How to Apply the AIDA Marketing Principles in PPC

As PPC marketers, our day-to-day actions generally consist of bid management, ad copy testing, adding negative keywords, etc., but we don’t always take time to look at the marketing principles that guide these actions. Sometimes it’s helpful and refreshing to go back to the source.

One of my favorite such principles is the AIDA Principle. It states that buyers go through 4 general stages when making a purchase: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. In PPC, the buyer goes through each of these 4 phases when conducting a search, clicking on an ad, and converting on a landing page. The tricky part (our job) is to make sure the searcher is relevant to the product/service we’re advertising, get them to click on our ad, and buy our product/service. Below is a breakdown of each of the 4 phases of AIDA and some items to focus on and enhance to make sure you get their business.


When someone conducts a search, your first challenge is to get their attention.

Impression Share

Although a pretty basic point, it’s still worth mentioning- you can’t get anyone’s attention if you’re not on the page. Keep an eye on your impression share metrics and be sure you’re showing up on relevant searches.

AIDA Funnel

Average Position

Generally the higher your average position, the more visibility and attention you’re going to get. The problem is that as your average position goes up, your price tag follows. Use the Top vs Side reports in AdWords to optimize your ads to show in the highest position that fits your budgets and KPIs.

Keyword Focused Headlines

When looking at a SERP, many of us tend to skim the headlines for relevancy before clicking. By having your keywords in your headline, you’re telling the searcher that you have exactly what they want.

Extended Headlines

These are a wonderful gift from Google. Simply by writing your ad copy to fit on two separate lines and having correct punctuation at the end of description line 1, your ads look much like an organic listing and have much more attention grabbing blue text.


Any unique types of text (@, $, &, etc.) can help grab attention in ad copy. They can also help you save characters when writing ads.

Ad Extensions

a.k.a. Ad Bling. They grab your attention by taking up more space than other ads, having a picture to accompany your text, or simply by being different from other ads on the page.


Once you’ve successfully gained the searchers attention, the next step is to interest them enough to click on your ad.

Unique Value Proposition

Ad copy is where you have to begin to set yourself apart from competitors in a material way. If your service is faster than your competitors, say it in your ad copy. Do you have the best BBB rating in the industry? Call that out, too. Are you having a 20 percent off sale? Say it in the ad!

Vanity Display URLs

Here, I’m referring to the ability to write almost anything in the display URL section of ad copy. A quick, keyword focused addition to the end of your display URL can really help a searcher feel like they’re in the right place.

Write Ad Copy to Search Intent

This is not always apparent, but sometimes searchers give you clues as to what they’re looking for. For example, someone searching “best running shoes” is most likely in a researching stage whereas someone searching “buy nike running shoes” is- you got it- in a buying stage. Create ad groups that allow you to target these keywords differently and write your ad copy accordingly.


Unlike the set of symbols above, this next group is not only for grabbing attention, but for reinforcing your relevancy. Using trademark (™), registered ®, or copy write ©, symbols can not only help grab attention, but make your ads seem more relevant and a safer choice than others.

Call to Action

This one is a bit unique to this group because here the goal is to weed out unqualified searchers. By adding in a quick “Buy Now”, “Call Us”, or “Learn More” in the ad, you’re not only helping the searcher know what to expect on the landing page, but you’re also excluding some of them by intent. Example, if the searcher who typed in “best running shoes” sees an ad that includes “Buy Now” they’re less likely to click.


The searcher has clicked on your ad. Now they’re on your turf, and your job is to get them to want your product/service.

Targeted Headline

The headline is your first chance to reinforce to customers that they’re where they want to be. Best case scenario (for congruity’s sake) is to have the same headline on the page that was in your ad, or at least something very similar.

Deliver on Your Value Added Proposition

If you tempted customers with 20% off in your ad, make sure it’s on the landing page as well. By putting your Unique Value Proposition on your landing page, you’re delivering the thing that likely peaked their interest in the first place.

Relevant Copy

Load your landing page with relevant ad copy to the product or service, but don’t drown your customers in copy. Give them lots of shiny and descriptive text, but only tell them what they need to convert. If you have other areas of info they might want, such as company info, terms and conditions, or product specs, link to those at the top and/or bottom of the page.


People go window shopping for a reason, it’s fun to look at all the shiny new things! Give them a nice picture of what you intend to sell them, if you can. The drawback about shopping online is that unless you’ve already seen and inspected a product in the store, you’re left to guess what it looks and feels like. Pictures and diagrams can help bridge that gap and help them buy online, from you.

Customer Reviews

These are a great way to build trust with searchers unfamiliar with your company. By telling them others have had positive experiences with you, your’e helping them believe they too can have a positive experience.


If you’ve done the first three phases correctly, action comes down to on-page experience more than anything else.

Obvious Call to Action

Whether you want them to fill out a lead form, download a white paper, or buy something, he needs to be able to clearly locate and understand his next step. Be sure your lead form or download/buy buttons are prominent on the page.

Use the Same Call to Action

If you told searchers to “Download a Whitepaper” in your ad copy, that should be your call to action on the landing page. Keep the message and CTA consistent throughout the search process, from query to conversion.

Form Length

If collecting leads, make your lead form as short as possible and collect only the info you need to follow up. Asking lots of unnecessary questions only makes the lead experience longer and more invasive to the searcher.


The final checkout process should be just as short and painless as the lead form process. Don’t require buyers to create a profile on your site before purchasing. If they like your site and had a good experience, they’ll come back. Again, ask only the questions needed for conversion.

Transparent Check Out/Lead Process

In the final conversion process, be sure you clearly tell the buyer where they are in your process. If your lead form has multiple steps, tell them that up front. If your form is longer, buyers are more likely to fill out the entire form if they know it’s going to be long from the get-go. If you tell them up front there are 8 steps (yikes!), they will have a realistic expectation of the experience ahead. If you don’t tell them, they may be frustrated with the length and leave before conversion.

These points are certainly not the only way to improve each step of the AIDA process, but it should give you a good start. Leave your own ideas in the comments!