The AIDA Copywriting Formula
The end result you want to achieve with your copy is for someone to take some sort of action. That could be to buy a product, download a freebie, etc.
To get someone to take the action you want they have to go through all 4 components of AIDA, in sequence starting from A (Attention), then I (Interest), then D (Desire) and finally A (Action).
In a nutshell…
A – Attention: Use techniques to grab their attention e.g. an attention-grabbing headline. That’s the first thing you have to do with your copy.
I – Interest: Now that you have their attention use techniques to cause them to become interested and keep on reading.
D – Desire: Use techniques such as writing as a list of benefit-rich bullet points to cause them to desire the thing you’re offering.
A – Action: Now that they desire your offer, use techniques to help them decide to take the action you’re asking for e.g. to buy, right away.
Each component is like an episode of a TV show.
Each episode continues from where the previous one ended. And all work together to generate the end result, which is the action you want them to take!
Here’s a popup showing all 4 components of AIDA in 3 distinct parts.
#1) The headline grabs their “attention” specifically because it’s offering something FREE. And also because there’s the word “secrets“.
#2) The benefit-rich bullet points and nice image generate “interest” and “desire” to get the ecourse.
#3) A call to “action” to get prospects to subscribe.
Here’s another example of AIDA in action on a PPC ad.
Let’s say you’re selling a product using Google Ads.
The ad has to…
Attention – Generate attention so they read it.
Interest – It has to be interesting…
Desire – It has to generate a desire for the product you’re offering.
Action – It has to get people to click on the ad to view the sales page.
Once they click on the ad, they view the sales page. This sales page can also use the AIDA formula.
The sales page has to…
Attention – It doesn’t really have to generate so much attention since the ad itself already did that. You’ve already got their attention. Of course, you still need to use some sort of headline on a sales page.
Interest – Prospects are already somewhat interested as well, thanks to the ad. But still, the sales page has to generate interest so they keep reading it.
Desire – Now it has to generate a desire to own the product.
Action – This time the action you want them to take is to buy.
Now let’s discover each component of AIDA in more detail. There are several techniques you can use for each component to help you implement it in your copy. Use as many as you want!
Almost all techniques work no matter where you’re going to use the copy e.g. in emails, ads, sales pages, optin pages, popups, etc.
Some techniques like those that utilize video can’t obviously work where they’re not allowed e.g. on a small PPC ad.
How much copy you write for each component depends on how much space you have.
For example, in an email, the “Attention” component of AIDA can’t be anything other than the subject line.
But if it’s an optin or sales page it can be a combination of Headline, Subheadline and/or Preheadline.
Research is necessary whenever you’re writing any copy.
You want to know as much as you can about your audience. Their passions, issues, problems, etc. Niche forums are a great way to understand and get to know them deeper.
That will make it much easier to use the following techniques.
Let’s start with the first component.
AIDA Component #1 “Attention”
The first thing you need to do is get your visitors’ attention.
Techniques To Grab Attention
A headline is the first thing they’re going to see.
This can be used for almost any type of copy.
For example, if it’s a popup you can still use a headline. If it’s an email the headline is the subject line and so on.
A swipe file can greatly assist you when writing headlines. You can use this free headline swipe file with 57 fill in the blank headlines.
You can use this free headline checklist to discover ways to write attention-grabbing headlines.
But here are some techniques you can try when writing your headlines. You can combine one or more of them in the same headline.
If possible include the word “You” or “Your” in the headline. They’ll immediately know this ad, sale letter, etc., is for them. That’s naturally going to grab their attention.
- Are You Ever Tongue-tied At A Party?
- Discover The Fortune That Lies Hidden In Your Salary
- Six Types Of Investor – Which Group Are You In?
Likewise, you can include some of the top benefits they can get. Try to immediately astonish them.
- New Diet Burns Off More Fat Than If You Ran 98 Miles A Week
- How To Get Free Advertising And Free Publicity!
Use the word FREE or no cost if appropriate.
- Free Book – Tells You 12 Secrets Of Better Lawn Care
- How To Write A Follow Up Email That Gets Results (Plus Free Templates)
Build curiosity. It’s very powerful to grab attention. Make your audience curious to find an answer. But don’t be too curious or pointless like for example, “Did you know?” – that’s just irritating.
- How A New Discovery Made A Plain Girl Beautiful
- Are You Ready To Use Self-Hypnotism To Make Life Give You What You Want?
- Discover How to Raise Your IQ and Increase Your Intelligence
Here are some good fill in the blank templates to use headlines with curiosity.
