In this episode, we sit down with the one and only Samar Owais to go over how good good copy and email are essential to a brands marketing tool box and how thy can effectively generate revenue. #ROAS
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Samar Owais (00:00):
The first conversation I have with every brand is talk to me about the discount percentage that you are offering. Like how much of it is eating into your profits, because yay, it's great that you're offering 20 or 25% off, but like, if you are not making enough profits, it is going to come back and bite you in the as. And so I don't try away from having those hard conversations. Right. And I will tell them, like, there are better ways to offer value beyond a
Rabah Rahil (00:40):
All right, folks, you know, the voice, you know, the sound, you know what time it is, you are not your RO as episode 22, we went international for you guys. We scoured the earth for the email queen straight from Pakistan to UAE, back to Pakistan, summer on was how are you? Welcome.
Samar Owais (01:00):
Um, thank you for having me. I am good. How are you?
Rabah Rahil (01:04):
I am fantastic as always. This is, uh, coming from you live in the Austin HQ from our marketing headquarters. Where does this podcast find you today?
Samar Owais (01:13):
Uh, Kochi. Pakistan.
Rabah Rahil (01:15):
Oh, how cool, how cool. And so you, cuz we actually just synced offline a little bit. You grew up in Pakistan, you moved to UAE and then now you're back in Karachi. Yes. Can you guys gimme a little color on that? So how, how did that happen?
Samar Owais (01:28):
Okay. So I was born educated, brought up in Pakistan and then December, 2007, I graduated get married and moved to the UAE within 10 days of these things happening. Right. And like it's
Rabah Rahil (01:43):
Samar Owais (01:43):
Going on, jumped right in. And so like I moved to the UA in the original ideas that I would start working. Um, the recession hasn't had yet, everything is like super hyped up in Dubai. I struggled to get a job. And the reason surprising you was because I didn't have a driver's license and public, uh, transport at the time in Dubai was pretty bad. And so we decided, okay, let's get a driver's license first and then I'll start applying for jobs. Again, we go to get myself registered for driving lessons and the wait time is six months before I can even, I can even start my lessons. Um, oh my gosh. And so when I was in Pakistan, I, um, used to blog as a hobby for a citywide blog that would just cover like these events happening in the city. Um, and I, uh, as a favor, I covered a comedy standup comedy show, um, for a friend that I was going, but she was, uh, an assistant editor in a, in a newspaper and she couldn't make it.
Samar Owais (02:41):
And she was like, if you're going, could you please just do a review for me? And you'll save me a ton of trouble. Right. And so I do it for her and I forget all about it. Three weeks later, there's a check in the mail. And so now in Dubai, I'm thinking if there's money in writing in a country like Pakistan, there's bound to be something happening in Dubai. And so I do like a quick Google search, um, for writing jobs online, find a website that's paying, that's going to pay me $10 an article. And I think I've hit the painter. Right. Um, turns out what I really hit was a content mill. And that was the start of me as a freelancer because by the time I got my finally got my driver's license, like the freelance bug had bit me big time. And so I just start, have been freelancing ever since.
Samar Owais (03:26):
Um, and I got my start as a content writer, 2017, did it for about 10 years. Um, then I got burned out and I didn't realize I was burned out, but it was so bad. And it got to a point where I was struggling to get outta bed in the morning, but I was like, oh my God, another day just doing content. I don't wanna do it. And um, then I took a course by Joanna. We called 10 X freelance copywriter. And I realized that if there's anybody who can help me get out of this route, it's Joe. Um, I, you know, I joined the course, I do the work and I quickly realized that the problem isn't that I'm burned out, the problem is that I'm just done with content. And, but then, you know, I'm thinking, okay, writing is the only thing I'm good at.
Samar Owais (04:06):
So if not content, then the only thing left is copy. And so I start experimenting with my business, right. And, um, one of the very smart things I've I did already on in my business was like, I cheated my own business, um, like my, like a client. So if I decided that I wanted to do a copy and I had no experience doing copy, I started writing different types of copy for my own business. Um, and, and doing these random exercises. Right? So sales page, landing pages, website, copy. They pretty much made me cry, but then I met the brilliant, brilliant Val Geer in 10 X Clance coffee writer. And she introduced me to the role of email. And there has been no looking back since
Rabah Rahil (04:46):
How fun, what an interesting journey. What was your favorite part of the UAE I'm actually heading out to, uh, Dubai in a couple weeks
Samar Owais (04:55):
You been, have so much fun and the weather should still be nice there. Um, everything I just loved. Okay. So there are two aspects to it. Right. I loved that I was safe there. Like I could drive around at 4:00 AM alone and there was no fear. Right. And so that's that part of my life, like moving from a country like Pakistan to Dubai and then experiencing that was just life changing for me. Right. Um, and so that was my favorite part where I could do whatever I want without feeling at risk. And, um, the other part was just the people like you get to read so many amazing people from so many different parts of the world, um, that was, you know, the big thing. And, and surprisingly, my husband's family, all of his family was in Dubai. And so we had a very, very busy social life and I loved that part. Right. So everybody worked like crazy during the week and we partied hard during the weekend and by partied hard <laugh>, I mean, we met
Rabah Rahil (05:59):
<laugh>. I love that. Yeah. I can't wait. The, uh, the, the pictures look incredible. And to your point, yeah. I was really blown away by how much of a melting pot it is. I actually was at a UFC event, um, last, uh, this last weekend in Houston. And there was two Brits who actually live in Australia that then moved to Dubai and they live in Dubai and it was just like this. It was very unique. Um, cuz it's kind of right there too. When you think about it geographically, I mean Europe's just a hop, skip and jump away. And like there's just kind of, um, a lot of access points, um, there as well. So that's so exciting
Samar Owais (06:37):
Also tolerance, the more different people you meet, the more tolerant you get, the more you realize that, how many different perspectives there are out there in the world. Right? And it doesn't matter what you look like. It doesn't matter what religion you follow. It doesn't matter what countries, nationality you have being a decent human being is all that matters. Um, and so I love that. I feel like for anybody to experience life, you need to spend some time in the body.
