Power words invoke a strong emotional response. That’s their job.
They pack a hard punch that goes right to the heart of what matters to your reader.
That’s the aim of the game. To grab your reader’s attention and nudge them into taking some sort of action you want.
There are 7 super persuasive power words that out-rank any others, and they’re always at the top of any copywriter’s toolbox.
The 7 most persuasive power words
Although they appear obvious and even simple, they evoke the strongest emotional response. They are:
- How to
These persuasive power words elicit or invite an action to occur.
We’ll go through each of them now.
Free just works. Everyone loves getting something for free.
In fact, it goes further than that in online marketing, where free is usually baked into the first touch point of a website. It could be something like getting a free e-book, a newsletter, or participating in a free webinar.
But of course, nothing is for free in the above examples. The cost is your email address in return for something you value.
New is the unexplored. It’s the latest shiny object. It’s something to be proud of if you’ve saved for it, or built it.
The word new is inserted into a phrase or sentence with pride – something new you should try out or belong too.
It could also reflect the latest or the newer version of a car or smartphone.
Not everyone likes things that are new. An example, I have an old pair of jeans I’m quite partial to and they’re staying on me.
But everyone is fascinated with new and that’s why, as a persuasive power word, it works so well.
I had trouble figuring out the reason why because is a power word.
Then I read about a study by Robert Cialdini in his book Influence where he describes requests from a person wanting to jump to the front of the line to use the photocopier. It goes like this …
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
Result: 60% of people allowed him to cut in line
I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I am in a rush?
Result: 94% of people allowed him to cut in line this time
Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?
Result: 93% of people let him cut on this third trial, only a 1% drop from when he had a weak reason (“I’m in a rush”)
This example vividly shows because working persuasively and powerfully.
Many copywriters will start their first sentence with the power word Imagine to help paint a picture in the reader’s mind of what could or can be.
It sets a visual scene and helps transport your reader.
Imagine your stress free life after completing the 30-day meditation program
We like to imagine, and we all have dreams of our life being better.
Many headlines start with How to.
That’s because people want specific and valuable advice. They want to be shown “how to” do or achieve something.
How to is one of the best persuasive power words that’s used regularly in headlines to capture attention with a promise.
We all want things straight away. There’s just no denying it.
Psychologically, it’s the power of instant gratification.
Online, it could be instant access or an instant download upon payment. This also plays into the realm of trust. When people use their credit card online, they expect something instantly.
Of the seven persuasive power words, it is the word You which holds the most power for me.
That’s because it’s all about them, your customer.
You’re writing to solve their pain points, the problems that keep them up at night, and, indeed, the reason they’re reading your article or visiting your site in the first place.
When you write, talk to them as a friend. You may not know their name, but by referring to them as “you” and “your”, affinity is being built, and with that comes liking and trust.
A word of caution with these persuasive power words
They have their place and need to be used in context.
Some of the power words, like Free, New, How to, and Instant, are mainly in headlines, sub-headlines, landing pages, CTA’s, buttons, and the like.
Other power words are used more in the body of the article.
Powerful they may be, but over-used or taken out of context, they’re detrimental like kryptonite is to Superman.