Are You Using AIDA? Should You Be?
Look around any space where people are waiting, hanging out or just relaxing and what do you see? People chatting with strangers and getting to know them? Enjoying family time together? Talking intensely to their friends? Probably not.
What you'll more likely see is almost everyone staring down at their phones. Whether they're reading the news, surfing the web, posting on social media or catching up on emails, almost everyone will be focused on that small slab of glass and metal in their hands rather than the world around them.
Economist, psychologist and Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon called it the 'attention economy'; he posited that attention was the “bottleneck of human thought” that limits both what we can perceive in stimulating environments and what we can do.
In other words, in this modern technologically driven world, Herbert believes our attention has become a commodity and given the rise of social media and all of its addictive qualities, he may have a point.
As we now essentially have the entire world accessible from a small device we all carry around in our pockets, people have to choose what to pay attention to, because even they we have access to everything, we can't possibly pay attention to it all at any given moment.
When it comes to marketing, if you're trying to sell a product or service to those same people, this now means selling it is secondary, you have to get their attention first and that's becoming harder and harder to do!
When you look at how many people spend hours of their day staring at their phones, tablets or laptops and the sheer amount of content available to them, you will quickly see that the competition for that focussed attention is incredibly fierce.
These days online adverts and promotions need to keep going further and further, constantly pushing boundaries to get those all-important eyeballs and clicks. The bog-standard advert, no matter how polished and professional just isn't cutting it anymore.
When you have only a split second to grab someone's attention before they scroll right on past, you need to think smarter and be bolder than your competition. If you're looking for results, maybe it's time to call AIDA.
WHAT IS AIDA?
If you're not familiar with it, AIDA is a marketing model aimed at converting visitors into customers. So far, so standard.
AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and represents the four cognitive stages people typically go through when purchasing. It's what is known as a 'hierarchy of effect' model.
When using AIDA as a framework for your marketing efforts, you'll first grab their ATTENTION with your creative, innovative marketing, which will in turn attract their INTEREST in what you do, creating a DESIRE within them to own whatever 'it' is, which ultimately drives their ACTION to buy it.
Put simply, you want people to go from "What is it?" to "I like it" to "I want it" to "I'm buying it!" as effectivey as possible.
That might not sound so different than other models, but for each one of these segments to succeed, it's vital that you consider what role it plays in the larger AIDA framework and for each of the journeys your own customers are on.
The emergence of social media and online communities has played a huge role in changing the relationships between companies and customers.
No longer is that relationship purely binary. Customers now have a wealth of other tools available to them to learn more about brands, products and services. AIDA aims to tap into this new relationship and harnesses it.
AIDA is less of a decision-making tool than it is a communicative one. Brands use it to identify not only HOW, but WHEN to communicate during each stage of the customer's buying journey.
At each of the touchpoints they encounter on this journey, consumers will use different platforms, engage differently and require different information from numerous sources to get from one stage to the next.
The real benefit of it is that you can apply AIDA to lots of different channels like content marketing, customer journeys, podcast advertising, blogs, ebooks, whitepapers and even your own website.
OK, BUT ISN'T IT AIDAR, WITH AN 'R'?
Sometimes. More recently, you may also see this framework referred to as AIDAR which adds 'Retention' into the acronymic mix.
Retention represents the fact that, once someone has bought your product or service, the relationship you now have with them hasn't ended, in fact, it's only just starting so they need to be retained.
As you begin to nurture that relationship when the time comes that they need your product or service again, not only will they come back, but they'll also refer you to their friends who may also need it.
ISN'T AIDA JUST ANOTHER MARKETING FUNNEL?
Whilst there are obvious similarities, the steps within AIDA and the classic marketing funnel are different.
The marketing (or sales) funnel aims to identify a buyer's journey from the moment they first see your product right up until they are converted into a customer. Whilst this typically involves a purchase, it's not defined by that.
A marketing funnel tends to be separated into 3 sections. The widest part of the funnel (remember it's an inverted triangle with the base at the top) is all about bringing people in by raising awareness for your brand.
As it narrows, the middle section is where you move those interested into what's often referred to as a 'consideration phase'.
As they reach the bottom of the funnel, that's where you start to convert them into customers and position yourself for returning customers.
The main difference between a typical marketing funnel and the AIDA model is that AIDA can be applied to any marketing campaign, any piece of collateral or any digital journey your customers are on, as well as the overall sales funnel.
DEFINITIONS OF AIDA
So now we've talked about what AIDA is and what it stands for, what does it look like in real life when used with real ads and campaigns?
