How to convert critics into customers with a single email

It’s impossible to please everyone.

There will always be people who criticize some aspect of your product or service.

Is this a bad thing?

Most would assume so.

But the following B2B email marketing example from ConvertFlow — the ecommerce funnel builder trusted by over 30,000 brands — proves that critics can be valuable assets.

Here’s why I think it’s such an effective framework for any business to turn critics into customers.

The subject line

What a beauty.

The reason it caught my attention is that popups are contentious.

Do they work?

Don’t they work?

If they do work, are they worth it? Or are they so annoying that they’re not worth the results?

So by popping (pardon the pun) this quote in the subject line, ConvertFlow enters a conversation its audience has probably had with themselves and others.

This is a form of demonstration, a marketing principle taught as early as the 1920s by advertising legend Claude Hopkins — in his books Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising.

Now, the email could have said “you should use popups!” to make the point. But if it had, the reader might have responded with, “they don’t work” and moved on.

Instead, the sender of the email is empathetic to the fact that there is a case against popups, and it’s likely to pique the curiosity of anyone who has used or considered using popups before.

Subject line ✅

The “from” name

After the subject line, the next thing an email recipient sees is the name of the sender.

A common mistake here is to use the business name as the sender name.


Because it’s an immediate red flag that the email is from a company.

And an email from a company is usually trying to sell something.

Since nobody likes to be sold, it’s likely to end up in the trash.

People want to hear from other people.

That’s why I like that this email is from a real person: Michael.

In Gmail, I can also see a picture of Michael — a nice personal touch.

Now, “Michael at ConvertFlow” isn’t quite as powerful as using a full name — which is what I’d recommend if you’re the face of your business.

But it is a strong second best — and a good fit if the reader joins your company email list and has no personal association with anyone.

Righto, let’s keep moving.

The lead (or hook)

After the name and subject line, Michael shares three more quotes about the same subject.

This is an extension of the subject line.

Notice how they are all quotes from people making a case against popups.

Think about this for a moment.

Everyone reading this email is likely to have one of three points of view:

  1. Against the use of popups
  2. For the use of popups
  3. Neither for nor against the use of popups
  4. How would a person with each perspective react to this opening?

Here’s my estimation.

The first person — who is against the use of popups — would either be nodding along in agreement with Michael or they’d suspect that their beliefs were about to be challenged. Either way, they would be compelled to read on and see what it’s all about. Job done.

The second person — who is for the use of popups — would either be shaking their head in disagreement or suspect that Michael was about to make a case FOR popups (reinforcing their point of view). Either way, it would be hard to stop reading. Job done.

The third person — who is indifferent to the use of popups — might have a lukewarm reaction to the opening of the email. Chances are, they’ll stop reading and move on. But that’s a good thing. If they don’t care about popups, they’re not going to use popups, and they’re unlikely to be a good customer for ConvertFlow. Since they’re not the target audience, there’s no point in trying to attract them. So, again, job done.

Ok, onward and downward!

The email body

The next line explains that the quotes aren’t from Michael. They are from other people — possibly customers or prospective customers — who represent the people reading this email.

The audience can also begin to see from this statement that Michael might not share the point of view that “popups don’t work.”

Sure enough, the next line initiates a discussion about the flaws in this line of thinking.

This short and sweet sentence allows Michael to quickly get to the point…

The belief that all popups don’t work is, of course, an oversimplification. And the reader now begins to see that popups could be a valuable asset for their business.

Here’s the next section:

Michael makes his point of view very clear: it’s only BAD popups that don’t work.

The first half of the email enters a conversation that ConvertFlow customers have with themselves about popups.

Rather than fighting against their beliefs, it subtly says “I understand that this is what you currently believe about popups, but let me show you a better way to approach this.”

In the second half of the email, Michael has earned their attention and interest, and can now help the reader understand how to use popups in their business.

The bullet points provide the criteria for effective popups. Simple. But notice how it tells the reader WHAT to do without revealing not HOW to do it. This creates an open loop — a nice setup for asking them to use the ConvertFlow popup guide.

The offer and call to action

The offer is to “build out the five strategies” in ConvertFlow using its guide.

Even though this email is exceptional overall, I personally find the call to action a little overwhelming.

The idea of clicking the link to “build out the five strategies” seems like a lot of work — especially if I’ve never built a popup or never used ConvertFlow before.

To take this action, I assume that I’ll need to block out a few hours of time. That may not be true. And the target audience might not react in the same way.

But whatever the case may be, I hypothesize that the email would be more effective at driving readers to action if it lowered the bar — even to the extreme.

For example, it could say: “Watch us create a ConvertFlow popup. Follow along and you’ll have your first effective popup in the next 2 minutes.”

Now that’s an offer I could get on board with. Who doesn’t have 2 minutes to spare? And it would be really satisfying to create one popup in ConvertFlow. I’d then have the confidence to make even more.

Again, I might be missing some context here that makes this a great offer for the recipients of the email. My point is that — if you use this email as a framework in your own business — you should make it harder to say no than yes.

Ok, let’s move on to the close.

The close

The final sentence summarises the email nicely.

It reiterates the point that popups do work when they’re done well and that your audience will appreciate you for it. It then asks you to start building popups in CovertFlow again.

The postscript (P.S.)

It’s never a bad idea to repeat the call to action in the P.S., and I like how Michael reduces the risk to the reader by pointing out that you can always remove the popup if you test one and it doesn’t work.

So far, we’ve looked at the individual elements of the email through the eyes of the reader.

Now let’s zoom out and look at the email as a whole.

The email structure

"Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it." - David Ogilvy

What I love about this email is that it’s fundamentally interesting.

And it presents each of these in a fascinating way.

How does it do that?

In a word: contrast.

It takes the reader on a journey from one point of view to another.

This story of bad to good is fun to read.

It’s a fantastic B2B email marketing example for that reason alone — regardless of your business marketing goals.

If you tell stories using contrast — demonstrating a transformation from one state to another — you’ll hook your readers and keep them interested.

Bonus: Watch Callum write a “critics to customers” email from scratch

Anyone could follow Michael’s lead and write an email that converts critics into customers.

That said, it might be difficult to imagine how to apply this in your own business.

Therefore, I’ve recorded a video in which you can watch me write another email like this one.

Follow along and try it for yourself.

If you have a list and an offer, you can use this email to make sales today and put it on autopilot for years.