Rabah Rahil (07:05):
I love that. That's incredible. So you touched a little bit on this, but what resources, cuz you pretty much had a really good grasp. Like you're, you're at one of the top tiers in terms of like email, SAS, marketing, et cetera. How did you gain this mastery? And, and, and do you do all of this in English or in OU cause you speak is English your first language or no right speak
Samar Owais (07:27):
Incredibly well, it's my first language. It's a technic.
Rabah Rahil (07:29):
Oh it is. It is. Yeah.
Samar Owais (07:30):
It's just on my mother tongue, but it is my first language because I learned to speak, read and write English at the same time as OU.
Rabah Rahil (07:37):
Okay. Okay. Okay. I didn't, is that pretty normal in Pakistan or no? Yes it is. It is. Oh, okay. I did not know that. So side note, my dad's from Algeria and they're both taught. Um, so the, the language of record, if you will, is Arabic or the first language in the country is Arabic, but pretty much if you're doing any type of business it's done in French. And so pretty much everybody in, um, Algeria that's doing any type of business or I guess you would say kind of the educated class, if you will, is all bilingual where they both speak Arabic for their cultural kind of deference. Yeah. To make sure that they keep their culture. But at the same time they do so much business in Europe, et cetera. That French is really the, the language that's really cool. Yeah. Yeah. How cool I love that. Do you ever have, cuz those are pretty far apart, but do you ever have that kind of so, uh, another side note, my mom is, uh, Mexican and she would, um, kind of you'd get this intertwining sometimes if she would get fired up and stuff like that, where you, you would mix English and Spanish. Do you have any of that or the, the languages are too far apart?
Samar Owais (08:37):
No, no. That totally happens. Especially when I'm talking to my kids or my, my sisters or my husband, like we're switching languages all the time and it's so common. We don't even notice it anymore. But the first time I realized I do this was when I went to a conference for the first time and I was meeting people in person for the first time and all of a sudden I like say something and I do it and they'd be giving me like a blank stare. I'm like, okay, lemme translate that for you. <laugh>
Rabah Rahil (09:06):
How funny. Oh, I love that. Um, so as you said, you, you talked about Val as a resource, you talked about some courses. Are there any kind of frameworks or anything else that you'd recommend for people starting out through their email or copywriting journey that, that you found very fruitful to get you to the place you're at today?
Samar Owais (09:23):
Yeah. I follow people more than courses. So with that, I love that. Um, I started subcontracting for her. Right. And another thing that I credit myself with is I don't hesitate to ask questions. Like I ask a ton of questions. Um, if something is not clear, even if it's just a curious, like, will you tell me why you did something the way you did? Right. Because in the beginning I was just doing copywriting for mal and she was handing, uh, over the strategy to me and everything. And so I was, would ask her questions. And then when I started handing more of the strategy side, she would ask questions, like, why did you make this strategy decision? And then I learned to defend my decisions and justify them while working with her. And so she was an incredible mentor who gave me that first, um, taste of like what it's like working with clients.
Samar Owais (10:09):
Right. And talking about email strategy to them and all of that. And when I was learning about email, I was following well everywhere. Like I was devouring her, um, podcast. I was, um, going through her email teardowns everything that she was doing, all the free content that she was putting out, I was soaking it in and learning. And then the other thing that I did was, um, because I got my start in SAS, so I would sign up pretty SAS companies and I would go through their onboarding and I would just audit them. Right. Without knowing, seeing anything at the back end and I would still see gaps. And that made me realize like, if I can see gaps without looking at anything at the back back end, how many more opportunities are there going to be for me to make a difference for a company like this.
Samar Owais (10:55):
And so that just kind of gave me that initial boost of confidence that I can do this. Um, and yeah, I, I feel like asking questions, following people and just like, there's a lot of free content out there. Pick two to three authorities who are sharing their knowledge very generously and just learn from them. And if you wanna stand out in their radar, implement what they're talking about, implement what they're teaching and then go and report to them like, Hey, I tried this, these are the results I got or this is the confusions that I, um, I'm I have. And like, this is the roadblock I'm running against. Can you help me out? And they are more than happy to do that.
Rabah Rahil (11:33):
I, I love that. And I think that's so, so spot on because a lot of times I've, I've found that the people that are above you, um, are usually very into, you know, tutelage mentoring, all that stuff, but it's very hard, um, to carve out time for that. Yeah. However, when you ask the right question or there's a really actionable insight from your question, you usually get an answer, but when you have this kind of ambiguous kind of like, what do you actually mean? What, like they'll usually ghost to you, but to your point, it's like, Hey, I heard you talked about X, Y, and Z framework or strategy or tactic. I implement it. And then it worked out incredible for my consumer. Thank you so much for this blah, blah, blah, or I vice versa. I implemented X, Y, and Z. And it actually didn't trend in the right direction.
