You know when you learn something, and you've learnt it a while ago, you sort of assume everyone knows about it… I was speaking at an event a few weeks ago and I was asked a question that made me bring out my old friend AIDA. The session went well, but afterwards, a colleague reached out to ask ‘What is AIDA?' and told me they'd never heard this before.
With the level of discussion amongst Marketers regarding funnels, I was surprised by the question. So, I felt compelled to put this article together because AIDA is (and should be) the foundation of every marketing campaign you create or witness. I can't tell you where it came from, who the originator was or anything like that! It's been around so long that when I was studying marketing communications several years ago and ‘The 5 Ps” were becoming the “The 7 Ps” and social media still wasn't even really that much of a thing yet, a form of AIDA was already in existence.
In order to ‘prove' I'm not making things up and that AIDA is really a thing I literally had to Google it to find out where it came from!
So… What is AIDA?
AIDA's an acronym standing for Awareness, Interest, Decision (or Desire) and Action. Put simply, if you draw out your marketing funnel, and then split it into four layers by drawing, evenly spread, horizontal lines across it you can then add each of the letters onto your diagram from top to bottom.
Why is AIDA important for Marketers to understand?
Every time you buy something you go through all four stages of AIDA as a consumer. You have a need or desire and start to research, which introduces you to a product or service, or perhaps you're talking to a friend or family member who has introduced you. From there your interest is piqued and you learn more. If the marketer is doing their bit, that interest grows into a need to purchase, and this needs to be maintained right until we start to take those purchase actions and hand over our hard-earned cash!
Sometimes it's possible that a consumer can make their way through all four stages of AIDA within a matter of minutes. (If you're not easily offended, and you find yourself in the Green Umbrella office in the future ask me about my ‘sweary pencils'.) Other times, it might be that we're years going through the four stages – think about dream holidays, for example. You become aware of a destination, do some research perhaps that increases your interest and before you know it you're stuck in that desire phase!
Given the examples I've used, you can probably guess that the higher your product or service is priced, the longer it takes for your prospects to move through all four stages.
Applying AIDA to your marketing campaigns
Let's make sure we have a clear definition of each of the stages of AIDA.
Gaining the attention of a cold audience. This is the stage where you get someone dipping their toe into your funnel!
This is where social media has its value, especially if you're using Paid advertising! At the awareness stage, we're finding ways to introduce our brand to new audiences and doing it often enough that we can take this audience through to the next stage.
We've captured attention and now we have an audience who are not yet sure they're going to buy from us. They're doing their due-diligence.
This is where they're checking out our reviews, and reading about our products and services. So make sure there's positive information out there to be found! Right now this audience is going around “living their best lives” (as the cool-kid teens my daughter hangs out with would say) and every time they come up against that headache your solution solves, what do you think they're doing? They're having another Google of your brand name, checking out your Facebook page or perhaps even diving into their inbox for that email you sent them with that useful download they grabbed from your website.
That interest soon moves into the decision phase. That once cold audience had never heard of you before are now hot-hot-hot and can't live without you! They have to have your product in their possession, or when it comes to your service there's no one they trust more.
For items that might be considered a luxury, we can call this Desire rather than Decision. All we need to do during this stage is to continue to show the value we can bring to their lives, reminders of the benefits, reminders of how much we, as a brand, care about them and their needs. Plus, of course, why we're such a great company to support! (While also not making it about us at all!)
This is almost where you see the money! (For my £12+ delivery sweary pencils, this stage lasted a matter of minutes. I couldn't check out quick enough!) For those high-ticket items, you might find the action looks more like regularly abandoned baskets, lots of clicks on emails or even stalker-like behaviour across your social media channels!
At this stage, that prospect is right on the cusp of hitting check out and giving you their bank details and the actions they take are highly measurable. They'll be reaching out to you to buy!
Have you seen AIDA?
Perhaps you and AIDA are old friends and this is nothing new, or perhaps you are having a sudden realisation that my mate AIDA has been working her magic on you for years! Either way, take a few minutes right now to consider your current marketing campaigns. How did the activities fit into the AIDA model? If the campaign was disappointing, was it because you went straight from Awareness to Action and didn't create an opportunity for interest or decision to take place? It's a mistake we often see and help people fix!