Which is More Valuable: A Lead or Subscriber?


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.


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 brief here.


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.


Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.


He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.


Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.


He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.


Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.


He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.




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