Rabah Rahil (12:18):
Was there something that I was missing or is there something and giving them kind of an easy answer in a way. And another way to think of it, I guess, is reducing that cognitive load. These people are so busy that honestly, they're gonna answer the easiest questions or the questions that are gonna generate the highest value for the lowest return of their time. And I, I think that's such a brilliant way to approach that. And quite frankly, it's really cool to, uh, it's a great jumping off point where it's like, Hey, I'm actually consuming your content. This isn't just a rando email. Um, and I find you very valuable. I think you're in authority. And I was wondering if you had a view on X, Y, or Z that I just implemented. I love that. It's very, very clever. Um, so with all of this going on, you're also a mom. Yes.
Samar Owais (13:00):
Rabah Rahil (13:01):
Girls. Yeah. Yeah. I love two girls. Oh, how fantastic. How do you balance kind of like keeping all of this writing SAS, cause email can be fairly time consuming, especially when you get in the strategies, tactics as well as the implementation, as well as the copywriting, as well as the revisions, as well as the testing, it starts to compound very quickly on your time. How, how do you make sure that you kind of keep balance and show up in your life for, for the people that matter
Samar Owais (13:27):
By dropping a lot of balls? <laugh> like, I, I am very honest about this. There are my kids eat cereal for dinner more nights than I wanna admit <laugh>, but it's, it's a delicate balance. Like if I have calls at night, because I'm in Pakistan, that means I'm eight to 10 hours ahead of like the most of the world. Right, right. And so, uh, I, I can say that my, you know, tell my kids that bedtime is 7:00 PM, but which, what kid has ever gone to bed at 7:00 PM. Right. And so like, that's when my clock starts ticking. If my calls are starting at 9:00 PM and the kids are in, in bed by like 7, 15, 7, 20, I know things are going to be tight. And so then everything just goes out the window and I'm like, okay, so you for dinner. Okay. You can watch, you know, an extra hour of screen time. Okay. Long as there's no fighting. And nobody's knocking on my note, I'm on the path. I don't care what you're doing. I quickly view it.
Rabah Rahil (14:20):
Oh, I love that.
Samar Owais (14:21):
But, um, it's hard, but I've learned to be kinder to myself. Right. So it's some, if it's just not happening in a day, what, you know, the way I want things to happen as a mom, it, I don't lose it anymore. <laugh> because nobody wants monster more. Um, but yeah. <laugh> so just by dropping a lot of balls, I will be very honest.
Rabah Rahil (14:42):
Yeah. I, I actually love that because I think, uh, there's a lot, especially with people, high performers, um, you do have this and that it's kind of the double edged sword, right? Like that pressure you put on yourself gives you the ambition to get to you to where you are. But at the same time, if you don't balance it out and to your point, drop some balls or do some things to alleviate that pressure, it can consume you. And then I've seen a lot of times high performers just get paralyzed, cuz there's just so much to do. And there there's actually a, a thought experiment called Gordon's donkey. And it's bit basically too long. Didn't read, there's a donkey in the center E EENT between water and uh, food. And it's hungry and starving, but it doesn't know which one to do. So it just dies. And so I, I think you can get into that place if you don't, to your point, drop those balls and just life's about trade offs and you have to make trade offs sometimes for what's gonna be best for, um, you in not only the short run, but the long run. I love
Samar Owais (15:34):
That. Absolutely. And I also wanna add one more thing, support system. I have an amazing support system. So if I don't cook someday, if I don't have the chance, my husband will come home from work. He comes very late, but, and he sees nothing good. That's fine. He will take care of it. Um, I don't have to worry about home chores, anything, but also my parents and my siblings, um, massive, massive support system. So I am due to travel to the us at the end of March to attend a conference and, um, the agreement or like my husband and I were like one parent has to stay available at all times because I have two girls in two different schools, they have two different school timings. So we're talking two different bed, times, two different meal, times, all of that. Right. It's, it's crazy. And so I, whenever I tram, he takes time off work this year, he's unable to.
Samar Owais (16:28):
And so now I canceled my plans. I was like, you know what? It's already stressful, but COVID and everything, let's not go. And then I realized I have to, because the next two to three years, I won't be able to go to this particular conference because Ramadan will be happening. Right. Um, I will be fasting and traveling conferencing while fasting and jet lag is not a good combination. And so I decided to go and now my parents are picking up the slack. My sister is going to try to take time off, but it's iffy because she has just changed departments in her company. And um, you know, she's not sure that she'll get time off. So now we're, we're like my, my mom and dad are going to take over. So my husband's going to drop the little one to school before going to work.
Samar Owais (17:12):
And then my dad's gonna come in time to pick her up from when the school bus drops her off, feed her, help her with her homework. Then my mom's gonna come over. Um, put her like in time for like my older daughter to come from school so that she can give both girls dinner at the same time, put the little one to bed and then they'll leave. Like my parents are old. Right. My mom's in her sixties, my dad's hitting 70. The burden that I'm putting on them, the guilt that I'm feeling is insane, but they're, they're not willing to listen to me not going. Yeah. When they've realized how important it's right. So who does to the support system? I have, like if I, I was in Dubai, I wouldn't have had the support system and I would've been unable to grow my business to the levels that I've been able to.