X Little-Known Methods to Do _____
X Secrets of _____
Discover how to _____
Use the word “secret“. Once again this also generates curiosity.
- Insider Secrets to Writing ‘Female-Specific’ Sales Copy That Magically Persuades Women to Open their Purses and Buy
- The Little Known Secret To Pixar’s Creative Success
Use a sense of urgency, to convince them they have to look at this NOW! Use words like losing, Don’t miss out, now, hurry, limited time, last chance, today and deadline.
- 10 Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Today
- The Five Most Dangerous Trends Facing All Major Law Firms Today
Use their first or full name if you know it e.g. in the email subject line. If you send emails often don’t overuse it or it becomes less effective.
Perhaps use their name only once in every 5 or 6 emails.
There are many more ways to write attention-grabbing headlines.
2) Call your audience
This works great for example in Facebook Ads. They’ll instantly know the ad is something specifically for them.
In this example, the ad is calling all TBB Coaches in the first paragraph.
3) Attention-Grabbing Image
This works especially well in Facebook Ads. Use a bright and eye-catching image. Faces of happy people work well on Facebook.
AdEspresso has a good guide about Facebook Ad image design called “22 Evergreen Secrets to Create Great Facebook Ad Design“
The Wrong Way To Get Attention
You can get attention by provoking or insulting them e.g. “Your advertisement sucks.” But that’s an attack, they won’t like it, so it’s not effective.
AIDA Component #2 “Interest”
Once you have their attention using any of those methods, you need something to keep that attention.
The goal now is to have them saying “I’m interested in this, I want to read more”.
Most visitors have short attention spans.
You need to keep them interested so they keep reading your copy.
This is especially important in the first few paragraphs because in just a few seconds they’re going to decide whether to keep reading or find something else.
But they also have to remain interested all throughout the copy. You certainly don’t want to bore them.
Techniques To Generate Interest
1) Short & Sweet
Use short paragraphs and short sentences to ensure you won’t annoy your readers. People don’t like to read long paragraphs on webpages.
No matter how interesting your copy might be, few people will read something like this:
This is a technique you can apply throughout your entire copy.
2) Use power words
Power words, also known as “magnetic” words are interesting words or phrases that can replace more common ones.
“He was afraid to try the new exercises…”
It can be replaced with…
“He was ‘scared to death’ to try the new exercises…”
The latter grabs more your interest and attention. And you can use bold, italics or underline to make it visually appealing as well.
You can learn more about how to use them and find a list of 77 power words in this free swipe file.
Power words and font styles (bold, italic and underline) can be used throughout your entire copy, not just in the beginning.
These are used for two main reasons.
a) To make your copy easier to read. This is especially true if you’re writing a very long email, ad, sales letter, etc.
For example, without the subheadline this will look too intimidating to read:
b) Some people scan the copy (scrolling up and down) looking for something interesting. Subheadlines can capture their interest because they’re big and easy to see while scanning the page.
But they need to be well written to capture their interest. Put the same amount of effort when writing subheadlines as you do for the main headline.
The longer your copy the more subheadlines you can use. Use a subheadline to split a bunch of paragraphs.
4) The opening paragraphs
The first few paragraphs are the most important because it’s the first thing most prospects read after the headline.
They have to capture their interest, so after the headline, they continue reading your copy.
There are two methods to write the opening part/first few paragraphs.
Method 1) Use a swipe file.
The easiest way is to use an opening swipe file. That one has 17 fill in the blank templates.
There are many different hooks in those templates. You can go through each one until you find something that will work for the type of copy you’re writing.
Here’s one of them:
“How would you like to learn a simple formula that I developed from many years of research which can bring to you the perfect _____ and best of all _____?”
This one goes straight to the point. It arouses their curiosity by mentioning the benefits of the offer right away. This can work well for example in short emails or ads.
In a sales letter, you have more space to write more copy and hence you can start with an interesting story. The story has to be somewhat interesting.
So you might want to use this template:
“Want to learn how to really (I’m not talking hype here, I mean really!) learn how to _____? Then stay with me – this short story is important…”
Stories are very good to capture your audience’s interest. But it’s not so easy to write an interesting story.
Here’s an example:
“Many years ago I was just like you – my face was glowing red with acne and I barely wanted to leave my house because I felt depressed.
So I’ve made it a goal to find a solution.
Something that actually works in a very short time. I didn’t find a solution, but I invented one and in a moment you’ll soon discover all about it…”
Stories can also be used in the “Desire” stage of AIDA.
Method 2) Ask questions.
You can also capture their interest by asking questions.
