Power words can transform an unengaging piece of content or an underperforming landing page. If you know how to leverage them, you can get more clicks, boost conversion rates, and increase sales.
Because powerful words evoke emotions, they can make a strong impression on an audience. They ensure that, in a crowded digital environment where users have plenty of content to engage with, yours pops out.
Familiarizing yourself with what power words are and how to use them in your content can give you a major competitive advantage. In this article, we’ll define them, highlight top examples, and show you how to leverage them in various types of content.
What are power words?
Power words are words that generate a psychological or emotional response. A skilled content marketer or copywriter will strategically use specific words in headings, subheadings, landing pages, email subject lines, and other areas of content to persuade their audience to take action.
Some marketers assume power words are generally action words, such as “buy” or “call now.” However, they go beyond actions. Although a creator’s goal when using power words is often to increase conversions, they can serve many other purposes.
Examples of additional uses for power words include (but aren’t limited to):
- Keeping a reader’s interest
- Inspiring the audience to share a piece of content
- Grabbing the attention of someone who may only be scanning or skimming
Virtually any words that resonate on an emotional or psychological level can be considered power words. By tapping into a person’s emotions, thoughts, or both, you trigger engagement. The more someone engages with your content, the more likely they are to take the desired action or remember your brand.
Why power words matter
Research backs up the claim that certain words have the power to influence a person’s mental and emotional state. According to Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman, authors of Words Can Change Your Brain, some words literally alter the expression of genes throughout a person’s body.
Dr. Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman point out that powerful words specifically stimulate activity in the brain’s motivation centers. Thus, words may inspire a person to take action.
In their book, the researchers also explain that using the right wording can help a speaker or writer build trust with an audience.
Types of power words
Different words generate different emotional and psychological responses. Therefore, we’ve created a list of power words that evoke specific emotions, including:
- Trust or Safety
- Ease or convenience
When you are creating content—whether it’s an email, landing page, or something else—identify which emotions or actions you want your audience to take. Then, pull from the corresponding power words list that we’ve provided.
The desire for “more” is a natural human experience. Although the word greed sometimes has negative connotations, all people feel greed in some form.
Greed is more than just the desire for money. It can be a desire for more attention, relaxation, food, entertainment, freedom, or anything else a human being may want.
For example, let’s say you’re selling a product that boosts a customer’s productivity. Your target customer wants to be more productive so they have more free time.
You’d consider this when choosing persuasive words to include in your copy. Alternatively, if they want to increase productivity to make more money and have more freedom, you’d include phrases relating to wealth and freedom.
If you’re selling a product or service, try to determine what your target audience desires. Doing so will help you decide which power words will be most effective.
Examples of greed words include:
Like greed, curiosity seems to be a natural experience virtually all humans share. Researchers believe people have an innate drive to satisfy their curiosity that is arguably as powerful as the drive to satisfy hunger.
Curiosity power words appeal to this basic human urge. In addition, people are prone to distraction. We live in an age where we are bombarded with websites, online ads, social media, emails, text messages, and more. As audiences become exposed to more and more content, you need to capture their curiosity to stand out.
Curiosity words help you achieve this goal. Use them in content that shares important information with your audience. This ensures they are more likely to absorb all the valuable information.
Curiosity is particularly useful in email subject lines, social media posts that link to longer pieces of content, and headings. They tell a potential reader that a piece of content deserves their attention.
The following is a sample list of words that may pique someone’s curiosity:
|Banned||Find out the secret||Odd||Shocking||Unique|
|Bizarre||Forbid||Off the record||Spoiler alert|
Words that generate positive emotions are particularly effective in marketing content. For instance, you may notice that even when a product or service solves a problem, marketing copy for that product emphasizes its benefits. It outlines the before and after—what impact will this product or service have and how will it transform your life?
Instead of focusing too heavily on the problem (negative), focus on how the solution will improve your customer’s life (positive). Although addressing “pain points” is wise to a degree, copy and content should ultimately trigger feelings of enthusiasm, optimism, or confidence.
Words of encouragement help trigger those emotions. Plus, encouraged people are more likely to take action. They make readers feel that purchasing your course (or subscribing to your email list, ordering your eBook, etc.) will help them achieve a personal or professional goal.
