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Are Weak Verbs Destroying Your Marketing?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Are Weak Verbs Destroying Your Marketing

Increasing organic web traffic is not the sole goal of using content to market your business. Customer conversions and sales define the real reason you develop and publish marketing content.

Getting people to take action after engaging with your materials is where verbs — or action words — come in.

Verbs in marketing content spark human emotion and give website visitors the feeling that they must do something. This desire to take action can result from a sense that your business understands website visitor pain points and could alleviate them, a fear of missing out (FOMO) on something valuable, or a desire to take advantage of a sale or other promotion.

Getting people to feel and act depends on how you use action words in your marketing along with which ones you deploy.

Weak verbs don’t create action. Strong, action-oriented words do.

Your content may help increase awareness of your brand even without the right verbs. However, it won’t have much impact on getting website visitors to take the actions you want them to take, whether it’s to buy something, book an appointment, or offer contact information.

This guide explains key ways to use verbs right so people take action.

Apply Active Voice

Active voice, as the term suggests, gets people to act. Passive voice does not.

Active voice positions the doer of the action as the subject of a sentence. It should be used in marketing content whenever possible. (The exception is when the subject is unknown, which is rare in sales support materials.)

Passive voice, which positions the doer as the object or receiver of the action, should be avoided. Put simply: Passive voice reverses the ideal order of words in a sentence (that is, if your goal is to get readers to act). Passive voice confuses readers and ultimately results in weaker copy with indirect language.

Active voice makes action terms more impactful by not placing them behind a passive verb like “is” or “was.” In the active voice, the action word is the main verb in a sentence (ironically, this previous sentence is written in passive voice). Active voice directly relates to the subject of the sentence, which in marketing material is a prospective customer. Active voice makes them the doer, persuading them to act.

Leverage Action Words in Headlines

The reality: Most readers in today’s congested content environment never make it past the headline of a landing page or blog post.

Headlines are the first thing people encounter when they search online, visit a landing page or scan emails. It’s critical to craft unique, compelling, and action-oriented headlines to get people to read on.

Action words in headlines grab attention and make the intention of your content immediately clear. They also communicate the value of your content.

For example: “Jumpstart your weight loss with these simple exercises” is much more vivid than “Simple exercises to lose weight.”

Use Time-Sensitive Language in CTAs to Get People to Act

Calls to action (CTAs) tell website visitors what you want them to do next. Using engaging verbs and creating a ticking clock will make them resonate more.

For instance, note the urgency of these CTAs:

  • Don’t wait; buy now!

  • Take advantage of today’s limited-time offer!

  • Book now while you can.

Standard, weaker calls to action might look like the following:

  • Learn more.

  • Book an appointment.

  • Sign up.

How to Choose the Right Verbs

Use these proven strategies to select the ideal action words for your content.

Consider Value

Whenever you choose action terms, they must convey the value your brand can deliver to prospective buyers. Put yourself into their heads. Consider what they will get through their interactions with your business.

It could be to “Entertain like a Chef!” by using contracting services to remodel their kitchen or to “Transform your body!” with the assistance of a health club. Leveraging verbs to explain value paints a picture for your prospective customer of what it would be like to engage with your brand. The image generates emotions that motivate a prospective customer to take action.

Keep It Simple

The best action words must be compelling, unique, and even unexpected. They should never be obscure, hard to read, or difficult to relate to. The best action verbs are simple and understandable to the average eighth grader.

Tip: The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score uses sentence and word counts to determine how difficult text is to read. Marketing content that falls between six and eight on its scale is accessible for most people.

Evoke Emotion

Getting people to feel things is a proven, effective marketing strategy. It helps brands make a meaningful connection with consumers. Evoking emotion encourages buyers to buy. The best way to evoke emotion online is by using strong action words tied to what your customers feel. Beyond this, consider how you want your verbs to make them feel. The stronger the emotion, the more likely someone will respond.

Six Types of Powerful Marketing Verbs

Coming up with strong verbs under pressure is challenging. Here are six categories of marketing action words your content needs, along with examples for each.


Verbs and phrases that convey exclusivity give buyers the desire to become members of a club they’re currently not in. Giving website visitors an explicit action they need to take to gain membership is exceptionally effective. Examples include:

  • Apply

  • Subscribe

  • Request

  • Join

  • Book

  • Sign up

  • Gain Access

  • Become a Member


As mentioned earlier, verbs that create a sense of urgency move people by adding an ultimatum. When people feel that there is a short period when they can take advantage of an offer, they’re more likely to make a quick decision to act. Examples:

  • Get it now!

  • Hurry!

  • Don’t forget!

  • Grab yours while you can!

  • Get it today!

  • Act quickly!

  • Save your seat!


The fear of missing out is a natural and powerful motivator for many people, and social media has only amplified this phenomenon. Everyone wants to feel included and in the know, including your potential customers. Examples of FOMO action terms:

  • Don’t miss out!

  • Join countless others already doing it!

  • Attend this one-time-only event!

  • Don’t miss getting on the list!

  • Be one of the first!


Learning something new is a huge motivator for most. Leverage action words that make people feel they’ll come away with useful information if they take action. Educational terms include:

  • Discover

  • Learn

  • Master

  • Become an Expert

  • Explore

  • Find Out


Action words that deliver a big punch of adrenaline get people to respond. Pumped-up verbs include:

  • Transform

  • Jumpstart

  • Launch

  • Accelerate

  • Disrupt

  • Breakthrough

Go Negative

If your brand helps consumers solve problems, going negative could be a good solution for you. Using negative verbs that point to how people can eliminate problems often gets them to act. Examples:

  • Eliminate

  • Stop

  • Reduce

  • Remove

  • Diminish

  • Mitigate

  • Put an End to

Using Verbs Right in Marketing Content: The Bottom Line

Now that we’ve explained how to incorporate action words into your marketing content, isn’t it time you got started? Act now to develop more powerful, actionable materials! (See what we did there?)

Want additional tips on improving your marketing. Find out how to make bad content good.

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