Rabah Rahil (17:57):
I love that. What does it say? It takes a village. They say people. So get that support system in there and it takes
Samar Owais (18:04):
For a woman to pursue her career, not even succeed, pursue.
Rabah Rahil (18:07):
Yeah. I totally agree. And being able to, um, also have those people that, you know, essentially you don't have to vet and they already care about you, right. Like with your parents or close family members where it's not this kind of transactional relationship where it's just this thing that goes deep. I love that. Okay. Let's get nerdy on some email summer. Um, okay. Let's jump into the first question. So what are kind of some of the best parts and hardest parts of running successful, email cans and email campaigns and strategies? Like what are some of your favorite parts of doing what you do and what are some of the more challenging parts?
Samar Owais (18:40):
So for me in SA the favorite part and the even safing commerce, right? The favorite part and the challenging part and the same, I specialize like I'm happiest when I'm trying to solve a tricky onboarding or retention problem. And I am happiest when a brand comes to me when eCommerce brand comes to me and say, Hey, we've got like, let's say X number of people were engaged with our list, but who haven't bought right. Either in a year or at all. And we are trying to figure out what's going on. Um, and so these are the kind of problems that I like solving, right? Everybody can set up a lifecycle email. Everybody can create a promotional campaign is the tricky problems that are not visible, uh, to somebody who's just observing a brand that really interests me. Like I love diving deep into things. And, uh, for, for whatever reason, um, in the e-commerce world, at least I have been for the past year attracting more and more women and, uh, POC owned brands, which means these are traditionally bootstrap brands.
Samar Owais (19:41):
And we are just talking about stuff so much beyond emails, right? So when iOS 15 rolled out, I was a little miffed about the fact that everybody on Twitter was like painting such a rosy picture of how like everybody will survive and it's not that bad and all, and you just have to focus on first party data and all that. But the brands that were reaching out to me were telling me that they were being decimated, right? Their, their ads were getting more expensive. Their, um, emergency cash cash reserves were being used up to pay salaries and all of that. And to the point where they were stopping all ads and now they were struggling. Um, and so I get to see that part and then we get deep dive, uh, dive deeper into this stuff. Right. Okay. So this is a problem that's beyond email, but let's see what we can do. And I am so privileged. Uh, and I like so honored that I get to see that inside, um, view of like struggles that founders have. Um, and the stories I hear, especially women owned, uh, brands and the stuff they have to put up with. It is insane. Those are not my stories to tell, but it's, it's an insane world out there.
Rabah Rahil (20:51):
Yeah, definitely challenging. I love that. He approached that from such a holistic, uh, point of view. There's this really interesting, uh, kind of dichotomy between missionaries and mercenaries. And I feel like you have that really nice balance. Cause a lot of times a freelancer is always almost seen as a mercenary, right? Like I give you money and you do the thing and you go kill the thing and bring me back resources or, or sales or conversions or what have you. And it sounds like you partner at a much deeper level where you, you really learn about that mission, that, that, that founder is trying to promote. And you understand kind of, again, at that holistic level where you're gonna be able to connect deeper to the consumer, not only on the value prop, but understand the, the totality of the business and really where you can make leeway or not.
Rabah Rahil (21:36):
And versus just to your point, you know, setting up the good best practices of life cycle flows, um, getting your campaigns out once or twice a week, etcetera, headline writing, like, again, all these are important, but if there are first principle factors that are stopping those things, though, you you're just gonna have knock on effects where if those first principles aren't in place and you don't understand them well, it's gonna be challenging to get anything to work, because like you said, you are dealing with problems that necessarily, or that aren't necessarily, um, email problems in nature. They're just manifesting at that email level, versus being able to dive deep into the business where it might be a business model problem where it might be a product placement problem, an inventory issue, or what have you. That's really clever
Samar Owais (22:21):
That a lot. Absolutely. And that starts like the first conversation I have with every brand is talk to me about the discomfort tape that you were offering. Like how much of it is eating into your profits, because yay, it's great that you're offering 20 or 25% off, but like if you were not making enough profits, it is going to come back and bite you in the as. And so I don't shy away from having those hard conversations. Right. And I will tell them like, there are better ways to offer value beyond a discount. And I am always like let's and, and I get pushback. There is, I will not deny that. Like there's like, um, gas, almost silent gas that I see. Like I can see the, um, the expressions from on, on the other side of the screen. Right. And I'm like, listen, let's treat discounts like a reward rather than like an, um, a bribe.
Samar Owais (23:11):
Right. And so when they do something that we want them to do, that is when we reward them for the discount. So this comes for second purchases. Yes. When they buy at full price. Right. And I'm like, um, and, and it helps me to be scrappy, right? Because I'm working with bootstrap brands, I get to figure out how to offer a discount without actually offering a discount. That means bundle offers. That means subscriptions. That means, um, of making an offer that will increase the average order value rather than just discounting individual products. And so that is the fun I have with emails. And I love that. I get to do it.
Rabah Rahil (23:49):
I love that. And I love how rooted in the economics you are of it, because I, I see that time and time again. So I came before a triple well, I, I came from the agency life and, um, I think not only email, but I think affiliate programs are notorious for this where it's like, not only are they offering deep discounts, you're offering deep discounts to people that love you, that would happily give you full price. Like why, what is the point of that? Like, and so much more success, or I found much more success in terms of what you're talking about, where it's like, let's raise the AOV, let's bundle things together, buy one, get room free. These other things that you can do versus just taking a flat 20 or 30% off, because you're the best customer we have. Like, I like the idea how you talk about it, where it's a bribe.
