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The top 10 most powerful words in the English language: Improve your copywriting
Are you a copywriter or someone charged with writing copy, even if you do not consider yourself a copywriter? Then you would do well to study copy-writing and learn the most powerful words to use in your copy. Scroll down to get the list of the top 10 most powerful words in the English language.
I am not a copywriter. Nor is English my first language. Early in my career I acquired a new client purely based on the last minute copy I reluctantly created. I had to write the advertising copy because the “real” copy-writers employed by the agency didn’t have time. As a result – and much to my surprise – the agency won the account based on my amateur copy-writing.
Later I was asked to join another advertising agency. The client wanted to follow me, but insisted that I personally write copy for their advertisements, TV and radio commercials and brochures myself. And so I did for years, even though I never really knew what I was doing. Nor did I know why it worked as well as it did. (this was way before testing was easy)
Keep on studying and improve your copy writing skills
Although I wanted to become a sports journalist when I was a kid, I never considered myself to be a good writer – let alone a copywriter. And I certainly didn’t know the most powerful words in my native Danish or any other language.
Nowadays I am often (put) in a position where I have to write whether I like it or not. For email campaigns and newsletters, blog posts and articles. It gives me pleasure to write copy – especially direct response copy – even if I am no good at it.
But hey – not being good at something shouldn’t stop you from doing it. We need to acquire knowledge to improve. It doesn’t happen without an effort. Personally I find that studying accomplished writers- such as the great direct marketing copy-writer Drayton Bird – helps a lot. These successful copywriters each have their favorite list of powerful words most of which are proven and tested. And both you and I can take inspiration from their experience.
The little details in copy-writing matter more than you think
I realized a long time ago that in copy-writing – just like in many other areas of marketing – the little details matters. For example which words you use. It is proven that some are more powerful words than others.
The psychology department at Yale University allegedly did a study some years ago. In that study they managed to identify the 10 most powerful words in the English language. Study the list and see which of these powerful words will work for you.
Here is your list of the 10 most powerful words in the English language
I have included a bit of commentary to most of the words below. Do please use the comment box to voice your own opinion.
1. You – comes as no surprise. According to copy-writers such as Drayton Bird, you have to use you three times for every one time you use a word like “I”, “me” or “our”. If you have heard me speak publicly, you will know that I often ask the question “who is the most important person in the world?”. And the answer of course is YOU
2. Results – I suppose this is powerful because everyone wants results. Perhaps this is better in a B2B context?
4. Guarantee - this one takes out the fear factor. It makes it much easier to make a decision to buy.
5. Discover - personally I am nuts about adventure, excitement, new things. If the reader is too, the word Discover may work well.
6. Love - hmm. There is another word starting with an S, three letters long, that I think is pretty powerful. But I suppose we all want love, and perhaps even if that means to have love or affection for a product or solution?
7.Proven - when selling anything the word proven is a powerful one. It gives reassurance. Most people do not want to be the guinea pig. Using the word proven in your marketing copy is proven to be effective!
8.Safety – we want love, but also safety. I am personally not convinced that this word is very powerful in many circumstances, but do understand how it is hugely relevant for certain categories of products and services; healthcare for example.
9.Save – save or saving is an all time classic. And I think this one will work years after I have gone to my maker.
10. New - haven’t heard about it before, never seen before, exciting! I am one of those people who buy into this word. New is really exciting to me and many people like me. But I am not sure that my accountant would agree. He may prefer proven over new?
Based on my personal experience testing headlines for just about anything and subject lines for literally thousands of email marketing campaigns and email newsletters, the word “new” and “you” in combination have been quite powerful.
Here are more articles related to writing effective copy for different channels
>> Don’t miss the result of an experiment to find the most powerful English opening word for a Tweet – read that article here
Super advice from copywriter Andy Owen. Click to play or read the full articleRead story
Amazing direct marketing case study. Hristo Radichev talks to Michael LeanderRead story