When looking to attract that all-important attention that is the first stage of AIDA, you need to determine how your advert is going to rise above the noise and stand out from the crowd, given the barrage of online content people are exposed to in their day-to-day online lives.
The best way to do this is to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client and see how your advert stands out against the competition. It's important that you do this objectively. You can also do this by searching keywords relating to your brand to see where you fit into the landscape.
Fundamentally, it's all about creating brand awareness and an affiliation between your brand and consumers.
Now you have their attention, can you capture their interest? This is the point at which you really need to think about what they need to continue their journey and get them interested.
Start to think about the information they need to move on to the next step. What are they searching for on your website? Is it structured to keep them engaged, interested and clicking for more content?
Are they contacting your customer service team and, if so, what questions are they asking? This whole step is about creating an emotional connection, i.e. finding out what they are most interested in and giving them it. Turn them from just liking it, to WANTING it.
Desire (aka Decision)
So now you've got their attention AND they're interested in buying, it's time to make them want what you do by highlighting your USP (Unique Selling Point) or the benefits of using what you sell or provide.
At this stage, it's worth mentioning again this needs to revolve around the customer journey you've created, because they're not all the same.
Not everyone 'desires' or buys a product or service in the same way anymore. Some may only be interested in the lowest price, some might have bought into your brand already whilst some might want to know more about your ethical, charitable or environmental credentials before committing.
As you'll have already done work on building your own customer persona, the key to desire revolves around building a genuine emotional connection to drive their decision-making.
By understanding the desires your customers have, you can begin to demonstrate a commitment to addressing them.
Now the crucial step of the AIDA model, Action! With your visitors on the verge of buying, it's vital at this stage to be as specific as you can about what you want them to do. This is known as a Call To Action, or CTA.
The form that the CTA takes can vary. It might be some linked words within your copy, the end of a blog, making a phone call, signing up for your newsletter or clicking eye-catching imagery, but whatever it is, you have to think about WHERE it's placed.
Sadly, there's no hard-and-fast rule for this that works every time, so depending on your offer, you may need to do some testing about where it's most effective and what brings the best results.
It's worth remembering that the 'action' you're looking for, doesn't always need to be focused on completing a sale, especailly in the AIDA model.
The goal is for people to progress along the path so each step of that journey might need its own CTA to push people from one stage to the next.
Whilst not ALWAYS part of the AIDA framework, let's touch on Retention.
As we touched upon earlier, once someone buys from you, that shouldn't be the end of their relationship with you, it should be the beginning. so it's up to you to help continue that conversation.
Of course, you want first-time customers to become regular returning customers, but having them just come back to you to buy more shouldn't be the only option available to you.
Retention is about nurturing that relationship. You can do that by offering special deals on referrals, freebies or discounts for any referrals they bring in, upselling, cross-selling or a bump in 'status' within your loyalty scheme.
For retention to work well, it needs to be a fairly light touch. You don't want to go too heavy or too intensely with existing customers or you can easily scare them off.
Don't bombard them with offer after offer or you'll soon send them into the arms of your competitors.
They are more likely to return if they have and continue to have, a positive experience with your brand through social media updates and receive regular quality content from you (i.e. newsletter).
When that content aligns with their interests and your shared values, they'll be your greatest advocate.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES OF AIDA?
Like any marketing framework, AIDA is not perfect and it does have limitations which you need to know about.
AIDA is designed to be linear, i.e. A -> I -> D -> A, so even if you grab someone's attention, there's no guarantee that they're interested in buying.
As such AIDA doesn't work for those on a non-linear customer journey which is why, as we mentioned earlier, it's so important that you understand and can map your own customer's journey for each of the personas you have identified to see if it suits you and your business.
It's also not very useful for impulse shopping where a prospective customer might cycle through multiple stages of AIDA at the same time, or all of them at once if it's an impulse buy or an emergency purchase.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
For all the ways we can market products and services in this modern world, the fundamentals of all of them revolve around people's engagement through their buying journey and that's exactly what AIDA is based on.
That said, for all the marketing strategies thrown around, whether you're doing it for yourself or you're an agency working for a client as we do, success is always determined by its effectiveness and whether clients or customers are happy. The differentiator is how you measure that success that is often what it comes down to.
The connection we have to our phones and the online world isn't going to weaken, if anything, it's getting stronger every day.
If people are going to spend hours of time online anyway, shouldn't they be engaging with you and your content rather than your competitors? If so, maybe it's time for you and your business to get to know AIDA a little better!
We hope that you've enjoyed this brief journey into the AIDA's world. Have you had any success in your own business with AIDA? What benefits did it bring or what did you learn that you can pass on to others? Let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear them.
Original blog photo courtesy of Robin Worrall on Unsplash