Where AIDA goes awry

Right now I'm working on several outreach campaigns (aka “cold email”) with a client.

This client creates highly targeted campaigns to generate leads with executives in B2B niches.

To date they've had success with an email format that makes heavy use of some eye-catching personalization techniques to get the recipient's attention.

When I first saw these emails, they kinda bugged me, but I couldn't put my finger on why.

Later it hit me:

These emails are based on the AIDA formula—with almost all of the emphasis on the A.

If you're not familiar, AIDA is an age-old copywriting formula.

It stands for:

Attention Interest Desire Action

The formula has stood the test of time—however it's not one that I tend to use.

That's because starting off by thinking, “Hmmm, what will get attention here?” is a dicey proposition.

It's easy to come up with a “hook” that gets attention, but not the kind that transitions well into the product or service you're selling.

AIDA is the formula that brings us frogs that croak out the name of famous beer brands, and website banner ads with auto-playing movies and disgusting photos of disfigured celebrities.

These cold emails for my client are not nearly that extreme.

Yet the same problem is there, lurking under the hood.

The unique personalization does succeed in getting attention.

But because that attention has very little to do with the reasons why the prospect would hire my client, the bridge between Attention and Action is pretty rickety.

I have some ideas I'll be testing out to fix this—I'll keep you posted as I learn more.