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How to Use Power Words in Content and Copy

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Updated 3.8.24

Power words are terms and phrases that move prospects to act.

These words have been tested and proven to elicit an emotional response in readers. Because they arouse passions and feelings, the prospect is propelled to take action and give.

In print (way before the internet had ever even been invented), copywriters include these words in ads, direct mail, and brochures as a tried and true strategy to boost response. Copywriters have since discovered that these same words also have an impact in online copy, too. They help prospects step over the line while online – and take the next step in getting engaged with your nonprofit.

#Writing Tip! 36 power words to use in #content writing and #copywriting with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Power Words Are ... Powerful 

  • These words have an immediate impact. They stir up urgency.
  • These words arouse emotions. They get people excited about your work and your cause.
  • These words motivate. They help people overcome inertia and take positive action.

What Are They? Let's Name Names

Dozens of words are powerful in copy. Here are three lists to get your started.

12 easy-to-use power words

These are words that you can weave into the copy for almost any piece for almost any nonprofit.

12 words of urgency

These words spur prospects to action and motivate him to take the next step.

  • Deadline
  • Discover 
  • Exciting
  • Here
  • How to
  • Instantly
  • Now
  • Opportunity
  • Powerful
  • Remarkable
  • Reveal
  • Urgent

12 words that arouse emotion

These words make juices flow and the blood boil. They’re particularly effective in headlines, your hook, and subheads.

  • Absolutely
  • Affordable
  • Astonishing
  • Authentic
  • Change
  • Dangerous

  • Exciting
  • Friend
  • Home
  • Substantial
  • Successful
  • Transform

The Most Significant Word

Power words with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Of the words on these lists, “You” is likely the most significant. Writing the word “you” in the copy personalizes the experience for the reader. It’s a word that has proven to be incredibly powerful in both the online and offline copywriting world to raise conversion rates. Further, by writing in the second person point of view and using “you,” your copy becomes a conversation. (Read more about this in How to Make the “You Rule” Work for You.)

Where to Use Them

  • In headlines, titles, subject lines, and the first and last paragraphs of your copy, these words inject immediate urgency
  • In the call to action, close, and P.S., these words help close the deal.
  • When sprinkled throughout the copy, these words strengthen pull and heighten emotion.

Extra Tips

  • Pay attention to how many places you see these words in web copy and direct mail, or hear them in radio and television ads. You may be surprised how often you notice them. They work.
  • Don’t be heavy-handed as you use power words. It’s easy to overdo, and then these words lost their impact. Treat these words like salt. Use them enough to enhance the taste of your piece, but don’t let them dominate the flavor.

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