“Call Me CEO” is your master-class on innovation, creativity, leadership, and finding YOUR perfect balance between motherhood and entrepreneurship.

Have you ever wondered how you can create an effective email marketing plan? In this episode, Camille welcomes Abby Combs, founder and CEO of E-Studios Marketing, which helps entrepreneurs take back their time and scale their business. 

Abby shares her best practices on how she helps her clients grow their business through email and social media management. She gives her tips on the importance of testing, looking at overall marketing trends, and the different programs that you can use to help leverage your own marketing.

If you’re interested in learning more about email marketing for your business, tune into this episode to hear Abby’s advice on how you too can use effective marketing strategies to scale your business.



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Connect with Abby:

Follow E-Studios on Instagram: www.instagram.com/e_studiosmarketing

Visit her website: www.theestudios.com

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ABBY COMBS [00:00]

We've concluded that right now, at least right now, graphics are winning. And so, I would highly, highly encourage you guys to create your emails that are easy to consume.



So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.


Hey, everyone. Thank you for coming to my channel. Please subscribe here at Call Me CEO podcast. We actually share stories of mothers building businesses. This is a part two of Abby Combs who built a marketing business from her home.

Today, we're going to be talking about how to build a successful email marketing plan for 2024. Email is a system that you will always own. And it is important that you understand the ins and outs of it, especially because it is something that you own. Social media can change. Algorithms can go up and down, but an email list is something that you own and can communicate in such a personal way with your audience.

If you are not subscribed, please do so, and to my email as well. Now, there are some specials that are offered in this email-specific show. So, I wanted to make sure to highlight those. Number one is Abby has a power hour that you can get 50% off by using the code callmeceo. And that will give her a place to meet with you and go through what's working and what's not for a very one-on-one experience.

So, make sure that if you haven't listened to part one, and you want to hear Abby Combs' story, you can go back and listen to that episode. Part two is all about how to have a successful approach to email marketing in the year 2024. Let's go.


Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is your host, Camille Walker. If you did not know, this is part two of a part one. So, if you've missed it, make sure you go back to part one where we talk all about E-Studios and how Abby Combs was able to build this incredible marketing business. So, that's part one.

Part two is more about you. We're going to be talking about how you can build a successful email marketing plan for Q1. And there's a freebie at the end, so make sure that you listen to the end. So, you know where to find that resource. And, Abby, thank you again for being on the show.

ABBY [02:39]

Yes, I'm excited. We had a really great conversation in part one. It was really fun to talk through all the things, how we got to here. That's great.

CAMILLE [02:49]

Yeah. And it's really filled with so many personal details and, my gosh, what you've done to build this incredible business and help so many people. So, do another brief introduction in case people didn't get a chance to hear that just telling who you are and what you do.

ABBY [03:05]

Yes, for sure. Yeah, it's all detailed out. I am a detail kind of gal. So, if you want all the nitty gritty details, go to part one. But, yeah, I own E-Studios Marketing, we are a marketing management firm. So, we do everything from building everything for you to managing it all for you. So, things like email marketing is a big part of what we do, social media management, SMS texting, and Shopify websites. We create, manage, build, strategize, all the things.

CAMILLE [03:38]

Yeah. So many amazing services that a lot of entrepreneurs that I talked to are like, "If I just had someone to do this, this and this for me," and it's pretty much everything you do. So, that is amazing. And for this episode, we're going to be talking specifically about email marketing and how to come out strong in 2024.

It's interesting because I actually heard you present at Cultivate, I was also a presenter there as well. And you had mentioned something about how people aren't reading as many emails as they used to. It's more about images and short texts, which is sometimes different from what I've heard other people say in email. So, I'm ready to dig into this and talk about what is different, what's successful and what is no longer working?

ABBY [04:24]

Yeah, for sure. And I will start by just saying that I think it's important to create something that you would open, at least that's a big strategy of ours. And here's the thing and here's why I should say, most of the time you created your business because you saw a need that would either help you or someone close to you. And so, you're pretty aware of what your ideal customer client is, what they need because you probably need it yourself.

