AIDA: A pair of doomed lovers. Two tragic deaths in an airless cell beneath the pyramids of ancient Egypt. A dozen live elephants on stage.
Giuseppe Verdi sure knew how to grab his audience’s attention in operas like La Traviata, Il Trovatore, and the grandest of them all, Aida. Modern-day marketers have wisely taken a page from the master’s book: They begin ads and other key communications with an arresting phrase that no one can ignore. That’s the “A” in the marketing acronym AIDA, and it stands for Attention.
Next comes “I” for Interest. That’s usually a variation on the Attention theme, showing that you understand and empathize with your audience. “D” is for Desire, which can be cultivated by explaining the benefits of a product or service. And the final “A” is for Action, as in the call to action, which tells people what you’re hoping they’ll do – usually call for an appointment or buy it today.
Taken together, the four steps of AIDA are known as the marketing funnel. That’s because the strategy is designed to capture prospects from a broad audience, focus their thoughts onto your offer, and then prompt a targeted percentage of them to take the steps needed to become your customer.
About 100 years ago, advertisers codified the art of opening and closing sales opportunities. Known generically as “the marketing funnel,” the technique acquired an acronym, AIDA, which corresponds to the progression of shoppers toward making a purchase. Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action – the AIDA model – has proven its worth across the decades. Today, it is still in use and also serves as the basis for new techniques.
When AIDA was developed, print advertising was the dominant medium. The technique came into its own in the 1960s and '70s, with the rise of television and direct mail. You can see the AIDA strategy most clearly in TV ads of the early 60s, where it drives the way the concept plays out. In print ads, you can see AIDA as well, by following the way your eye travels across the page. It’s also evident in business-to-business marketing campaigns, where the sequence of marketing pieces delivered to prospects follows the AIDA pattern.
Today, people speak as though AIDA is hopelessly outdated. And yet you still find plenty of marketers using AIDA as the basic structure of their social media or content marketing campaigns. Besides lowering print and delivery costs, the other big advantage of marketing on the Internet is the ability to measure how prospects are responding as they move deeper into the funnel.
It’s simply human nature that marketers today would devise innovative alternatives to AIDA, corresponding to the “totally new” ways that people think and make buying decisions in the 21st century. Some commentators observe that new approaches, like “Marketing RaDaR” and “the consumer decision journey” are more or less the same as AIDA – but the names are harder to remember. Over time, the results will speak for themselves. However, other new approaches use big data to map sequences of marketing “conversions” that really do result in sales. These analytical tools can act as a supplement to AIDA – or ACID or RaDaR, etc. – taking them to a new level of precision.