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Using AIDA to write influential website copy
It's time to sink or swim. You're sitting in front of the check writer for a multi-million dollar company. She agreed to hear your sales pitch and has a lot of cash to burn.
But here's the catch...
She is extremely busy -- almost frantic. She's scheduled to hear 10 other companies speak and has her finger over a button that can make you disappear forever with one click. Small talk is unacceptable. She has no conscience and is prepared to give you the boot without warning. In fact, she enjoys it.
You have 5 seconds to grab her attention and present a compelling case for more talk time or face the wrath of her trigger-happy finger. Ultimately, your objective is to influence her decision to do business with you.
What will you say first? One wrong word and it's over.
This is how commercial websites are viewed. A potential customer decides to keep it around within the first few seconds of visiting. If you don't quickly engage her with a concise, benefit-laden statement, she'll make you disappear forever. It sounds harsh, but it's the truth.
Assuming you've researched your target market, let's look at the fundamentals of direct response copywriting and how it helps author influential website copy. The same proven format can be applied online.
A - Attention: This is where it all starts. Your headline determines the fate of the entire Web page. Just like the Sunday paper -- or any other journalistic format -- the headline must beg the reader to want more.
Writing a headline isn't as easy as it sounds. It should evoke emotion, communicate a relevant benefit, and scream: "Hey, we know what you want. Get in here and keep reading!" In other words, you must convince her there's a good reason to continue reading the rest of your copy. It also helps to answer her always-present question, "why should I care?" Use a subhead to maximize attention-grabbing effectiveness.
I - Interest: With attention captured, quickly move to interest her. Write with a casual, one-on-one voice and address the "what's in it for me?" question. Tell her about your offer. Do this as concisely as possible and don't beat around the bush. Her trigger-happy finger will brush you off without remorse. Understanding her needs, responsibilities, biases and objections is critical to success.
Your goal is to communicate the value of your offer. Don't overwhelm her with techno-babble and industry-specific terms. This will only hinder communication and increase your chance of disappearing.
D - Desire: Now comes the hard part. It's time to wear your Perry Mason cap and think like a lawyer. In other words, you must build a case and prove beyond reasonable doubt your offer is the best possible purchase alternative. The more evidence you introduce, the better supported your case. Lay it all on the line. Include your biggest benefits, value proposition, customer testimonials, guarantees, warrantees, star witnesses, etc.
You must explain in detail how customers benefit after accepting your offer. If you can pony-up a free trial or sample, do it. Your goal is to communicate how terrific life or work will be after accepting the offer.
A - Action: This is what makes a website worth having. Tell her what to do and be assertive. Hopefully this action supports an objective in your strategic plan. Make it easy for her. Use commands such as, click here, download this, subscribe to that, call today, and buy now. Encouraging visitors to take action works much better when coupled with "the right bait" or incentive.
Let's recap. Get her attention, kindle her interest, build a compelling case, and command an action. (Sounds a lot like what happened when Dad met Mom.)
AIDA has worked for direct response marketing for years and will also work online. Easier said than done, I know. However, we can use scientific measurement to prove good from bad and fine-tune each component. Next article we'll look at how to test the effectiveness of your website copy.
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