Power words are like a “cheat code” for boosting conversion rates. Sprinkle in a few, and you can transform dull, lifeless words into persuasive words that compel readers to take action.
And the best part?
You can use them anywhere.
In this post, you’ll learn how to use power words like a kung fu master. Specifically:
The definition of power words (and why they’re so powerful);
The 7 types of power words proven to increase conversions;
Examples of how bloggers, freelance writers, and businesses are using powerful words to boost conversions;
Want to bring your ideas to life, to make them take up residence in the reader’s mind, lurking in the background, tugging, pulling, and cajoling their emotions until they think and feel exactly as you want?
Then you’re going to love this post.
Let’s jump in.
Clear as mud?
Let’s deconstruct an example from the great Winston Churchill. All the power words are underlined:
Power Words = Emotional Words Packed with Persuasion
And it goes beyond speakers and storytellers.
Email marketing messages, copywriting, infographics, step-by-step tutorials, sales pages, inspirational quotes, content marketing, case studies, call to actions, testimonials, tweets, and other social media posts are all designed to influence the reader in some way. You want to pass along information, yes, but you also want the reader to feel a certain way about that information.
Maybe you want to impress them, get them excited, make them cautious, get them angry, encourage them to keep going, or any number of emotions. The better a job you do at making them feel, the more influential you are, and the better your chances of getting what you want.
Looking for a quick way to give your writing more punch?
Maybe add a little personality or pizzazz – that extra little “oomph” that grabs your reader’s attention?
Then you need to infuse your content with power words.
We’ve organized our power words into seven different types, which all accomplish the same goal: Each elicits emotion in your reader.
Let’s go over each type and see why these words work.
1. Fear Power Words
Let’s do a little experiment.
Just for a moment, stop reading this post, turn on the television, and go to a major news channel. Watch it for five minutes, listening for the words below.
Chances are, you’ll hear dozens of them. Here’s why:
Fear is without a doubt the most powerful emotion for grabbing and keeping an audience’s attention. To make sure you don’t change the channel, news networks load up with fear words, making you worry you might miss something important.
Granted, you can overdo it, but in my opinion, most writers don’t use these types of words nearly enough. They really do connect with people.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Fear Words
Here’s an example of a blog post headline here at Smart Blogger that utilizes three different fear words:
I was in agony.
Pretty effective, right?
Here’s another one:
Want to sprinkle fear power words into your writing? Here are a bunch to get you started:
2. Encouragement Power Words
Let’s face it.
When they’re reading, most people aren’t exactly bouncing off the walls with energy and enthusiasm. They’re probably bored, maybe a little depressed, and almost definitely tired.
And they’re looking for something, anything, that’ll wake them up and make them feel better.
The good news?
Your writing can do that for them.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Encouragement Words
Here’s an example email from Mirasee:
Want to give your readers a pep talk and get them charged up again? Want to encourage them?
Use these persuasive words:
3. Lust Power Words
Like it or not, lust is one of the core human emotions.
Just look at the men’s and women’s magazines in the checkout aisle, and you’ll see what I mean. Nearly every headline on the cover is either blatantly or indirectly about sex.
As a writer, you can use words that inspire lust to make almost anything intriguing.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Lust Words
See if you can spot the lust words in this headline from Cosmopolitan:
Here’s a lascivious list of descriptive words to get you started:
4. Anger Power Words
As writers, sometimes our job is to anger people.
Not for the fun of it, mind you, but because someone is doing something wrong, and the community needs to take action to correct it.
The problem is, with wrongdoing, most people are pretty apathetic – they’ll wait until the situation becomes entirely intolerable to do anything, and by then, it’s often too late.
So, we have to fan the flames.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Anger Words
The authors of this Forbes headline don’t pull any punches:
If you want to connect with people’s anger and slowly but surely work them into a frenzy, use the power words below.
Just be careful who you target. Lawyers can eat you alive if you pick on the wrong person. 🙂
5. Greed Power Words
The legendary copywriter Gary Halbert once said, “If you want people to buy something, stomp on their greed glands until they bleed.” Graphic, yes, but also true.
Skim through good sales copy on an e-commerce site, and you’ll find a lot of power words based on vanity or greed. Many of them are so overused they’ve become cliché, but that doesn’t stop them from working.
The truth is, nearly every human being on the planet is interested in either saving or making money.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Greed Words
Its explicit and implicit use of greed words makes this popular book from Dave Ramsey a great example:
“Money” is hard to miss – it’s probably the ultimate greed word and it’s sitting there in capital letters.
