AIDA stands for a principle used in advertising and marketing which divides the customer journey into four steps, from the initial contact with a company to the final action. These four stages are called “Attention”, “Interest”, “Desire”, and “Action” and build on each other. The model was developed at the end of the 19th century by the American advertising expert Elmo Lewis. His formula has been extended several times since then, but its basic form is also still used in marketing.
The four stages of AIDA
According to the AIDA model, every customer contact starts with attention. Attention is typically created through advertising, often in the form of eye-catching campaigns. In phase A of the AIDA model, it is assumed that you have to win the attention of potential new customers who don’t know your company. The marketing formula can be used to get attention for your brand, as well as for new products, or services.
When you have the customers’ attention, the interest stage begins. The aim here is to strengthen the interest in your offers through advertising. This can be done, for example, by clearly describing a product or with the help of slogans. At this point, customers should have your offer's name in their minds.
The third stage of the AIDA formula is all about desire. Your marketing strategies should address customers on a rational or emotional level so that they develop a need for your product or service. For example, customers can be convinced on a rational level through messages about quality or price advantages. Emotional methods to arouse desire often focus on the image of an offer ("is trendy"), status-related promises ("is used by celebrities"), or safety concerns ("protects against intruders"). These rational and emotional arguments can be combined, for example through the use of brand ambassadors or influencers.
Once the customer has been guided all the way to the purchase decision, the final stage of the AIDA formula follows with concrete action. In theory, AIDA is only applied successfully when a purchase actually happens. In online business, this fourth stage is often initiated by what is known as a "call to action". This is where the influence of advertising ends and your focus should be on making the technical buying process as straightforward as possible. An above-average number of cancellations in the ordering process indicates that AIDA fails in the end due to reasons such as complicated user navigation.
In the context of advertising, the four stages of AIDA usually overlap. For example, attention and interest are closely linked. Still, it is important to clearly define the four stages of the AIDA formula for your company in order to successfully work this model and enable accurate analysis.
AIDA-S and AIDCAS - Enhancements to the AIDA formula
The most important enhancement to the original AIDA formula is the addition of satisfaction as a fifth stage. By measuring customer satisfaction, the model is altered to include goals like subsequent purchases and referrals. AIDA-S is expressed in methods such as customer ratings, newsletters, or follow-up surveys by phone.
AIDCAS adds another stage between step three and four of the classic formula. This stage is called “Conviction”. When attention, interest, and desire are already aroused, you have to address customers once again in order to convince them completely. A frequently used advertising strategy for this is comparing your offer with that of your competitors.
Criticism of the AIDA model
The main criticism of AIDA is that customers’ purchasing decisions and the process leading there are not the same as they were more than 120 years ago when the model was introduced. For example, a customer that becomes aware of an offer through Google Search has already shown interest in advance by entering the search term.
In addition, the AIDA model appears limited in its suggested finality. For example, it is questionable if attention always leads to the willingness to engage in the next stages of AIDA. Other important points of criticism include customer loyalty being ignored by the original AIDA formula or the significantly increased possibilities for comparing offers. However, these were taken into account by AIDA-S and AIDCAS respectively.
Overall, the AIDA model has become a standard in advertising and marketing and its consistent application can help with winning new customers and launching new offers.