The AIDA model is an advertising effect model. It describes the effect of advertising media. The sales process should be sustainably optimized on the basis of this model. The acronym AIDA stands for the terms Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It was developed by an American businessman and has been in use since the late 19th century. It has been reviewed and modified multiple times over the years, both in marketing and public relations.
When American businessman, E. St. Elmo Lewis, introduced the AIDA model in 1898, the businessman was mainly addressing the optimization of sales calls. He specifically referred to the interaction between seller and buyer concerning the product.
Lewis can be considered a pioneer when it comes to the use of scientific methods for designing advertising and sales processes. At the same time, it was very important to Lewis to view advertising as a type of “training” that assisted the beneficiary. Lewis’ theoretical explanations of advertising theory rested on extensive experience. He was, for example, marketing head at various companies and advised organizations as well as companies in the conception of advertising measures. He shares his knowledge in the form of various publications — both in written form and in seminars at US universities. His AIDA model can be perceived as a kind of legacy, because the formula is still used more than 100 years after its first appearance, for example in online marketing.
The AIDA model is based on four individual stages that attract interested parties who are deciding on a product or service.
1. Attract attention: The product must attract attention. This is done via the advertising materials. It is a type of “eyecatcher.”
Examples: a strikingly-designed window, a sensational YouTube clip, or a themed newsletter, or a graphic on a Landing Page.
2. Maintain interest: In the first phase, the attention of the potential customer is piqued; their interest in the product or service should be aroused.
Example: detailed information on the product presented, for example the product description on a website.
3. Create desire: If interest in the product is aroused, it is the seller’s task to persuade the customer to own this product. In the best-case scenario, the advertisement or the product itself creates the desire to purchase for the beneficiary.
4. Get action: As soon as the desire to buy is aroused, this must be transferred into an action, that is, the purchase.
In the case of online shops, this would ultimately be the shopping cart process, in which a customer is lead to a Conversion.
These days, the AIDA formula is frequently supplemented with an “S” for satisfaction. Because, in the end, the product bought should also satisfy the purchaser. Ultimately, customer satisfaction does not lie solely with the advertising but rather with the product itself. Therefore, the basic constellation of the four phases is only the prerequisite for the sale.
With the insertion of the “confidence” (that is, trust) factor, a sixth element can also be added. Many marketers also work with the AIDCAS model to optimize sales processes and advertising effectiveness.
The AIDA model has now shaped the views on marketing and sales strategies for over 100 years. The formula can still be found in current standard marketing textbooks. But beyond that, AIDA is also used in PR to plan and analyze the effectiveness of PR campaigns. Moreover, the AIDA model still provides valuable information for the rough analysis of advertising messages. The benefit of this simple formula can be found in its simplicity and flexible application possibilities in areas other than store-based or stationary sales. Therefore you could, for example, examine the effectiveness of this formula in the field of e-commerce by analyzing the product presentation of an online shop in terms of the four aspects of the AIDA formula.
For a long time, the AIDA model was viewed as exemplary for a successful sales process. But today there is general agreement that using this purely linear sales model alone is no longer suitable in modern sales processes. For example, the emotion that is often addressed in advertising and recognized by advertising psychology as elementary does not play a role in the AIDA formula. The previous planning steps such as targeting are also missing. This includes, for example, considerations on the socio-demographic background. In addition, the AIDA model does not take into account that different points of sale exist. The sales planning for a customer visiting an online shop will be quite different than that for new a customer wanting to find out about a new car at the dealership.
There is also the DAGMAR model that appeared in 1961 and is also over 50 years old. When advertisers today work with the AIDA model, they should always be aware of the fact that it is actually a phase model that cannot represent all individual aspects of the purchase process or advertising impact process. Nevertheless, Lewis’s work was important, presumably as the first to present the sales process as a phase model and thus laying the groundwork for modern advertising.