If content is King, then the power that controls the kingdom is words. Thus, in marketing ventures, it has to be understood that words can manipulate sales; they can steer your whole marketing strategy towards success and call people to action.

Now, isn’t it the goal of content and marketing to call people to action? If your answer is yes, then you might consider these words to help you.

Word Power

In a study conducted by researchers from University of Texas, it has been found that people remember roughly 20% of what they hear but only retain 10% of what they read. Now, given this challenge, the only way that marketers can make sure they stick in the reader’s memory is by using words that are memorable, appeal to emotion or that may prompt them to act on what is asked.

There are different kinds of words that may get people to action. Sometimes these words may vary depending on the individual; their biological and personality traits. For example, Asians may have different stimulus-response compared to Caucasians when it comes to marketing. But all in all, there can be words that are so powerful they may break through the barriers of culture and language. These very familiar words may grab the reader’s attention.

In a case study of the Visual Website Optimizer for a client, they have done a split test to see if certain words in the copy can make a difference in click through. This has been implemented in headlines. The first words were “Men’s Clothing”. After changing it to “Order Men’s Clothing Easily for Bargain Prices”, the conversion rates turned to 127%.

Together with other studies, this has established that words that suggest that you may save money can elicit a greater amount of responses. This includes words like sale, free, discount and affordable.

Here are some power words and their uses:

In the word cloud below is the 48 Ubiquitous Power Words as compiled by Linda Ruth and Curtis Circulation Company,

Cloud 1

According to expert marketers, viral posts usually include words in the cloud below.

Cloud 2 - Copy

Shopify also pointed out 4 magic words that will increase sales: you, free, new and guaranteed.

Cloud 3

David Ogilvy on the other hand pointed out 20 most influential words that may persuade and influence a reader’s opinion:

Cloud 4

These sets of words are just a few which may affect consumerism and marketing. Now, let’s examine 20 of them and check out some famous brands known for using these words.

YOU

There will always be a bit of ego-centrism in every one of us. We love to think of ourselves and what possible benefit we could have from certain things, products and services.

Using the word “you” in marketing pitches often appeals to consumers. It’s like talking to them directly and subconsciously, the mind perceives this as a positive thing, creating connections.

“You” is used in eCommerce, print ads and TV ads. See this ad from Apple:

1 You

The word you has been utilized in the ad. In recent practices though, in emails for example, many may like to see their own names than the word you. However, this can’t be possible in other content marketing plots. This can only be utilized in emails.

FREE

Well, I must admit that I am guilty of being a slave of this word no matter how much I know about the psychology behind it. Recently, I was browsing an online store for some bits and pieces to buy. I was about to close the browser when something caught my eye for the product I was ogling (a portable projector).

“Free shipping!” Yes… I bought it.

From a psychological perspective, humans tend to go for those things that will benefit them and what they can’t afford to lose. It’s called loss aversion, where free things cannot be passed up. No matter how beneficial product A might be, if product B advertises something as “free”, it is more likely to be chosen.

The word free may not only be used in products, it is also attached to support, information and guides. Join free, receive our free courses, we offer free tech support, etc.

So how does “free” increase sales? Often, it can start a relationship with future loyal customers. Using the word free sparingly should also be practiced. Sometimes it can attract people but it cannot establish long term customers. So use it correctly, not too often and make sure it makes sense.

Here’s the word “free” used in an ad, screenshot from Samsung and from Sony:

2 free3

2 free

And another screenshot in an email sign-up for mailchimp:

2 free2NEW

I might just be one of the only people whose attention isn’t grabbed by this word. I mean, I’d rather eat in an old place I know than be in a new restaurant. However, the word “NEW” does appeal to many consumers. It stems from the idea that new is associated with adventure.

With changes in the marketing industry and consumer taste over time, almost all industries create new products, refurbish old packages or change old looks. And the obsession with the word new extends to the human’s need for newer products, newer clothes, newer cars, newer houses, and new adventures.

New certainly appeals to the fast-paced development of the tech industry. For example, the way Apple keeps revamping its iPhone. Although many people are finding their Iphone 5s in very good condition (given it was just released last September) the word “new” that will be tied with the release of iPhone 6 will see many consumers dump their older phone in favour of the new one.

