Copywriters can’t just consider factual and grammatical accuracy, rhythm and clarity of ideas – although all these things are important. To write copy that generates a reaction, copywriters must dig into the emotional and psychological impact of the words we use.
Here are 64 words that help you turn ordinary copy into more powerful, and more effective copy (that sells stuff).
Words to use in all your copywriting.
Using the word you makes your reader the focus on your message. Using more instances of ‘you’ than words like ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘us’. You is the cornerstone of customer-centric copywriting that’s the kind of copywriting that converts readers into customers.
When you use a word like imagine you invite your reader to take a quick holiday into their happy place. A place without pain or sorrow, frustrating or irritation. Painting that kind of scenario is a great way to open your copywriting, or deliver the solution (in your Pain-Agitate-Solution copywriting formula).
Giving people a reason to do something is incredibly powerful. The surprising thing is that it doesn’t even have to be a great reason. True! Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University, conducted a study where she tested how willing people were to let someone queue jump, using different phrases.
The upshot is that when a reason was giving (as simple as, I’m in a rush), 90% plus let the person into the queue.
Because is a powerhouse.
Words to use in your headlines, offers and calls to action.
Words about newness
Words about exclusivity
Words about urgency
Words that reassure
Words about caring
Words about saving
Words about pain
How to use words that sell
I’ve just given you a long list of copywriting words that sell and I hear you ask: “What the heck am I supposed to do now?” I’m not suggesting you try and work every one of these into your copywriting. That would be … well. that would be an amazing effort if you did.
Instead, consider the emotion you want to tap into or the psychological impact. Think about how you want the reader to feel or, in the case of pain, avoid feeling, or think about, and use a word from that category.
Let me say that again because it’s the key to making power words work: Think about how you want someone to feel or what you want them to think about, and choose a word from that category.
Let’s look at a few examples so you can see what I mean.
This discount is available until midnight on Friday.
How do I want the reader to feel? I want them to feel a bit of fear (of missing out) and that the deal is a special one.
This exclusive discount offer is only available until midnight. Act now!
A call to action:
Download the party plan e-guide and start planning your next party.
How do I want the reader to feel? I want to reassure them that this guide will show them how to host the best parties (and that it’s easy).
Download this free party plan to discover 11 simple secrets to hosting parties everyone raves about.
A brochure headline:
Our new product is helping millions.
How do I want the reader to feel? I want to them to sense the exciting nature of the product and that it can help them.
Revealed! The exciting breakthrough that is helping millions … Can it help YOU too?
Words that sell: Make them your words
Next time you have a headline, call to action, offer or statement that makes YOU snooze, check back to this list of words that sell and ask yourself what you want the reader to feel and which power words can spice things up. What ever you are writing, focus on the pay off for the reader.
So now it’s over to you. Test out these words that sell in your copy and see if they change the responses you get. Don’t forget to let me know how you go.
And if you have your own spicy power words, let me know and I’ll add them to the list!
The Copy Detective
And if 60+ power words that sell aren’t enough, check out Jon Morrow’s mega list of 317 words!
“Because” is a brilliant word. I first heard about its magic powers from Tony Robbins in the 80s. He talked about how it could help you get more positive responses when used in a question, e.g. “Can I go in front of you because I’m running late and I really have to make this deadline of 4p.m. today.” He gave some statistics, which I can’t remember exactly now, except that more people said Yes than when the question was just “Can go in front you to make my 4p.m. deadline?” Or “Can I go in front of you? I have a 4p.m. deadline to meet.”
My other favourite is “Breakthrough” however, this word has few openings now as not a lot of things can be called breakthroughs now.
Very similar to the Harvard study. You can read about it here:
The upshot was that the reason doesn’t even have to be good. “Because I have to make copies?” was only 1% less successful (at 93%) than “Because I’m in a rush.” Our autopilot kicks in, in a positive way, when we hear a reason. I love it!
I skipped breakthrough from the list for that very reason. You really have to mean it!
Thanks for stopping by Tom 🙂
Thanks for your great and valuable sharing. It will help me most. All are decorated and important.
This will make an excellent addition to my growing copywriting skills.
So wonderful to share your expertise. It is very kind of you and I will be sure to use them in my copy for Etsy.
Thank Lisa. May they bring you many sales!
Thank you so much for this list. It has sparked my writing for the description of my book. I must say I was on a totally different path as to what I was ‘going to’ write. Made my day! Much love <3
Great food for thought in your post. Thanks for the suggestions! -CL
Thank you Belinda Weaver, It helped me. The article is easily readable, unlike other blogs.
This is great you really impacted me, with this, because I am trying to grow my writing skills and learn how to write words that can sell.
I really appreciate.
My pleasure Emmanuel.
Thanks for these words. I have a patent pending drum product which my primary customer is band directors and music instructors. I’m trying to write good emails to get in person demonstrations. I will immediately try these words. Thanks
just what I need to grow my copywriting skills! Thanks
Thanks for this awesome post that you wrote and shared. This will help writing my first ebook soon and also, writing a blog post into my ecommerce store:-)
Thank you so much for the tips. These are really useful! 🙂
I completely agree with what you have written. I hope this post could reach more people as this was truly an interesting post. All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.