Some Words Are Mightier Than the Sword: Powerful Words to Trigger Emotions

I look at and study a lot of copywriting and get asked frequently to review and critique other people’s sales copy.

Time and time again I find the same things missing and one of the most important missing elements are “Power Words”.

"Power Words" to use for powerful copyPower Words are a great way to improve your conversions and to grab the prospects emotions and should be used, judiciously, in all your sales copy.

They are so important that I have a list of the most powerful ones pasted to my wall just next to the computer screen I am writing this on.

The best words make the reader “feel” and “imagine” an object, scene or situation; note imagine can be a great power word!

How they work is they tap into some of the more “primal” emotions and desires and trigger off more intense reactions than other words. Of course, not all words will trigger absolutely everyone but true power words will draw out stronger emotions is almost everyone.

The most common example, and the one some people call “the most powerful word in the English language”, is the word free.

The reason is people love to get something for nothing. This probably goes back to “cave man” days when it could be the difference between surviving and not surviving.

Another, non-marketing example that has power is the proverbial screaming “fire”, it usually trigger a strong emotional (and physical!) response.

With Power Words so critical in a sales letter and so many people are neglecting them I’m going to look at how to use them to really improve your conversions and your profits.

Psychology professors at Yale did a study of the English language and found that some words have significantly more “power”, that is, trigger stronger emotions, than other words. Their top 10 list of the “most powerful words”, and how to use them, is:

  1. You: It was the most powerful word in every study reviewed. Try to put it in very important spots in your copy like your headlines, opening paragraphs, benefit lists, etc.
  2. Results: This makes people feel more confident and comfortable with the product or service and helps them get beyond their natural skepticism. Put results in several places, after making claims and a reminder near the purchase button.
  3. Health: Not a general marketing word but it can be used to good effect when it is applicable
  4. Guarantee: A huge part of risk reversal, it helps ease fears of “being taken advantage of” and “making a bad decision”. The stronger the guarantee, from the point of view of the prospect, the better your conversions with be
  5. Discover: People like to know this others don’t know and discovering something new adds some additional excitement. This is used when you are initially talking about your product or service as well as several places elsewhere to reinforce the message.
  6. Love: Like health not a general marketing word but powerful when it can be used. Love, after all, is something everybody strives for from birth
  7. Proven: Like results and guarantee this overcomes fear and skepticism. It is particularly good used after an announcement or claim that may seem astonishing or remarkable and the proof should be more remarkable than the claim.
  8. Safety: Not specifically general although it can be used effectively in risk reversal sections.
  9. Save: People want to keep more of what they have while getting more of what they want. This can be used to good effect throughout your copy.
  10. New: Similar to discovery people most like things new both for the novelty and also for the “I have it and you don’t and that gives me a advantage” factor.

While many, if not most, of those words are on the standard lists of power words but, in truth, copywriters use additional and “stronger” power words, ones that dig deep and bring out visceral feelings; that is, words that affect a person’s inner core and produces almost overwhelming emotions.

A selection of these strong words that are on the list on my wall are: Announcing, Astonishing, Easy, Exclusive, Fast, Hurry, Last Chance, Limited, Phenomenal, Powerful, Revealing, Secret, Startling and Urgent.

They are all picked because of the psychological triggering of emotions they invoke in most people.

In addition to individual words here are some phrases that are powerful “Power Phrases:

  • “At last, …”
  • “Best of all, …”
  • “I’ve got good news for you …”
  • “Listen closely, …”
  • “Buy one, get one free”
  • “Major Breakthrough in …”
  • “Do you make these mistakes …”
  • “The most powerful …”
  • “How to get …”
  • “Can you imagine …” and “Just imagine …”

Just remember, the copy (the words on your Web page) should lead the prospect down the path you wish them to go; this is similar to using the carrot to get the horse to go in the direction you want it to.

You do this by invoking a planned series of emotional triggers, one after the other, so that the prospect eventually “decides on their own” that they want what you provide.

And the way you invoke those emotions is through words and Power Words are a key aspect of that.

Sign up for my free copywriting course to learn more about Power Words, emotional triggers and copywriting:

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Comment and let me know some of your favorite Power Words and Phrases.

Talk soon,

The Shameless (Ethical) Marketer

O.Y. The person who was, and continues to be, the most instrumental person in teaching me copywriting is Dan Kennedy. You can get 2 free months of his Inner Circle newsletter by going to

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8 comments to Some Words Are Mightier Than the Sword: Powerful Words to Trigger Emotions

  • “You” gets the number one slot. Not surprising! What IS surprising is the amount of copy that devolves into first person narrative, never considering the reader and rarely using “you”.

  • David Husnian

    Oh yeah, I agree!

    We do this, we have that, … we, us, our, me, etc., etc.

    Such a big mistake and thanks for pointing it out.

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