AIDA can clarify social media strategy

It’s useful, sometimes, to get back to the basics when social media marketing threatens to overwhelm us with an avalanche of innovation, platforms and analytical tools.

Remember that old chestnut in sales and communications, the acronym AIDA?  AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

This is the most rudimentary of sales and marketing funnels and, yet, is more relevant and useful today because theories and distractions can often cause us to forget the requirements of a successful sales engagement.

Each section of AIDA represents a stage in your sales and marketing process and can help you set your expectations, decide what to monitor and visualise the relationships between each part. Understanding the flow of the tools and tactics will also help you get your measurements and analytics in line with your goals.

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of this marketing funnel, some tips on how to apply it to your social media strategy and a look at how the model is evolving in the digital age.

Awareness

Awareness is social media’s bread and butter.

You can’t easily display your inventory via Twitter, set up a shopping cart on LinkedIn or fill orders through YouTube: these networks are not going to be your selling environment. Instead, they are your communication and outreach tools — the spokes that lead back to your hub (catalogue, blog, site landing page).

Awareness  is getting people to know you exist and that you can solve a problem they might have. At this level, conversations, interaction and content are king. A few metrics you might want to measure around your brand are buzz — mentions and conversation frequency — and sentiment.

Interest

Now that you have their attention, you need to get customers interested in your product or service. You can bolster interest with content that shows how you can solve customers’ problems and reflect your unique approach. Features and benefits weigh heavily at this level and social media can help you convert interest into desire.

 

AIDA sales funnel diagram

The simple AIDA model has added a ‘C’ and ‘R’

 

Desire

Social media can help bolster desire through communication and engagement but, to fully satisfy someone’s desire to buy, you need to have a site that is streamlined and optimised. Recently, I tried using a popular car rental site to make a reservation but it was so difficult to find out what was available — and its cost — that I gave up, despite having a generous discount code. The user interface killed my desire and I went to a competitor’s site, which made getting a quotation and reserving a car really easy.

Some of the metrics that matter at this level are bounce rate, time on site, pages viewed and incoming links.

Action

Now that your prospects are likely to take action, you need to make it easy and obvious for your customer to complete your desired action (purchase, sign-up, lead form, event ticket, subscription).

If you have created some targeted landing pages set up for your products or services, those are what you want to link to — not your homepage. Even if you’re not running PPC campaigns, the same strategy of linking to targeted pages through social media is applicable. A few of the metrics you will want to look at here are CTR (click-through rate), retweets (of deals and links) and conversations about specific products.

The action stage is also where you can finally calculate some of your sales metrics, like conversion rate and ROI. This is where you can see how everything is performing and the final impact your work is having. Often, these are the metrics that your boss and directors are looking for.

New additions to the marketing funnel

Over the years, the traditional AIDA has evolved and added two extra levels. These levels represent not only a shift in the technology and methods that are used to market, but the people behind it.

Commitment

How are you getting your customers to buy from you again? One very simple way to reinforce their pleasure in buying is to follow up via the same social media you used in the first place. If you know they purchased via a link on Facebook, send them a Facebook message saying “thanks” and provide them with your customer service contact information.

Use Twitter for customer service. Monitor the online conversations around people who are already using your product and see if they have any questions or problems that you can resolve quickly. You can build social loyalty programs and use the communities you create to keep customers coming back. This is where CRM (customer relationship management) can play a leading role and  social CRM solutions are emerging to fill that need.

A few things you might want to monitor here are repeat buyers, the use of loyalty codes, post-purchase and product use sentiment.

Referral

Advocacy is the dream of any marketer, where your customers do your marketing for you. It’s when customers love your products, brand, services and people so much that they can’t help but talk about you. This is why you want to make it easy for people to share your brand. Any hindrance to this — be it a bad website interface or an anti-social company ethic — will really discourage this extremely valuable source of traffic and interest.

If it’s an option, I’m far more inclined to click on a “Tweet This” or “Like” button than I am to take the link, shorten it in bit.ly, and post it to my various social networks. Remove any barriers to referrals and then both encourage and reward it.

Some metrics to look at here are mentions, conversations and referrals.

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