Imagine seeing an attention-grabbing ad for a new eco-friendly clothing brand. The advertisement inspires you to look up the brand online. As you learn more about how the company creates environmentally conscious clothing, you decide to buy a jacket and click through to make the purchase.
In this example, your customer journey fits within a marketing framework known as the AIDA model. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of this model, as well as how you can apply it to your marketing strategy.
What is the AIDA model?
The AIDA model is an advertising theory describing the cognitive stagescustomers go through when buying a product or service. The acronym AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action—each represents a stage in the customer journey toward a purchasing decision.
American businessman Elias St. Elmo Lewis developed the AIDA marketing model in 1898. Merchants still use the model today to inform advertising and marketing decisions throughout the buying process.
What does AIDA stand for?
The AIDA model describes the stages that a customer goes through when deciding to make a purchase. Here is more information about each of the four stages:
The attention stage, also known as the awareness stage, is when customers discover a brand, product, or service. During this first stage, businesses attract the attention of customers with marketing, public relations, and advertising designed to increase awareness about an offer, promotion, service, or product line.
At the interest stage, prospective customers become intrigued enough to learn more about a particular product, brand, service, or promotion. Businesses respond by creating content that draws audiences in and inspires them to seek further information.
During the third stage, the perspective of potential consumers shifts from “I like it” to “I want it.” Clear benefits, case studies, and positive reviews are a few ways businesses engage customers at this stage.
The fourth and final stage of the AIDA marketing model is when a customer makes an action like signing up for a newsletter, clicking through to a company’s website, or purchasing a product or service. Businesses encourage customers to initiate action through valuable and time-sensitive offers, optimized checkout flows, and clear call-to-action buttons.
Benefits of the AIDA model
The AIDA model is a foundational marketing framework. Here are some of the benefits of applying the AIDA model to your business’s marketing strategies:
Provides strategic insights
The AIDA model gives merchants and marketers insights into how to interact with their customers throughout different phases of the buyer’s journey. The AIDA model can help businesses better understand consumer behavior and motivations. For example, a business can analyze social media metrics to learn how potential customers react to their products and tweak their strategies based on their learnings.
Focuses marketing efforts
By applying the AIDA model to your business’s marketing efforts, you can create a consistent framework for which marketing messages to use at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Using the AIDA model can give your sales and marketing teams a shared language for how different marketing strategies move customers through the buying process, from initial awareness through final purchase.
Enhances customer communications
The AIDA model can inform your marketing communications strategy by encouraging your company to define messaging goals for each of the four stages. For example, the focus of your messaging strategy during the awareness stage will involve more introductory and attention-grabbing information, whereas the messaging during the action stage will direct your target audience toward sales conversions.
Drawbacks of the AIDA model
Although the AIDA model can be useful to better understand how to interact with customers throughout the buying process, it’s also a limited theory with some drawbacks:
Ignores buyer after purchase
The basic AIDA model focuses on the customer experience leading up to a purchase; it does not take into account how businesses can engage with customers after the purchase. However, one variation of the AIDA model adds an “R” at the end to represent a fifth stage, retention, which focuses on how businesses can inspire repeat purchases and build a loyal customer base.
Doesn’t account for impulse buys
The AIDA framework is a step-by-step process that guides customers toward a final purchase. According to a 2023 study, 35% of respondents stated they were likely to make an impulse purchase online. With so many new developments in technology making it easier for customers to make impulsive purchases, the separate stages of the AIDA model can get truncated, which might render the four stages a useless distinction.
Only a linear framework
The AIDA model describes a theoretical process that a new customer goes through when engaging with a brand. However, its linear framework ignores the possibility that customers may enter the AIDA process at any stage.
For example, a previous customer who wants to purchase a new pair of shoes from their favorite sneaker brand already starts the process in the third stage of desire. Likewise, a customer might become aware of a brand only after recognizing a desire for a certain product, moving backward in the AIDA model.
How to apply the AIDA model to marketing
Here’s how businesses can use the AIDA model to reach new customers and drive more traffic to their products and services:
1. Attract attention
Use digital marketing strategies to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to a specific call to action, like a sale on your ecommerce store. Strategies like email marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) can engage potential customers online and attract attention to the benefits of a product or service.
For example, a beauty and cosmetics brand could publish a search engine-optimized blog post about how to create a natural look using one of its new eyeshadow products. A potential customer searching for an everyday makeup look could stumble across the post on a search engine and learn about the brand in the process.
2. Generate interest
Once businesses make customers aware of their products and services, they can focus on building interest. Along with creating awareness of your brand, inbound marketing strategies like SEO can help cultivate interest in a product or service. Create helpful content that addresses the needs of your target audience and offers useful information related to your business.
3. Build an emotional connection
Merchants can help customers realize they want a product or service by collecting user-generated content like positive reviews, testimonials, and endorsements. This provides social proof, the psychological phenomenon where people make decisions based on the opinions and actions of others.
During this stage of the AIDA model, create content that focuses on the benefits of what your company offers and heightens an emotional connection to your products or services.
4. Prioritize action
Businesses can apply the final stage of the AIDA framework by developing a digital marketing strategy specifically focused on conversions. For example, an apparel company could launch a social media marketing strategy aimed at increasing the click-through rate for a new t-shirt’s sales page. During this stage, merchants should create advertising and marketing materials with captivating call-to-action buttons that drive traffic toward a desired goal.
AIDA model FAQ
What is the main goal of the AIDA model in marketing?
The main goal of the AIDA model is to identify the stages that a customer goes through when purchasing a product or service. Businesses use the AIDA framework to inform marketing and advertising decisions throughout the purchasing process.
What is the alternative to AIDA marketing?
A more modern alternative to AIDA is PAS, a framework focused on solving customer problems through four stages: problem, agitation, and solution. Another alternative to the AIDA model is DRIP (differentiate, reinforce, inform, and persuade), which helps companies define marketing communications goals.
Does the AIDA model work with ecommerce?
Yes, the AIDA model can work with ecommerce companies as a framework for how to engage with customers throughout the online buying process. For example, an ecommerce merchant could use the AIDA model to engage customers in the first stage through SEO digital marketing content designed to organically generate awareness from potential customers searching for information online.