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Tracking Your Lead Source: Why It Matters and How to Do It Effectively

Do you know which marketing channels lead potential customers to your brand? Get the inside scoop by learning how to track lead sources.

Use lead source tracking to discover where customers first engage with your brand and boost your marketing and sales success

The modern business landscape is highly competitive. To stand out, companies must craft innovative strategies to connect with customers everywhere they go, online and in the real world. That’s where omnichannel marketing shines. But there’s a catch: To nail this approach, you need to know exactly where customers are discovering your brand.

So, what’s the best way to do that? Lead source tracking highlights the moment customers decide to engage with your brand and explore what you offer. With this invaluable tool, it’s possible to double down on your best-performing marketing channels and stop wasting resources on the ones that don’t deliver. Here’s how it works.

Lead source definition

Before you can track your lead sources, you need to know what they are. A lead source is a pathway that guides potential customers to your brand and sparks deep connections. However, it’s not usually the first place they heard about your company, spotted your website in search results, or read your ads.

Instead, it’s the moment they decided to go from simply noticing your brand to taking a closer look. You’ll know when it happens because they actually take action, like clicking on a search engine results page (SERP) link to visit your website, following the CTA in your email, or calling your sales team after reading a print ad.

Since there’s a precise moment when the customer goes from casual observer to active participant, you can track and measure lead source effectiveness. As you do that, comparing the data will reveal which marketing channels work best and provide actionable insights to craft effective campaigns.

Top 7 types of lead sources to monitor

You have more ways to reach customers than ever before. Think of all the places you discover new brands: Social media scroll fests, podcasts you tune into, pop-up ads while playing online games, trips to the local mall, eye-catching billboards along the highway, or even a tasty sample at a weekend farmers’ market.

With omnichannel marketing, you’re undoubtedly casting a wide net to get your brand noticed everywhere your target audience spends their time. This means your customers likely come from all over, making it unclear which channels resonate most. If that’s your reality, you need a good starting point for the tracking process, like these top 7 types of lead sources to monitor.

Organic search

Organic search traffic comes from people searching for your keywords and clicking on your website from the search engine results page. You’re ahead of the game if you’re already tracking how well your target keywords perform. That’s because monitoring organic search as a lead source works similarly.

You’ll just go into your Google Analytics dashboard to record the data and then analyze what you see. This lead source works best when viewed from both a macro perspective and a detailed, granular standpoint. To start, look at how many new visitors your website gets. Then, dig deeper by seeing which keywords bring them there the most.

Email marketing

Email marketing attracts qualified leads through campaigns and newsletters sent directly to their inboxes. Although you can—and should—send emails to existing customers, you’re looking to target people who’re on your email lists but haven’t yet directly engaged with your brand.

There are two metrics to track and measure here: open rates and click-through rates. Open tracking tells you which email subject lines and topics generate the most leads. Click tracking is your true lead source metric, though, because it represents when the recipient expressed an active interest in your brand.

Social media channels

Social media channels connect people to brands in real-time through videos, posts, and comments. More than 4.8 billion people spend time on social media worldwide, making it a lead generation goldmine if you play your cards right.

Getting the best results is all about finding the platforms your target audience favors. Use your customer research to find the top 3 platforms, then track engagement metrics like reactions, comments, and shares to gauge the effectiveness of each lead source.

Blog posts

Blog posts generate interest in your company by sharing information people want to know about your products, brand purpose, and industry. Over 70% of people read blog posts while moving through the buyer’s journey, so it’s a worthwhile lead source to measure.

If you update your blog regularly, you might have noticed that it has multiple avenues to measures lead generation analytics. Look at the total number of leads your blog generates to compare with other marketing methods. Then, analyze the top 5 best- and worst-performing posts to see what topics, formats, and content lengths improve engagement.

Paid ads

Paid ads drive customers your way by showing up on search engine results pages, social media platforms, and website banners. Tracking paid ad performance is a must because it allows you to measure return on investment and optimize your ads.

Measuring how many impressions your ads get only tells you if you’re running them in the right places. Look at the click-through and conversion rates to see how many leads they generate. For the best insights, measure paid ads against other channels and compare your most popular ads to each other.

Direct mail

Direct mail puts your brand’s marketing materials, like handwritten notes, brochures, and postcards, directly in people’s hands through postal mail. Although this marketing method might seem outdated, it’s still a very powerful way to connect with customers.

Sending out direct mail to potential leads is both costly and time-consuming. So, you need to know that it’s worth it. To figure that out, incorporate specific tracking URLs, QR codes, and phone numbers to measure the response rate. You can also measure the conversion rate by creating coupon codes for each campaign.


Referrals bring you leads through the power of social proof. When you think of referrals, recommendations from people you know and trust will likely come to mind. But in today’s digital age, referrals go beyond that to include online reviews, testimonials, and even influencer marketing.

The type of referrals you use to market your business will determine which ones to track. You can do that by using unique referral codes, links, cookies, or simply asking each potential customer where they heard about your company.

Why tracking lead sources for each marketing campaign is important

Omnichannel marketing campaigns treats your target audience to a cohesive, seamless experience across all channels. As long as you get leads from each campaign, why does it matter exactly where they come from?