If you were to only use phrases that focus on the pain points that your course addresses, you might accidentally induce negative feelings. For instance, maybe you’re writing a landing page selling an online course on ways to save money as a business owner.
To an extent, you can mention how saving money when running a business is challenging. You should establish that you understand the frustrations of your target audience.
However, if you only cover the challenges a prospect faces, by the time they reach your CTA, they’ll feel drained and pessimistic. Instead, use words that emphasize how your course helps them save money and how that will impact their life. As a result, they reach outcomes like fueling business growth, peace of mind thanks to financial stability, and so on.
Use encouragement power words when writing copy that convinces audience members that taking the desired action will benefit them. These include:
Trust or safety
Generating a sense of trust is another way to convince your audience to take action. When someone spends money on a product or service, they want to feel that doing so involves minimal to no risk.
They also want to believe they will receive something of value when they make a purchase.
Anyone who’s experienced buyer’s remorse knows it’s an unpleasant feeling they’d prefer to avoid in the future. A customer who’s thinking about signing up for your online course or scheduling a coaching session may be hesitant to finalize the purchase until they’ve established trust.
Words that induce feelings of trust and safety reduce the friction that prevents a potential customer from converting.
For example, perhaps you have a policy of fully refunding a purchase if a customer is unsatisfied with your product. If so, trust and safety words like “money back guarantee” ease concerns while explaining your policies.
Words that cause a person to feel you and your brand are trustworthy and safe include:
|Trust or safety|
|Anonymous||Documented||Lifetime||Research-backed||Try before you buy|
|Awarded||Endorsed by||No obligation||Satisfaction guaranteed||Unconditional|
|Bestseller||Free trial||No strings attached||Science-backed||Vetted|
|Bona fide||Full refund||No credit card required||Studies show||World-renowned|
|Certified||Guilt-free||Recommend||That never fails|
In addition to power words, you should also include testimonials, reviews, and social proof.
Conveying a sense of authority is important when marketing any product or service. Potential customers must feel the person or brand selling something possesses the knowledge and expertise necessary to deliver results.
Establishing yourself as an authority is even more vital when offering online courses and coaching services. Your marketing copy must convince a reader that you’re a professional who’s qualified to teach them.
The content of your course itself must also reassure a customer that you’re experienced. If midway through a course, a student starts to question your credentials, they might not finish the course, and may even leave a poor review. However, if you consistently use language that reminds them that you are a true expert, they are more likely to finish the course, see its value, and refer others in their network.
Like safety and trust words, authority words minimize friction when you use them in content, especially when it comes to your call-to-action.
Words that establish your authority include:
|Agree||Data||Globally recognized||Mentioned in||Results|
|Authorized||Established||Graduate of||Name-dropped by||Scientific|
|Backed by||Experienced||Knowledge||Past successes|
|Covered in||Featured in||Lauded||Praised|
Regardless of the topics your online courses and coaching services focus on, students are trying to acquire knowledge and skills. These may be little-known tricks of your trade. It may be access to a community with shared interests and values. Either way, they all have an element of exclusive access.
Suggesting you offer exclusive value or knowledge also ensures your own products and services stand out. Odds are your leads are researching multiple options when looking for products like yours. You must give them a reason to believe your course or coaching service is the option most worth their money.
Leveraging words that imply a product or service is exclusive is one way to do so. Exclusive words include:
|Access||Break into||Gain entry||Network||Restricted access|
|Available only to||Confidential||Insider secrets||Official membership required||Register as a VIP|
|Backstage||Club||Invitation only||Only a few select members||Special content|
|Become an insider||Don’t tell anyone, but||Join the cohort||Private||Test before anyone else|
|Be one of the first||Early release||Join the elite ranks||Privy to||Unlock the door|
|Before everyone else||Exclusive access||Login required||Professional secrets||VIP access|
|Behind-the-scenes||For subscribers only||Members only||Pull back the curtain||You’ve been selected|
Power words that express a sense of novelty capture attention in a distracted world. Incorporating novelty suggests that your products or services offer a new experience or information that captures their attention.
