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 to the allure of any sales page, headline or ad.
People are utterly seduced by power words. They get us to click, share and buy - what more could a marketer want!
But how do these power words work?
Power words crank up your marketing effectiveness by:
Invoking emotion: People connect to emotion, not words. Studies show that content that elicits “high arousal emotion” (anxiety, amusement) is more likely to be shared and go viral than content that doesn’t elicit emotion or elicits “low arousal” emotion. Power words are key to evoking these “high arousal” emotions. Examples include words like “Instantly”, “Mistakes” and“Hilarious”.
Triggering curiosity: Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it makes the marketer’s life easy. Research published by Harvard Business Review found curiosity to be one of the most powerful triggers for virality. Since we have a hard time resisting our curiosity, strategic use of power words makes it almost impossible for us to not to click, share, and read. Power words that trigger curiosity include words such as “Reveals”, “Proves”, “Ridiculous”.
Take this BuzzFeed headline:
The power words “cringe” and “horror stories” both elicit emotion (fear, anxiety), and their combination triggers curiosity (“why are these horror stories so cringe-worthy?”).
If this headline just said “21 Funny Sibling Stories”, you probably wouldn’t be that interested. But 21 cringe-worthyhorror stories? What entertaining surprises this article must contain!
The best thing about about power-words is that there are hundreds to choose from. Check out the list below.
Feeling dizzy? I hope it’s from excitement, because you now that you know why power words work, and have a few hundred in your arsenal. You’re armed with everything you need to turbo-charge your marketing.
Now you just need to use them. These are the best places for you to use power words on your site:
Whether you’re crafting the perfect headline for your sales page or you’re 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 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. Even removing one of the power words makes the headlines above become instantly less enticing:
This Insanely Sexist Job Posting Will Make Your Jaw Drop
Watch Celine Dion’s Incredibly Powerful Tribute to Paris at the AMAs
Us Weekly uses power words in almost every single headline they publish:
The words “reveal”, “sneak peek” and “suffers” pique curiosity and trigger an emotional response that act as a magnet for clicks.
Use power words in your own headlines to make them so irresistible readers can’t help but click.
Do you think that when people land on an article or a sales page you’ve painstakingly written, they’ll actually take the time to read it through?
They don’t. 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, of course.
Power words in your subheads capture attention and draw the reader into actually reading the content rather than just scanning over it.
Bryan Harris does a great job of this on his blog, VideoFruit.com. In the article below he used “unique” and “unconventional”, both of which trigger curiosity.
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. You can choose to:
Be boring: Use words in your product name that simply describe the product (ie “blue nail polish) but are otherwise boring.
Use names that pack a punch: Give your product a descriptive name, but kick it up a notch with power words.
Almost all product names fit into these 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 colors could have just been “light pink” and “soft green”. But instead of putting their customers to sleep, they used power words like “blush” and “gargantuan” to wake up some 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 the List Builder app installed, include power words in your descriptions and offers on the popup.
Vanessa van Edwards, founder of Science of People, injects power words into her SumoMe List Builder popup:
“Scientifically proven” is a power phrase to demonstrate authority and credibility.
Another example is Rick Mulready:
He uses power words like “Mistakes” and “Free” in his popup to convert visitors from casual readers to subscribers.
Landing pages are an effective way of blocking out all of the extra noise on your website and ensure 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 on to make Amy’s landing page far more convincing than the power word-empty alternative:
Class: How to Create and Deliver Your First 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 SumoMe homepage by inviting visitors to try SumoMe for free:
Without the word “free” that button would go needlessly unpressed way too often.
We’re not the only ones who do this. SoundCloud does as well to encourage their users to explore their site for music:
The power word in this case is “trending” which works double duty by providing a sense ofsocial proof.
Remember how we told you testimonials are the granddaddy of social proof? Testimonials increase conversions by 34% and 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 word “extraordinary” takes this testimonials light-years ahead of a testimonial simply containing the words “great” or “smart”.
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.
Let me guess.
You work your ass off to grow your email list. Every subscriber is hard earned, and so is every sale. You burn the midnight oil to create content they’ll love, and try your best to make sure the content actually reaches them, 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 just your subject lines.
Your email subject lines are the first point of contact your subscriber has with your email. Like a headline, they can either seduce the person into clicking, or make them put their blinders on.
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 secret” and “secret”? Feeling intrigued, aren’t you?
Jaime Tardy from Eventual Millionaire does this too (create, lucrative):
Here she takes it a step further and uses not one but two power words in her subject lines (formula, success):
Don’t be afraid to 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 wantrepreneurs who haven’t yet started your business, one great place to use power words is in your business’ name. Don't leave those strong words out when you're choosing a domain 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 stumbles across your brand.
One of the most important places to use power words in your marketing is in any call to action.
We also use one (“awesome”) on our List Builder popup:
And in our call to action to buy Monthly1K with the word “now”:
Brian Dean from the SEO website Backlinko uses power words in his menu as a call to action (“proven SEO tips”):
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 to start including power words in your marketing today.
Choose one option from the examples in this post and apply the power words principles to that area in your business.
Then, sit back and watch as your content takes off.
And don’t forget to let us know in the comments… did we miss any power words in our gigantic list?