Understanding and Using AIDA (including 22 things you can do to improve your site performance) - Scout Digital

Understanding and Using AIDA (including 22 things you can do to improve your site performance)

June 17, 2008 by USM Interactive

The name Aida (made famous in Verdi’s opera) means “visitor” in Arabic and “reward” in Swahili. This post is about the marketing acronym, related to visitors and rewards, outlining consumer attitudes: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. I’ll present the concept, orient it in relation to your site visitors and give you some ideas on how to use this conceptual model for your own marketing.

When focused on developing a strategy for online marketing, AIDA is a great place to start. The theory is that a consumer’s Attention is grabbed by your product/offer, their Interest is piqued, they develop a Desire for your product and then finally take Action.

Keep in mind, for those of you looking for a reason to ignore this post, that this is all based on “rational” consumer behavior. Not many people are rational. But there’s not much we can plan for when dealing with irrational people anyway so let’s move on.

AIDA and your website marketing

A site visitor will always be experiencing one of the four AIDA attitudes in relation to your marketing activities. Your goal is to get as many of them through to the last attitude. Let’s examine what each of four attitudes mean and when a visitor might experience them.


When a visitor is aware of your presence, if even only for a nanosecond, you have gained some amount of their attention. Attention is the furthest away from Action as you can get but still be marketing. This is your long pipeline customer. They aren’t even on your site yet, they just know your name and single best attribute at most.

It can be frustrating to market to consumers at this phase because the returns may not come for a long time and/or it can be tricky to measure. But if you don’t get anyone’s Attention you won’t be able to get to the next level.

7 ways to increase Attention for your website

  • Print advertising
  • Participate in social networking sites
  • Write compelling content for your web site (especially with a mind for the long tail)
  • Paid search advertising
  • Search engine optimization for specific, relevant keywords
  • Start a blog (or be more active on the one you already have)
  • Skywriting? Anything else you can think of


Once a visitor gets to your site and stays around for a page or two you have their interest. They’ve chosen to come to your site and they’ve chosen to look around. This is where it starts to get fun. Also, you can track much better because the visitor is on your site.

What might we know about the specifics of their Interest? Why did they come to the site? Where did they go? We can look at keyword reports to see what they typed in search engines before arriving on your site. We can also look at popular page reports to see what they found interesting after arriving on site.

6 ideas to increase Interest in your website

  • Use your understanding of their search terms to inform content creation tailored for the visitor
  • Use your understanding of popular pages to write more pages on different aspects of that same subject
  • Take a look at what pages people are bailing on and see if you can provide more/better/compelling content on that topic
  • Make a time-sensitive offer
  • Make your site more pleasing to look at
  • Improve your user interface (aka the usability of your site)


They’ve looked around your site. Maybe they’ve come back to your site several times. They’ve spent a long time on your site. Maybe they’ve gone to the Contact Us page or to the beginning of a checkout if you’re in e-commerce. These people know what they want and they do want it. Your goal is to get as many visitors to have this attitude as possible.

5 thoughts on increasing Desire in your site visitors

  • Attractive and excellent photography and imagery
  • Provide as much detail about your service/product as possible
  • Continuously updated and new content (ideally on the topics that generate the most Interest)
  • Provide easy, clear and transparent communication methods (respond to your blog comments as this is about the absolute best way to generate Desire in your site visitors)
  • Understand as much as you can about your site visitors’ needs and provide good tools that help them


These visitors are completely prepared to commit to doing business with you. They know who you are, they are interested in your work, they know what they want and think that you have the ability to provide something for them. Do not disappoint them at this stage.

Though it may seem like we’ve been spending a long time building up a relationship, it’s important to remember that this is very much the first-contact. You’ve done a lot of work to get here, but it’s still the same as sitting down next to someone attractive at a bar. Introduce yourself before you ask for their phone number, please.

4 imperatives for Action

  • Include a call-to-action everwhere but especially in areas where visitor Desire is most concentrated
  • Optimize the last steps required for the visitor to complete their task (filling out a contact form or use an check-out process are typical)
  • Include all information about your trustworthiness in human-understandable terms (it is your job to be worthy of their business by not being a scammer spam-bot)
  • Do not ask for information you don’t need in order to help your visitor (if you aren’t mailing them anything you don’t need their physical address, same for the phone number if you aren’t calling them).

Making AIDA work for your Online Marketing Strategy

You only have so many hours or dollars to spend on your online marketing efforts. How do you get started? Regular readers will not be surprised when I say: look at your analytics.

You’re going to need a little more than the off-the-shelf reports, however. You want to gauge how many visitors qualify for each attitude in the AIDA process. This may be different for everyone so I’ll just give some basics. I advise playing with a spreadsheet for this, it’s what I do for my internet marketing clients at Union Street.

Sample AIDA indices for Real Estate (lead-generation) Web Marketing

  • Attention: Everyone who saw your advertising (print circulation + SEO volume + online advertising volume)
  • Interest: Everyone who arrived on your site and did not bounce
  • Desire: Lots of possibilities here but I’ll just use return visitors
  • Action: Full examination of the funnel (saw a form and form completion)

So now you have something to observe. You can make a graph and make some decisions. Here’s my sample graph:

You can see that a fair number of people who saw the marketing message made it to the site and stayed there. A decent percentage of those visitors came back. But the contact form and especially contact form completion start to see a more dramatic drop off. Let’s hope people were calling instead of filling out the form!

Using an AIDA index graph to inform online marketing decision-making

You could initiate marketing activities for any of the visitor attitudes as described above. But since your time and resources are probably limited, let’s use the graph to help us decide what might be the best course of action.

  1. Are any of the indices dramatically smaller than the one above? If so focus there. Stop the bleeding.
  2. If not then focus on generating Attention. This will provide more visitors which may improve the differences between your AIDA indices.
  3. All things being equal, I like to start with Action because it’s closest to revenue but what might be better is to consider…

Using your business climate to inform online marketing decision-making

Let’s think about the business climate, to provide context (the OODA loop nerd in me would like to say “orient the data in relation to business realities”). We can use information about your current business situation to eliminate areas that might not be a good fit right now.

Using business realities to eliminate marketing activities in the AIDA process.

  • Is the business swamped with work right now so that generating more business immediately may cause problems with service or quality? If so, don’t focus on Action because if you succeed you’ll be more swamped causing stress on your workforce and your customers.
  • Do you have the resources to develop tools, undertake a new design or just acquire better photography? If not, you might not want to focus on Desire. The processes involved in increasing Desire can be time and money intensive and if done half-heartedly will generate half-hearted Desire.
  • Do you have the resources to generate content and/or edit existing content? If not, you’d best avoid trying to tackle Interest generation.
  • Do you have the resources to deploy and manage an advertising or SEO campaign? If not, you can’t really increase Attention for your site.

Putting it together, bit by bit

Somewhere between using your AIDA graph and examining your business you will find the best fit for which attitude to focus your resources. There are small, simple things that can be done at each phase and there are large, time consuming things that can be done. So don’t let your budget alone stop you from trying something.

Also, be sure to repeat this process. Work up a new AIDA graph periodically to see what is working and identify any new potential opportunities.

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