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Motivate People to Buy through Attention, Interest, Desire and Action

By Julie King |

How do you get noticed online? How do you get customers to act? What is the right combination of content and emotional triggers that you need to be chosen at a time when options are plentiful?

In 2000 David Gikandi wrote an article, Creating Attention, Interest, Desire and Action Online, that outlined a method for going beyond the technology of building an e-commerce site to turn potential buyers into customers.

"Most sales are never made the first time a prospect sees the product or service," wrote Gikandi. "They are made on a subsequent encounter. Translation: it is a sure thing that unless you get that guy visiting your website the first time ever to return another day, he won't be buying anything from you. So you must make sure he returns."

There is a growing body of neuromarking research that has probed into the underlying motivators behind why people buy.

Parato's principle, best known as the 80-20 rule, tells us that 80 per cent of our sales will come from 20 per cent of our customers. Gikandi noted that these are your repeat customers and they are a lot easier to sell to, once you understand them and connect with them, than new customers.

The challenge to business owners and marketers alike it to understand which of our customers make up this magical 20 per cent and how to create online content that will keep them coming back.

Gikandi outlined a simple method, which has been echoed by others, for doing this.

Your object is to gain Attention, create Interest, shift interest to Desire and then trigger Action.

Cognitive science provides many clues for how we can accomplish this. The article If You Could Read My Mind: 7 things you need to know about why customers buy outlines some of the most powerful ways this can be done and is based on an interview with Dan Ariely, one of the world's leading researchers in behavioural economics.

Here is an introduction to the Attention – Interest – Desire – Action marketing process as outlined by Gikandi in his original article.


People will enter your site from any of your pages. Whatever page they enter through, you must make sure that the headlines, design, navigation, etc., grab their attention! No matter what page they get in from, they must know what it is about and get their attention engaged. Do not have those dull pages in your site just because your homepage is great.


The primary reason people go online is to get information. Not to get advertised to, but to know something about something. That is how you create interest, by providing the appropriate information. You must have a good amount of free information that is relevant, constantly updated, exciting and different. Obviously you still want to tell them about your product but that should only be a major part of your site, not an only part. You should get an arsenal of news, articles, facts, newsletters, polls and other features to keep them coming back. Yes, it sounds involving but remember, most sales occur after the first encounter, so you must make sure you get more than one visit to your site. And very few people will return to your site just to re-read your product brochure.


You create desire in a multitude of ways, the two best being letting the client experience the product or service first hand. So you have to build interactivity. If you have a software product you are selling, give out a free downloadable demo. Financial services? Offer free online calculators. Real estate agent? How about an interactive room planner. The idea is to get someone experiencing the product or service in some way or another so that they can desire to own it. See what you can do in your case, just make sure it is a useful free trial. Most purchases take place after the buyer has seen the product or service several times, better still when they have used it and experienced its benefits.


You will find that the number of actions you want taken are quite a few. You probably will want someone to subscribe to your newsletter, get your free demo, recommend a friend or, most of all, buy something. Whatever the action, create the attention on it, get interest, build desire, then ask for the action. You must ask for the action to be performed. If you want them to click, put that down clearly. If you want them to buy, ask for the sale very clearly (as in "Buy Now"). Most sales are lost at the last moment because no one asked the buyer to buy. So don't be shy. Ask for the action.

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