Sales Letter Writing - Using AIDA

Sharon Jacobsen

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Writing a sales letter that really moves the product it’s promoting isn’t something everybody can do, but there are those who could well be great marketing copy writers, but who still have to learn the basics of direct mail copywriting, be it for the web or for print.

One of the most successful formulas for any copywriter is what’s commonly known as AIDA, an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action.

If you’ve had any previous interest in copywriting, you’ll probably have heard of AIDA already, but knowing what it stands for isn’t synonymous with knowing how to put it into use. Just how do you grab the reader’s attention? What’s needed in order to get them interested in the product? How do you stimulate the desire to own the product? And finally, what action’s needed and how do you get the reader to do as you ask?


The average website visitor will spend just seven seconds scanning a page before deciding whether or not it contains the information he’s looking for. Unless he feels that your page is the right place for him to be, he’ll be out of there quicker than the proverbial bat in a hot place!

As sales letters are notoriously long (there’s a lot of information to be given, after all), it’s important you use:

  • Bullet points
  • Headings
  • Coloured text
  • Tables
  • Graphics

All of the above will draw attention to important points within the letter. Use them to draw the reader to those points you believe he needs to notice during his initial scan, as well as points you feel ought to be highlighted whilst he’s reading – after all, few people read everything that’s included in a sales letter.


Now that you’ve got the reader’s attention, you need to keep them interested.

The first paragraph of your sales letter is very important here, as it needs to arouse curiosity. The best way to do this is generally through a question.

  • Do you know how many people are paying too much for the electricity?
  • Isn’t it about time the government improved our schools?
  • What do you imagine’s the best way to earn money on the Internet?
  • How often have you been made a promise that wasn’t delivered?

A question will immediately engage the reader, rousing interest.

However, it’s important that the question is relevant to the product you’re selling. There’s no point in asking about the price of electricity if you’re selling a cocktail shaker!

Questions also need an answer. Make your answer interesting.

  • According to a recent survey carried out by “Surveys Inc”, 36 percent of Americans are paying well over the odds for their electricity supply – and most don’t even know there’s a cheaper alternative!
  • 36 percent of Americans pay too much for their electricity and have no idea they could get it cheaper.

Which do you think works better? I’d say the first example because it tells you where the data comes from, uses conversational language and has a mild “shock” element to it.

Use humour where suitable and keep the tone light. Give the reader facts but don’t drown him in dry statistics and lists of numbers. Ask yourself whether you’d find what you’ve written interesting or not.


Hopefully, you’ll have hooked your reader and have him interested enough to want to know the benefits of the product you’re offering. It’s now up to you to convince him that he MUST have this product.

Every possible benefit should be mentioned. Let’s say you’re selling a year’s subscription to a men’s fitness magazine. What benefits might the book have? There are obvious benefits such as learning how to improve your overall health and fitness, reading about celebs and how they work-out, and reading about the latest trends, but they’re really not enough to base the sale of a year’s subscription on. You have to give the customer something that he won’t get by going to shop and buying the magazine in individual editions.

  • 12 editions for the price of 10 – let him know how much a subscription will save him
  • A free pulse meter with ever subscription – let him know how much this is worth and what it can do to help him improve his fitness levels
  • The magazine delivered right to your doorstep 3 days before it hits the shops – make it clear how much easier it is to NOT have to go out in rain and wind in order to buy the magazine, only to discover that it’s sold out!
  • Receive special gifts available only to subscribers – give examples of the kind of gifts subscribers can expect and what their value is likely to be.

The above are all incentives that are designed to create desire in the customer. People like to get as much as possible for their money and, quite often, they’ll buy the subscription to save money and receive free gifts, even though they’d no intention of buying the magazine to start with!

Give them reasons to want what you’re offering!


Now comes the crucial part – you need to get the reader to do what you ask of him.

  • Order the product
  • Donate money
  • Sign up for your service

Whatever it is you need him to do, it’s vital that you don’t lose him at this point.

Offer clear links to your payment/donation/sign-up page and reiterate not only what he’ll be getting by acting now, but any possible consequences of not ordering/donating etc.

“Order the ‘thingamyjig’ now to save yourself from the backbreaking task of digging the vegetable beds”

“Click the link to be one of the lucky first 100 customers who will no longer need to worry about frozen pipes during winter”

Both of the above examples point out the benefits of acting now, but also make it perfectly obvious that not doing so will have consequences. Who wants to dig the veggie bed if they don’t have to? And would you want to deal with frozen pipes unnecessarily?


Hopefully you’ll now be better equipped to use the AIDA method when writing your sales letters.

There’s absolutely no doubt that when used properly, AIDA can greatly improve the number of sales your copy will generate so it’s worthwhile investing some time in getting it right.

Although everybody doesn’t have the ability to write marketing copy, there are plenty who can but because they haven’t understood how it should be done, their copy simply hasn’t given them the results they need. By using AIDA, that will change dramatically!

Good luck.

Sharon Jacobsen is a full-time freelance writer based in South Cheshire, England. For a competitive fee she'll write compelling sales and marketing copy that will turn visitors to your website into paying clients.

To contact Sharon, please visit


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