There are 8 intoxicatingly persuasive words in the English language that are more effective than any other words for convincing a person to take action.
These are words the most effective copywriters in the world have been using for decades to convince you to buy their product.
Wait -- am I talking about power words?
Power words: Words that strengthen your copy to pique interest and get people to click. The hook.
Persuasive words: Words that convince people to buy. The sell.
There are 8 persuasive words:
Let’s get into it.
This word is one of the easiest ways to increase your traffic and conversions significantly.
Humans love novelty. We love being on the cutting edge of things. We love new things and love hearing about things first.
That’s why this word works.
Research has shown that perceived newness increases sales for a product, but brands do better if they’re more established.
We tested using the word “New” on Twitter, and it was our most drastic experiment yet:
Just by including the one word before the headline of the article we were promoting, the post with the word “new” performed 422% better in terms of clicks than the control.
Takeaway: When something is new (for example, a product, webinar, or piece of content), say so, unless the new thing is your brand, in which case don’t mention it.
There’s one word you can use in your sales copy that’s almost guaranteed to convert. It’s been proven to work time and time again…
And it’s free.
No, seriously, the word is “free” (pardon the pun), and it’s one of the most intoxicatingly convincing words in the human language.
In one experiment, Dan Ariely, researcher at Duke University surveyed 76 people in a lineup to get a free tattoo.
It turns out that 68% of the people in that lineup wouldn’t have even gotten a tattoo if it weren’t free.
In another study by the same dude, students were offered two types of chocolate:
Initially, 60% of buyers chose the Truffle for $.26 and 40% chose the Kiss. Ariely then reduced the prices of each by $0.01:
Suddenly 90% of students chose the Kiss, even though the relative prices remained the same.
We tested the word “Free” on our opt-in for our marketing psychology article and we increased the conversion rate by 15.02%.
Keep in mind that this was on an article about marketing psychology, where the readers were educated about the power of free.
Takeaway: Use the word free. It’s a “free” way of increasing your sales.
This next word is one that you must be using, because it’s so powerful.
In a study done at Harvard University, a researcher tested different wording to ask students standing in a line for a copy machine whether she could cut the line.
Ask #1: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”
Ask #2: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
Ask #3: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
60% of the people allowed the researcher to cut the line with Ask #1. Ask #3 elicited a 94% compliance rate (the researcher’s reasoning was “because I’m in a rush”).
The interesting part? When the researcher used the word “because” but with no valid reasoning behind it (“because I have to make copies” -- keep in mind, everyone else in line also had to make copies!) she still had a 93% compliance rate.
Takeaway: People like to think they’ve been given a reason for something, even if the “reason” is akin to your mom saying “because I said so”. Use the word “because” in your copy when you’re showing why something works.
Which of these sentences is more likely to persuade you?
a) “You need Sumo to make more money in your business”
b) “Entrepreneurs need Sumo to make more money in their businesses”?
The answer is A.
Because A uses the word “you”, and B uses the formal third person. We tested “you” against the third person on a social media post:
The post that addressed you rather than bloggers got 37% more clicks.
In a nutshell, you’re obsessed with yourself and so am I. Research proves it.[*]
Hearing your own name makes your brain activity light up like a Christmas tree. In short, it makes you pay attention. To persuade anyone to do anything (like buy your product), they have to pay attention.
But you can’t always use your target customer’s names in your marketing, unless you’re a wizard. So this persuasive word is “you”.
“You” acts as a placeholder for your name.
Check out how Shopify uses “You” five times in just one CTA on their homepage:
Shopify grew their revenue by $184.1 million in 365 days, making them the perfect model of good copywriting.
Takeaway: The formal third person shouldn’t have a place in your copy. Address the customer directly by using “you”. Where possible, use the person’s name (like in email).
In 2016, we sent a sales email without any urgency or scarcity in it. It converted at a sad 0.41%.
But when we sent out a recap email for that sales email, that was time bound and stoked urgency, we increased sales to 3.38%:
We’re not the only ones who have discovered the power of urgency.
One ecommerce store A/B tested a limited offer on shipping vs. a control (no shipping offer). They included a countdown timer to elicit urgency on the limited offer:
That limited offer on shipping increased sales on the product by 226%.
So urgency works. Check. But how can you use persuasive words to elicit urgency in your copy where countdown timers won’t work?
Use the word “now”.
Marcus Taylor on ConversionXL added the word “now” and increased the clickthrough rate from 1.71% to 3.76%:[*]
And it’s persuasive on your product pages, too.
Check out how BestSelf Co. uses the word “Now” on their call to action button to elicit urgency:
Even their product pages use the word “now” on button copy:
Takeaway: Urgency sells. Command your visitors do something “now” to get a higher conversion rate.
Ever been told a story about an accident or injury that made your toes curl? You almost feel pain on behalf of the victims.
That’s not just empathy. Those feelings there are “mirror neurons”.
“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another”[*]
Therein lies the power of this next persuasive word:
Mirror neurons mean that feelings can be transferred without having to experience them first hand. And if you can make people feel things, you can make people act.
For example, let’s say you were a life coach helping your customer get more work/life balance in their lives. You knew the psychographics of your customer so you knew they struggle with feelings of guilt about not spending enough time with their kids.
You could use mirror neurons to paint a picture in their minds about what their life would be like after using you as their coach (solving their problem).
“Imagine leaving work at work.
Imagine being fully present with your children.
Imagine being able to eat a quiet meal with your family, together, enjoying each other’s presence.
Imagine rocking your baby to sleep without worrying about the deadline your boss just set for you that day.”
You don’t have to be over-the-top with this persuasive word, either. Check out how Amy Porterfield uses “imagine” subtly in her sales page for her course:
Simple and effective.
Takeaway: Use persuasive words in your copy like “imagine” to make your customers picture their lives with the solution you sell (or, picture what will happen if they don’t buy!)
The Tesla Model S starts at around $72,000.
Yet it’s the best selling luxury sedan in North America.
Why would anybody buy a Tesla for nearly 1.5x the median national annual income when a $20,000 Toyota Rav-4 would do the trick?
Because of prestige.
And you can communicate prestige by using this one persuasive word:
Limiting inventory or accessibility to product is why:
This persuasive word works for high-priced products or services.
Check out how Tony Robbins uses “limited” to trigger exclusivity and prestige for his platinum partnership product:
We tested using the word “limited” on Twitter:
The Tweet with the word “Limited” in it outperformed the control in number of clicks by 100%.
If this page took longer than a few seconds to load, you wouldn’t have made it this far down the page.
In fact, you would have left almost right away.[*]
That’s because you (and everyone around you) are used to instant gratification.
Over 80% of people will abandon a video if they have to wait for more than 30 seconds for it to load...[*]
So it’s no surprise that instant gratification sells.
Which is why this next word is so persuasive:
When we tested the word on social media, the Tweet with the word “instantly” got 3x more clicks than the one without:
Proving that “instant” isn’t just the type of ramen you ate in college. It’s also an incredibly persuasive word that can help you convert.
Takeaway: Don’t lie and say something happens instantly if it doesn’t (for example, you can’t get a physical product instantly like you can a digital product), but use this word to increase your conversions on your freebies, opt-ins, and digital goods.
Persuasive words work.
Research proves it.
If you’re not using persuasive words you could be leaving 400% more conversions on the table.
A/B test them NOW and watch your conversions soar.