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What to do about AIDA? Our expert’s opinion.

By Rob Ford

The AIDA model is designed to guide copywriters in crafting effective copy that engages the reader and encourages them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or subscribing to a newsletter. The supremacy of the model has, however, been challenged in recent years in the context of rapidly changing market conditions and leaps in technology. Our Director, Rob Ford, outlines his view on AIDA and what the future holds for the model.

What is the AIDA framework?

Attention: The first step is to grab the reader's attention with a strong headline, opening sentence, or visual element. This should be something that immediately piques their interest and encourages them to keep reading.

Interest: Once you've captured the reader's attention, the next step is to build their interest in your product or service. This can be done by highlighting the benefits, features, or unique selling points of what you're offering.

Desire: After you've built the reader's interest, the next step is to create a sense of desire or urgency. This can be achieved by emphasising the benefits of taking action, offering limited-time discounts or promotions, or using persuasive language that makes the reader feel like they're missing out if they don't act quickly.

Action: The final step is to encourage the reader to take a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or contacting your business. This should be done in a clear and concise manner, with a strong call to action that tells the reader exactly what they need to do next.

The AIDA framework has been widely used in the field of advertising and marketing for over a century, and has been shown to be an effective tool for guiding the development of persuasive communication strategies. However, some scholars have raised concerns about the simplicity and rigidity of the AIDA model, arguing that it may not always be applicable or appropriate in modern marketing contexts.

One critique of the AIDA framework is that it may be too simplistic and rigid to capture the complexity of modern marketing contexts. For example, Kiefer and Banyte (2017) argue that the AIDA model may not adequately reflect the multi-channel and multi-touchpoint nature of contemporary consumer journeys. Another criticism of the AIDA model is that it may not be suitable for all types of products or services. Eisenberg (2019) notes that the AIDA framework was developed for use in traditional advertising contexts and may not be effective for products or services that are more experiential or require more extensive information processing. Others have raised concerns about the assumption underlying the AIDA framework: that consumers go through a linear sequence of attention, interest, desire, and action in response to marketing messages. For example, Egan (2010) argues that the AIDA model may be too simplistic to capture the complex and often non-linear nature of consumer decision-making. One pertinent view is that a more dynamic and integrated model, such as the Customer Journey Framework, may be more appropriate for guiding integrated marketing communication strategies.

The Customer Journey Framework as the neo-AIDA model?

The Customer Journey Framework views the consumer journey as a series of touchpoints or interactions between the consumer and the brand, rather than a linear sequence of stages. The framework recognises that consumers may engage with the brand in multiple ways, such as through advertising, social media, online reviews, or word-of-mouth recommendations, before making a purchasing decision. The goal of marketers using this framework is to map out these touchpoints and understand how they can be used to build a relationship with the consumer and guide them towards a purchase.

One advantage of the Customer Journey Framework over the AIDA model is its ability to capture the role of emotions and experiences in shaping consumer behaviour. As noted by Kiefer and Banyte (2017), the Customer Journey Framework recognises that consumers may be motivated by a variety of factors, including emotional needs, social influences, and prior experiences with the brand. By mapping out these factors and understanding their influence on the consumer journey, marketers can create more effective and personalised communication strategies.

Another advantage of the Customer Journey Framework is its flexibility and adaptability to different marketing contexts. Unlike the AIDA model, which may be seen as overly simplistic or formulaic, the Customer Journey Framework can be customised to fit the unique needs and preferences of different brands and audiences.

Time to ditch AIDA?

Overall, while the AIDA model remains a useful tool for guiding copywriting and marketing strategies – and some researchers have sought to extend or adapt the AIDA model to better reflect the changing landscape of digital marketing and social media (e.g., Lee et al., 2019; Xu et al., 2020) – the Customer Journey Framework provides a more nuanced and holistic approach to understanding consumer behaviour and building relationships with consumers.

So, what to do about AIDA?

The AIDA model remains a popular and widely used framework for developing persuasive messaging in advertising and marketing. While the AIDA framework is not without its limitations, it remains a valuable tool for copywriters and marketers.

Final thoughts

Don’t be too hasty in ditching AIDA, yet researching and learning the Customer Journey Framework is well worth any copywriter’s time.

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