Why some words persuade better than others

What’s actually going on in the brain when it processes language? If different words affect the mind in different ways, which are more persuasive than others?

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One thing I fuss about, especially for Buffer copy, is word choice—simple words, in fact.

Should it say “Hi” or “Hey”? Should it be “cheers” or “thanks”? How about “but” or “and”? I’m guessing you have a similar obsession.

There are many occasions when my Buffer partner Joel and I sit over one line and change it multiple times until we feel it sits right. This is partly to improve our metrics for click rates and other elements, but it’s also to stir an emotion. The key question we ask ourselves is: “How does this make you feel?”

That might sound obvious, and yet it’s a very different question from, “Which message do you want to send?” or, “What is the content of this announcement?” By focusing on “How will this make someone feel?” in writing even a single line, we immediately improved the amount of responses we got from our users.

Let’s dig in to how our brain works and expose some of the most persuasive words in English.

How our brains hear words

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