Research confirms that appealing to an audience’s desire for novelty yields benefits. Neuroscientists have proven through numerous studies that new experiences trigger a release of dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is one of the brain’s top “pleasure chemicals.” If you use words that show novelty, you’ll grab their attention. Examples of novelty words you might use include:
|All-new||Find out||Innovation||Opening||Starting now|
|Beginning now||For the first time||Invention||Outside the box||The time has come|
|Break your routine||Futuristic||Just released||Pre-release||This is huge|
|Come find out||Get a glimpse||Learn||Rediscovered||Undiscovered|
|Debuting||High-tech||New||Renew||Wait is over|
|Discover||How to||Newfound||See the new||You never knew|
|Exciting||Hot off the press||Not until now||Showcasing|
Ease or convenience
Humans are inherently lazy. That’s not a criticism. It makes us strive for efficiency and look for ways to be more productive, so we get more done in the long run.
Using words that evoke ease or convenience shows someone your value and inspires action. This is especially true if you show them how your product or service helps them spend less time and energy on a given task (without sacrificing quality).
When writing marketing copy and creating a curriculum for your courses, look for opportunities to use power words. They help give your customers a sense that you can make their lives easier in some way.
Fintech and on-demand services apps frequently use these to attract users and explain how they simplify daily processes. Consider the following example from Mint for inspiration.
By combining the words “effortlessly”, “gain”, and “save,” this simple piece of copy appeals to convenience, encouragement, and greed.
Other power words include:
|Ease or convenience|
|All you need to do is||Declutter||In seconds||Piece-by-piece||Straightforward|
|Anywhere||Demystify||In your free time||Quickly||Take a break|
|As little as||Easy||Instant||Roadmap||Template|
|Basic||Efficiently||Just follow these simple steps||Self-paced||Time-saving|
|Beginner-friendly||Effortless||Kickstart||Short and sweet||Toolbox|
|Cheat sheet||Get rid of||No time||Snap|
There are many reasons a potential customer might decide not to buy a product or schedule a service right away. Even if they are interested, they may not purchase it immediately, telling themselves they’ll do so later on. Unfortunately, “later on” doesn’t always come.
Most people don’t purchase after just one interaction. As a result, you have to be intentional about how you re-engage your audience and move them through your marketing funnel. One way to move customers closer to the buying stage is to leverage urgency.
Your audience is more inclined to make a purchase when they know that there is limited time to do so.
Psychological experiments have consistently shown that a person is more likely to complete a given task or action when there’s a time limit or scarcity. It’s the reason phrases like “While supplies last!” are so popular in ads.
Examples of urgency words include:
|Act fast||Ending soon||Items left||Offer expires||Sale ends soon|
|ASAP||Every minute that passes||Limited time||On the double||Selling fast|
|Attention||Expiring on||Last chance||Once in a lifetime||Spots available|
|Before it’s too late||Few remain||Last opportunity||One chance||Supplies limited|
|Claim your spot||Filling up||Mark your calendar||One shot||Time is running out|
|Clock is ticking||Final||Move fast||Only a few more||Vanishing|
|Countdown||For one time only||Never again||Promotion ending||While it lasts|
|Deadline approaching||Going soon||No time to wait||Right now||Won’t last forever|
|Don’t wait||Hurry||Now||Running out||You only have X more days|
General power words like “you” and “because” personalize your message. A reader sees them and subconsciously feels like the content is addressing them directly.
“More” is another basic word that earns a spot on the list below due to the way it adds emphasis. When writing copy, think about the way common word substitutions can better connect with your audience. These include:
How to use power words—see how it’s done with examples!
Now that you have a basic understanding of what power words are and why they play a valuable role in your marketing, let’s look at a few real-world examples.
Headline power words
A headline serves two purposes: capturing the attention of your audience and telling them why they should be interested. By adding one or more power words to a headline, you can attract more readers.
Consider the power words in the headlines and subheaders on Robinhood’s investing tool landing page. The page includes greed words like “commission-free,” and “buying power.”
Other effective power words in these headlines include “level up,” “break into,” and “increase”.
They also include ease and convenience with “as little as”, and exclusivity by using “be one of the first”.
Regardless of your opinion on the company and its services, there is no denying that Robinhood has attracted a large number of users in a relatively short amount of time.
