing the color and sizes of your headlines to see if one would perform better than another.

One way to measure this specifically is by cross-comparing the actual Clicks Per Impression (CPI) rate of your ads or other content.  If, for instance, you’re generating hundreds of thousands of impressions only to get a few dozen clicks connected to those impressions, your initial responses are lacking.  This is an indication that your first impression is ineffective at garnering the Attention or Awareness of your target audience.

Again, this isn’t just about your headlines or ads; it can apply to each page of your website.  If a certain page is resulting in a high Bounce Rate (BR) and has become a stumbling block, that particular page is hindering Awareness or Attention at the early stages of sales conversion potential.

You don’t have to have ads to be able to measure CPI. For example, Google Webmaster Tools gives you data on how many impressions you may have gotten for a particular key term, and how many clicks you got for that impression.

WHY_PratciceThe CTR (click through rate) of your search snippets can also provide an indicator of your first impression.

Putting It into Practice

Try continuously tweaking each element, one at a time, until your Clicks Per Impression reach a minimum of 10-20%.  Track how well the changes do through A/B Testing (Google Website Optimizer works well for many business types and sizes).

You can apply this to guest posts as well, especially if you have a good relationship with the site you placed the post on. If they’re willing to share their traffic numbers for that page, you can compare that to your referral numbers from the URL.

Statistically, most initial attention-based responses to a well-targeted piece of content or ad copy should be in the 10 – 20% percentage range (or higher).  If you run into a plateau on this, it could be time to consider whether you are placing your ads and/or content in front of an audience that has even the remote potential of being in your niche market – and adjust your placement accordingly.  Targeting is a key means to that end.

Interest

Once your content or ad copy has achieved the initial response of a click, it’s time to take things a step further.  Now the pressure is on and you must keep their attention by generating interest in the discussion.  A landing page that accomplishes this will bring you one step closer to the almighty conversion.

How do you captivate website visitors?  Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?  It’s really not.  All you need to do is give them something to identify with.  When you study your demographic properly, you learn what their age group is, what their income level is, what gender the majority is, and so on.  Use this data as a basis to write copy and present images that make them feel you understand.  Construct your copy with this mindset.

You may not even need to pitch your product directly at this point.  A landing page is very much an interest-based element, as is a website homepage.  The link that preceded their entry to such a page would be considered the Attention element that pulled them in, in the first place.  All you need to do at this point in the funnel is remind your target audience of a problem they likely have which needs a solution.  You can hint at the fact that you will be offering said solution, but you can wait to reveal it in the next step (on the product page).

Desire

Now that your potential customers are interested, you must build their desire to act. To do so, you have to show them that something about their life warrants a need or strong want for what you offer.  Classically, if you answer the following question properly, you are using benefits to spark a sense of desire:  “How will this product (or service) change the life of the potential customer.”

This is simply a continuation of the Interest phase.  You have to intensify the interest to the point where your audience becomes compelled to act.  The product page, for example, can generate a sense of desire.aidagirl-300x286Benefit-driven and value-driven copy is the best way to create and/or build Desire.  

Not only should benefits be mentioned, they should lead the way.  “Lead with benefits” is a motto you should be repeating to yourself whenever you write copy or headlines.  Also, be mindful of the distinction between features and benefits.  You can lead with benefits and support those benefits with features.

Example: Let’s say you sell adjustable beds… Here’s a basic setup of how to position the benefit and support it with the feature, versus the other way around. 

Feature = Adjustable Positions 

Benefit = Comfort Throughout the Day and Night

Poorly Written Copy (Feature Only): “Our adjustable beds allow you to sit or sleep in multiple positions.”

Better Copy, Wrong Order (Feature-Leading, Benefit-Supporting): “Our adjustable beds allow you to sit or sleep in multiple positions which will keep you comfortable at every time of day or night.”

Ideal Copy (Benefit-Leading, Feature-Supporting): “Feel comfortable no matter what time of day it is; our adjustable beds allow you to sit or sleep in multiple positions.”

actionAction

Action is perhaps the “easiest” part of the AIDA process, but it must not be overlooked.  This is where things like user-friendly and conspicuous navigation, purchase links, and shopping carts come into play.  Most of that can be automated, but remember that where you place your Buy Now buttons and what they look like matters.

Again, simply apply A/B Testing on each element to determine which ones generate actions (purchases, mailing list sign-ups, etc.) more often than others.

Relating AIDA to Your Online Marketing Activities

So how does AIDA really relate to online marketing? How can we simplify this a little?

  • Awareness – Anything you’re putting out beyond your site fits in the awareness stage: guest posts, PPC, and YouTube videos all count.
  • Interest – Your site and any pages a visitor might potentially see the first time they visit your site. For PPC and guest posting, make sure your links point to a specific landing page, geared for that video or post.
  • Desire – The content found on your landing and product pages. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” and “Why should I buy from you versus the other guy?
  • Action – Your calls to action: buy buttons, free shipping if they order today, only four left so order now.

By breaking each part of AIDA into steps, you have a clear structure to follow when developing your marketing and campaign initiatives. Using this information, revisit your click paths, from ad or search snippet to final buy. What have you done well? What could you do better? Answer these questions, and then start testing!