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What’s the AIDA model in marketing?

What’s the AIDA model in marketing?

What’s the AIDA model in marketing? Plus, how it can strengthen your specific marketing strategies.

We live in an attention economy, a term coined by Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon to describe the commodification of our focus en masse. In the attention economy, people literally choose what to ‘pay attention’ to, as we now have more access to information than we could possibly intake in a given moment. To that effect, marketers and agencies have realized that before they can sell a service, they first need to grab people’s attention. Competition for attention is fierce. That’s why a simple insurance commercial doesn’t do it anymore; you need to throw in a squealing pig or caveman in the mix. Finally, when all eyes are on you, you only have a few more seconds to convince prospective clients you’re the best fit to solve their problem. If that sounds like a tall order, you’re in luck, as there’s a framework that you can use to both improve your own agency’s content and, if you offer marketing services, your clients’ content as well. It’s called the AIDA model — sometimes the AIDAR model — and if you learn how to master it, you’ll be sure to see some great results.

What does AIDA mean in marketing?

People typically go through four stages when making purchases:

  • Attention

  • Interest

  • Desire

  • Action (AIDA)

During these stages, your content will ideally attract attention to your agency, generate interest in your product or service, stimulate a desire for it, and spur action to buy it. For each marketing effort to succeed, it’s essential to consider what role it will play in the greater AIDA framework. AIDA can be applied to social media carousels, starting blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, content marketing funnels customer journeys, pod advertising and even on your websites.

What is AIDAR?

In recent years some marketers have added an R — which stands for retention — to the end of the AIDA framework. Once someone completes the action you want them to take — ideally, converting them to a client/customer by completing a transaction — then, these marketers believe, the real relationship with that individual is only beginning. The aim after that is to continue nurturing the relationship so that the person comes back when they need your product or services again — and refers you to others.

Are there any downsides to the AIDA model?

It’s important to mention that the AIDA model does have some limitations. For one, it’s designed linearly, so if someone doesn’t enter at the attention stage, they may not have a natural understanding (or inclination) to purchase. In other words, AIDA fails to account for non-linear customer journeys (which is why it’s so important to understand and map your customer journeys for each persona or segment).

How is AIDA(R) different from the marketing funnel?

The marketing funnel is designed to describe someone’s process from first impressions of a brand through to conversion (which is typically — but not always — defined by making a purchase). While it might seem similar to the AIDA model, its steps are different. For example, at the top of the funnel (TOFU), you raise awareness for your brand. In the middle of the funnel (MOFU), you steer prospective customers through what’s called a consideration phase. At the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), you’re driving conversions and potentially looking to set the stage for future customer engagements. The biggest difference between the AIDA framework and the funnel is that AIDA(R) can be applied to any piece of collateral, any digital journey, and any marketing campaign, in addition to your overall sales funnel.

Examples of the AIDA model

Here are examples of what each step of the AIDA model looks like in action:


The first thing to determine is how your ad or offering is going to stand out from the overall sensory barrage that people experience both online and in their day-to-day lives. Ask yourself where a prospective client is encountering your content in order to best gauge how it can stand out in that space (for example, see what else comes up when you search for keywords related to your brand).

One example is the famous Clairol print campaign, “Does she, or doesn’t she?” It pairs women of all ages, in varying commonplace scenarios (like a diner), with a simple and evocative tagline that leaves the viewer wondering what the line is implying. They will likely need to look closer to determine it’s an ad for hair dye.


Think about what information or design elements someone needs at this point to continue their journey. Determine what people are searching for when they find your website, conduct services, or study customer service inquiries to learn what your audience is most interested in.

Airtable is a popular software for content marketers, and it’s no surprise that they’ve got their AIDA framework on full display. Autoplay videos keep the user’s eye engaged and scrolling down the page while relevant subheads generate further interest. As a bonus, the help bot helps inform any interests that might not yet have been answered or satisfied.


Time to highlight your unique value proposition, or unique selling proposition, and the benefits that will drive desire. Keep in mind desire is not created equal — which is to say, some customers might be looking for the lowest price, while others might really be looking for a long-term trusted partner. Today, people increasingly want to know that companies they patronize are ethical, reliable and values-driven. One example of speaking to this desire is retailer Veronica Beard, which is currently promoting its VBGivesBack campaign, in partnership with the Breast Cancer Alliance, right on its homepage.

There are many ways to establish a genuine emotional connection that will drive decision-making and brand loyalty. The key is learning your own audience’s desires (through feedback forms, social media comments and more) and demonstrating a commitment to fulfilling them.


When you want someone to move forward, it’s important to be specific about the next step you’d like them to take. Your calls to action can be as simple as a few hyperlinked words in a sentence at the end of a blog. It's important to think about where your call to action should be placed within a piece of content or collateral. Do some A/B testing to learn which CTA placements yield the best results.

Barnes and Noble offers a sign-up form (with the incentive of “savings”) and they ask to “Follow Us” in the footer of every webpage. Remember: Action doesn’t always need to be about completing a purchase; each step on the customer journey might need its own call to action to get people to progress.


Once someone has made a purchase, it’s important to continue the conversation. An approach that we particularly like is the referral method. A great example is Winc, a monthly wine club that allows members to give free boxes of wine to those they want to refer. Because who can resist sharing good wine, not to mention free wine, with their friends? Receiving both a good recommendation and a chance to sample a great product, the friend is more likely to join than any regular cold lead. When friends sign up, the referrer gets a discount on their next box.

At the same time, we also commend a light touch: sharing periodic newsletters, updates about the company, or notifications about upcoming events. If someone has a positive experience and continues to receive quality content that aligns with their interests, they’re likely to return.

Why use AIDA for business growth

AIDA is based on the way people engage with content throughout their buying journey. Relying on human psychology to inform savvy small business marketing strategies speaks to the evidence-based work that most businesses thrive on. But at the end of the day, you measure that success by making customers happy, it depends on how you measure that success, whether it’s keeping your clients happy or delivering consistent marketing results.

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