And so, if you're creating something because you read an article somewhere over there that might have worked, you don't know if that worked for your industry, if it worked for your demographic, if it worked for your product or your service. You just maybe read a statistic. And I think really in the end, when it comes to marketing, you have to test all of the things. So, sure, try it.

And I'll say that most of my clients, I am their ideal demographic, which has been such a blessing to be able to create things that I'm like, yeah, I would open that, or I would never open that. And I know I'm not the end all be all to all things, but if you can hone in on your ideal customer, you'll be able to determine what kind of emails to create.

That being said, if we think through the big-box stores, and some examples are Walmart, Target, Nike, Free People, some of these major stores that are maybe in a mall, H&M, all the different stores, they are training the vast majority of the audience how to consume content. And so, we need to be watching what they're doing to see how we can piggyback on some of their strategy.

The other thing is, thanks to the introduction of YouTube videos, which was years ago, but still rampant right now, and Instagram video and reels and TikTok, that is also training all people to consume information extremely fast. And I have said before, the general population has a very small attention span, and then we introduce video. And now, they have an even smaller attention span.

Also, the digital age is creating content. I'm going to butcher this, I should find it and read it, but I heard that there are 500 hours of YouTube videos uploaded every hour to YouTube. So, the idea here is that because of the digital age, content is being produced and sent out to the world at a lightning speed that we also are fighting over just space in front of somebody. So, if your audience is fitting into all these categories, they're probably not spending or creating a lot of time to read the link in the email.

That's why most blogs have turned into a search engine. It's not meant to be what it was 10, 20 years ago when they first came out. Blogs were read, they were read by humans. Now, they are read by Google and Google only really. People are finding them, getting to the gist of the post from what I know.

And so, again, it goes back to we have very little time and attention to grab. So, let's create something that we can deliver quickly. So, what we've started testing, it's probably been two and a half years ago, we started testing heavy graphic emails, meaning that the email was full of imagery and photos and things that they could really quickly consume.

And we were actually really terrified because at that time, text was winning. You had to have enough text and photos to make sure that it delivered correctly, that people would read it. And we had all these rules. We started testing full graphic emails, and they performed just as well as the text emails. And so, based on that data and the overall introduction of video and all of that, like I mentioned, we've concluded that right now, at least right now, graphics are winning. And so, I would highly, highly encourage you guys to create your emails that are easy to consume.

CAMILLE [08:44]

Okay. I like this because I agree. It's funny I had a video just go viral this last week that I created a month ago. I just looked at these stats because I was coaching someone with strategy. And I created it October 7th, and it's still going viral this week. Right now as I speak, it's November 16. So, it's been about a minute. And I'm like what is the deal with this reel? And it's like under five seconds. And it's like 15 top drives in Utah or fall drives you need to do or something like that. It is so short and it is just a specific list of where you should go. And it's beautiful imagery, which obviously that's key.

But what's really interesting about this, and I think a big question that some people might have is when I create an email, if you're on my email list, please join me, you can join below. If you're on my email, because I have a blog where I write mom lifestyle content and then I also have this podcast where I share moms developing their businesses and their stories and my coaching, I have some things that are really easy to share an image for.

I have recipes and travel or things like that that come from my lifestyle website. But when it comes to coaching, it's just a picture of me or me at the computer or a keyboard or whatever it is. So, for someone who's listening that is maybe more service-based and doesn't have product as heavy, what are some good images for them to use in emails, if it's more like they are their brand?

ABBY [10:28]

Yeah, great question. So, I think if you are the brand, then show your face, show you. Use that. That's good. You also don't have to have 17 images of you. You could have an image of you maybe at the header. And then, yeah, I would incorporate some keyboard, you at your desk. I think people also want to see humaneness. And so, even if it's an iPhone photo of you sitting at your desk or you schedule a branding photoshoot once a quarter, and they come to your office, or they come to your home and you're having them take a picture of your hand typing more so than a stock image. I think stock images have come a long way, but a lot of them you can tell are stock. And so, maybe avoid those a little bit.

