Web copywriting: AIDA

Mon, Mar 2, 2009

Copywriting

It’s important to remember that we want to write good web copy because good copywriting generates leads, sales, clicks, customers, and, yes, ultimately PROFIT for our business.

Essentially this means web copy is a form of direct-response advertising. The fundamental tenets of direct-response copywriting can be summed up in the acronym AIDA. This stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

In this article we’ll take a look at each word in the AIDA acronym and elaborate on it a little.


Attention

Step 1 is to capture your audience’s Attention. In the world of web copy, the responsibility for this step usually falls on the shoulders of a webpage headline, an e-mail subject line, or the first few seconds of an audio or animated advertisement.

Gaining attention in today’s media-soaked environment is never easy, but if you can’t get your reader/viewer to even focus momentarily on your material, your game is over.

The key to gaining attention is to really understand what makes your audience tick. It can help to ask questions such as: What causes my audience discomfort or pain? What does my audience desire? What are my audience’s values?

The “attention” step is a place for strong images, bold design choices, drama, mystery, challenging questions and too-good-to-be-true promises. It’s a place to underline the benefit of what you’re about to try to sell, without explaining it all away. Don’t be afraid to hit your prospect’s factual, emotional, and rational centers, HARD.

This is by far the most important part of your copy to get right, and you only get one chance at it. Make it count!


Interest

Step 2 is to get your prospect’s Interest. Here, it is important to explain exactly what you are offering and why it is good for your prospect. Interest can be built through such devices as storytelling (positive anecdotes and testimonials can really help!) and explaining product benefits.

It’s worth pointing out here what the difference between a benefit and a feature is. A feature is a raw property that your product has; a benefit is what that feature will  allow your prospect to be, have, or do because of that feature.

For persuasive copy, it’s best to concentrate on a product’s benefits rather than its  features. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your product’s benefits are, try listing each feature, then stopping to ask yourself – so what? Each answer you can come up with for each  “so what?” will be a benefit of that feature.

Remember: people will nearly always make their buying decisions based on the perceived benefits of your offering, not on its basic attributes/characteristics.


Desire

In step 3 we focus on increasing our prospect’s Desire for our product or service. The desire step involves more appeal to emotion than the “interest” step. Remember: most buying decisions are made on emotional (rather than rational) grounds.

It helps to have a deep understanding of your target market here; to really know what makes them tick. Focus on telling your prospects what they will gain after they use your course or product, reveal to them how it will change their lives in a positive and incredibly desirable way.

Drop compelling testimonials; paint a vivid picture of success; reveal supportive case studies; provide undeniable evidence for your proposition. Save the biggest and most jawdroppping benefits for this section. Make your prospect drool.

One word of caution, however. Don’t be tempted to lie or exaggerate, as this could mean blowing the deal, or worse, creating big problems for you down the road. Make your product sound mouthwateringly good–but keep it real.


Action

In step 4, we ask our prospect to do something. We call them to action. Unfortunately, this is the most often-overlooked step in the process of creating a piece of copy. The Internet abounds with examples of strong copy followed by limp-wristed and throwaway calls to action. This needs to be where all the hard work you’ve put in from steps 1 to 3 pays off.

If you’ve made a strong offer, amplify it. If there’s a next step, direct your readers to it. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. Do you want them to call a number? Click a button? Fill in a form? Tell them. In clear, unambiguous language. Tell them why they will do it, and what will happen to them after they do. Don’t skirt around the issue, and most importantly of all: don’t blow it now.

Hopefully this article has given you a feeling for the importance of the AIDA approach and an understanding of why it’s regarded the four fundamentals of good copywriting it embodies. Our next article is going to discuss the Golden Rule of website interface design– see you then!

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3 Responses to “Web copywriting: AIDA”

  1. Marte Cliff Says:

    Each step in the AIDA process is important, but of course each builds upon the last.

    What I see WAY too many amateur marketers do is fall down on the very first one: attention. They begin a web page with “Welcome” or they start talking about themselves.

    No, no, no! This isn’t about the website owner. This HAS to be about the customer or all is lost. The first and only thing site visitors or email readers care about is “What’s in this for me?”

    If you don’t tell them – instantly – they’re gone.

    Reply

  2. Mogul Says:

    Right, Marte. I hope to elaborate upon that exact point in a future Copywriting article called “The Inverted Pyramid”.

    Thanks for your comments; take care!

    Reply

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