“How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow, looked at the mirror and saw a clear, healthy face with no acne? Does that make you feel Better? Healthier? More Attractive?“
Ask them questions to help them imagine something they really want and wish they had (that your product can deliver)! These are interesting because they relate to things they really want.
When people see questions they’re almost forced to answer them in their head.
You want them to say “YES, I want that” or “YES, I need that” in their head. If they answer Yes, they’ll keep reading to find out how!
Here are some other tips to use when writing the opening paragraph.
Continue with the same idea.
In order to keep their interest ideally, the first paragraph needs to continue with the idea you’ve mentioned in the attention component, i.e. in the headline.
So if this is your headline “10 Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Today”
As much as you can write something related to that.
Did you forget to buy a Valentine’s day gift? Well, it’s your lucky day…
What’s In It For Me?
When they read the first paragraph they’re going to decide whether this thing is going to benefit them or not. They’re mentally asking the question “What’s In It For Me?”.
So avoid using words like “I”, “Me”, “We”. Don’t talk about yourself unless you’re going to share an interesting story. Or you’ll quickly lose their interest.
Use the word “you” and “your” more often. Show them this is something that’s going to benefit them. Something they’re going to find useful and valuable.
You can talk about the issues/problems they’re facing to show them you’re interested in them. They’ll understand that this is all for their benefit.
Your prospects are looking for solutions to their issues/problems. So you have to show them up front that this offer/ad/email, etc., is designed specifically to help them!
Use facts and quotes.
In the opening part, you can also use some interesting facts, figures or quotes.
Here are some examples:
Tell them there’s a solution.
After the first few paragraphs, you can start mentioning a bit about your solution.
Don’t reveal all the details yet. You’ll reveal the benefits and all the rest in the “Desire” component of AIDA.
For now, just give them some hope that there’s a solution.
“But fortunately science has discovered the secrets to grow this amazing plant in your own garden!
And I was part of it…
I love plants and I understand that orchids are some of the toughest plants to grow. I work with plants. It’s my job. I get paid to research and grow plants in a laboratory.
Now I’m going to share with you those same secrets my team and I discovered, so you too can grow healthy beautiful orchids!”
5) Use video
People love watching videos.
Some people scan your sales letter looking for something interesting. A video could very likely be the thing that captures their interest.
So for example, if your offer is a software you can show them how it works. If it’s a membership site you can give them a tour of what they’ll find out. If it’s a video course you can explain all the modules it contains.
In a sales letter or optin page, the video can also be placed next to or under the headline. This type of sales letter is known as a video sales letter (VSL). There are many scripts and tools you can use to create the video.
Put the video above the fold. This means it will be seen without the need to scroll down.
6) Give a freebie
Give them a part of your product for free to get them interested in what you can offer.
For example, a free demo, trial, sample, etc. If it’s an ebook or book allow them to download the first chapter for free. If it’s an audio program give them a free preview, here’s an example:
Whatever you give them, make sure it’s something they’ll probably like. For example, don’t give them the Introduction chapter of an ebook if it’s the most boring chapter.
Now let’s go to the third component of AIDA.
AIDA Component #3 “Desire”
So far you managed to grab the readers’ attention and generated some interest so they keep reading your copy at least.
But you need to generate desire for the thing you’re offering.
You want to show them how your offer is going to help them and improve their lives. So that they’ll start to desire it!
Remember most of the techniques (in any component of AIDA) can be used in any type of copy, e.g. emails, ads, sales letters, optin pages, popups, etc.
Techniques To Generate Desire
1) Add bonuses
That will increase the perceived value of your offer and their desire to own it. But don’t give them products they can easily find for free with a simple Google search. Give them something considerable valuable.
Here’s an example, offering a free bonus checklist. This is a popup.
If you’re promoting an affiliate product via email, you can tell them they’ll get one or more special bonuses if they buy from your affiliate link.
2) Testimonials/Case studies
If others solved the same problem they have or achieved some success, it increases their desire to own the product to get the same results.
Case studies are like testimonials, but they contain more detail about the success and results the customer achieved.
You can also use “before and after” pictures. You may have to be a bit creative here.
3) Build Curiosity
Pick something really interesting that they’re going to learn in the ebook/book and then mention the exact page number they can find it.
If you’re offering an audio or video course, tell them the track or module number they can find it.
If it’s a newsletter tell them the issue number or the day they’re going to get it. For example, “Day 3 you’re going to discover XYZ “secrets” to…”
This is usually done using bullet points and works well in sales letters, emails, ads, etc.
Here’s an example:
This generates curiosity and a desire to own the product and flip to that page to find out what’s it all about.
