Trigger a Sales Response with Power Words in Website Copy
The little things matter when it comes to website copy and social media posts — especially the little “power words” you choose to emphasize.
When your objective with writing is to influence action, you must strive to go beyond merely putting words on the page, and focus on how each individual word (and the sentence as a whole) could make the reader react.
Your mission as the copywriter is to use words that inspire them to react in a way that fits with a business’s goals along the sales funnel.
“Power words” or “trigger words” can be your ally along this journey. They are time-tested friends of copywriters, compelling clicks and encouraging sales by their mere presence. They are not magical, but they connect with a reader’s brain in the right places to encourage results.
Studies in neuromarketing have demonstrated that we essentially function with three brains: the ‘new brain’, which thinks, the ‘middle brain,’ which feels, and the ‘old brain,’ which decides based on input from the other two.
Experienced writers know that it is easy enough to give people information which makes them think. But it’s not so easy to get them to feel anything about what they are learning — especially enough to create a deeper connection with the subject.
When people buy, emotion usually has something to do with it.
I’m sure we can all think of a moment when we bought a product because we were frustrated with a situation and that product promised to have the answer.
Or how about a time when you were depressed, and looked for retail therapy?
Or a time when you donated money to a cause because the nonprofit told you something that made you feel sad about the situation?
These feelings can be created with a range of (emotion-dependent) power words like imagine, crave, tragic, agony, embarrass, controversial, rave, and amazing. The more colorful and descriptive the words, the better your audience will be able to connect with them.
Connecting with your readers is about showing them that you understand their needs.
Making statements that show an understanding of cause and effect can help with this — studies have shown that the word because alone works wonders in creating an understanding that compels action, simply by showing the existence of a reason.
Similarly, the use of second person language creates a sense of connection between the writer and the reader (or the company and the customer). When you use the word “you” while writing with that reader in mind, you help them to feel like you are talking directly to them. (See?)
Authentic. No Risk. Money Back Guarantee.
Familiar song… but we like the tune. Power words like this inspire confidence in a product. You become more likely to buy because you believe that something is the real deal, or if you believe the situation will be made right if a problem arises.
Similarly, we love it when we hear something is best-selling. If that many other people like it, we might like it too (or so the idea goes).
We also love to know when something has been endorsed, especially by a celebrity you care about. (The celebrity chosen to endorse a product tells us a lot about the audience who should find the product appealing, at least in the eyes of the company.)
Many people feel uncertain when trying a new product for the first time. Hesitant buyers can be reassured by “No Obligation” language, which lets you know that if you aren’t a fan, you have a way to get out of what you’re signing up for.
Be honest: if you were the first person to find out that there were only three hundred iPhones left in the whole country, wouldn’t you buy one?
Scarcity increases perceived (and even real) value. It also increases a customer’s sense of urgency about buying the product.
That’s why so much advertising relies on setting (and promoting) time frames, using power words like “Limited Time Offer” or “Sale Ends Soon” or “Today Only” or “Only 10 Available.”
After all, sometimes we need limits in order to force us to make a decision.
Create a vision.
When we read sales copy, the question we are actually asking is “what can this product or service do for me?”
Good power words know how to answer that question in many different ways in website copy, creating a vision of the user’s end experience after purchasing the product or service.
This often starts with ramping up the perception of exclusivity, indicating that certain things on a website are “members only”, or that you could be “one of the first to hear about it.” When you find out that a “class is now full”, you want to “become an insider” to get the perks of being part of the club.
If someone is looking for solutions, it also helps to create a vision of answers that are quick and easy, or at the very least proven or an improvement.
The vision we creates defines the experience our customers expect.
Why Power Words Matter
Emotion, connection, trust, urgency, and a vision. It’s a lot to ask of copy that really can’t be too long if it is going to be effective.
That is why the little things — the specific, minute word choices you make — matter so much in crafting website copy that converts.
Jon Morrow, Copyblogger, and the good folks at Buffer have gone before me in creating worthwhile lists of proven trigger words for copywriters to use, and I highly encourage you to explore them as helpful resources.
What can you do to tune up your website copy and make it more engaging for your audience?