The Community Spotlight—a monthly blog series highlighting some of the amazing members of the email community—is back!
Every month, we’ll interview, highlight, and celebrate the splendid members of the email community. We dig into where they got their start, where they are now, and explore their challenges and passions in email.
This month, we’re chatting with Samar Owais—conversion strategist, SaaS and eCommerce industry expert, and (spoiler alert) K-pop fan.
|Samar Owais (she/her)|
Email Conversion Strategist and Founder at Emails Done Right
Follow Samar on LinkedIn and Twitter
What did the beginning of your time in email marketing look like?
Non-stop learning. Once I became fascinated with email marketing, there was no looking back. Every time I had a question, I’d turn to the University of Google. More often than not, I’d find the answer—or at least 20% of an answer. It would be enough for me to pull the thread and follow wherever my research took me.
I also followed email marketing experts like Joanna Wiebe and Val Giesler. Every podcast they were on, every blog post they’d publish, every webinar or free workshop they’d do—I’d show up and sit in the front seat and take copious notes.
When I finally got the chance to work with emails, I started with email copywriting as a subcontractor for other email experts.
How did you first connect with the wider email geeks community?
This might come across as a shock but I don’t think I ever connected with the email geeks community outside of Twitter. I’m an introvert at heart who’s good at pretending to be an extrovert. But that means I suck at initiating conversation, feel uncomfortable and out of place in crowds, and rarely ever speak up in a group. To this day, I’m not active in the emails geeks Slack group. I keep an eye on the conversations happening but haven’t felt confident enough to say something—unless directly asked.
(My lack of connection has nothing to do with the Email Geeks community, by the way, and everything to do with my personality 🙂.)
The reason I say I haven’t connected to the email geeks community outside of Twitter is because Twitter is my one exception. I’ve always felt comfortable on the platform and I could talk about email marketing on Twitter and people would respond. Or if I couldn’t bring myself to say anything, I’d just retweet somebody else’s tweet about email marketing.
Huge shout out to the email geeks community on Twitter. Folks like you (Logan Baird), Megan Boshuyzen, Matthew Smith, Val Geisler, and so many more not only listened but responded, helped out, and amplified my voice.
How would you describe what you found in the email geeks community and what keeps you connected to it?
For me, it’s the warmth. I may not speak up much but I know without a doubt that whenever I do, I’ll be heard and respected. I love that there’s a place for email lovers like me to hang out and just be me—even if all you do is sit quietly in the corner and observe like I do.
You’re best-known in the email community for your copywriting skills, specifically focused on the eCommerce and SaaS industries—how did you find yourself in that particular niche?
I gotta thank Val Geisler for that. When I got burnt out as a content writer, I was at a bit of a loss. Writing was the only thing I’ve ever been good at, so if not content then the only thing left for me was copywriting.
I met Val in a course we were both taking at a time and I was inspired by her love of email. I remember thinking—that’s how excited I want to be about my work.
So when she put out a call for subcontractors, I immediately raised my hand and asked her to take a chance on me. She did and the rest, as they say, is history. 🙂
You’ve been running your own business for more than fourteen years—how did you decide on that path?
By process of elimination. You know how the common advice is to “do or focus on what you love?” That advice never worked for me. Cuz I love email marketing, do I love all aspects of it?
Of course not.
I’ve always felt more passionately about things I hated than things I loved.
Ask me what I love about email and it’ll take me a while to articulate my answer. Ask me what I hate about email and I’ll immediately tell you I hate implementation and design. Didn’t even take me two seconds to know the answer.
And so I decide on a path by taking out all the stuff I hate and absolutely do not want to do. Whatever’s left is the path for me.
Could you describe what a typical workday looks like for you?
Oh dear. This one’s going to be a doozy. I don’t have a typical workday. I work in pockets of time. I have two kids who have two different school timings. That means we have two different breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bed times.
I’m also the primary parent; as a WFH mom, that responsibility naturally falls on me. I also live in Pakistan which is 8 hours ahead of the rest of the world. All this means I’m working in the evenings and late into the night.