This works especially well if you’re promising them a quick fix for a particular issue they’re facing. So all they have to do is go to that page.
If you’re offering an ebook you can show them the “Table of Contents”. If it’s a video course place all the modules and submodules of each video so they can see all the things they’ll learn.
This creates curiosity and a desire to own the product to learn/discover all that information.
Explain your product’s benefits. Get them to understand all the benefits they’re going to enjoy when they get your offer.
You can use some bullet points to do this too.
These work well because they’re short sentences jam-packed with benefits. You can create a big list with as many benefit-driven bullet points as you can.
Prospects will be able to read one benefit after another…
Mention how your offer can change their lives and solve their problems.
5) Use the “Loss Aversion” technique
This is an actual concept that you can read about on Wikipedia. It was coined by two psychologists Tversky and Kahneman.
Copywriters take advantage of this (in an ethical way, of course).
In a nutshell, people want to avoid losing more than they want to acquire gain. This is related to people’s fear of any sort of pain. This basically states that the pain of loss is stronger than the joy of gain.
How To Use “Loss Aversion” To Generate Desire
There are two main methods to do this.
Method 1) Pain-Points
Your prospects have pain-points (specific problems) that what you offer (product, service, etc.) solves. Mention those pain points and then tell them how your offer can solve them.
The tendency to prefer avoiding pain creates the desire to own your product.
Furthermore, If they don’t take your offer, they’ll lose the opportunity to solve their issues/problems and all the benefits it can provide.
The fear of losing an opportunity that can change their lives can also generate a desire to get the offer.
Make a list of your prospect’s pain-points, all the problems/issues, etc, your offer solves. Then write copy and mention to many as you can.
For example, if you’re selling a deodorant you can tell them a quick embarrassing story to remind them how painful it can be. This could be something that happened to you, someone you know, or a made-up story.
“Has this ever happened to you? You went on a date and after several hours trying all the Luna Park rides you started to sweat and stink. You tried to hide your embarrassment but nothing worked…
Instead of having fun, you spent the rest of the evening worrying about this.
Perhaps you started to wonder if your date noticed it too.
You’re not alone with this problem, and luckily there’s a permanent solution!”
You can put as much detail as you want in the story. They’ll be reminded of how painful it feels when they’re sweating and stinking.
This causes them to desire what you’re offering to avoid that pain.
Once you mention the pain-points present your offer as the solution. To do that you can use technique #4 (letting them know about all the benefits) and the next method.
Method 2) Imaging the “perfect” life
Help them imagine themselves owning and using what you offer to solve their problems and enjoying its benefits. Paint a vivid picture in their minds of the benefits and their new life.
Let them know how your offer can be used to solve their issues/problems. Lead them from pain to relief.
So they realize if they don’t get what you offer they’ll clearly lose a lot.
The tendency to prefer avoiding loss and pain creates the desire to get what you offer.
You can help them imagine by using words like “picture”, “imagine” and “visualize”.
In that example, the copywriter is helping you imagine how much more money you could have… and what you can do with it e.g. buy a new car or go on a vacation.
And it tries to help you imagine the benefits you could enjoy, e.g. free wifi, cheap travel, lower prices and so on.
You’ll realize you’ll lose the opportunity to enjoy those benefits if you don’t grab this offer. This creates the desire to own the product for fear of losing out.
6) Use the “Mere Ownership Effect” technique
This refers to the fact that people who own a good tend to evaluate it more positively than people who do not. They rate it as more attractive or as liking it more.
So it generates a desire to own it.
And this works even if people only imagine they own the product.
How To Use “Mere Ownership Effect” To Generate Desire
This is similar to the previous method (Imaging the “perfect” life) but this time you’ll help them imagine owing and using what you offer.
The objective is to trigger their senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) to make them imagine owing what you offer.
Some ways to do that:
1) Take screenshots of what you offer especially if it’s a software, app, so they can already see it. You can also record a video to demonstrate it’s features/benefits.
2) Use video so they can see what you offer e.g. a book. Hold it in your hands and flip the pages.
3) Use a nice ecover.
4) Use images to help them visualize using your product. If it’s an audio program here’s how you can do that:
5) Use copy e.g. “Once you download this audio program all you have to do is use a good pair of headphones, play the first mp3 file, set back, relax and listen carefully to the instructions!
Here’s an example:
Helping them imagine owning your product and using it to transform their life – to go from pain to relief.
The better job you do that this, the more they feel they own the product, and hence they start to like and think positively about it.
Here’s a quick summary of the last 2 techniques of the “Desire” part of AIDA. They are very similar to one another.