And don't try so hard to get a photo that it's off brand or it looks so stock, but also don't go the other way that you're not sending an email because you don't have images. You also can do just some color and instead of writing something out super long, yeah, maybe it is your 15 fall drives, we'll take that same example, you could put that in an email 15 top drives. Here are three of my favorites. And then, you can pull in imagery of the drive, but it may be you're just having the three. And it's just a picture of the drive, maybe even go out to your car, take a quick photo of you in the car. I would match your branding. Obviously, there's a lot of elements that go into this.

But just show some colors in the background, less paragraphs, and more blocks of, "read this one here or get directions here or see if this is in your area by clicking here," and getting them from the email to quickly consume it, see if it's something that they resonate with, and then have them click to go somewhere else to get the full and then that's where your blog comes in, which is a really great strategy and/or podcast, to use your email list to tee up your blog or your podcast or your social media. They don't have to stay in the email that we don't actually want them to. We want them to open it and stay there for a quick second and then click somewhere else.

CAMILLE [12:40]

Yeah, I like that. I feel like it's like you judge a book by the cover, the same thing applies. One thing that I think is true is that people really do judge the book by its cover when it comes to subject line and whether or not they're even going to click into your email. Are there some hacks or tricks or best practices for creating email titles that people will open?

ABBY [13:16]

Yes, for sure. The best tip I can give is to A/B test. So, I love and hate this answer because every marketer uses it. And it feels gimmicky. But I promise it's not. For me to be able to give you a really defined answer, I'd have to do some testing to weed out what didn't work. So, definitely do some testing.

Most platforms that you'll use walk you through how to do A/B testing. Basically what A/B testing is it's one email that's the same, you're sending it in two different ways to different segments of your audience. And so, it's basically email A and email B, although they're both the exact same email, but you're going to make some slight changes.

So, this could be two different subject lines, it could be the same subject line, but you're including an emoji in one of them. It could be the same subject line, but different preview text. It could be different subject lines and different bodies of the email. When you try and change too much, you don't get really great data. And so, you're testing too many things at once.

So, I would test different subject lines to see if your audience responds well to an emoji or not. That's a really good way to start. And also, I have a tool that I'll send you that you can put in the show notes. That is a free tool that we actually use with all of our clients. It's called subject line tester, I believe. Yes. And basically, you put in your subject line that you want, that you think is awesome, and then it gives you a grade back. And it can be really enlightening. Sometimes, we've gotten an F rating and we're like no, that's freaking good and the software is like, no, it's not.

So you plug that in, it actually will give you a grade like an A, B, C, D, or F. And then, it will give you some suggestions on what to change. They're also basing a lot of this off of the I call it the email god's rules that we have to play by. And so, they're helping you with deliverability and landing in the inbox. So, that's a really great resource and a tool.

Testing is a big one. And then, a lot of it goes back to what would you open? Don't get so clickbaity, that you know that's not going to work. But don't give all the secrets either. Your 10% off code is inside. I'm like, actually I don't want to wake up for 10% percent off, so I'm not going to open it. But if you're like, your free gift is inside or the code you've been waiting for is inside, something like that, that you're like, I'm curious, that would make me be curious, I would test those.

So, there's really no rhyme or reason. There are a lot of things that work. And we probably will create in Q1 a cheat sheet that we can give you guys as well that leverage our favorite subject lines that have worked and we've tested in the past, but just know that it's ever evolving. And the more that you can test, the more data you'll have to say, our audience really responds well to this or they don't to this.