Rabah Rahil (24:32):
And I mean, there's a certain aspect of like, yes, if you need cash flow, maybe discounts can help. But at the same time, like if you're looking for profit, like it's gonna be challenging to get cuz the other thing is you might have paid for that person on some paid media or an ad. So now you have this acquisition cost on top of the discount and like you're just hacking away at your economics. And by the time you get to the net profit level, it can be really challenging. And then the other thing I've found is prices very rarely. The reason people don't buy it's more so because they don't value the product or they don't have the resources. And that that's, you just have this gut reaction, oh, it's too expensive. Well, is it, or am I not doing a good enough job to understand convey the value proper why your life is gonna be so much better if you do buy X, Y, Z product? Oh, I love that.
Samar Owais (25:17):
And also, um, focusing on what is important to the customer, right? So I was consulting with, with this skincare brand and they had a free sample, um, for first time customers and all they had to do was pay shipping and the conversions, weren't all that great. So we flipped the script. We, I think we, um, priced the sample at $14, um, and made the shipping free and the conversions just soared. Right. And that is my favorite story to tell anytime a brand is like, no, but discounts are important. And, and um, I will say that I have been proven wrong certain times, right? It wasn't until I started working with smaller brands that I realized that discounts are important to career email list. So if a brand is like already staged where they don't have like the 15, 20, 20 5,000 email subscribers to start really start making a difference with email, I'll be like, okay, let's put a hard cap on like, we are going to offer discounts until we have 15,000 subscribers. But the minute we hit that number, that's good enough to start giving us dividends from email, we start changing the offers and testing the offers and seeing what value based offers can come work better. Cause I'd much rather have fewer subscribers who are buying more with like better average water value than like just tire kickers, basically who are just signing up for that 20% discount.
Rabah Rahil (26:37):
Oh, I, I couldn't agree with you more. I think that's exactly the path. And um, ultimately, you know, there's a certain aspect, especially at those early stages where you don't really need to have a bunch of customers like ideal. You want a bunch of customers, but you really need to understand like who your core market is and who are the people that are gonna evangelize and really want the product. And so you really wanna build the product really for that like 70% of people, not necessarily the 30% that are like can cuz a lot of times what I've seen in the past is you can have a loud minority where it's like, yes, I understand what you're saying is totally valid, but you're just not the target market we're going after right now. We just don't have the resources to satiate a hundred percent of everybody.
Rabah Rahil (27:16):
And so we need to make sure that the 50, 60, 70% of people that are using us love us and everybody else will get to you when we can get to you. But at the same time, like those 70% of people will then enable you with the resources to grow and then possibly go up market down market. What have you and get into those other percentages and cohorts. But if you, uh, I guess what I'm trying to say is a friend to everybody's a friend to nobody. And I think that you can translate that especially to early stage businesses where, um, the economics are so important and the, the margin of error is so small because the balance sheet is just so SELT that you really can't, you know, if you blow $10,000 this month, that in the first two weeks, that was your whole monthly budget. And you're just like, well, what do I do now? Whereas, you know, that's a rounding error for most companies and like, okay, that's fine. And then furthermore exacerbated is that those other companies can make bigger bets to make up for those mistakes where it's like those small companies. Can't like, where am I gonna get another 10, 20 K to make this bet that doesn't pay off? So I, I think you're just so spot on there. I love that. Um, when you're running your accounts and you're running for your clients, how do you measure success?
Samar Owais (28:25):
Oh, in very simple terms, it needs to be better than what they were doing before. Working for me. Like I've never promised a certain conversion. I'm like, it has to be a climbing scale, right. So if it's not, or if it's plateauing, then we dive deep into why something is not working. But because I specialize in lifecycle emails, like my first order of business is setting up their automated lifecycle emails and then building out that entire email journey before even thinking about stats and optimizing it. Right. So, um, the first thing I do is like the, I call them like the money making email sequences, welcome about in card, post purchase, all of that. Um, and I'm like, let's set those up first so that the money can start rolling in and I turn it into phases, right. I, because I specialize in lifecycle emails, I don't do commercial campaigns or for brands that I haven't set lifecycle emails for, because I feel like there's a jarring difference in the way I approach email.
Samar Owais (29:22):
And in the way, like the rest of the world does email because I'm all about email experience. And when you are a smaller brand email experience is the one way you stand out, right? Yeah. Nike can afford to send tone deaf emails to like men's shoes to women's and nobody would care. Right. But if a smaller brand will stand out by segmenting their products by gender, but also realizing that sometimes people buy gift and that's okay. And so let's give them the option. One of my favorite ways to, um, that I tell brands to stand out is create different versions of your post purchase sequence, right? Especially your order confirmation. So the conversation that you're going to have with somebody who's buying from you for the first time is going to be different in the order confirmation email than somebody who's buying from you for a second time is going to be different than somebody who's buying from you from the fifth time, right?
