The Saints emerged victorious at Sandy Park as they outscored their hosts by three tries to one to move back into the top four.
Mallinder said: "This win was important because it has put us back in to the mix and with the next four games being non-league, in terms of Heineken Cup and the LV=Cup, it leaves us in a decent position."
He added: "But you want to be in the top four come the end of the season so I can still see that there is going to be a lot of changes before then. But it is good preparation for us before the our Heineken Cup tie against Castres Olympique.
"The win away to Ulster [before Christmas] has put us back on track but it is going to be difficult in the Heineken Cup but it has given us something to play for. What we need to do is focus on our home form.
"We have had some cracking wins away - we have won down here, we have won at Gloucester and at Bath as well as away at Ulster - but what we need to do is get back our home form so next week will be a good test."
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter said: "I don't think we were far off winning the game.
"It wouldn't have taken any more physical endeavour from us, it would have just taken a little more mental sharpness and a little better control of certain parts of the game.
"You are always disappointed when you lose a game but the bigger disappointment was that we were in it for large parts but I am not sure that we appreciated the pressure that we probably had on Northampton for large periods of the game."