A screenshot of example ads from Mango :

new

from JCrew:

new2

GUARANTEED

The word guaranteed may seem overused and I often associate it with the door-to-door salesman’s empty promises but it still holds a seat on the throne in the marketing world.

Like words that induce trust, safety and security (i.e. authentic, certified, endorsed, best-selling, privacy, refund, no-risk and many more), the word guaranteed can also elicit that feeling of safety expected by customers.

Here’s an ad with the word GUARANTEE from ebay:

guarantee

BECAUSE

People want reasons. Reasons convince the audience consciously and subconsciously. Thus, the word because may elicit that feeling of assurance. This is due to the fact that the human brain naturally asks “why” of things. It’s akin to “why is Apple tagged to be superior among its counterparts?” and “Why am I buying these doughnuts?”

In a study performed by Ellen Langer, a Harvard professor, she tried to push-in in a line to photocopy some papers at a library. She had prepared three parts for this with three ready made speeches. For the first part of the experiment, she used the line:

Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?

This line had 60% positive response. Meaning 60% of those she asked agreed.

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

This line had 94% positive response.

In the third line, she said:

“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

Sociallypsyched.com discussed the whole thing in this video, Xerox Mindfulness Experiment.

Although the third line said something for at reason, it only got 93% of positive response. Why then is it lower than the 2nd reason? Because the second line is a legitimate reason while the third line seemed fairly insignificant, since everyone needed to get copies too. The first line made use of a Request Only technique, the second one, the Placebic Information and the third one the Real Information.

A slogan from L’Oreal:because

EXCLUSIVE

Who wouldn’t want an exclusive offer? Exclusive means it’s just for the person reading it. But online marketers should be careful with this. When it’s exclusive then it should really be offered exclusively.

The word exclusive offers benefits to those who want the offer and even the product. Crazyegg.com describes this power word as a “velvet rope” and a “powerful metaphor”.

Here’s an example of ad that makes use of the word. Screenshot from Dell.

exclu2

 

EASY

The world today is littered with all things that are fast; fast food, 5-minute fixes and we-do-it-while-you-wait plots. The word easy seems to offer consumers an easier life, minus complications.

Therefore, the word should be used for product and services that will benefit a person’s work or way of life, something that can ease a consumer’s burden.

Consider this blog feature from freetech4teachers:

easy

IMMEDIATELY

Same with the word easy, people today like everything in an instant. Fast tracking everything is now a way of life. And with all the things that are happening in today’s busy and exciting lifestyle, who has the time to go idle even for a minute?

The word “immediately” together with “fast” and “instant” can trigger the subconscious mind. This word can make or break an ad campaign. For example, a quick and immediate response from the Q&A or Help Desk of a company can give the complete nudge for a reluctant customer to become a loyal customer.

The next big step is to deliver the promise. As touched on in an article by CopyBlogger, over delivering is even better, whenever it’s possible.

Well, see this from Forbes in a feature article.

immediately

and an ad from savemyrupee:

immediately

 

SAVINGS

People today are interested in buying something if they can get a great deal for it. For example, in a supermarket, a favourite chocolate of yours may be discounted, even advertising the amount of the money you will be saving. Subconsciously, the mind will perceive this as an advantage.

Words are all about implication; the word savings doesn’t just appeal to human consciousness due to consumerism, it also implies a positive light when associated with saved time, effort and money.

This one’s from aarp:

aarpor saveand another from MilleniumHotels:

save

INCREASE

Increase is perceived as a positive thing. Increase is associated with growth and prosperity, thus it has become a must in most marketing strategies. The word can be related to time, conversion, ROI, popularity, etc.

Increase is also used by many to provide tangible value, one that will really see some transformation.

Here the word increase is used in a feature article. Screenshot is from BodyBuilding:

increase

***

There is no doubt that words have power. The way you wield them for your own benefit can be the key to positive results. Words have the power to talk to our subconscious, which makes up a big part of our decision making policies. So, in marketing choose words carefully and use them wisely.

featured image: RLHyde via flickr

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.