This is at least partially due to how Robinhood’s content marketers and copywriters leverage power words to tap into the desires of their customer base.
Product name and pages power words
Using power words in product names and landing pages can also boost sales. For example, the online course Product Marketing Core uses them to attract students that are interested in learning the basics of product marketing.
In their course names, they use the word “certified” to establish authority.
When you click on a course sales page, they build trust right off the bat, stating they are “trusted by the world’s biggest brands”. They reinforce their authority again with words like “industry standard” and give a sense of convenience by saying it’s “comprehensive” and “self-paced”.
Power words also strengthen brand names. A basic example is HotelTonight, a hotel booking platform.
This brand name only consists of two words. However, one of those words is powerful enough to resonate with customers.
The word “hotel” may not be a power word, but it’s useful in this context. It tells customers what they can find through the service.
The true power word in this brand name, though, is “tonight.” A typical HotelTonight customer is someone who’s looking for a hotel or motel room at the last minute. The word “tonight” triggers an emotional and psychological response in such a customer. It has a sense of urgency, explaining in just one word that HotelTonight is a tool they can use to find lodging that very day.
Crafting strong email subject lines is one of the most important aspects of strong email writing. The average email open rate for 2022 across all industries is 21.33%. Including power words in your subject lines encourages recipients to open and read your emails.
Generate a basic subject line that gives a recipient a sense of what your email’s content will be. Then, add power words to optimize the subject line.
For example, maybe you’re promoting an online course on investing. A simple email subject you might use could read “Investing Tips for Beginners.”
Instead, this email subject with power words might look like “Free Investing Cheat Sheet” or “10 Investing Tips in 10 Minutes”.
Landing page power words
Landing pages, aka sales pages, are the primary place that prospective students will learn about and decide to buy your courses. If your copy features power words, you’ll be more likely to make sales. For example, Adam Enfroy uses them throughout the copy for his Blog Growth Engine course.
Notice that he’s capturing ease and convenience by using “step-by-step”, and greed with “7-figure”. On the landing page for his free blogging masterclass, you’ll also see power words.
Examples include “free”, “masterclass”, “profitable”, “massively”, and that’s just to name a few. He’s intentionally evoking feelings of ease, greed, encouragement, authority, and more to increase the chances that the person reading will be persuaded to sign up for his free class. You can do the same when you’re creating your landing pages.
(Tip: Check our guide on landing page design for more ways to improve your pages.)
A CTA is a specific action that you want users to take. You’ve probably seen “Get Started”, or “Learn More” call-to-action buttons. Those are familiar and straightforward—visitors understand what you want from them. But, what if you injected power words into your CTAs?
When crafting a CTA think about:
- Which emotions to evoke
- What objections you’ll need to overcome
- How to set next steps or expectations
This image from a landing page for Supernatural, a popular VR fitness subscription app, highlights how to use power words in a call-to-action.
Phrases like “healthy” and “Don’t sweat it” resonate with a person’s desire to get in shape easily. The CTA names the steps a person can take to address this desire (“Join Supernatural”), and it uses greed to address objections.
It includes specific information about what a customer will experience as a result of taking action. Calm also uses power words on its landing pages and CTAs. For example, “Unlock more sleep stories” taps into novelty and discovery.
It may sound simple, but don’t undercut the importance of a well-written CTA. With a few small tweaks, you can inspire action and increase conversions.
Testimonial power words
Adding customer testimonials to your site and landing pages establishes your credibility.
Of course, you should never alter a customer testimonial. But, the beauty of testimonials is that they tend to include power words naturally. You can identify the most impactful reviews to include on your site and in marketing by looking for the ones that have these specific words.
For example, how powerful is a positive review that just says “The course was great” or “I learned a lot”? It’s better than a negative one, but what about this one instead?
“In months of taking this course, I increased my salary by 40%. Because I was able to network with industry experts, I was able to break into a tech role that gives me more flexibility and freedom. I would highly recommend!”
Adding power words to your content can yield impressive and measurable results. It’s also very easy to do. By making strategic word choices, you’ll unlock your content’s full potential and increase conversions.
That said, you still need to offer a strong course in the first place. Teachable makes creating and launching one easy. Test out Teachable for free today to learn more about what it can do for you.