AIDA – Using a Classic Marketing Model in Copywriting and Direct Sales Emails

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AIDA – Using a Classic Marketing Model in Copywriting and Direct Sales Emails

You see it all the time and may or may not recognize it. The model is called AIDA. It’s a marketing model based on the stages consumers go through when making a purchasing decision. Here are the steps:

A: AttentionThe consumer becomes aware of the product or service

I: InterestThey learn something about that product or service that catches their interest. What problem does it solve? What void does it fill? etc.

D: Desire: They start to think seriously about buying that product or service.

A: Action: They take the desired action – usually making a purchase (online or in person).

AIDA has been used to describe sales cycles from the beginning of sales and marketing, but it also fits perfectly with persuasive copywriting which is exactly what good sales emails are – persuasive copywriting. Here’s how it works.

How To Use AIDA in Sales Emails

Wouldn’t it be great if we could send out a single cold email and generate sales?

Yeah, it really doesn’t work that way. First you have to introduce yourself, build rapport, build trust, and then hopefully make that sale.

Even with this harsh reality, it’s important to use the four stages of AIDA to create interest, desire, and action – just think of smaller actions; perhaps to fill out an inquiry form or setup an appointment to learn more.


The average person receives 92 business emails every day. Consider that the further up the food chain a person is the higher that number.

That being said, it is clearly not easy to be more than a face in the crowd of the inbox.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed there are two driving factors in deciding if an email gets opened or not.

  • The Sender. Is this someone you know, trust, work with, etc? These are the emails you always open and process in a timely manner. If you are sending a cold email make sure that it is coming from a person not a generic mail like:
  1. info@
  2. support@
  3. hello@   You get the idea….
  • The Subject Line. This is where we’re going to spend most of our time as this is where we have to get the attention. Your email’s subject line is key. A good one will likely get the email opened, which gives you the chance to generate interest and desire. A bad subject line makes everything in the body of that email useless. I doesn’t matter how interesting or engaging you are if your email never gets opened in the first place.
So what are the elements of a good subject line?
  • A good subject always sounds like it was written by a real person. It doe not sound automated. It does not trick the receiver into opening the email. One popular example of this tactic is the “Do Not Open This Email”. Cheesy at best. Lastly, it can’t be misleading or set false expectations.

While you’re never sure what someone will best respond to, natural sounding subject lines tend to work better on most prospects than subject lines that exclaim “Hey, I’m trying to sell something to you -yeah, you!”.

  • Something else to consider is how your subject line appears in the inbox. You cannot control how your email subject line appears across all email providers or devices, but you certainly can preview them and adjust as necessary.
  • Only extremely short subject lines will fully display on mobile devices, while on a desktop/laptop they’ll see the whole thing and likely part or all of the opening line of the email. You cannot overlook this because they have a major impact on open rates.

Speaking of open rates, this is a great KPI to use for the effectiveness of your subject lines. Most email sending platforms (Campaign Monitor, Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, etc.) make is extremely simple to track your open rates, link clicks and even A/B test your subject lines so you can find out what voice your target audience tends to respond to best.


Congratulations – your email got opened!! Your next task is to not let them down and generate some interest in what you have to say. We recommend getting this out in the opening line of your email.
You may want to do this by:

  • Tell a story (not too long) that helps the recipient connect with you and identify why they should be interested in what you’re selling.
  • Draw attention to a known pain point of your target prospect. If you are sending out a mass cold outreach email, be sure to segment your audiences in buckets based on their likely pain points. A good example of this is to separate them by industry or job title.
  • Lastly, state what your product or service can help them achieve. Can you help them reduce costs, get more customers, be more efficient.


Welcome to step 3 – you’ve made it quite far! You got their attention and generated interest. They know enough to know that they want to explore further. The next step for you is to create desire for your product or service by demonstrating its value.

While there are many ways to do this and you don’t have to limit yourself to just one, remember that cold sales emails should always err on the short side. Make your point as succinctly as possible.

Great ways to generate desire are:
  • Build your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) around their pain points. If you have more than one USP make sure that you’re segmenting your lists properly.
  • Briefly explain how your product or service will help resolve one or more of their pain points. If you’re segmenting your list in alignment with your prospect’s most likely pain points you will likely see better results than if you are not.
  • Feature a testimonial (text or video)
  • Focus on a special price or free trial that you can offer the recipient. Make sure the offer has a feeling of exclusivity.

However you choose to create desire, make sure that you are measuring its effectiveness via responses and CTRs (Click Through Rates). Again, most email platforms will track this for you.


If they have made it this far, the final job is to – you guessed it – take action! To get this to happen you need to quickly and clearly let the recipient know exactly what you want them to do next. This requires a clear, direct CTA.

One of the main things to consider here is to not ask for a huge commitment – remember this was a cold outreach and to get this far is nearly a miracle. Even though this sales email is based on the AIDA model, few prospects (if any honestly) are going to make it all the way up your sales stepladder in a single email.

Some appropriate actions that you want the recipient to take are to request more information, download a white paper or infographic, or set up a 10-15 minute free consultation or exploratory call. This is not a time to ask them to buy – too much, too soon.

The easier you make replying to you, the better off you are. If you are suggesting a call, setup an online booking engine like Bookafy and let them easily pick a time to book an appointment. Make sure that you are not asking for too much information – a name, phone number (to call them) and email (to confirm the appointment) is plenty and even this may scare some people off.

Simply put – whatever you choose to do, make it crystal clear what you want from them and make it as easy as possible for them to take that action.

From here it’s important to be tracking results. How you do it is up to you but the most common KPIs to track here are conversions and conversion rate.

As you segment out your lists you’ll be able to send different messages to different recipients based on their previous actions (or inactions). This is where you can refine your sales email skills in customizing those messages and increasing your conversion rates in the process.