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ATD Blog

Use AIDA to Develop Killer Learning Content

Monday, January 30, 2023

The business world continues to transform at a rapid pace; while technology is striving to keep up with these swift changes, training still lags. While learning and development (L&D) leverages the digital transformation to stay up to date during this rapid evolution, it’s also important not to ignore traditional methods.

The L&D industry leverages marketing techniques because of its ability to harness proven methods to achieve common goals. Both marketing and learning strive to create powerful messages that engage an audience—that’s where the AIDA model comes into play. This is an established marketing methodology that focuses on the core fundamentals of human nature, thus allowing it to withstand time and be applied to learning solutions. Coupled with the right foundational knowledge and data-driven insights, the AIDA model still has relevance for creating modern learning solutions.

Start by Developing a Learner Persona

Before you can use the AIDA formula to create an engaging learning experience, it’s important to understand your audience. Just as marketers have a consumer persona as their foundation, the learner persona exemplifies your archetypal learner and keeps their needs and motivations top of mind. This conceptual technique brings them to life so you can create a learning experience that drives impact and elicits intended performance outcomes.

The learner persona also encourages consideration about access and the learner experience. Where will the learner access information? Will they need to learn in the flow of work, or can the information be broken into micro lessons for their convenience? Will they understand the jargon shared? The insights from the learner persona become the fuel for creating a learning solution that leverages AIDA.

AIDA Model Translated to L&D

With a solid understanding of your participants, you can then layer the AIDA model onto your design to drive course uptake and the desired performance outcome. The AIDA acronym represents four essential concepts to create powerful messages, which we’ll apply to learning.

  • Awareness: The first step in creating a learning solution is to raise awareness of the problem or need that the training is designed to address. This could be a specific skill or knowledge gap that employees need to fill to perform their jobs more effectively. By raising awareness of the problem or need, the training program can generate interest and engagement among the target audience. This stage also represents when the learner becomes aware of the program. For example, you can create awareness through a corporate newsletter, social media, and even leadership announcements.
  • Interest: Once awareness has been raised, the next step is to generate interest in the learning solution. You can do this by highlighting the benefits of the program, such as increased productivity, improved job performance, and career advancement opportunities. By creating interest in the program, you can ensure that the target audience is motivated to participate. At this stage, learners discover the benefits of following through with the learning experience and become interested in learning more.
  • Desire: The next step is to create and maintain a desire for the learning solution by emphasizing the value and impact of the program on the target audience’s personal and professional lives. At this point in the journey, the learner has been hooked and now wants to follow through with the course. They have decided that it’s valuable to them, and the learning solution needs to deliver on this.
  • Action: The final step is to inspire the target learner to take action. Like in marketing, this is the most important step of the journey. If the learner gets frustrated or is unable to access the information when needed, they will lose motivation to proceed.

Practical Application of Applying AIDA to Create a Killer Learning Experience

We’ve seen a shift in marketing and learning strategies as learners’ preferences for relevance have increased along with their desires for personalized experience. Therefore, you must purposefully apply AIDA. Let’s take a close look at each step of the process:

Step 1: Awareness
Learning content should be personalized to the audience, so put yourself in the learners’ shoes. Tease them with captivating headlines to generate curiosity. Strive for concise words that capture attention and convey your learning message. This should generate curiosity and motivate learners to continue.

Step 2: Interest
Once you’ve hooked the learner, it’s time to strengthen that bond. Marketers use this time to address pain points. At the start of the learning experience, show the learner how the course will improve those pain points. This can also be done at the corporate level by highlighting the program’s alignment with the company’s strategic goals.


Other effective techniques you can use at the beginning of the learning experience include driving emotion, using storytelling, and highlighting “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM)—whether through powerful visuals, videos, or other means.

Step 3: Desire
By this stage, you will have their full attention so it’s time to prove that the content adds value. This step sets your learning course apart from others. Continue to remind learners of the benefits, using persuasive language and frequently demonstrating that there is value for them.

Step 4: Action
Include a call to action that tells the learner the exact steps to take. This should be crystal clear. Write it in a way that creates urgency and supports your performance outcomes.

Final Thoughts

The AIDA model can be a useful tool for creating a successful learning solution. By following these four stages, L&D professionals can ensure that their program is engaging, effective, and able to deliver measurable results. The key is to understand the target audience—their needs and motivations—and design the program accordingly. If used correctly, AIDA will motivate learners so they maximize the value of the overall learning experience.

For a deeper dive, join me at ATD TechKnowledge 2023 for the session: Time to Rethink: Designing Digital Training for the Modern Learner.

About the Author

Danielle Wallace is the chief learning strategist at Beyond the Sky, a provider of custom learning solutions. She combines proven marketing techniques with adult learning principles to create learning that sticks. Previously, as a marketing executive with Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, she learned strategic marketing and advertising principles, which she applies to learning and development to create compelling breakthrough solutions. Danielle is also a certified training and development professional (CTDP).

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I live by the AIDA method for all my trainings! In fact I believe that anyone communicating anything should use this model, after all it comes from the world of marketing.
Caroline. This is great to hear! Yes, it provides a great framework that can be applied to many aspects of our work.
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