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7 key email metrics to track beyond opens and clicks

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7 key email metrics to track beyond opens and clicks

How many email metrics do you and your email marketing team track to measure how your email program is performing?

The top five metrics marketers use to measure success — opens, clicks, unsubscribe, click to open and bounces — are all activity-based, the 2021 State of Email Analytics report from Litmus revealed.

Those metrics all have their uses, mainly as trend indicators. And the open rate, which was already an unreliable success metric, has become even more so since Apple launched its Mail Privacy Protection feature in 2021. 

Several lesser-known metrics will shed more light on whether your email program is thriving, surviving or ready for resuscitation. Depending on your ESP and its built-in reporting, you can track these right in your dashboard.

The others will require some calculating and integration with other databases in your organization, or a third-party reporting tool can be very useful. But the extra effort will be worth your time and energy because you’ll understand better what’s going on.

1. Conversion rate

Depending on your ESP, this campaign-level metric might be reported in your dashboard. But even if you can view it there, take some time to calculate it on your own. 

Why you should track it

When reviewing your metrics holistically, this metric will help you calculate your per-email-campaign success. You can use it to compare the success rates of email campaigns that target different-priced items.

How to calculate it

Take the number of conversions and divide it by the number of emails delivered (Note: Not the total number of emails sent).

Let’s say you sent 105 emails, and 100 were delivered. If 50 subscribers click on your website, and 25 of them convert, that works out to a 25% conversion rate.  

What to know

How you calculate conversion rate matters. Remember that Google Analytics uses landing page sessions to calculate conversions. Email marketers need to isolate email-related activity to find the actual conversion rate, which involves a larger number of metrics before customers get to the campaign’s landing page on your website.

If we were to calculate the conversion rate based on sessions, it would be 50%. That might look more impressive, but it doesn’t track back to your email. It’s the same number of conversions, just spread out over a much smaller field of possibilities.

Conversion is just one facet of the total email journey. If you focus only on website activity, you’re excluding engagement on other parts of the customer journey in which email plays a part. It could also lead you to optimize incorrectly or negate the impact of your email messages. 

This reporting tool below showcases the different results for conversions, depending upon which calculation you use.

2. Value of an email address

This represents the monetary value of each email address in your database based on revenue from email. It is a business metric, not a campaign-level measurement.

Why you should track it

Unlike other metrics in this list, the value of an email address can help you make strategic and business decisions as well as campaign-level planning.

How to calculate it

Multiply the life of an address by annual email revenue and divide by the average list size in a year. For example, if the average life on your list is 3 years, your annual revenue from email is $700,000, and your annual list size is 95,000, the equation would look like this: 3 X $700,000 /95000 = $22

What to know

This metric illustrates why it’s so important to grow your email database. Here are two insights you can draw from this:

Reliable success metric

For example, suppose you want to increase frequency to increase revenue from email but are concerned that you could end up increasing unsubscribes or spam complaints from disgruntled subscribers.

While unsubs and spam complaints are one factor to consider, higher frequency can convert more subscribers to purchase, which in turn would increase revenue. Tracking email address value can reveal whether your subscribers respond with revenue or revolt. 

Evaluate acquisition expenses

Knowing your email address value can guide your decisions on how much to spend on subscriber acquisition. The higher value, the more you can justify spending to attract higher-quality subscribers. If you don’t know your subscriber value, you could end up wasting your acquisition budget.

One note: This formula is more effective for B2C email marketing, especially retail and ecommerce. For B2B brands, the classic lead-nurturing process can make the value harder to determine.

3. Customer behavior beyond campaigns

This long-tail metric involves tracking campaign-level metrics beyond the immediate campaign time period. It helps you account for every bit of revenue from email and benefits your program in the long run.

Why you should track it

Because we usually have to move on so quickly to the next campaign, many marketers simply close out each campaign with a static report without going back a week or longer later. That’s a mistake because you likely will see some activity. If you keep tracking campaigns until you see no more activity, you could go months before you stop seeing conversions.

How to track it

Check your campaign activity regularly until you see no more activity. Automate this process through your reporting dashboard if you can, or send a manual reminder.

What to know

Most campaign reporting ends way too soon. But we know that customers often retain and act on emails days or weeks after you have moved on to a new campaign. That’s the long tail of email in action. Customers don’t always stop clicking after the campaign ends.

Email’s “nudge effect” explains this long-tail characteristic. Subscribers aren’t always in the market when your email campaigns arrive. If they’re engaged with your brand, they might keep your email in the inbox until they’re ready. Seeing your email can be enough to spur them to click and convert.

Up to 19% of consumers will save the email for later to take advantage of a discount, special offer or sale, DMA UK’s 2021 Consumer Email Tracking found. Although that number has been receding in recent years, it still points to a measurable source of revenue from email. 

If you stop tracking activity too soon, you could be under-attributing revenue from email. One of my clients found it was under-recording email revenue by 128% when it expanded its reporting period from 4 days to 3 months.

Remember, the more revenue you can attribute to your email campaigns, the more budget you can request and justify to support your program.

4. ROI

Return on investment proves the channel’s value and financial success of your email program. It can help you gain more budget and resources. and helps you to gain more budget and resources.

