Why Less Returns More

Have you ever heard of the 9-word email? This unique style of email was developed for a real estate re-engagement campaign by Dean Jackson. The purpose was to be simple and direct using a one-line question that read something like this: Are you still looking for a house in Arizona? That’s it. Simple it may be, but these 9-word emails have shown to be more effective than the majority of emails that are sent out.

The reason why the above question works is because it’s not pushy, it engages the customer in conversation and it focuses on a need. This means that the email is much more likely to solicit a response. And isn’t that the goal of sending out emails?

Are 9-Word Emails Right for Your Business?

Should you be sending 9-word emails to your subscribers, too? It’s likely that you can benefit. Rather than focusing on the number of words, ask a question that piques interest. Leave out the details and don’t try to make a hard sell. You’re trying to get the recipient to reply to you.

Even if the recipient doesn’t end up buying your product, they may be interested in future sales based on your conversation. Plus, your follow-up emails will get through to them rather than going into the spam folder if they engage in conversation. It’s amazing what a simple question can do!

Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts for creating your own magical 9-word email that drives responses from your subscribers.

Dos and Don’ts for Sending Out 9-Word Emails


  • Be concise. Spending time in email chains is not productive. Send emails that are straight to the point.

  • Be conversational. Shape the content to solicit a response. One of the best ways to get someone to reply is by asking a question.

  • Omit details. Your subscribers are scanning through your email, so now is not the time to add a bunch of details. Be respectful of their time, and avoid overloading them with information.

  • Focus on a need. Don’t make the email too general. Instead, focus on a specific need such as helping your reader solve a distinct problem.

  • Use first name only. To make your email sound more concise and engaging, use only the recipients name in the subject line.


  • Be pushy. So many emails are pushy and are only after making a sale rather than engaging the customer.

  • Use fluff. Try not to fluff up your emails with unnecessary text. State the problem you’d like to help with and the solution you have available.

  • Go overboard. If your email has 1,000+ words, prepare for it to go ignored by many. Email recipients tend to go through their emails quickly and they’re not prepared to read through a lengthy email with bullet points and numbered lists.

When to Use 9-Word Emails

Your email marketing strategy is comprehensive, so obviously you don’t need to be sending out 9-word emails all of the time. Some emails are better off with more content, links and images depending on their purpose. But you can definitely shake things up by using 9-word emails for some of your campaigns, particularly when you’re looking to drive engagement. Plus, you can reach out to old leads rather than using all your time to chase after new ones.

It’s not the number of words that’s important but rather that the email is short, piques interest and asks an open-ended question. If your email ends up going over the 9 words, that’s fine too. Some examples include:

  • Are you still looking to have your home painted?

  • Are you still interested in improving home security?

  • Are you still looking to hire a live-in caregiver?

  • Are you still interested in installing a new patio?

What Happens After You Send Out the Email?

When you send out the email, there are a few things that can happen. If the recipient doesn’t respond, then it’s like you never sent the email. You don’t lose anything, but you don’t gain anything either. If the recipient does respond with a no, then you can remove them from your list. It may not be the best feeling, but at least you know where that person stands.

The other scenario that can happen is that the recipient responds with something other than no. Maybe a yes, maybe a maybe. You’ll probably find that if a recipient does respond, they’ll give you a non-committal response such as, “Why do you ask?” Many people are afraid to be given the hard sell approach, so they keep their distance. Remind them that you just want to reopen the conversation. Nothing more.

Final Thoughts

Nine-word emails are an effective way to reach out to leads, particularly older ones, and open up a new conversation. These emails are short, concise and to the point. They are not intimidating, a lot to read or overly detailed. In fact, they shouldn’t contain much information at all. They should instead ask a simple question that cultivates interest in the recipient.

These types of emails cost no money to make, so you’re out nothing when you send them. At the worst, you’ll have the recipient tell you that they’re no longer interested. But if you get a response, you can reopen an important conversation that may get you another sale.