Writing good sales copy is a skill that many appear to assume they don’t need to learn, but in order to write a great email campaign (for example), it’s necessary to understand the process.
In advertising, a tried and tested method for creating great copy that converts is the AIDA method, which is a simple formula that’s designed to grab and retain attention and prompt action. Of course, like most sales processes, it’s not 100% successful, but it does significantly improve conversion rates and has been used for many years.
What is AIDA?
AIDA stands for:
So, in the first instance, you want to grab the attention of your reader, then you create interest, which in turn should prompt a desire to take some form of action, which is generally a conversion into a sale.
Essentially, the aim is to guide the reader gently through the sales funnel and this formula can be used to tighten up your sales copywriting and ensure that you’re getting the message across in such a way that people engage with it. It gives you a framework to write to and encourages your reader to take some form of action. Of course, it’s not limited to email, nor is it limited to ecommerce sites; AIDA can be used by any company that wants to prompt a certain action in a reader.
It can also be used to guide all of your content marketing efforts and can help you to come up with a solid content strategy that’s a winner.
Adapting AIDA to the Connected World
Whilst AIDA is still widely used, like many things online it’s often cited as being ‘dead’ (just like SEO, guest blogging, you name it, people are always killing off something or another before its time). However, this isn’t the case, as a model it remains highly useful, but for the modern, highly connected world it needs a little updating.
This is something that has already taken place to some extent; if you research it, then it won’t be long before you come across AIDAS (add ‘satisfaction’) or AIDAC (add ‘confidence’). Both of these updated versions take into account the after sales process, something that is increasingly important to modern business.
In some quarters, you’ll even come across the term CAB, which is a cut-down version of AIDA and can be broken down as follows:
This is similar in that the cognition stage is all about making the reader aware of the product, before taking them on to the stage where you want to affect them by provoking interest then onto taking action through behaviour.
Another model that was developed more recently in 2006 is REAN, which means:
REAN is all about the sales funnel and can be used for content strategy as well, as can all of the models above which are essentially the same approach.
Getting Started with AIDA
In order to get started with AIDA, let’s have a look at attention. Think about the best ways in which you might be able to grab your audience – in order to do this effectively, you have to know who your audience is.
We’ve talked about buyer personas before and the need for them to be properly developed if you’re going to be able to address your audience correctly.
Now think about:
- How you can speak to them in a language that they understand
- What solution you’re offering to a problem they may have
- How imagery (through words) can be used to relate to the audience
Language is important and it’s vital to ensure that you stay away from long, convoluted words that could potentially alienate any part of your audience.
Keep it simple!
If you’re a writer and not particularly a sales person, you may find this difficult but as a writer, you should be able to write for any audience. With that in mind, stay away from overblown, flowery descriptions that will bore the reader into quickly clicking away.
Now you’ve grabbed the audience’s attention with a short, snappy one-line introduction, you can now think about how you capture their interest. This is where you want to show that you have the answer to the reader’s problem and in order to do this, you need to construct a decent argument.
(Source: Mind Tools)
“Rhetoric is the ancient art of using language to persuade. If you use it well, your audience will easily understand what you’re saying, and will be influenced by your message.”
You can improve on your writing skills by using the rhetorical triangle, as shown above, to understand how best to construct an argument and give it the proper context in order to reach your audience.
It’s also useful to use anecdotes, educational and/or entertaining information in order to convince your reader that you have what they need. Note that if it’s written for the web, including email, then it’s important that it’s formatted properly in order to gain the best response.
- Short sentences and paragraphs
- Sub headers
- Bullet points
You can use images too, but don’t clutter up the message too much, or it will lose impact. People read differently on the web, so it absolutely has to be easy to take in at a scan, without the reader having to stop to take in words.
Tip: after writing, always read aloud to yourself, if you find that you have to pause for any length of time to understand the context of what’s been written, then it needs changing.
Interest versus Desire
Now we come onto desire, which takes the reader on from being merely interested and makes them actually want to do something. This is where the reader imagines themselves using the product, or is looking for further advice or information which they can use in a positive way.
Here is a good point to make use of statistics, case studies, or anything that can not only hold the interest, but prompt the audience to begin to desire what it is you’re offering. Case studies and testimonials are a great way of proving the value of your product, so if you have these, then here’s the best place to use them.
Remember that every stage in this process is an important one that must be used to its full potential, so don’t just use the desire stage to write a bit of filler.
And … Action!
The action stage is all about creating a strong CTA that the audience will want to act on, prompted by the previous stages.
These can include:
- Email address
- Clickable CTA buttons (red is an excellent choice, see a recent article I wrote on red vs green buttons)
- Login/connect button – this is so simple now with social media
- Phone number/call button
- Price promise
- Special offer
- Product guarantee
Remember to pay attention to what medium is being used and adapt as necessary. For example, you will want to include a call button on any communication that can be opened on a mobile device.
These days, it’s important to consider personalisation as this is something that’s proven to increase conversion rates. In fact, according to eConsultancy, Co-operative travel saw a whopping 95% increase in web visitors and a 217% revenue increase by implementing personalisation on its website.
That’s certainly not to be sniffed at now is it?
Since the web has become considerably more social, things have changed when it comes to how we talk to our audiences and this means that we’re now expected to be more social – friendlier. Personalisation is a part of this, it gives the reader the feeling that you value them as customers and are not just looking for their cash.
Social media has revolutionised the way we do business and the marketing and advertising industry as it has shifted the power away from the corporation into the hands of the consumer. A savvy business knows this and does everything that they can to ensure that they maximise on it.
Think About UX
This is important too, as the modern internet consumer is not the most patient of animals. So if your sales message takes forever to load, or is in any way fiddly, the potential customer will leave/bin it etc.
For email marketing, which remains both hugely popular and successful, do away with any unnecessary images. Not only do they usually require the user to download them, but they slow load times substantially and this could soon result in the user clicking away. You only have a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so ensure that you use it well.
On a landing page, performance is key to gaining a conversion as a slow-to-load page will soon result in the visitor leaving, especially on a mobile device.
Crafting a good sales message is not particularly difficult. It requires simple language used cannily in order to grab and retain attention in order to prompt action. Using AIDA and a few more modern techniques such as UX design and personalisation means that you can and will craft messages that will increase your bottom line.