CAMILLE [16:23]

Yeah, that's helpful. I am definitely going to try out that subject line tester. That is brilliant. That's something I heard you mentioned before. And in my mind, I'm like, I'm going to do that. And sure enough, I have not. I need to do that because that is so helpful just to get a second opinion. There are so many resources now for even helping write email, whether you're using ChatGPT. Is that something that you dabble with, with writing email, or what's your opinion on that?

ABBY [16:51]

Yes, I was just going to say ChatGPT is actually a really great resource, if you know how to use it. This is not my area of expertise. And I know I probably should learn more about it, but my team does use ChatGPT not only to write emails, but just for some of these one-liners. How do I say, download your guide without saying download your guide? And it will actually tell you what to write, or how do I say shop now without being so aggressive? How do I invite them to shop the website? How do I not use these words, but say this? And they will spit out some amazing options.

I will tell you 75% of the time, the ChatGPT answers we don't use, but it sparks an idea of ours that we wouldn't have gathered otherwise. Somebody relayed AI to the iPhone camera, and how when iPhone cameras first came out or a camera on your phone, that it did not eliminate the need for professional photographers. It just lets everyone take photos really quickly.

So, that's the same thing with ChatGPT, it's not going to eliminate the humaneness that you're going to need to make sure that your audience would actually like that subject line, but it's definitely a huge resource that my team uses. And most people that I know in marketing are implementing in some way. So, I would highly recommend you guys use ChatGPT in some way for your subject lines, for your copy, for your buttons to understand. And again, the whole point is to have a vast majority of information right at your fingertips. So, use it, for sure.

CAMILLE [18:28]

Okay. And another question that I have for you is, how often should we be sending emails? I know that it's depending on however you can keep it consistent, but in your experience helping businesses, what has seemed to be the most profitable? I know everyone's so different, but what would you say?

ABBY [18:51]

Yes, I was just going to start by saying, I don't know. I don't know exactly. Because it's different for everybody's brand, everybody's commitment. I do think a big thing that I tell people, especially when you're just starting out email marketing, it can feel extremely overwhelming and really daunting. And then, you actually just stop doing it.

So, the same thing for social media that people say goes for emails, it's let's decide what you can commit to, how you can be consistent, and do that. If you can post once a day on social media every single day, great, do that. If you can post once a week, great, go do that.

Same thing for email marketing. I don't know that I would tell you to email every single day by any means, but I also don't know that I would tell you to only email once a month or once a week. I would tell you to work up to it. For those of you that are not doing email marketing at all, I would start with twice a month. Let's get a newsletter out there twice a month. I call it a newsletter. It can be a massive campaign. It can be a value-packed email, it can be a sale or promotion.

The biggest thing I would tell you for the cadence of your emails is that do not only email your list when it's time to spend money, because they will read through that, there's always an asterisk, unless you are a brand that's always on sale or you only are there to provide a product to buy. And most of my clients are there for something more. The end result is a purchase or a transaction, but there's a lot more you can give to your audience and community, just like you will on social media.

You mimic those behaviors on email. So, if you're just getting started out, be conscious to not only send emails when it's time to spend money. And I would start with maybe twice a month. And to think through, how can I provide a lot of value to somebody who's opening this?

Another question you can ask is, what do I want my customers to gain from this email? And so, think about putting yourself in their shoes or their position, what's the point of the email? And then, you also need to keep in mind, what do you want your customers to do with this email? Are they shopping? Are they clicking on something? Are they downloading it? Are they free? Are they going to go watch an Instagram video? What are they doing with this email? And if you can have some of the direction on what's in it for them and where did they go with it, you'll be able to create emails that are worth a lot more value to your end user.

CAMILLE [21:21]

So, with that being said, do you feel like it's important to send emails that only have one objective? And what I mean by that, let me give you an example. In my email, I will send a recipe and/or an activity and my weekly episode, so it's like there's something in there that could be for anyone, but maybe they don't want all the things. Do you think that's a good idea, or should it just be this is the episode for the week and maybe the recipe is a different email later on in the week?

