The difference between a lead and a subscriber is akin to the difference between a date and a marriage. Both are important relationships, but one often requires more commitment than the other.


Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to assess your marketing strategy. Pay close attention to the Marketing Strategy and Planning section starting on page 254.


As CMO, it’s crucial that you understand the qualities of each. Why? Because leads and subscribers will engage with your brand in different ways—and one can be much more valuable than the other.


Here’s what you need to know.


Do you want a lead or subscriber? Knowing the difference is critical to making the number. What is a lead?


A lead is a consumer who engages with your company at arm’s length.


A lead may express interest in some of your content and even fill out a form for more information. But they’re not looking for the relationship to progress beyond that exchange.


How do you know?


When a Sales rep reaches out, leads don’t want to engage. They’re unwilling to provide information to help qualify them. For example, they don’t reveal their budget, the definition of their problem, or when they might make a purchasing decision.


Those qualities don’t make for a great potential customer. And they’re strikingly different from those of a subscriber. Here’s how.


What is a subscriber? 


A subscriber engages with your company on an ongoing basis.


A subscriber is a willing participant in the exchange between vendor and consumer. They’ve expressed interest in your brand, content, and people. And they want to form a long-term relationship with your company.


How do you know?


They respond to Sales inquiries with helpful information, and are interested in exchanging not just money but also ideas.


Still, those aren’t the only rewarding qualities of subscribers.


Which one is more valuable? 


A subscriber is worth a good deal more than a lead.




Subscribers have committed to your brand, and are more likely to become dream customers. They buy the right products for the right problems at the right prices.


Meanwhile, leads are often sensitive to price and tend to form more adversarial relationships for your brand. They may participate in a one-off transaction or conversation, but they’re not taking it much further than that.


If you want to build healthy relationships with your potential customers, you need to nurture your subscribers. They’re the ones who are “married” to your brand.


We recommend downloading our 10 Tips to Attract More Subscribers brief to guide your action plans.  In the brief, we discuss how to attract and build a relationship with your subscribers.  You can download the 10 Tips to Attract More Subscribers.


Now, it’s not like you can’t have healthy relationships with people you’re dating. It’s just that in a marriage, you both know you’re in it for the long haul. 


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test to rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:


  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job


Sales Revenue Growth