But a title like “Total Money Makeover” also implies another greed word (even though it doesn’t directly state it): money-saving.
(It also gets bonus points for using alliteration and the safety power word “proven”, which we’ll discuss in a moment.)
If you want to stomp (which is also an excellent example of onomatopoeia, by the way) on your readers’ greed glands, use these power words:
6. Safety Power Words
They need to trust both you and your product or service. They need to have confidence you’ll deliver, and they need to believe they’ll get results.
Of course, building that kind of trust starts with having a quality brand and reputation, but the words you use to describe yourself and your product or service also matter.
How to Crank Up Emotion with Safety Words
On the landing page for one of our Smart Blogger courses, we use power words to make sure our potential customers feel safe:
They work for us, and they can work for you.
Help your customers feel safe by using as many of these power words as possible:
7. Forbidden Power Words
Remember when you were a kid, and someone told you NOT to do something? From that point on, you could think about little else, right? Curiosity always got the better of us.
The truth is, we’re all fascinated by the mysterious and forbidden. It’s like it’s programmed into our very nature.
So why not tap into that programming?
How to Crank Up Emotion with Forbidden Words
This Ahrefs article tempts you with its headline:
Whenever you want to create curiosity, sprinkle these power words throughout your writing, and readers won’t be able to help being intrigued:
Now that we’ve looked at the different types of power words (and gone over a few quick examples), let’s go over all the different places you can use them:
1. Using Power Words in Headlines
Any writer or blogger who’s been in the game for a while knows the headline is the most important part of writing your blog post.
Its purpose, after all, is to entice the reader to read the rest of your content. If your headline fails to get attention, potential readers will ignore it when it shows up in their tweets and social media feeds.
And just one or two power words in your headline is usually enough to make it stand out.
Just look at this headline from BuzzFeed:
Here’s another example from BoredPanda:
The headline then drives it home by using the powerful verb “Conquer.”
Here’s one from BrightSide:
It’s one of our most-popular posts, and its headline’s use of power words is a big reason why.
3. Using Power Words in Email Subject Lines
Having an email list is of little use if only a handful of readers bother to open your emails.
And these days, most people’s inboxes are flooded, so they’re selective in which emails they open.
You can stand out in their inbox and raise your open rates by including power words in your subject lines.
Just look at this one from Ramit Sethi:
Here’s another one from Cal Fussman:
And finally, here’s a good example from AppSumo:
See how that works?
When you send out emails to your list, try to add a power word to your subject line so it stands out in readers’ inboxes.
4. Using Power Words in Opt-In Boxes
As a blogger, one of your main goals is to grow a large and engaged readership, and the best way to do it is by converting readers into subscribers.
That means – unless you’re using a blogging platform like Medium which doesn’t allow them – you should have opt-in forms scattered across your website.
You can place them on your homepage, at the end of your posts, in your sidebar, in a popup, or anywhere else.
But no matter where you place them, your opt-in boxes must catch people’s eye and make them want to share their email address with you. Because they won’t give it away to just anyone.
(Remember, their inboxes are already flooded, so they’re not necessarily eager to get even more emails.)
Fortunately, you can use power words to make your offer more enticing.
As an example, here’s an old popup from Cosmopolitan:
Here’s a slightly more subtle example from Betty Means Business:
Again, you don’t have to overdo it with the power words on these. A little can go a long way.
Here’s one final example from Renegade Planner:
If you’re not using power words in your opt-in boxes, you’re missing out.
5. Using Power Words on Your Homepage
Your homepage is the face of your website and it’s usually one of the most visited pages. Many people who visit your website will see this page first, so you want it to make a good first impression.
Some people use their homepage to promote their email list, others use it to promote one of their products, and others use it as a red carpet – welcoming new visitors and explaining what their site is all about.
In any case, your homepage is a good spot to add a few power words, as it can determine whether people stay (and take the action you want them to take) or leave (never to return).
Look at this value proposition on the homepage for Nerd Fitness:
But they push it even further with “Strong,” “Healthy,” and “Permanently.”
Here’s another value proposition from MainStreetHost’s homepage:
Of course, you don’t have to limit your use of power words to the top of your homepage.
You can use it in other parts of the homepage too, as Ramit Sethi does here in his list of what you’ll get when you sign up for his email list:
6. Using Power Words in Business Names/Blog Names
Having a forgettable name is poison to your website’s growth. So when you start a blog, you want to make sure you have a name people can easily recall.