Samar Owais (30:10):
Their wi IP, by that point, you're going to treat them different. You're going to lay out the red carpet. You're gonna treat them like a friend. You're gonna invite them into your house. And like, just say, Hey, you know, the drill buy now, you know, this is what you are importing the same information, but you're just using a different to voice. Similarly abandoned card emails. They are so creepy. Right. Hey, you forgot something. And then if there's an I OG involved, I feel unsafe in my own inbox. Right. <laugh> and so I'm like, you know what, let's add a PS at the bottom that says, Hey, did you mean to abandon a card? We do that too. Click here to let us know so that we don't send you any more reminders. How easy is it to put your subscribers into the driving seat of their email experience and then you, and then you stand out and this is how you create raving, lifelong fans who will see you to a pandemic. Um, and you won't wish that you were a toilet paper brand at that time.
Rabah Rahil (31:07):
<laugh> yeah, I know exactly. I really love what you said there too, because I think what comes across is you start to get away from almost a brand and you start to write like a person to a person, right? Yeah. And I think that like, it can, I, I just had E I, Y son, who's a, this fantastic customer experience customer success person. And, um, that was one of the things that he said was really helpful is when you can break that barrier from brand to person and really transform it into person to person where there there's just this relatable, like, Hey, I'm just doing my job here about the same time. Like I respect your time. I care about your time. And I don't really care if you buy or not buy like you do. But at the same time, like, what I care about is you're having a great experience here.
Rabah Rahil (31:50):
It's almost like hosting a party. And if you get to the party and nobody tells you like where the drinks are, or nobody tells you like where the music is or where the restrooms are, whatever. And you're just trying to like figure stuff out and all the while people are selling to you, that's just a, just not a really great experience versus like, Hey, you know, obviously we're here to make money, but at the same time, we're here to make sure that you're having a delightful experience. And here's a way that make your experience more delightful in the future. And if that is what you prefer, here's a button. Just click that. I, I think that is so spot on. I really love the idea of segmenting your customer's post purchase, because I think a lot of people don't see it that way. And I think there's a lot of runway there for a lot of people, because there's other ways that you can get people involved in your community that are non-monetary.
Rabah Rahil (32:35):
And so for us, as example, at triple whale, like the end of our funnel, isn't somebody actually buying our product. Our funnel ends at the evangelism stage where somebody's either writing content for us. Somebody's either coming on the podcast, somebody's running a channel in our Nawal nation, our exclusive slack group, or somebody is just evangelizing for us in, in, in, in public. And so that's kind of the end of our funnel. Not necessarily once we get them to purchase and we get their money, we wanna make sure that they're still, um, you know, excited about the product and the more you get that and build that in kind of with the goal in mind, it, it does change your, uh, your touch points in the way you strategize around that. That's fantastic. Yeah. Um,
Samar Owais (33:16):
I think I went off on a tangent and forgot the original question. So I haven't answered the original
Rabah Rahil (33:21):
Question. No, you've been doing great. Oh no, this is fantastic. You you're, you, my wheels are spinning on you're taking notes. I love it. <laugh> um, it was, how do you measure success? And you, you hit it on the notes. It was fantastic. Um, two quick more questions and we'll get into the rapid fire. What's the biggest mistake you see when you're doing email audits when you're taking over accounts. Oh, either biggest or most common,
Samar Owais (33:47):
The most common one is lack of segmentation.
Rabah Rahil (33:51):
Samar Owais (33:52):
Right. Um, it's just, everybody's blasting every I'm like, yeah, let's not do that. Um, and then, and then there one to like why our conversions are not all that great. And I'm like, yeah. That's because you're sending these emails to like everybody and you're making your unsubscribes like really hard. And like, there's a bunch of stuff, but like the lack of segmentation is the big one.
Rabah Rahil (34:14):
I love that. I think that's definitely something. Um, what is your favorite, ESP? Is it Clavio? Is it, is that where you do most of the hard work or do you kind of just, uh,
Samar Owais (34:24):
Uh, so I'm email strategy and copy only I do not touch implementation, so, oh, beautiful. My thing is when I am creating email strategies, I am, I sit down on a call in my client when I'm presenting the strategy and I'm like, we need to work through this. This is what I wanna do. Can your ESPN and text tech handle it? If not, you need to tell me because then that's my job as a strategist to find a way through, to whatever limitations and roadblocks that you're going to tell me about and get you to those conversions. Right. And so I don't care what ESP you are on. I don't, I don't have a favorite.
