The evolution of the www has been explosive. Websites are now available in every niche, and every sub niche. We are connected around the world by social media at the tap of a smartphone screen, Websites and the internet have changed the world. It really is that simple.

Brendan Wilde, online expert at, one of the biggest tech companies in Australia and New Zealand, sums it up nicely. “The internet seems saturated, and a jungle, and then a new technology comes along to make it more accessible and useful. It seems to have a life of its own. To get attention these days we really need to tune into the psychology of our visitors. That means web designs that appeal and smooth the message, domain names that facilitate strong branding and website content that resonates and compels action.”

These days there seems to be a psychological explanation behind every human interaction. However, it does make sense because wherever the mind is concerned, a reasonable explanation is involved. In such an elaborate system, nothing happens by accident. Our predispositions are a function of evolutionary psychology and social norms, as well as a lot of other factors.

Our preference for certain colours, pronunciations, and positive affect towards certain items are greatly influenced by previous cognitive associations. Even the way we are favourably disposed to certain web design elements is a function of experience, learning and conditioning.

Words are no different. And when used effectively, they have the ability to convince, stimulate emotion and evoke reaction in people.

To paraphrase a quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “All words are powerful. But some are more powerful than others.” Professional marketers know this, and use it to drive efficiency of their content.

But what is behind this power that makes us so responsive to certain words? How are they able to compel us to make a purchase, or choose one brand of coffee over another? A part of our body can answer that; the brain.

Picking the brain on the psychology of words

Our brain has evolved significantly since the time of our early ancestors. Since we mastered the speech process, it is highly-adapted to recognise language. From spoken word to reading and written words, we can recognise the signals in each sound.

Because we have become extremely good at identifying familiar patterns, we don’t always have to complete the whole word or sentence to understand it. Remember that at your next game of anagrams.

Some words may appear distorted or jumbled up, yet we can decipher what they truly mean. Processing fluency is a term that makes us drawn to certain words. If these words have an aesthetic association or are easy to pronounce, we are likely to form a positive bias towards them.

Simply put, words that make us happy or have a nice ring to them, tend to pique our attention, while we relegate others to the background. There are studies that prove reading words connected with smell and movement activate the olfactory and motor parts of the brain respectively.

For example, reading and thinking about perfumes can trigger the neurons responsible for smell. For this reason, metaphors and sensory language are have more impact than simple descriptive language. They are also easy to remember.

Consider the following sentences, “his face was white as snow” and “his face was pale”. Which do you think drives home the point more?

Now that we have an idea of how the brain processes language. Let’s take a look at 5 powerful words copywriters use to get potential customers interested.

  1. You

It’s easy to see why ‘you’ is a powerful word. Human beings are quite narcissistic by nature and there’s a science behind that. We love to read topics centred around ourselves or addressed to us directly. Brands take advantage of this by writing content in second person most of the time.

Rather than make the message vague, ‘you’ lures in the reader, making it about them. Think about L’Oreal’s world-famous slogan, “Because you’re worth it”.

  1. Because

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what reasons are presented, as long as there is a supporting answer for a statement, the reader is satisfied. This may seem obvious, but customers are already half convinced when a sentence is phrased to present a reason.

We refer to L’Oreal’s slogan again, which by the way is highly effective. In addition to using the magic word ‘you’, tells why with the word ‘Because’. The result? A flattering tagline that tells customers they are special.

  1. Now

Nobody likes to be delayed. Can you think of the last time your flight was delay at the airport? It wasn’t a comfortable one I’m sure. The same principle is applicable in marketing. By telling consumers they can get value ‘now’, copywriters increase the urgency and makes them willing to commit.

Another concept in play here is the principle of instant gratification. People usually want something immediately. Marketers promise they can have it ‘now’.

  1. New

The consumer culture is driven by the hunt for something new. Being the first to know something or own something is often a sign of being influential or ‘cool’. That narcissistic factor comes into force again. In copywriting, and generally every aspect of life, new is associated with higher value and marketer’s use it to promote their products.

  1. Guaranteed

Again, consumers are a sceptical bunch. Having been disappointed in the past, it is important to reassure them of positive expectations. The word ‘guaranteed’ or ‘proven’ is a way copywriters make this happen. This powerful word can be seen in many instances such as “100% Guaranteed customer satisfaction”.

What other words seem to compel you towards taking action? Do share with us in the comments.


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