Wacky fonts, pun-filled headlines, and ad copy pales before the power of power words. The English language is packed with punchy action verbs, adjectives, and declarative combinations that are capable of turning heads and dragging cursors over the “Click Here” button you publish on newsletters and in email.
Web-copy and ads are tough for any marketer to write. They may understand what needs to be said (follow us on Facebook, buy this product, click this link, etc.) but struggle to find the right way to say it. But this isn’t a lesson on grammar and linguistics. Writing the copy is up to you, but it never hurts to load a few power words into your arsenal.
Power Words Pack Punches
Put simply, sales-driven words like compelling, critical, ensure, exciting, dependable, and dozens of others are capable of reinvigorating your ad copy. Whether you’re selling buckets of silica sand or microprocessors, having the right words for the job is essential. They touch a nerve in the reader who says in response, “Hey, this sounds great — why shouldn’t I buy/click/follow/read this?”
The key is weaving power words into marketing copy so they are neither overwhelming nor ambivalent. The typical product/service email may only have 200 words; half of that is used to describe the premise, and the rest is meant to set up the snare. The rest is the fabled “call to action,” or the pretense for someone to convert (i.e. click a link or buy a product).
You need to insert power words throughout the copy to keep readers interested and excited. Using clear-cut, compelling power words is a verified method for improving results. Personalization, of course, is another way to convince certain target groups to take action.
Personalizing With Power Words
Emails have three fates:
1) To rot in a flooded inbox.
2) To be filed away and unopened (thank you, spam detectors).
3) To be read and acted upon.
The first two fates are more common due to the influx of email marketing over the past years. These sappy, uninteresting and mass-produced emails attempt to tap into that small readership. It’s a shotgun approach to the problem but also a good way to kill off (i.e. get reported as spam) potential consumers.
Proficient marketers are able to create multiple versions of the same email with intermingling personalization. They know who reads what and who goes for the call to action. The most avid readers, for instance, may want something a bit more in-depth and informative. Those who never open emails might need a hook — not to mention a powerful subject line — to reel them in. This is only one step in the personalization process. If you can pull it off without sounding like a pre-recorded message, try adding a reader’s name to the addressee line and typing up a personal statement.
The Building Blocks of Power Words
So what makes a power word? Adjectives, adverbs, verbs, pseudo-prepositions (like “top 10”), and other parts of speech can all be considered power words. If you print off an email and have a coworker underline or highlight the words that jump out, the marked words are likely the most active and exciting.
Still confused? Check out some news headlines. These are great sources of inspiration for subject lines in emails and newsletters, too, and it never hurts to practice rewriting the same headline a dozen times to test out the power of different words. Consider the following:
Dean Hoyt Discovers Previously Unknown Pathogen
Dean Hoyt Unlocks Secret to Pathogen Crisis
How to Write Content for Online Audiences
Writing Winning Content to Boost Online Readership
Mark’s Career Path Ends in Legal Battle
Mark’s Meteoric Rise Crashes in the Courtroom
Which ones are more compelling? Which would you click on? The second phrase iterations say pretty much the same thing (with a few different details) as the first, though they substitute common words for action-packed and uncommon ones.
Rewriting phrases with a list of power words is a proactive way to solve a no-click readership crisis. Here are a few power words to consider slipping into your ad copy and marketing content:
Yes — these words, when used incorrectly, can lead to overly-promotional phrases. The key is to use them sparingly and to whip out the thesaurus to find power words that work. As a side note, never “overdo” your verbiage to sound loftier than your readership. Bring it down a notch and never hide what you’re trying to communicate.
2 responses to “Fortifying Web-Copy With Power Words”
And there you have it! Time to really think about whether I’m using (or effectively using) power words in my copy. So “it’s back to the lab again…stepwritin’ [or re-writin’] the next cypher.” to quote Mr. Mathers. Thanks for sharing another timely, insightful post!
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