53: Samar Owais: Rethinking your email discount strategy

What’s up everyone! Today on the show we’ve got one of my favorite email marketers and arguably the funniest marketing twitter account to follow, we’re joined by Samar Owais. 

She’s a top Email pro and female entrepreneur based in Karachi, Pakistan. She designs email strategies and writes email copy for SaaS & eCommerce clients with a simple goal: increase conversions and reduce churn.

She isn’t your average consultant though. Samar is a model of courage and heart, known for being fiercely independent, doing excellent work, caring about results and always telling the truth. 

She’s worked with big brands like Drip, Pinterest and Hubspot, as well as solopreneurs like Paul Jarvis, Fix my churn, Copyhackers and a growing list of smaller Ecomm businesses. 

She runs an awesome email newsletter where she picks email fights and questions the status quo of how things are typically done in the email world. She also runs an ecomm bootcamp to help folks become email pros.

Samar, we’re grateful to have you on the show.

Podcast timestamps

  • 01:22 – The transition from content marketing to email marketing
  • 06:48 – Philosophy of discounts in emails
  • 09:20 – Alternatives to discounts
  • 12:03 – DACI framework: Driver, approver, contributor and informed person
  • 14:55 – How to handle a spaghetti mess of emails that go out to customers
  • 16:46 – Growing an email list vs growing traffic that will convert to email subscribers
  • 20:29 – Email is a communications tool before it’s a marketing tool
  • 22:08 – The making of the ecomm email bootcamp
  • 27:17 – Early signs that someone has “it” when it comes to email copy
  • 29:05 – Practical examples for fixing SaaS problems with email
  • 33:13 – Product-led growth vs customer-led growth in email, features vs problems 
  • 36:10 – The companies that Samar works with and doesn’t work with
  • 37:50 – Girl education donations as part of project fees
  • 40:38 – How do you stay happy and successful in your career and in life

Questions we asked Samar

Pivot from content marketing to email

I have a lot of friends who started in email and ended up moving into content, sounds like you did the opposite. Give us the long story 🙂

Discounts and emails

Something I’ve learned from you is how to think about discounts in email. Discounts get a bad rep because they eat away at your profits, bargain brand perception, attract shoppers that are deal-focused and avoids addressing actual issues.  

Do you ever make exceptions to your no discount rules like bundled discounts in dtc or shipping delays… 

How to email marketing – without using discounts, especially when your sales team is requesting them or you’re starting a role where it’s just business as usual?

Email approach

Aside from no (or as little as possible discounts) you’ve shared your simple strategy for email marketing also consists of extra focus on CX and open to experimentation. I’d love for you to expand on that a bit:

Email should be owned by everyone at the company

You’ve said this before on a few podcasts, how do you operationalize that in bigger teams with growing opinions?

Growing traffic that’ll convert into email subs

One of my favorite tweets of yours is when you claim too many folks obsess about growing an email list vs growing traffic that will convert into email subs. What’s the difference and what advice do you have for early marketers responsible for email and lead gen.

Ecomm email bootcamp

I love your ecomm email bootcamp landing page. “This is not a get rich quick scheme” and “I don’t teach anything inside this course that you can’t eventually learn and figure out on your own.” 

This is a very humble way of saying, “yo I’ve been doing this for 10+ years and I’ve crammed hundreds if not thousands of hours of experience and research into a digestible course so I can save you a shit ton of time.”

Talk to us about your process for building an email course from scratch, how do you decide what’s important enough given the limited amount of content you can cover?


You tweeted about some of the email challenges as part of your bootcamp/workshop. One thing you said was being so proud seeing some of your students emerge as email strategist. 

What are early signs that tell you someone has “it”

Saas bootcamp course one day?

I loved your tweet about maybe creating a similar email bootcamp for Saas but it would be a deep dive into pouring over customer research until you find the real problem and then figuring out how to fix it with email.

In all seriousness, many SaaS are completely blind to this and we don’t have to talk about the importance of understanding your customers but ‘how do you fix things’ with email, can you give us some practical examples?

Email newsletter platforms

Your email teardown newsletter is powered by Converkit, but I know you’ve been in a bunch of other platforms. Talk to us about your favorites and what makes a great email automation tool.

Who you don’t work with.

I love that on your site you have a section about who you don’t work with. 

“I’m not the email strategist and copywriter for you if you’re a tobacco, gambling, alcohol, or an arms and ammunition company.” What advice do you have for early freelancers that don’t want to work with specific companies but are afraid of being that bold this early?

Girl education

I think it’s brilliant that everyone that works with you gets to also donate 2% of project fese to the Malala Fund in your name. Talk us through that a bit and maybe other ways you give back?

Time management /staying happy

You have 2 kids?, you run your own business, your own bootcamp/classes. One question we ask all our guests is how do you remain happy and successful in your career? How do you find balance between all the things you’re working on while staying happy?

Background notes

Samar’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/samarowais 

Samar’s website: https://samarowais.com/ 

Links to current projects


Intro music by Wowa via Unminus
Cover art created by SLB

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