Why you should track it

Email marketers historically are overworked and under-resourced. Part of it is our fault. We don’t provide detailed reporting, including many of the metrics I present here, and we don’t sing our own praises often enough. But ROI is one of email’s greatest advantages, so we need to measure it, report it and make sure financial decision-makers in our company know about it.

How to calculate it

Subtract campaign costs from total campaign revenue. Divide by costs and multiply by 100. 

What to know

You probably are familiar with the general benchmark ROI numbers, which range from $28 for every $1 spent to $44 or more. While those numbers are nice to know, it’s more important that you know your own ROI. 

This metric is one your C-suite executives are likely to understand. You can use it to build business cases for additional spending that can bring in more revenue, increase engagement or have a similar positive effect on your goals and objectives. 

You do run the risk that your executives will be so happy with ROI as it is that they won’t see the value in increasing spending. That’s when you can use ROI to reveal missed opportunities that need budget funding to deliver.

5. Open-reach, click-reach and conversion-reach

These engagement metrics measure how well you engage your audience between campaigns. 

Why you should track it

These metrics measure how many unique subscribers have opened, clicked or converted on your email campaigns at least once in a certain period. They are invaluable for measuring the overall engagement of your email program. 

How to calculate it

Choose your activity (opens, clicks or conversions) and measure how many unique subscribers opened (for open-reach) or clicked (for click-reach) at least one email per month, quarter or year. For conversion-reach, you calculate how many unique subscribers converted in the chosen period.

What to know

By using this metric, you can identify the total reach of your campaigns for that quarter. For these engagement metrics to be truly useful, they must correlate to conversions and revenue, such that increasing open-reach also increases revenue.

Each of these metrics has value (even the open rate) when you use them to track trends — whether they’re increasing or decreasing. Adding reach to the equation gives you more information than you would get from each of these activity-based metrics by themselves. 

A few minutes with a calculator — or, ideally, good data visualizations displayed right in your email marketing platform’s dashboard (a girl can wish!) — can pinpoint your strengths, highlight your weaknesses and help you map out new ways to message your customers more effectively.  

6. Customer lifetime value (CLTV)

This business metric helps you focus on customer retention and customer experience (CX). 

Why you should track it

This number is helpful as both a benchmark metric — is it trending up, down or stable, and how does it compare to lifetime values of other marketing channels? — and as an absolute number that represents the value a typical customer represents.

How to calculate it

Calculate your average customer’s yearly spend and multiply it by the average number of years your customers are active. You also can calculate it based on different life stages or segments, such as the average customer compared with loyal customers.  

What to know

CLTV is a long-term business metric that represents value beyond a single campaign’s average order value or revenue per email. After all, customers don’t — or shouldn’t — buy just once from your brand. 

While you can track it over time to learn whether customers are spending more or less with your brand, its greater value is as the foundation for building business cases showing email’s contribution to company revenue or to support a request for additional funding for acquisition, automations that can make your email messages more effective and drive more sales, and so on. 

7. List growth

This metric measures whether and how your list has grown in a set period. 

Why you should track it

Perhaps you look at your total list number when you get ready to send a promotional campaign. You can see it right there in your dashboard: “Sending campaign to 500,000 recipients.” 

Or you look at how many people received your message. But how long has it been since you analyzed whether your list is growing or shrinking?

How to calculate it

Count both the number of opt-ins in a month, quarter or year and the number of addresses removed because of unsubscribes, spam complaints, bounces and inactivity. 

For example, if you start Month A with a list of 100,000 addresses, and start Month B with a list of 110,000, you might assume your list grew 10%, or by 10,000 addresses. But if you removed 5,000 addresses for the reasons I listed previously, your list actually grew by 15,000 addresses or 15.8%. 

What to know

In my experience, most people either don’t measure list growth or look at only the total list size occasionally. But you need to measure your exact growth so you can understand how well your acquisition efforts are working or whether you’re losing more subscribers than you take in. You’ll also understand better how much churn your list goes through in a year, which is important to know if you need to hit a list-growth goal.

Suppose, for example, you need to increase your list by 20% for the year. If you have a list of 100,000 addresses, you might think you need to add 20,000 new email addresses. But you’ll need more than that if you lose 5% of your list every month to churn. The chart below shows how churn affects list acquisition.

Subscriber growth

Knowing how list growth fluctuates month to month will help you better understand how changes in decisions like frequency (how often you send messages) and cadence (the intervals between messages) affect frequency. The bottom line can obscure the finer details of both churn and acquisition.

Go beyond your ESP’s dashboard

Although many ESPs now offer more detailed metrics, most still focus on email activity like opens, clicks and unsubscribes. A separate robust reporting tool that integrates across databases enables you to slice up your data in more relevant ways and understand what’s really happening with your program. You can use this information to identify where you need to improve or where advanced services can help you drive more revenue. 

Reporting tools like these give you another advantage — immediate access to your data. You might work with a terrific analytics team, but you probably have to compete with other marketing channels or departments for their time and attention.

Customized reports can be a long time coming, and you probably don’t have the luxury of time to wait, especially with holiday marketing campaigns or annual goals and strategy to create.


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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