Ever wonder why some websites pump out viral post after viral post?
Or why some brands have products that fly off the shelves while their competition falls flat?
Or why you couldn’t resist clicking on a link you knew was a sleazy sales page?
The answer is simple.
These brands have smart marketers. Marketers who use power words.
These power words trigger an emotional response and pack some serious punch, getting us to click on ads, share blog posts and buy from sales pages.
But how do these power words work?
Power words crank up your marketing effectiveness by:
Take this BuzzFeed headline:
The power words “Cringeworthy” and “Poor” both elicit emotion, and their combination triggers curiosity (“Why are these notes so cringeworthy?”).
If this headline just said “14 Funny Sibling Stories”, you probably wouldn’t be that interested. But 14 cringeworthy horror stories? What entertaining surprises this article must contain!
The best thing about power words is that there are hundreds to choose from.
Check out the list below.
Want our personal Power Word list for creating epic headlines?
Feeling dizzy? I hope it’s from excitement because now you’re armed with all the power words you need to turbo-charge your marketing, and have a few hundred in your arsenal.
Now you just need to use them. Here’s where you can use power words on your site:
Whether you’re crafting the perfect headline for your sales page or writing a viral-worthy article, power words can take a headline from mediocre to irresistible.
The magazine industry is notorious for their use of power words in headlines. Magazines like Elle, OK! Magazine, InTouch, GQ, and Seventeen use power words religiously to entice consumers to pick up their products.
Cosmo has some of the most click-worthy headlines out there:
Without power words, these headlines would be boring. Removing the power words (bolded below) makes the headlines above instantly less enticing:
Us Weekly uses power words in almost every single headline they publish:
The words “Reveals”, “Sports” and “Show Off” pique curiosity and trigger an emotional response that acts as a magnet for clicks.
Use power words in your headlines to make them so irresistible readers can’t help but click.
People don’t read your content. Research shows that they didn’t in 1997, and they certainly don’t now.[*]
Instead of reading, they scan. Unless you can catch their attention.
How? By including power words.
Power words in your subheads capture attention and draw the reader into actually reading the content rather than just scanning over it.
My recent article about persuasive words had a 65% read rate (the average is 15-20%):
I used power words in my subheads to keep people moving down the page:
Use power words in your subheads to keep the reader’s attention on the page and ensure they’re actually reading what you’ve written.[*]
You have two choices when you’re naming your products:
Almost all product names fit into these two categories.
A company that leverages power words wonderfully in their product names is the nail care company OPI.
OPI could have just named their product after its function: “nail strengthener.” Instead, they used a power word (“Nail Envy”) to make the product more appealing.
OPI also uses power words in the descriptions for their products.
Their lacquer color could have just been “dark red”. But instead, they used a power word (relentless) to invoke emotion.
Another example of power words mastery in the online space is that of David Siteman Garland, who created a course on how to create online courses.
He could have just named his course “Create Online Courses”, but he spiced things up with a power word:
The word “Awesome” makes the product memorable and stand out in a crowded space.
Power words are currently underused in the beloved email list building tool, the popup.
If you have List Builder, include power words in your descriptions and offers on the popup.
Check out how Onnit uses the power word “Ultimate” for their grocery guide freebie on their list builder pop-up:
Another example is Rick Mulready:
He uses power words like “Mistakes”, “Avoid” and “Free” in his popup to convert visitors from casual readers to subscribers.
You can get a free Sumo account to create popups like this.
Landing pages are an effective way of blocking out all of the extra noise on your website and ensuring that the visitor is just focusing on one specific call to action.
Using power words on your landing page can get your conversion rates from “not now” to “gimme!”
Amy Porterfield is a landing page genius, and she strategically uses power words all over her landing pages:
“Free”, “Live”,“Master”, “5-Figure”, “Profitable” and “Strategy” are all power words, and they work together to make Amy’s landing page far more convincing than the power word-empty alternative:
Class: How to Create and Deliver Your Webinar (Even If You Don’t Have a List!)
Join me as I walk you through what it takes to create a webinar.
Did that make you fall asleep? Well, wake up, more power word goodness ahead.
If you think you’re running out of places to include power words, think again. We haven’t even talked about using power words in button text.
We use power words in our button text on the Sumo homepage by inviting visitors to try Sumo for free:
Without the word “Free” that button would go needlessly unpressed way too often.
We’re not the only ones who do this. Bulletproof does as well on their shop button:
The power word in this case is “Now” which works double duty by providing a sense of urgency.
Remember how we told you testimonials are the granddaddy of social proof?
One company tested using testimonials on their sales page and it increased conversions by 34%. They add invaluable credibility to your brand.
Make your testimonials work overtime for your business by featuring the ones including power words.
Marie Forleo does this on her testimonials page:
The words “Unique” and “Perfectly” take this testimonial light-years ahead of one simply containing the words “Great” or “Well”.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit tacky to ask your clients to use power words in their testimonials.
Do the next best thing by featuring testimonials that include power words more prominently on your page.
You work your ass off to grow your email list. You hustle to create content they’ll love, yet still only 20-35% of your subscribers open your emails.
And you begin to wonder…
Is your email list disengaged? Is it the content you’re putting out there? Is something wrong with their spam filters?
But it’s probably your subject lines.
To turn up the heat on your email subject lines and attract more opens, clicks, and engagement, use power words in the subject line.
Pat Flynn uses this method in his email autoresponder series:
See the power words “Super” and “Secret”? Feeling intrigued, aren’t you?
Jaime Masters from Eventual Millionaire does this too ("Create", "Lucrative"):
Use power words in your subject lines to entice your subscribers to open your emails. You worked hard to write them, so they might as well be read by as many people as possible.
For all of you who haven’t yet started your business, one great place to use power words is in your business’s name.
Using a power word that describes what you do or who you do it for can make your marketing far more effective. For example, Elite Daily uses the power word “Elite” in the name of their business, which brings to mind exclusivity or high-quality.
Melissa Ramos puts power words to work in her business name, Sexy Food Therapy:
Derek Halpern, founder of the popular online training resource Social Triggers included a power word (“Triggers”) in his business’ name as well. Makes sense, since Derek teaches the psychology behind marketing, after all:
For your next rebrand or business (for all you serial entrepreneurs), incorporate a power word into your business’s name to ensure that you trigger (see what I did there?) an emotional response the second your customers stumble across your brand.
One of the most important places to use power words in your marketing is in any call to action.
For example, we use “Masterclass”, “Free”, “Best”, and “Step-by-Step”.
On Snowy Joey, they use the power words “Profitable”, “Fun”, and “Free” for their free video course:
James Clear uses power words in his menu as a call to action (“Free Newsletter”):
I just gave you hundreds of power words and showed you ten places to use them to make your marketing work on overtime for your business
Don’t just skip past this article and move on with your day. Take action and start including power words in your marketing today.
Choose one option from the examples in this post and apply the power words now.
The easiest way to start? Incorporate power words into the calls to action and headlines in your List Builder tool, like this:
Set up a simple popup to trigger 5 seconds after someone visits your site. Make a “FREE” offer for visitors to get your most popular article, video, or something else that’s quick and easy for you to start growing your email list with power words.
You can then track your performance inside Sumo, like this:
Get this set up on your site now. This link will give you a free Sumo account to do it.
Then, sit back and watch as your email signups take off.
If you want our personal Power Words list to print out and quickly reference on your desk for when you’re writing content headlines, landing pages, and email capture forms...
P.S. Want to learn the 10 growth hacks we’ve used to grow our email list to over 100,000 subscribers with power words + Sumo? Click here for our most actionable growth hacking ideas to grow your email list and traffic.