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Last week, I outlined some preliminary homework we have to do before starting to write. Let’s assume that’s done now, and move on to structuring our message.

How do we structure messages that resonate with visitors, and lead them to take the action we desire?

We can take a cue from traditional advertising copywriters here. For generations, they’ve relied on a structure called “AIDA” to convince customers they simply must buy their clients’ products.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. I’ll explain each step below.


First, you have to capture your reader’s attention. A powerful image is helpful of course. But as a copywriter, your first concern is the headline.

In writing headlines, it’s often tempting to show off how clever we are. Our first impulse may be to use puns, double meanings, humor or other wordplay. And occasionally that can work. Usually, however, it’s much better simply to highlight a key benefit your reader will gain.

State a clear and compelling promise that will capture your reader’s attention and draw her into reading more.

As writing headlines is an art in itself, I’ll go into more detail in a later post.


You’ve captured your reader’s attention with a clear, compelling, benefit-centered headline. Now what?

The next step is to build on the promise you’ve made in your headline.

Presumably, your product solves some sort of problem. So let your readers know that you understand their problem. Describe the problem, emphasize its scope, highlight the annoyance or pain it inflicts on their lives. Stir their emotions.

Where appropriate, use statistics or other facts to let readers know they’re not alone in suffering from this problem. Maybe even let them know you’ve suffered from it too. Show empathy; create a bond with your readers.

Then, indicate you’ve got a solution. Build curiosity, entice readers further down the page…


Next, explain why your product is the best solution to their problem. Build desire, reduce resistance.

Highlight the benefits of your product. Use storytelling techniques to illustrate how your product has helped others. Build an emotional desire for your product.

Remember, however, that your readers need to rationalize their emotional desires. So use logic and cold, hard facts to back up your claims and help readers feel comfortable they’re making the right choice.

Additional ways to build desire and reduce resistance include:

  • Increasing confidence with Social Proof in the form of testimonials, ratings, reviews, etc.
  • Reducing anxiety and resistance: clear security assurances, easy-to-determine shipping costs, strong product guarantees, etc.
  • Adding urgency with limited-time offers, low stock indicators, etc.


The final step is the simplest, but is often overlooked: You need to tell readers exactly what to do next.

Should customers simply “Buy Now”? Should they download a whitepaper? Fill out a form? Pick up the phone and call you?

Whatever it is you want them to do, spell it out for them. Let them know how they can enjoy the wonderful benefits you’ve promised them.


State of Digital Marketing Analytics

The 2020 State of Digital Marketing Analytics examines the marketing technology that supports the world's most successful enterprises and highlights the challenges and strategies for navigating the new normal..