1) “Loss Aversion”
a) Mention their “pain points”. This creates a desire for what you offer to avoid their current pain. Then position your offer as the solution.
b) Help them imagine enjoying their new “perfect” life and all the benefits it provides. This generates a desire to own the product to avoid the pain of missing out that new life with all those benefits.
2) “Mere Ownership Effect”
Use copy, images, and videos to help them imagine owning and using your product. Just by doing that they start to think more positively about it and find it more attractive.
Now onto the last component of AIDA.
AIDA Component #4 “Action”
This component goes at the very bottom of your copy. This is usually the easiest part especially if you use a swipe file.
The action part is pretty straightforward. But there are techniques you can use to instill in them some desire or will to buy right away. Because people tend to procrastinate.
Once again remember these techniques can be used in any type of copy, e.g. email, ads, sales letters, popups, etc.
Of course the more space you have the easier it will be to use some of these techniques.
For example, in a tiny Google PPC Ad, you can only do so much.
Techniques To Get Prospects To Take Action
1) Use the “Law of Reciprocity”
The “Law of Reciprocity” states that when someone does something nice for you, you will develop an urge to do something nice for them.
In this video Brian Tracy explains this concept clearly, and how it applies in various situations.
How To Use The “Law Of Reciprocity” In Your Copy
Make sure you add some bonuses to your offer, incentives or premiums.
These are usually mentioned just after you end the “Desire” component of AIDA.
They’ll see the free added value and be more inclined to take your offer. But don’t throw in a bunch of low-quality bonuses that people can find for free with a Google search.
2) Use a “Money Back Guarantee”
In a popup: “You’ve got nothing to lose. If these “secrets” don’t help you grow splendid orchids you can unsubscribe anytime.”
In an optin page: “This software is 100% FREE! If it doesn’t help you write better copy, you can simply uninstall it – you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it”.
This is usually placed just after you mention the bonuses.
It eliminates any fear. This is usually a fear of losing time and/or especially money. It will help them understand that they’re safe.
3) Ask them to take action
Even though they desire the product people need to be told what to do, or they’ll procrastinate.
If you don’t ask, they’ll decide to “think it over” or do something later. They’ll probably forget all about it by the next day, especially with all the distractions online.
So you have to be a leader, tell them exactly what to do next!
People like to follow exact instructions. So you can do that.
“Click the big blue button below to claim your copy right now”.
“Click here now to signup for the free webinar”!
So at least ONE link or ONE button should contain straight forward instructions just like those examples.
If there’s enough room, such as in a sales letter you can put the same button more than once. You can also place several text links, not just one. You can use a combination of buttons and text links as well.
In this example, you can see 3 text links and 1 button. The button has a very clear call to action. The others use different text because if you say “Download Now” over and over it will be irritating.
Don’t use too many links or buttons to the point that it’s just too repetitive, irritating and looks like you’re begging.
Judge the optimal number according to the length of the copy you’ve written in this component of AIDA. For example, if you’re writing a short email you may only place up to 2 links before it becomes too repetitive.
4) Use action-oriented copy
You can write some action-orientated copy that is going to get people to click on those links/buttons.
If you give them a reason why they should act now it will make more sense. So it works better.
The reason why is usually some sort of limited time offer.
This makes use of the “Loss Aversion” concept once again. People want to get away from pain. They’re afraid of losing or missing out on a special offer. So they have to act!
- The limited offer could be a coupon code (that expires after a certain time) for a percentage of the price off.
- You can throw in an extra bonus until a specific time or for the first X number of buyers
- You can also tell them you’re going to increase the price after a specific amount of time, number of sales or for some other reason.
Whatever tactic you use don’t lie. If you promise to increase the price you have to do it. Otherwise, say something like “I may decide to increase the price once I receive a few more testimonials…”
If the offer expires after a certain time, you can use a countdown clock. You can put this in sales letters and even emails.
5) Use Poscripts (P.S.)
After your name, you can put a couple of postcripts. You have the opportunity to write more copy in there and place a link/button.
Postscripts usually summarize what the offer is all about – and you can put a call to action in there too. You can also remind them once again of the bonuses they’re going to receive.
The AIDA copywriting formula is probably the easiest formula to write any copy.
It can be used in any copy that requires someone to take an action e.g. to buy or subscribe.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to use AIDA in every email, ad or copy you write.
But still, the techniques in this guide will work well even if you’re using some other formula or template.
To learn more about how to use these techniques you can use a swipe file. Analyze the ads, sales letters, and other copy. Study them, see how (and if) they’re using each component of AIDA.
You can then learn from and model the things they do.
You can leave your questions or comments below.