Rabah Rahil (34:56):
Oh, I love that. How fun. Um, okay. Last question. In the value add, how do you get stakeholders to care and invested email? So when, when you get, you know, somebody comes to you and says, Hey, I'm really excited about email. I wanna bring you on as our, our email strategist, but the CEO or CMO or whoever who's gonna sign. Your check is wary about, you know, spending into email strategy, et cetera. Is there any kind of tactics you use or any type of, uh, mental models to give those people more, um, ammunition to take to their higher ups, to make sure that you can come onto the team? Or do you not just deal with that? Um,
Samar Owais (35:36):
I, I always get on a call with them, right? Yeah. Yeah. And the reasons for it are twofold. One, I always wanna see what kind of people I'm dealing with because of who I am. That's very important to me. Right. So I never say no to a discovery call. I never say no to getting on a call with somebody. Cause I wanna know how you react to me. Um, that's important, uh, because if you don't believe in me, if you don't believe in my expertise, you are not going to do, I could, I could give you, um, like a roadmap to a million dollars in email sale, then you wouldn't do it. Um, and because you wouldn't believe in me. And the other thing is I try not to convince them cause I wanna understand why they feel that what happened for them to feel like email is not important, right? What have they tried in previously? And so it's a conversation and I leave them at that conversation and I tell them like, this is how I approach email. If it resonates with you, let's talk further. If not, that's totally cool. Like there are other amazing email strategists who will, you know, um, you can work with,
Rabah Rahil (36:32):
I, I love that. I have never heard that before, but I'm instill that. I'm not trying to convince you. I think that's a really great mental model for being able to pitch in discovery calls. And then I also like the idea of their resident, cuz there's, there's a certain aspect of, uh, again, coming from the agency life where, um, I would get pushback on either strategy implementation, et cetera. And then they're like, well, why don't you do it like this? And why don't you do it like that? And it ultimately always just devolves into, well, like why are you paying me all this money? <laugh> like, if that's what you wanna do, like then do that. Yeah. But I'm the expert in the space. Like if you weren't the expert in the space, you wouldn't be giving me all this money. And so I think that the way you approach those discovery calls really circumvents a lot of that because you just would never, never take on that client where it's like, there, there, the there's not enough confidence, belief, whatever the Des you want to use there is. And then that's just gonna manifest into, you know, some negative interactions down the road that aren't necessarily gonna be in your control where it's like, you could be doing these things. Right. But to your point, there's a bit of a Freudian aspect there where it's like, why do you feel this way? You know, why show me on the, on the doll where they hurt me.
Samar Owais (37:39):
Something has had to have happened for you to feel like it's not worth it. Right? Exactly. You must have tried something in before you must have seen something or like somebody must have told you something. And also one of the things I do is I walked into my process. I literally show them how I'm going to build out your email journey, map, how it's going to be a live document inside like a tool called Sigle and how we're going to take it into phases. Because I strategize in lifecycle emails. One of the things I do is like I map out the entire email journey from like the minute somebody signs up for your email newsletter to like the whole written back sunset, all done. And so I'm like, this is what I do. This is what I will create for your brand. But whether you work with me or not, these are the two to three questions you need to be asking yourself every time you think about email, what is that big conversion that we want?
Samar Owais (38:26):
What happens when somebody does what we want and what happens when they don't do what we want, because don't quote me on this, but at least 80% of your people will not convert. And so you need to have a backup plan for them. And so sending emails at the sake of sending emails, because somebody said, you know, um, one subscriber is worth $44 or whatever. Um, it's not, um, you know, emails, don't go to chain. Yes, you have to make them work for you. And so you need to be asking yourself these questions, the next time you're making decisions of whether you work with me or not. And leaving them to think about it. I'm probably smoothing the road for somebody else in the future. Right. And I think that's, you know, that's my job done because that brand does need email help. Um, and so I wanna do my part in educating them. And then if, if you know, I work with them, that's great. If not, you know, there, there are almost, I'm gonna say billions of brands out there throughout the world. Um, I will not spend my time and energy convincing somebody to work with me.
Rabah Rahil (39:29):
That's fabulous. I, I love, love, love that. And that's not to say people, you know, not everybody's at Samara's, uh, path where sometimes, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do when you gotta do it, but ultimately what I've seen, and this is coming from that area of having to take projects that aren't great. Um, a bad client can scuttle a small shop really quickly, where they pay late, they get outta scope. They, they, they leave bad review, whatever it can just be really challenging. So the quicker you can get to the economic stability of being able to say no and not have to quote unquote convince, I think is something that is, it's a, it's a really big goal and that's oh,
Samar Owais (40:09):
Step I reached, I've reached this devil by going through the fire. Right.
Samar Owais (40:15):
It's not that I woke up one day and just decided I'm not gonna work with anybody who doesn't see the importance of working with me. Um, it's because I have felt my reputation at stake. I have felt that frustration of not being taken seriously off, seeing a founder or CML, make that mistake, uh, and then blame it on, on the email strategist or copywriter be, be when those emails didn't convert. Right. And so, um, one of the first things I did was started building a net, um, a safety net for myself. And I went like, I call this repellent marketing where I say no more than I say yes. And it only started when I had six months of solid cash in my bank was their survive. If nobody worked with me.
Rabah Rahil (40:59):
Yeah, that's great.
Samar Owais (40:59):
Right. And I will tell you this, um, early last year I was December 20, 20 Jan, 2021. I was burned out. Right? Cause I was saying yes, a lot more because I wanted to make money. I wanted to hit those six figures, you know, grow as a business, all of that, but I'm burned out. And then I sat down, worked with my business coach and we revamped the way I did business. Right. We focused on the parts that I didn't wanna do. And I found partners who loved doing what I didn't wanna do. And I just focused on the email strategy part, which is what I love and what happened was I ended up chipping my rates. So we went from like less than 10 K to over 25 K for a project. Right. And I will not lie. I got laughed out of the room by the first three to four staff companies that I told that price to. But because I had done the work because I was burned out because I knew that I didn't wanna feel that way. Again, my gut was telling me to stick to it. Right. And the first company to say yes to my newer pricing was helpful.
