Would you believe the single most influential marketing idea EVER came from a guy whose profession revolved around…air brakes?
It’s true. Back in 1907, a man by the name of Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith achieved two things: setting a record for the most impressive-sounding name in America, and publishing the AIDA theory of marketing. He was the sole editor of the “popular” publication The Air Brake Magazine, and he created a sales course for air brake purveyors that centered around the teachings of AIDA.
AIDA, if you aren’t familiar, is the time-tested marketing concept that drives every piece of messaging in existence. It stands for:
- Attract: Founder of modern marketing David Ogilvy once said, “When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent eighty cents of your dollar.” At its core, marketing must attract an audience first and foremost, and headlines do the heavy lifting here.
- Interest: Once you’ve attracted an audience, you must get them interested in what your message represents. This comes through appeal statements and demonstrating the value of your product or service.
- Desire: Interest is a fairly low bar to clear. Now comes the hard part: to generate pure desire and make your audience feel that they absolutely need your product in their lives.
- Action: Finally, you must create a call to action strong enough to make leads take action and buy your product. This is the most important step in the campaign.
Makes sense, right? When you think about any sales pitch or marketing message, it generally follows this formula: Get their attention, generate interest, make them want it, show them how to get it.
This concept has worked for decades, and there’s really no end in sight for it. However, in the world of conversions and funnel building, AIDA alone simply isn’t enough.
In order to build a high-converting funnel, you need to make some adjustments to this concept.
The New Theory: Attract, Engage, Inform/Sell/Upsell, Thank
Here’s the biggest issue with applying AIDA to funnel building: it’s too final. This sequence begins with one product and ends with buying that one product only.
For most online marketers, this approach ends the relationship way too soon. You want to lead a customer through a path that engages them multiple times and breaks down any subliminal biases or barriers to buying, which is arguably the main goal of a funnel. In such a complex sales process, AIDA falls short because it’s more suited for messaging than actual process.
So for AIDA to work in the context of funnel building, it has to morph from an elegant acronym into a less catchy (but more powerful) process. It looks like this:
- Attract: This much remains true: no marketing campaign can get off the ground if it doesn’t attract an audience. The only thing that changes is how you attract people to your product. In an online funnel, that comes from social media, paid media, organic traffic, affiliates, blog posts, emails and more.
- Engage: This takes “Interest” and “Desire” and mashes them together in a way that’s more, for lack of a better word, engaging. AIDA is a one-way communication method, pushing out a message without concern for feedback from the consumer. Engagement, on the other hand, is a two-way street: the consumer dynamically helps shape the product by becoming an active part of the sales process. Through the content you provide, consumers comment on and share your messaging, making them more invested in the overall process.
- ______: I’m keeping this blank because we’ll cover it soon, but know that this is where the “Action” of AIDA would take place. What happens here can take three forms, but the end result is the consumer completing a goal you’ve set up.
- Thank: This is where this theory greatly differs from AIDA. We take one more step and thank the consumer for taking an action. The thank serves two purposes: First, it shows genuine gratitude, which goes a long way toward retention and long-term word-of-mouth marketing. Second, it gives you the opportunity to offer something else. With this single step, you can start an entirely new funnel.
So what are those three possible actions that happen in between “Engage” and “Thank?”
Content drives this action. Informing someone may not seem like a very conversion-oriented action. But actually, you’re not just informing your visitors—you’re trying to get them to interact with your content.
Here, the action you’re looking to elicit is a content download. At LeadPages, we call these lead magnets. In exchange for an email address and any other information you’re looking for, a visitor receives a piece of content they wouldn’t usually be able to access.
This strategy is the beginning of many successful funnels. Once a visitor has opted in and received their content, you use their contact information to market revenue-generating products to them.
EXAMPLE: Organic traffic leads to a blog post talking about landing pages. On the blog is an offer for a downloadable guide full of conversion tips. The reader gives their email address and receives the downloadable guide.
In this action, you’ve moved on to a revenue-generating transaction centering around a product or service you offer. In this version of the funnel, the “Engage” step is almost always a product page or something very similar, but it can be a well-written blog post if it has a strong enough call to action.
This step is typically most effective once you’ve already warmed up your contacts with some compelling content.
EXAMPLE: You’ve offered a tutorial on how to cook spaghetti, it’s only a teaser to a full course located on a pricing page where a visitor can buy your entire four-part cooking course.
An upsell has to follow a sell. Simple as that.
In an upsell action, you’re trying to add another product to the customer’s purchase. This is easier than making a new sale due to behavioral inertia—the principle that someone who’s already said yes to a series of requests is likely to continue saying yes.
EXAMPLE: Someone just bought your four-part cooking course. They’re brought to a page that offers to include a particularly beautiful (they always are) set of steak knives with their order. The customer adds the steak knives to their purchase.
These three marketing actions are the catalysts behind the Micro Funnel. From these actions, I promise you can create any funnel in existence.
Seriously. And I’m about to show you how these marketing actions take shape. This is the single most important discovery we’ve made in the world of funnel-building, and it’s called the Micro Funnel.