One of the main reasons why 9-word emails work so well is that they’re designed to overcome bystander apathy.

Here’s what I mean…

Take a look in your inbox right now. You’ll probably find at least one marketing email. Open that email and start reading it. Notice how it looks and feels like a broadcast, a corporate announcement. Like it’s going out to a big group of people…and you are just one of the many.

When this kind of email asks you to respond, inviting you to apply to an event to answer some questions, I’m sure you don’t normally do it. You know it’s not directed to you specifically, so you ignore it.

So does everyone else!

The first thing they teach you when you take a CPR course is overcoming bystander apathy. If you’re the first on the accident scene, you don’t yell out, “Somebody gets a blanket! Somebody call an ambulance!” Do you know why? Because somebody is somebody else… Which means somebody is nobody.

Instead, they teach you to make eye contact, then point at a person and say, “You, get a blanket. You, call an ambulance.” The odds of those people calling the ambulance and getting that blanket are exponentially higher.

The moment you make eye contact with someone, they know you are now talking to them. They can NOT listen and execute the order. This is exactly what you want to achieve with your emails: Establish “eye contact” with ONE reader… at a time.

Here’s another example:

Imagine you walk into Starbucks, and you recognize somebody in line. You walk right up to them, look them in the eyes and say, “Hey Joe, are you still looking for a dentist?” or, “Are you planning to attend the event this year?” or “I’m getting together with a small group of people on Thursday. Would you like to join us?”

When you do that in real life, when you look that person in the eyes and ask that question, it will be very awkward for them not to say anything.

These 9-word emails are designed to replicate these scenarios:

Even though you send them to the whole list at once, the effect you get is as if you’re sending one email to each subscriber separately. They feel very personal, and people are compelled to reply.

That’s why they work so well even when people KNOW they’re not the only ones getting them 🙂