ABBY [21:54]

Good question. Okay. So, there's a ton of ways that we could do that. And it would really dive into overall goals, what are your customers doing with you? What do you want them to do with you? What are your open rates? What are your click throughs? We would have to dive into all of that to create a long-term strategy.

The short answer is sure, you can definitely include more than one objective in an email for sure. And a lot of times we do. We will promote one product specifically and then talk about the rewards program at the bottom, or we'll promote one product. What if that person already has that product?

And so let's talk about subscriptions or something new on social media. What I would encourage is that there is maybe like a 70/30 split or a 60/40 split where there is a main objective, and it takes up a little bit more space. And then, the other two, not afterthoughts, but are there to see what they do with it. See if there's a direction that your customers go.

So, I need to make my recipe less important and my activity more important, or we had a really small percentage to the recipe or the really small percentage to the podcast. All of that's going to give you feedback and data to say, here's what happened. How do I pivot for the next one? So, I do think you can include more than one objective.

Let's say you have the recipe be mostly the email. And then, at the bottom, it's a little bit about you said the podcast and an activity. Let's say that you had the recipe for the most of it. And at the bottom, we have the activity that links to maybe a blog post, and then the episode that links to obviously where they can listen to it. Then once we send it to them, we would then be able to go back and look, what did they click on? What did they do? And that will help give you data on nobody actually clicked to download the recipe, they all clicked on the activity.

What I would avoid doing is having them all be equally as large. So, if you're going to have a really big space of the recipe, and then a ton of information about the activity, and then a ton of information about the podcast, that's going to get lost. But I would have one or two main directions. And then, you can still tease or sprinkle in some other things that you're doing as well, because it may hit a different audience.

And let's say that most people weren't interested in the recipe that week. And if you didn't have anything else for them, they would maybe get lost, or they'd be like, This is not for me. Unsubscribe. So, having a few other things sprinkled in there is a good idea, I think. I actually got an email from a friend recently, and every section of her email was super, super long. And it was overwhelming to me. We just re-adjust the weight of those different things that you're trying to promote or talk about.

CAMILLE [24:38]

Yeah, I love that. That's really good advice. Now, as we're closing this up, what are some of your favorites? And I know that you like Flodesk, and this is a question I already know part of what you're answering, but I want our audience to hear that too for people who maybe they're just starting out and they want to be successful with email. Depending on where they are in their business and what they want to invest in, the cost, and this is a whole thing. So, it might take a minute, so you don't have to dig into all the weeds, but what is a good place for them to start for maybe starting out their email list or taking it to that next level?

ABBY [25:17]

Perfect. I get this question a lot. So, I'll give you the quick answer. And then, if you guys have questions, please send them in. And we can answer further. But I have three favorites. Every marketer will have their own favorites, and I have three. Just getting started, you're going to want to be aware of the platform's fees and when and if they up their rates based on your list size. So, watch that.

Most platforms like all but one that I know of charge you based on how many people are on your list. So, watch that. The one that doesn't, that I'm aware of, that is a very low introductory rate, it is the rate is Flodesk. And so, Flodesk right now is $40 a month, and most people have a referral code they can give you. I don't have one, maybe, Camille, you have one. It saves you.

CAMILLE [26:01]

I do.

ABBY [26:02]

Perfect. Yeah, so she'll link that and it saves you half of your monthly fee, I think for a full year. So for $20 to $40, it's a really, really cheap way to start on email marketing. Obviously, there's pros and cons to every platform, just like websites and every tool out there. So, there's pros and cons to Flodesk, but that's a really, really great place to start. It's especially good for service-based industries who don't need to do a ton of automations but want to get emails out and see the potential there.

My next favorite is Mailchimp. People either love it or hate it. People think that it's a dinosaur, but it has recently been bought by Intuit. And it's evolving and trying to grow with the time. So, it is a great platform. You'll spend more there. They do have a free plan under 1000 or 2000 subscribers, it's free. But once you get into automations and segments and all that, they will charge you. You're looking at around $100 to $200. And then, I have clients who are spending $800 on Mailchimp. So it ranges.

