How to Use the AIDA Formula To Boost Your Content Marketing Strategy
There’s an oldie but a goody in copywriting that everyone who is creating content for their business should know: AIDA. It’s a simple formula that’s designed to grab people’s attention and take them through your content to the point that they take action on what they’ve read. It’s a start to finish approach to writing great content.
Much to my surprise, it doesn’t seem to be as widely discussed as you’d expect in the field of content strategy. We can learn a lot about great writing from the art of direct mail copywriting, especially how to engage, persuade, and convert our readers. Here’s a closer look at AIDA, what it is, and how to use it in your content strategy.
What is AIDA?
Let’s start by breaking it down into its fundamental pieces.
A = Attention
I = Interest
D = Desire
A = Action
If you follow AIDA in a piece that you write, you guide consumers along the experience funnel. You start by grabbing their attention, and getting them engaged, curious, or excited enough to keep reading. Then you build their interest in what you have to offer, to the point that they start to relate this potential product, service, or information to their own lives.
At this point, you begin to stir their desire. The goal is to get them to want to purchase a product, have an experience, or make a big step in their lives. Finally, you push them over the tipping point so that they actually take whatever action it is that you highlighted.
The overview above probably sounds pretty familiar. In fact, it’s the experience that most of us are hoping to create when we sit down to craft specific pieces of content for business purposes. AIDA offers a coherent framework for writers to follow, and increases the chances of getting the desired response.
Breaking down the AIDA framework for content creation
If you’re interested in giving AIDA a try, the following guide should be helpful in doing so. What I’ve tried to do here is simple: introduce each concept, explore how it could be applied to different pieces of content, and then offer an example to make sure that you’re able to implement it.
Many marketers are finally embracing the idea of a content creation framework that helps you decide what to write and how to disseminate it. By finding guidelines to follow at the individual content level, you’ll develop a process that will increase the effectiveness of your writing.
A = Attention
The first hurdle for any piece of writing is to capture the reader’s attention. To get their attention, you first have to start with a concept that’s deeply relevant and timely to the audience that you’re trying to reach. Here are some questions that you can start to ask yourself when you’re in the planning stages to help write an attention-grabber:
· Who is reading this piece? If I had to develop a persona to describe them, what would they look like? Gender, location, family status, employment, income, interests, etc.
· What is their most pressing problem relating to the topic that I’m writing about? What keeps them up at night or makes them sick to their stomach when they think of a specific issue?
· What kind of solution is this piece offering to their problem? Is it the introduction to an idea that could shift the way that they think about their lives, or a product that they can go out and buy? How, specifically, will it solve their issue?
· How does my audience talk about their problems? What are powerful words or concepts that would immediately create resonance?
On that last point, let me give you an example. If you’re selling a skateboard to enthusiasts and you want to capture their attention, it’s important that you understand their internal language and approach. If your audience self identifies as “skater kids,” using that term in your headline or lead could capture their attention immediately.
Likewise, if you’re talking to men that feel like their wives are losing interest, what terms would they want to see? Maybe you want to say “rekindle her desire for you” or maybe that’s not at all how the prospect thinks. Perhaps “Get your wife to remember that you’re hot and interesting with this three step strategy” is more in line with their mindset. What’s important is that you take the time to find the language that resonates, based on a deep understanding of your audience.
Your headline and your lead paragraph are the two most important areas to capturing your prospect’s attention. Always audit these areas first when trying to determine why people aren’t sticking around to read your content.
I = Interest
Once you’ve hooked a reader, it’s time to really help them see how well you understand their problem. This links back to the idea of having a strong profile of who you’re targeting with your products or services before diving into the selling. Specifically, if you take a situation like a health problem, warming up a prospect’s interest starts by showing that you understand their issues.
One common example in internet marketing is “embarrassing health problems.” It’s true that many people take to the internet to try to solve uncomfortable issues that they’d rather not discuss with a doctor. If you’re able to show that you understand the challenges of living with a particular condition, and specifically how that makes them feel, you’ll be able to start engaging them in a deeper way.
It’s then time to build your argument or story. For example, you may have done research into the specifics of the condition and know of reputable medical studies that suggest little known treatments or successful cures. You may have personal experience that you can use to create more of a rapport with your reader.
The key here is to use information, persuasion techniques, and as much proof as you can find to hold the reader’s attention once you’ve captured it. By deepening the connection that you have with the prospect and crafting a piece that informs, educates, and entertains them around one of their most pressing problems, you’ll be well on your way to sparking an emotional reaction.
D = Desire
It sometimes trips marketers and writers up to think about the difference between interest and desire. Think about the idea of changing jobs, if you’re an employee. Maybe you hear about an alternative career and you start to wonder about it. You read some articles online, do research on open positions, and even talk to a few people in the field. As you gather more info, you start to realize what a perfect fit it is. The pay is great, the hours are right, the content is interesting.
At some point, there’s a shift in your mind and you start to imagine yourself in that position. You move from thinking that a career in writing or engineering sounds interesting, to actually wanting to be a writer or engineer. It’s about that moment of the shift, from intellectual curiosity to making the decision “I want that for myself.” That’s at the heart of desire.
Let’s take a more business oriented look. Imagine that you’re a B2B marketer selling a social media solution. Your target audience is social media managers for big companies. From your research, you know that being able to quantify the impact of B2B social media programs and show how they impact sales is a big concern for this audience. There are tools on the market, but nothing that’s perfect for making the case. With your new product, you’re able to deliver that information in a few simple clicks.
If we begin at the beginning, you have to capture their interest by crafting a headline that speaks directly to your audience. Something along the lines of “Finally, A Product for Social Media Managers That Quantifies the Value of Every Interaction” is a decent starting point. In your white paper (to pick a content type), you lay out the scenario: the marketing manager is called into a departmental meeting to present on campaign progress. She uses the standard metrics: growth in followers, increases in interactions, brand mentions, brand sentiment, and lead generation.
A bored executive asks, “So how much has this Twitter campaign generated in sales?”
Pulling up a previous chart, the manager starts to rattle off the facts. “We know that 40,000 people shared content related to that product. We gained almost 100,000 followers. The sales department reported that they got 5,000 leads out of the program, and if we extrapolate how much they purchased….”
The executive interrupts. “No. I want to know exactly how much that was worth. Not extrapolations.”
It’s any social media manager’s nightmare scenario. But with your new product, your customer will be able to track and quantify the value of every interaction. If you can demonstrate that, you’ll hold their interest. Specific features and benefits, case studies, customer testimonials, and use cases are all effective ways to back up your claims. Finally, by tapping into an emotion that the social media manager has felt — perhaps fear at being caught in such a situation or a desire to be in control of the outcome of such conversations — you’ll start to create a desire to have access to your product.
A = Action
Once you’ve stirred up enough desire to get your prospect thinking about taking action, it’s time to close the deal. This focuses primarily on using a powerful call to action. Calls to action are simple statements that let readers know what you want them to do next: buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, watch a video, or share your tweets for example.
Everything you write should have a call to action — after all, you’re creating a piece of content for a specific reason. So let the reader know what that reason is! Also think about the design aspects of your calls to action: does your layout, button structure, and more support your prospect’s taking action? If it’s at all difficult to figure out how to take the next step, people often won’t.
A great content strategy is one of the most effective initiatives your business can do to help it grow. If you’re ready to try a new strategy to help your content get read more often, keep prospects and readers hooked, and drive them toward action — give AIDA a try. Do you use this framework in any of your marketing? Let me know in the comments below.