A typical workday revolves around consulting startups, creating email strategies, mapping out email journeys and solving user onboarding and retention problems with emails.
What are the specific aspects of copywriting and strategy that you find satisfying?
I love the way I can tell a story in an email and humanize a brand. As for strategy, it’s one of the most satisfying parts of my work—even more than copywriting. On the surface I call them email strategies but what I’m really doing is solving business problems for SaaS and eCommerce brands. Email’s just the medium I use to solve those problems.
Why do you think you find those satisfying?
I find both copywriting and strategizing satisfying because I see it as helping.
With email copy, I’m helping people see the value the brand or the app can bring to them. How it can solve a problem and make their life easy.
With strategies, I’m helping my client achieve their goals. Whether that’s acquiring customers, retaining them, increasing their average order value—they’re all problems that help my clients grow their business.
What are you most proud of in your work and why?
The founders and teams I get to work with. I’m inspired every day by their stories, their commitment to making the world a better place, and the way they want to serve their customers.
I’m also incredibly proud of my ability to ask questions and understand the context of a situation. Doing so has not only positioned me as a strategic partner but allowed me to understand my clients business challenges and goals a lot better.
Those insights and the behind-the-scenes understanding led me to invest in my first startup last year and get invited to be an advisor for another.
How do your intersecting identities shape the way you approach your career?
As a brown, female, hijab-wearing Muslim, as well as a Pakistani business owner, I feel like my intersecting identities have helped my career more than hindered it.
I never have to worry about being a face in the crowd. When people see me, they remember me. I mean, how many hijabis do you see in a conference or a meeting?
I also don’t have to worry about dealing with bias and racism as much as I feared I would. Folks in the industry who have a problem with someone like me just don’t come to me.
One look at me is enough for them to decide they want nothing to do with me.
Have their been negative experiences? Absolutely. From attitudes changing after a client realized I was from Pakistan to constantly being asked “But how is your English so good?” or “How come you don’t have an accent?”
Being a Muslim is also a big part of my identity. Because of my religious beliefs, I don’t work with any company that deals in gambling (or gaming that requires betting), alcohol, or weapons.
When it comes to the work I do for my clients, my approach is simple. I want to help them create an incredible email experience for the customers.
You don’t need one of my identities for that. You just need me to understand what’ll make your customers convert—and that’s something I excel at.
Luckily for me, I seem to attract brands and companies that create great products and genuinely care about their customers.
What would be the first steps you’d tell someone to take who is interested in email copywriting?
Find two to three email experts or copywriters you admire—and stalk them. (And by stalk, I mean sign up for their newsletter, read/watch/listen to any content they’re putting out.) You’re going to learn so much.
Copyhackers has incredible blog posts and tutorials on email copywriting. Other email experts have done email teardowns. I’ve done countless workshops and webinars.
Run a search. Learn. Apply. Try.
Which songs energize you, and which songs calm you?
I tend to listen to focus music from brain.fm or instrumentals when I’m working. Music is turned on when I’m cooking or doing home chores. Whether I want to be energized or feel calm, I turn to either Pakistani music or K-Pop. Not many people know this but I’m a huge BTS fan.
I discovered K-pop when my 12 year old and her friends wouldn’t stop oohing and aahing over K-pop idols. I went into the K-pop world as a concerned mother to find out what it was all about and came out as a BTS ARMY. 😂
Finally, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I turn to my Best of 00s playlist and jam to Nelly, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Timbaland, Nelly Furtado and countless more.
In your very busy life, which activities renew you?
Apart from reading and watching Netflix, I like to have spa days, lunch with friends, spending the weekend with my siblings over at my parent’s place. And I’m also not above a little bit of retail therapy when I need to relax.
Learn from (and connect with) Samar
Would you like to know more about Samar’s email strategy and consulting work? Visit her website, EmailsDoneRight.com, and sign up for her excellent newsletter.
Be sure to follow Samar on Twitter @samarowais.