And then my ultimate favorite right now is Klaviyo. You're going to spend more, probably starting at least $300 a month from one I'm aware of. They charge you for list size, all of that, but it is extremely robust. So, if you're a product-based business that has more than one product, I would highly recommend investing into Klaviyo. You can do so much based on email behavior, customer behavior, website behavior. And you can use your email marketing strategy to support all the interactions that your customers have and try and get them to convert. It also has SMS texting built in.

And so, you're going to pay for that platform outside of Klaviyo. If you aren't going to pay for that separately, then maybe use Mailchimp. But if you want to put everything in one place and you're not paying for SMS yet, I would get started on Klaviyo because you have SMS texting built in. And it's really, really nice to have it all in one place.

So, those are my three favorites. They are for three different stages of business. When you're ready to level up, you'll feel frustrated with your current platform that you can't do what you want it to do. That's when it's time to change and to move over and to upgrade and invest into a bigger, more robust platform.

CAMILLE [28:15]

Yeah. That's so helpful. Any other last tips for finding success in 2024 for email marketing?

ABBY [28:21]

Yes, I do have one more tip. What I know is that a lot of the laws are changing when it comes to email marketing at the end of this year. So, come by February of 2024, we will see a shift in the email marketing world which we haven't seen in a long time. And so, my team and I are trying extra hard and working long, long hours to research as much as we can to be a resource to you guys on what's changing, what's shifting, and what you guys need to be aware of. There's not a ton that you have to know about the legalities of it.

But there are a few things that you'll want to know so that your emails don't get sent to the spam and junk folders. So, be watching that. We'll definitely post as much as we can. And maybe we'll come back and do another episode about what changes you need to make to be safe in 2024.

But you still can do email marketing, it's still a huge moneymaker. It's still the highest return on investment that you'll have when it comes to digital marketing. And it's way more personal, one-to-one relationship with your customers than it is social media. So, still important, still a huge player in the marketing world. And I would highly encourage you to get started even if it's in a small dabble way. You'll see some really great progress with it.

CAMILLE [29:38]

Yeah. And I always like to remind everyone that this is something that cannot be taken from you in the way of it's not your social media platform that can change on a whim, of course, there can be new guidelines and things that you have to keep in mind, but you own your email list. That is an asset that if and when you ever were to sell your business, it comes with it, which is really cool. It can be its own asset, which I think is so impactful. So, treat it that way. And, Abby, thank you so much for telling us all of these amazing tips. Please tell everyone where they can find you.

ABBY [30:11]

Yes. And thank you for having me. It's just so, so fun. If you have more questions, please reach out. You can find me on Instagram. I love chatting in my DMs and answering all the questions. So you can find me on Instagram @e_studios marketing. And then, my website is theestudios.com.

CAMILLE [30:27]

Awesome. Thank you again.


Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you are not subscribed, please do so. Any subscription, share, or review of this podcast helps us immensely. And if you would like to subscribe, that would help me out as well to share stories of amazing mothers and women building businesses.

Now, there are some specials that are available through Abby Combs that she was so graciously offering to our audience. If you use the code, callmeceo, you can get 50% off of power hour with her for her to look at your email marketing and what is working well and things you might want to tweak and change which is super helpful. She also has packages for managing email and strategy for your marketing so that you can hit the ground running in 2024.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. And remember, if you are a busy CEO looking for help with strategy, hiring a virtual assistant, or learning how you can create systems in your business to have more time and more life back, please reach out to me at callmeceopodcast@gmail.com or you can reach me on Instagram @camillewalker.co. Thanks for tuning in.


Hey, CEOs. Thank you so much for spending your time with me. If you found this episode inspiring or helpful, please let me know in a comment in a 5-star review. You could have the chance of being a featured review on an upcoming episode. Continue the conversation on Instagram @callmeceopodcast. And remember, you are the boss!


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