If you haven’t chosen your blog name yet (or if you’re thinking about rebranding), you should use a power word to give it some punch. It’ll make you stand out from all the boring, forgettable brands out there.
Just take a look at the collection of blog names below and see how well they’ve incorporated power words:
Just like you can use power words to spruce up your blog name, you can also use them to make your product names pack more of a punch.
It can make the difference between your potential customers thinking, “Ooh, this product sounds cool!” and them thinking, “Meh.”
Just check out this subscription product from Nerd Fitness:
Here’s another good example from Pat Flynn:
So if you’re about to launch a product (or if you’ve launched a product with a tepid name), consider giving it a power word to make it pack a punch.
8. Using Power Words on Sales Pages
You can also use power words to spruce up your sales pages and make them more effective at selling your e-commerce products or services.
They will grab people’s attention when they arrive on the page, they will keep their attention as they scroll down, and they’ll help seduce readers before they reach your “buy” button.
Just look at this headline on Ramit Sethi’s sales page for his product 50 Proven Email Scripts (which also has a power word in its name):
Power words are also tremendously effective in testimonials.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you change people’s testimonials to include power words. But you can certainly select the ones that already use them to great effect.
Just look at this example from Betty Means Business:
10. Using Power Words in Bullet Lists
Many sales pages include a list of benefits of the product they’re selling. Many opt-in forms include a huge list of reasons you should sign up to their email list. And many case studies use bullet lists to quickly summarize information.
You can use power words in these lists to inspire more excitement in your reader as they read through them.
Here’s one example from Ramit Sethi’s sales page for his How to Talk to Anyone course:
11. Using Power Words in Button Copy and CTA (Call to Action)
Yep, you can use power words in your button copy too – even if you only have a few words you can fit in there.
One of the most common power words used in buttons is “Free” (as in the example below):
Takes this button from the sales page for the book The Renegade Diet:
Here’s an example from Tim Ferris:
Now take a look at the buttons on your site.
Do you see any opportunities to spruce them up with a power word?
12. Using Power Words in Author Bios
Your author bio is another extremely important part of your marketing.
That means your author bio needs to spark attention and interest. And you usually only get three sentences, so you need to carefully consider the words you use.
As an example, here’s the author bio from Henneke Duistermaat in her post on overcoming writer’s block:
You can tell she has carefully picked each perfect word for maximum impact.
Makes you want to get your hands on that report, doesn’t it?
13. Using Power Words on YouTube Videos
If you’re publishing videos on YouTube and you want to get more views, you should use power words in your titles.
All the biggest YouTube channels do this.
They understand most of their views will come from their subscribers finding them in their feeds, and from people finding them in the sidebar of other videos.
In both cases, you’re competing with many other videos for their attention. If you want your video to stand out and be the one they choose to watch, your title has to be captivating.
See how Philip DeFranco does it below:
Note also how he has capitalized “Disgusting.” It’s another smart trick many YouTube channels use to stand out more in YouTube’s lists of video suggestions.
Style vlogger Aaron Marino often does it as well:
14. Using Power Words in Book Titles
If you’re interested in writing your own book, adding power words to your titles will help it sell better.
With all the competition in the book market these days, you need a title that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to peek inside.
Here are a few quick grabs from Amazon’s list of bestsellers in the self-help niche:
I’m sure you’ve seen this title before.
You might say Stephen Covey’s use of power words in his title has been highly effective. (See what I did there?)
Mark Manson’s bestselling title is packed with power.
The power word “Subtle” juxtaposes well with the F-bomb in the title, and his use of “Counterintuitive” will spark some interest as well.
Lastly, Jen Sincero’s encouraging book title makes you want to flip it open and read it in one go.
The use of “Badass” alone will make it stand out in the self-development section, but her use of “Greatness” and “Awesome” in the subtitle truly seals the deal.
Go Ahead and Tell Me. What Powerful Words Did I Miss?
They’re known by many names…
Emotion words. Good words. Strong words. Powerful words, creative words, sensory words, trigger words, persuasive words, descriptive words, impactful words, interesting words, positive words, unique words, and even – yes, seriously – awesome words.
But whatever you call them; smart, attractive people such as yourself have mastered the strategic use of power words and use them every day to pack their writing with emotion so they can increase conversions.
Yes, this is an enormous list of words, but with so many power words and power phrases available, you’d need a thesaurus or Word of the Day dictionary to catch every single word on the first pass. (Plus, new words seem to be added to the English language every day.)
What are some other good words that seem to have that extra little spark of emotion inside them? Do you have favorite power words?