words that sell - the 10 most influential words in the english language

Words That Sell

Words have Power!

Both emotionally and physically.

Some will make you tense up, the muscles tighten, you might even get a funny feeling in your stomach.

Words like “Fear”, “Uncertainty”, “Debt”, “Problem” or “War” tend to do that.

On the other hand, words like “Bliss”, “Hope”, “Joy” and “Freedom” can make your whole body feel expansive and grand. It’s an AWEsome feeling. Physically, just as much as emotionally.

Words stimulate different Areas in your Brain

Scientific research has shown a correlation between words and the various areas of our brain, each triggering a different response and very much affecting our decision making.

That’s why words are so important in advertising and that’s why copywriters – especially those who write magazine headlines – are some of highest paid professionals in the world.

Writers who know how to trigger specific emotions can easily influence their readers – without them realizing it…

The “right” choice of words can dramatically increase conversions – be it a sale, finding new followers on social media, readers for your blog posts, or attracting clients for your services.

The secret is to tap into your reader’s emotions and to understand the underlying feeling each word evokes.

Let’s look at a few examples by copywriter Belinda Weaver and observe how just a few word changes can make a dramatic difference:

An Offer

This discount is available until midnight on Friday.


This exclusive discount offer is only available until midnight. Act now!


A Call to Action

Download the party plan e-guide and start planning your next party.


Download this free party plan to discover 11 simple secrets to hosting parties everyone raves about.


 A Brochure Headline

Our new product is helping millions.


Revealed! The exciting breakthrough that is helping millions … Can it help YOU, too?

Words can change your Brain

Did you know that even a single word can set your brain to relax – or brace itself for stress?

The awesome book Words Can Change Your Brain tells us:

“A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Hearing positive words strengthens areas in our frontal lobes and activates the brain’s cognitive functioning.

But even a single negative word activates our amygdala, the region of our brain that processes fear. And in turn, releases stress-producing hormones that disrupt our brain’s functioning.


The Decision-Making Process is largely based on Feeling, not Information

According to Dr. Frank Luntz, author of, Words that Work: It’s not what you say, It’s what people hear, the words that people hear affect their decision-making, and this process is largely based on feeling rather than information.

“80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect.”

If you want to generate a reaction in your reader, you must dig into the emotional and psychological impact of the words you write.

Injecting your text with “feeling” words like “cozy” instead of “small” or “colossal” instead of “large” can instantly produce a vivid picture in your reader’s imagination.

Think about how you want someone to feel or what you want them to think about, and choose a word from that category.

Now lets look at 10 of the most influential words in the English language. Any experienced marketer will recognized them instantly:

The 10 most influential Words in the English Language

#1 – YOU (or your name)

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” ~ Dale Carnegie

The word “You” works as a substitute for a person’s name, and we immediately connect when we hear our name.

A study conducted by The Institute for the Study of Child Development found that hearing or seeing our name activates specific parts of our brain, namely the prefrontal cortex, middle and superior temporal cortex.

People naturally pay more attention when their name is mentioned in correspondence or a conversation.

Of course, you can’t mention a person’s name all the time, especially in an article or book, so “You” is a good substitute with similar effect.

Not surprisingly, “You” is the most commonly used word in online advertising.

#2 – VALUE

“Customers don’t care about features and benefits. They only care about value and achieving their objectives.” ~ Colleen Francis in Nonstop Sales Boom

Closely connected to #1 – your readers, clients or customers are not interested in all the features and skills you may have to offer, but only in the one important question:

“What’s in it for me?”

The key to attracting followers, readers or customers is to clearly define what VALUE your writing or product has to them.

They are not much interested to hear about your marvelous product, but rather how it improves their lives.

Write with that objective in mind – from their perspective. Be it an article, a sale’s letter or – most importantly – a headline.


#3 – FREE

Everybody loves FREE.

The Power of that one word cannot be overstated!

Dan Ariely featured a fascinating study in his book Predictably Irrational, where he examined a very unusual “battle” between Lindt chocolate truffles and Hershey’s Kisses.

Initially, the kisses were offered a 1c and the truffles at 15c, about half their value at the time.

Marketing Strategies - how words affect our brain

When consumers were asked to choose, 73% chose the truffle, because 15c was perceived a great bargain.

Next, both lowered their prices by 1c, leaving the kisses at 0 = FREE!

Marketing Strategies - how words affect our brain

The results were startling:

69% now chose the free kisses, rather than the bargain of the truffle.

In other words, the power of free had a far greater attraction than even a great bargain!

Ariely points to loss aversion (our disdain for losing out on things) and our natural instinct to go after the “low hanging fruit” as the main reasons with our obsession with “FREE”.



A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.

Roberto Cialdini, Author of “Influence”

In 1977, Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University, conducted a study to test the impact of phrasing on people’s willingness to let someone cut the line.

Here are the variations she used:

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

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

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

While only 70% agreed to let her cut the line with the first phrase, upwards of 90% let her skip when she used either the second and third.

Giving people a reason to do something is incredibly powerful. The surprising thing is that it doesn’t even have to be a great reason as in this case.

“Because” is a powerhouse!

#5 – NOW

This handy word encourages people to act. It creates a sense of urgency. Usually “now” is used as part of a call to action: “Shop now”, “Act now”, “Subscribe now”.

Or with the implied meaning of: “Limited-time offer”, “Only 1 spot left”.



Similarly, immediate words like “instantly” trigger mid-brain activity and feed our zest for quick gratification.

If we can get access to something immediately, our brain jumps on it like a shark.

#7 – EASY

We all like things to be easy and quick. Adding this word in a headline or sales copy, releases a lot of resistance, because….what can go wrong. It’s easy, right?


In a similar vain, offering a “secret tip” or “secret strategy”, feels like a short cut. And we all love things easy!

The word “Secret” also evokes a sense of exclusivity, or belonging – one of our most primal urges. We all love to be special, be part of a special group and have access to tools and information that are reserved only for a special few.

The word “secret” in a headline peaks your reader’s interest, because none of us want to be left out. We want to be on the “in” of things. The “smart” people that know stuff.


Similar to “Secret” without the exclusivity. “Surprising” churns our curiosity. We have to know, it’s irresistible. And we’ll likely click on that headline, just to find out – or be left wondering for the rest of the day….


This is a big one for tapping into people’s emotions and feelings. Visualizing the result your article, book, product or service will bring to a reader is incredibly powerful.

Rather than focusing on features, you once again tap into the “What’s in it for me?” question that’s on every reader’s or customer’s mind.

Once they start to feel and live what your solution will offer them, they are much more open to hear more.


There you have it…. 10 of the most influential words in the English language.

Another must-have writing tool are so-called “Power Words”. Words that allow you to tap deeply into your reader’s emotions and craft irresistable headlines.

This is an awesome list of 355+ Power words – grouped by the emotion they trigger.

Add a few in your headlines and sprinkle some throughout your text, and you will amazed how much better your readers will respond.

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