Rabah Rahil (42:02):
How about that? And
Samar Owais (42:03):
So listen to your gut. If it's telling you it's not worth it. And you have that safety net for six months own your authority, own your brilliance. And you will find the people that come to you and coming onto podcast, you know, talking about all of this on Twitter, that is my way of educating people who are thinking about working with me because a lot of times now, like I'm a Muslim, um, I'm I'm Muslim. So there are certain things about my religion that I follow. Like I'm a practicing Muslim. One of the things that I do is I never work with alcohol brands, gambling companies, arms and ammunitions, um, and you know, um, smoking brands, so cigarettes and weights and all of that are out mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I mentioned that on my, about pitch, right? And so I'm vocal that these are the companies that I do not work with.
Samar Owais (42:51):
And so I had a non-alcoholic brand reach out to me, but I was still iffy. Cause I didn't know anything about the non-alcoholic industry. And my first question to them was, um, what percentage of alcohol do you have? You know, like it's non-alcoholic but there have to be some element for you to call it a cocktail or a mock, uh, you're not calling it a cocktail, you're calling it a cocktail. And so they had their signs ready for me. Right. And they said, we reached out to you because we read that and we know how important it is to you. And they have the science ready and I ended up working with them. And so being vocal about the way you approach email, the way you do business, just attracts the right kinds of people to you.
Rabah Rahil (43:33):
I think that's fantastic. I love that idea of repellent marketing. Um, especially to, uh, again, when you're running a smaller shop, you know, if you're on discovery calls all day, the quality of those calls need to be high. Because if not, you going back to your tire, kicker analogy, like you don't have time to be spending 30, 45 an hour with somebody that had no intention to buy. And, and furthermore, if they're not gonna be, if there's a non-starter already, there's just no point in wasting that time where it's like, you can pay me for like a consulting hour if you want, but I'm not gonna work with you. And so there's not gonna be any type of, uh, you know, further relationship down the road. So why even it's almost the, the equivalent of selling to somebody that's not buying. Like that's the worst place you wanna be. And so I, I, I love that repellent marketing. I got you. You give me all these little one liners here. I love it. Um, okay. You made into the rapid fire, the last segment, are you ready?
Samar Owais (44:24):
Rabah Rahil (44:25):
Okay. Let's get into it. Uh, I know you're not into paid media, but paid media, overrated, underrated.
Samar Owais (44:32):
I feel like if a brand can find a way to survive and grow without it, by all means that needs to be a goal for a founder. Like what if every paid media failed for us? What is our backup plan? So I don't care. Like I have no opinion on it being overrated or underrated. I want you to come up with a backup plan. What are you going to do if you couldn't market with paid media? This is something that, because I work with smaller brands, bootstrap brands, they're early stage, they're struggling. They don't have the money for paid ads and they're struggling to get traffic on their side. And when you search stuff about growing email lists and stuff, everybody's talking about popups and offers and all of that. And nobody's talking about the traffic that needs to come to your website so that it will con word into subscribers. Right? And so that is my latest challenge. Like I need to figure out how to help these brands attract, um, traffic without ads for Essent. Really good question. It is, it is something that I'm, I don't have the answer to, but it is something that I wish founders and brands would, you know, have like a backup plan for it.
Rabah Rahil (45:34):
I love it. And I know, uh, you, you're not in the ESP space, but this is rapid fire. So I do ask the crazy questions, Clavio, uh, underrated, overrated,
Samar Owais (45:44):
Perfectly rated. It's a great, I love
Rabah Rahil (45:46):
It. ESP. It's a great platform. Yeah. I love it too. Um, optimizing email, popups, overrated, underrated
Samar Owais (45:52):
Necessary. Why, if you aren't, you should be. So again, I don't know, overrated under ask me what offers, ask me what specific offers, whether they're underrated or overrated. And I will tell you, but like these are necessary things, right? Um, there's no overrated or underrated. It needs to be optimized.
Rabah Rahil (46:08):
I love it. Uh, Dubai overrated, underrated
Samar Owais (46:13):
Heaven. Oh, for me, at least my 10 years there were like absolutely brilliant. The happiest I've ever been. The, and I, I grew up in Pakistan, right? Yeah. So patriarchal society. Yeah. Parents were very, uh, parents were conservative and very worried about like, my dad had full, no sense the whole, I don't know if, if you're familiar with, with that mindset, but so it was, um, hard for my parents to raise us in, in such a
Rabah Rahil (46:42):
Phone. Let's see if she comes back on. Oh, we made it all the way through the rapid fire. So close. So close. Well, that's all good. We can call it there still a fabulous episode. Samara AWA. Thank you so much. Um, we had some technical difficulties. We are going Austin to Karachi. So there is gonna be some distance there, but fantastic episode, we did get cut off a little bit in the rapid fire, but is what it is 22 episodes in you're bound to have some sort of hiccup. Thank you again for tuning in. If you do wanna get more involved with triple well, you can do try triple well.com. Uh, we are on the Twitters at triple whale, and then we have a fantastic newsletter called whale mail that you can subscribe to. We send out emails every Tuesday and Thursday, and they're fantastic.
Rabah Rahil (47:30):
Thanks again so much for tuning in everyone. Sorry about the technical difficulties. We really appreciate you subscribing to your not your Roaz. We also have another podcast called ad spend it's me, Cody in Ash, going crazy on silly awesomeness in DTC in marketing tips, tricks, how to deploy ad spend at a high level efficiently, effectively and profitably. Um, alright, cool. That's gonna be it from us episode 22 in the books again, sorry for the, uh, technical difficulties, but we are thousands, thousands of miles away. So thanks again. And we will talk to everyone on the flip. Okay. Byebye.
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