AIDA: May I Have Your Attention Please?

… And also your Interest, Desire and Action? I know, we all get pretty sick of marketing jargon and waffle. But writing thoughtful and creative content marketing isn’t always easy, so a little help is usually welcome. When it comes to long-form content (something our SEO strategies specialise in producing), a lot of people get stuck trying to figure out what to write next. It can sometimes be a laborious process, so having clarity in your process and underlying structure can help to keep things moving along. That’s where AIDA, a marketing principle that goes back over a century ago, might be able to help. 

What is AIDA? Well, it stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It’s essentially a roadmap for written advertising. Remember that, when someone’s reading your press release, social ad, blog post, or anything else, you’re trying to take them on a little journey. Any piece of persuasive advertising is an attempt to lead someone from point A (apathy) to point B (action). 

But you’re writing 4000 words on… garden gnomes. How are you going to keep your reader engaged? Or you’re writing a dozen social ads on cardboard boxes. How are you going to get people to click on them? 

The 100-Year-Old Origins Of AIDA

When reading the excellent How to Write Better Copy by Steve Harrison, one section in particular really stood out to me. Harrison explains the century-old origin and inception of the AIDA model, something that we still use and hold dear today. 

Just over one hundred years ago, Business Books Ltd in London published the Encyclopedia of Advertising and Selling. The book cited no author, so it’s impossible to give them the credit they deserve. But whoever it was, they managed to absolutely nail down what has become one of advertising’s most enduring principles. Way back in 1915, somebody wrote this structure for a sales argument: 

  1. The opening which wins the reader’s attention and prompts them to go further into the letter.
  2. Description and explanation that gains interest by picturing the position in their mind. 
  3. Argument or proof, which creates desire for the article you have to sell by showing its value and advantages. 
  4. Persuasion, which draws the reader to your way of thinking by showing the adaptation of the article to his needs and his need of it now. 
  5. Inducement, which gives him particular or extra reason for buying.
  6. The climax, which makes it easy for the reader to order and prompts him to act at once. 


The emphasis was put in by Harrison. It’s also worth noting that AIDA is sometimes known as AIDCA, where the C stands for Conviction. In this example, points 4. and 5. provide the Conviction.

This anonymous marketing hero goes on to explain that you can use this structure for any piece of written advertising aiming to persuade or influence readers to perform an action. Whether that be to pick up phone, click on ‘Buy Now’, enter some contact details, or anything else – you have to assume resistance and indifference at first. Your job as a marketer is to take this person by the hand and convince them that they need what you’ve got.

This six-step plan turned out to be amazingly prescient. Almost everything about the way we deliver marketing has changed. We’re a Manchester-based digital marketing agency here at Embryo, which means that we deal with all aspects of online marketing and advertising. The online age has made information widely accessible and readily available, and advertising has changed with it. But we still find AIDA useful. 

Why Is AIDA Still Used?

Because it works. You don’t necessarily need to include every single step in everything you write, but the principle remains the same. For example, in social media advertising, you might post an ad that’s three sentences long – not necessarily long enough to go the whole six steps. But you’re still trying to take your reader on a lateral journey from inaction to action. And if you’re not grabbing their Attention, raising an Interest and Desire, and prompting them to Action, you’re probably not having as much success as you could.

While the most actionable use of AIDA is in the kind of long-form and creative content we do here at Embryo, it still applies to PPC advertising, SEO and more. Even the concepts of UI and UX web development and design, while less linear in nature, still lend themselves to the idea of the customer journey and the marketing task of directing someone from indifference to desire and action. 

You can truncate the process, emphasise certain elements of it in favour of others, and play around with the idea. But if you’re writing anything that is in some way proposing an idea, product or service to a reader, it’s worth keeping AIDA in mind. People are hard-wired to resist being sold and advertised to – AIDA gives you a clear roadmap for your content, helping you to structure, prioritise and target the different stages of consumer engagement. 

Get In Touch

One of the things we do best here at Embryo are our thoughtful and creative content and SEO campaigns. Manchester-based, the team here at Embryo keep a keen eye on the industry around us and we love reading about successful and imaginative marketing. We’re always on the lookout for new inspiration, and we think that this is one of the things that makes us dynamic and innovative. Just get in touch with us today to find out more about what we do and to discover how an Embryo campaign can deliver the results you’re looking for! 


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