Why email lists still beat social media (5 important facts)

white IPhone on a yellow notepad with yellow flowers in background

Growing your email list with MailerLite – or with any other email marketing service provider for that matter – may not be the first thing that comes to your mind. You’ve just launched your small business. You’ve already invested into your new branded website. You don’t want to spend more money on an email marketing tool. Yet.

You’ve set up your free social media business accounts. Everyone is on social media anyway, aren’t they? Isn’t that enough for now? 

I’m not saying that you are wrong. But you aren’t right either.

I have collected 5 important facts about social media vs. email lists. And today still email list building is the champ when it comes to small business marketing.

#1 Social media is powerful

Social media plays a crucial role in our lives. And it influences and impacts our business ventures, too. Indeed it’s a wise decision not wanting to miss this opportunity.

Take a look at Hootsuite’s Global Digital Report 2019:

illustration of statistical data depicting monthly active users of the most active social media platforms

The total number of active social media users on 3.499 billion. That means that 45% of the total population is active on social media.

Being available on social media gives businesses an enormous pool of clients and customers. And as you can imagine the numbers are growing year-by-year. For the success of any small or big business  it’s vital that they leverage this to their benefit.

#2 Email is essential

You may think that as we have an abundance of choices when it comes to mobile messengers and chat apps, that email has lost its importance.

Well, it hasn’t.

Email is still an essential part of daily online life. You have an email account, don’t you? And if you’re a business professional, small business owner chances are high you even have several email accounts: for your private life and business related activities with clients, customers, suppliers.

In 2018, the number of global e-mail users amounted to 3.8 billion and is set to grow to 4.4 billion users in 2023.

And while roughly 281 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2018, the figure is expected to increase to over 347 billion daily mails in 2022 – according to Statista.

Statistic: Number of sent and received e-mails per day worldwide from 2017 to 2023 (in billions) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

#3 Social media constantly changes and your reach fluctuates

You have little to no influence over the social media platforms you use. Every now and then Facebook, Instagram, Twitter experiences massive worldwide black-outs.

Also understandably their aim is to keep their users on their app and platform. And they constantly experiment and change their algorithms. Impacting your

  • reach,
  • likes,
  • engagement rates. 

Just think about what if one day these platforms disappear?

We have seen it happening with Google+. I’m not saying that it’s an imminent danger now for the above mentioned big social media platforms. But if your business strategy is linked only to social media, that could be a huge set back for you

  • every time they innovate with a new feature, or
  • when they change their policies.

#4 With emails You decide who to reach and how

Unlike with social media, you own your email list. People who have

  • opted in for your lead magnet,
  • signed up for your 5 day challenge or
  • subscribed to your newsletter,

shared their contact information with you willingly. They showed a deeper level of commitment and interest towards you than a simple like or a few emojis as comment.

You may not get hundreds and thousands of people on your email list right away as a small business owner. But with every new subscriber to your list you get the chance to really

  • get to know your audience,
  • to connect to them almost like on a personal level.

And based on their preferences you can customize your message the best possible way.

The Campaign Monitor blog asked 7 industry experts about their views on email list building. I found Nathalie Lussier’s view on the topic very insightful.

“Building an email list is crucial because it’s the best way to build a relationship with potential customers in an intimate way. You’re not just a status update that’s there and gone; you’re right in someone’s inbox, where they receive other important communication from their work, family, and friends.

Emails wait in someone’s inbox until they’re read, and when you write really useful emails people might refer to them more than once, because emails are easily searchable, too.

People consume email differently than they do other media, and it still converts to sales better than other mediums at this point. The more people you have on your mailing list, the more potential buyers see your marketing messages, and I see spikes in sales every time I send an email.

Plus, when you build an email list it’s “yours” – you don’t have to worry about a third party changing the rules on you. For contrast, a free service like Facebook can decide to decrease the reach you had with your fans to encourage businesses to pay for ads, but you don’t have these types of restrictions when someone has given you permission to send them useful emails.”

Nathalie Lussier, Digital Strategist at AccessAlly

#5 Email newsletters and email ads are less interruptive

Whether social media or email, you will use these channels as small business owner for advertising your products or services.

Hubspot’s research analysed what type of customer experience these online ads create. They found that consumers really hate

  • telemarketing calls,
  • pop up ads, and
  • autoplaying video ads.


I got similar results based on an ad-hoc survey in a social media group: pop ups and autoplay video or music is very annoying for the average website visitor.

statistical data depicting how positively or negatively consumers experience various advertising methods

Hubspot draws the conclusion by looking at the figures that:

Email newsletters and email ads are unique forms of advertising that consumers have opted into. They’re promotional assets that a consumer can choose to read or ignore. They include the option to unsubscribe from mailings completely. The control is all in the consumer’s hands.

In my opinion the control is shared. It’s as much in your hands as in your customers, subscribers.

  • If you constantly provide value in those emails.
  • If you serve them and offer free tips and advice that really addresses their pain points.

Then you actually have the power to keep away their fingers from that unsubscribe link.


As you’ve seen: email marketing in the form of newsletters and email ads is still a powerful tool that you should integrate into your business strategy.

And it doesn’t need to break your small business budget. You can start for free.

All you need is:

  1. a website or blog. If you’re a small business owner, you have it already up and running. In case you need a web designer to build you a new website or help you revamp your current one, I’m available for new projects.
  2. an email marketing service. Many offer free plans, so no extra costs here for the time being. I tried MailChimp but switched over to MailerLite recently.
  3. opt-in forms or landing pages. It’s easy to set up, and doesn’t require you to know programing skills. Many email marketing providers offer drag and drop functionalities!
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