Hi, Samar! It's great to be talking with you. To get things started, can you tell me about how you found your way into the world of email marketing?
Hi Patrick! The feeling is mutual
I found my way into the world of email through trial and error and LOTs of tears 😂
Let me backtrack a little. I started freelancing in 2008 as a content writer. Over the next ten years, I wrote content for startups, entrepreneurs, online magazines, and brands like Copyblogger, Foundr, Paul Jarvis, Marriott, InterContinental and more.
But by 2018, I’d lost all joy in my work. I raised my rates thinking more money would motivate me. I kept raising them and clients kept saying yes and yet I was still struggling to get out of bed.
Around that time, Joanna Bain (then Wiebe) launched 10x Freelance Copywriter - a business course for freelancers. I figured if anyone could help me figure out what was wrong, it’s her.
And I was right. Two (or maybe three) modules in, Jo and the course helped me realize the problem wasn’t just that I was burned out. The problem was that I no longer wanted to write content.
Now writing’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at, so I knew that’s what I wanted to continue doing. I started trying my hand at writing different types of copy.
I tried website copy - I was terrible at it. I tried landing pages - I didn’t enjoy them at all. And sales pages made me outright cry.
Around that time Val Geisler, who was in the course with me, sent out a call for subcontractors. She was an email strategist whose business was growing pretty fast and needed help with email copywriting.
I reached out to her. I told her I didn’t have experience with email but I was a quick learner and I didn’t make the same mistake twice and asked if she’d take a chance on me.
She did. And the rest, as they say, is history.
I love that, Samar. That’s an amazing background and what a cool way to segue into email marketing. As someone who struggles with writing content, I’m envious. Would you have any tips or tricks you’d be willing to share with those of us who are new to writing content or struggle to generate content for email?
All my advice for writing content is 3 years outdated. But generating content for emails is definitely something I can talk about
One of the easiest ways to create content for email is to look at all the content you’re producing for your business… repurpose that for email.
Published a blog post? Tell your email list about it.
Appeared on a podcast? Tell your list about it or turn the topics/questions you discussed in it into multiple emails.
Had a client/customer/brand win? You guessed it - tell your list about it.
If you’re looking to create a weekly newsletter, you won’t always have content to promote. In that case, focus on these 4 questions to generate ideas:
- What’s bugging you about your industry/niche/business?
- What’s one thing you wished your clients/customers knew?
- What stories can you share? Challenges, solutions, mistakes, etc.
- What are some questions you’re asked ALL THE TIME?
- What examples can you share - both good and bad?
Brainstorm regularly and you’ll never run out of ideas.
It's really great advice and a good reminder that solid content is usually always right there. So I'll shift gears a bit look to today. Can you tell us a bit more about Samar Owais as a business?
Today, I’m an email conversion strategist for SaaS and ecommerce brands. I specialize in onboarding and retention focused emails in SaaS and lifecycle emails in ecommerce
I’ve worked with companies like Drip, Pinterest, and HubSpot as well as numerous ecommerce brands.
While I love SaaS, ecommerce emails have a special place in my heart. So much so that I also teach a course on ecommerce email strategy and copy. It’s a live training program that runs twice a year.
I know you just had a course launch this past spring, congrats on that. That’s some great experience to draw from. On ecommerce email strategy, is there anything you’d like to see brands doing more of? Also, can you share details on how someone can learn more about the next training?
Oh dear. You’ve asked me a question I can go on about for hours
The one thing I want more brands to do is focus on their subscribers and customer’s email journey.
It’s as simple as creating two versions of a post purchase sequence. One for first time buyers, the other for returning ones.
Pay attention to what conversation you started before you got people to subscribe to your list. What promise is your sign up form, facebook ad, or website making? Deliver on that promise in your first email.
Also, treat your subscribers like the intelligent human beings they are. Sometimes, folks actually mean to abandon a cart. So give them the option to opt out so you don’t bombard them with cart abandonment emails for the next 3 days.
Thanks for asking about the course! The eCommerce Email Bootcamp is a 12-week live training program where I do my best to download my brain into budding email copywriters.
In 6 workshops, I teach them how to think like an email strategist, how to build email strategies, run an email audit, and create emails that turn subscribers into buyers.
Each workshop is followed by an implementation week where we do email challenges and work with real ecommerce brands to get the real world client experiences many email copywriters struggle to get when they’re starting out.
Since this is a live training and a highly involved program, I’ve only run it once a year so far.
Next session will start in Jan 2022. Enrollments will open up in November. There are only 10-15 spots open so if anyone’s interested, they’ll need to get on the waitlist to get first dibs.
That's awesome! And on running your business, any words of wisdom for other email geeks thinking about launching off on their own?
Oh yes. I always give two pieces of advice to anyone looking to niche into emails.
One, say yes first and freak out after. Nothing teaches us more than actually doing the work. And if you wait until you feel you’re 100% qualified for the project/job - you’ll be waiting forever
I’m not saying you should lie to clients. But outright say “I don’t know how to do this part of the job, but I can figure it out. And if I can’t, it’s my responsibility to find the right person to teach me/do it/etc.”
Confidently and unapologetically saying that to clients has resulted in more opportunities than I can count.
The second piece of advice I give budding email geeks is to not be afraid of making mistakes. I’ve had more failures in my career than wins and that’s 100% okay. It’s how I learned.
From bombing Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotion to welcome emails not converting… I’ve made some epic mistakes. But every mistake taught me something new and ultimately made me a better email strategist and marketer.
Great advice on both fronts. Those both really resonate with me personally and I couldn’t agree more. Samar, this has been really fun. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your insights, your background and experiences! Thanks again, Samar!
Subscribe to Email Tech Tracker
Monthy(-ish) insights into where email tech, code, and trends are headed.