The short answer is that there’s always room to improve your marketing results, but guessing where to make changes doesn’t do much good. You need to examine each lead source for valuable insights that allow you to make data-driven adjustments to your approach.

Want to know exactly how lead source tracking can help? Here’s an in-depth look at its benefits.

Understand your potential customers better

Effective personalized marketing strategies depend on understanding what your customers want and where they spend their time online and offline. Lead source tracking gives you those insights by revealing your target customers’ primary interests and behaviors.

You get to see where your brand captures their attention, what marketing materials pique their curiosity, and which CTAs encourage them to explore the offer. Use that data to inform your next marketing campaign, and you’ll steadily improve your results.

Improve the lead generation efforts of your marketing team

Data-driven insights give your marketing team direction as they craft your strategy and build each campaign. The lead tracking data creates a playbook filled with the tactics and channels your target audience gravitates toward.

With that guide in hand, they’ll no longer have to spread themselves thin, trying all the different methods and avenues to see what works. The targeted approach enables them to get many more wins with far less time and effort. They will have more time to put into the lead qualification process, increasing the success of your sales team with each qualified lead sent their way.

Streamline the sales cycle with excellent lead management

The sales cycle keeps your team’s time and resources tied up until the deal closes. For B2B deals, the cycle lasts 4 months on average, although it can go on for 12 months or more. There’s no guarantee of results, either, potentially resulting in months of effort with no return.

So, any way you can shorten the cycle dramatically benefits your business by creating room for the next prospect in the sales pipeline. Lead tracking can help by giving you the data to find where your qualified leads are coming from. These leads are more likely to become customers, putting your sales team on the fast track toward closing the deal.

Boost marketing ROI across all the different channels

Improving your conversion rate while decreasing time and effort means a much higher return on investment from your campaigns. Your results may improve even more if you focus on reallocating your budget to campaigns centered around your most valuable lead sources.

The channels that yield the highest engagement and conversions ensure you use every marketing dollar to the fullest. As returns improve, you can funnel the funds back into creating even better campaigns, creating a positive feedback loop of growth.

Step-by-step guide to finding your most valuable lead source

When it comes to lead sources, more is not necessarily better. Ideally, you want to focus on quality over quantity by putting your time and money into the channels that generate the most qualified leads. Trying to get leads trickling in from all over is typically more inefficient.

Finding your most valuable lead source is no easy feat, however. Even with the right data, you need to be able to understand what it all means and be willing to adjust your approach until you find what works. Use this guide to remove some complexity and pinpoint your top-performing lead sources in a few steps.

Step 1: Select key performance indicators that align with your business goals

What does success look like for your business? Is your sales team working toward maximizing your monthly subscriptions? Do you want to increase your quarterly product sales? Or perhaps you’re focused on building brand awareness and boosting traffic to your website. Defining your business goals is the first step toward identifying your most valuable lead sources.

Once you’ve done that, you can select the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with those goals. For example, if you’re trying to boost web traffic, you’ll want to monitor metrics like new and repeat website visitors. Quarterly product sales increases are best reflected by tracking conversion rates for your emails, direct mail, and other relevant channels.

To select the best KPIs, think about which lead source channels have the greatest chances of helping you achieve your goals, but don’t rule any out just yet. Let the data come in first before you start trimming down your marketing efforts. You might be surprised at what the lead source tracking data will reveal over the coming months.

Step 2: Collect lead source data using CRM software and other tracking tools

With your KPIs in mind, it’s time to focus on collecting lead source data using customer relationship software (CRM) software. This marketing tool neatly tracks and organizes qualified leads from each source while putting all the existing and potential customer contact information in one place for your sales lead. It allows you to create reports beautifully illustrating the data and highlighting patterns revealing promising lead sources.

You might also want to use other tracking tools, like Google Analytics, to collect all the lead source data available to you. Each platform can provide another piece of the puzzle to create a big-picture view of how your lead generation efforts are panning out. Organize the data to eliminate duplicate entries and get an accurate lead count if you're using multiple platforms.

Also, give all the systems enough time to compile substantial data before analyzing anything. Remember: Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Not even the best campaigns generate instant results. Only long-term data will reveal the complete picture and provide the insights needed to improve your strategies.

How long that takes depends on your business goals, customer interactions, and lead volume. If you get a high volume of qualified leads, you might only need to compile data for a few months. However, most businesses benefit from letting the CRM do its thing for about 6-12 months.

Step 3: Analyze the lead source data to pinpoint your best lead-generation channels

Lead source data can tell a story when viewed through the right lens. The numbers and patterns reveal where your leads are coming from and when. You might see some platforms being more effective in generating leads at certain times of the year, like around the winter holidays. Or maybe you notice that specific promotions perform well on one channel in particular.

The data may also reveal which channels drive the highest conversions. For instance, Instagram might excel in raising brand awareness, while LinkedIn generates leads more likely to convert into sales. Similarly, your personalized emails might generate more qualified leads than general newsletters. But you’d never know those facts unless you took a good hard look at the data.

Although you’ll get the best insights after letting your data compile for several months or more, don’t miss the chance to watch the numbers as they come in. Each month, review the data in each system to check for early signs of telltale lead source patterns or significant changes from the rollout of new marketing materials.

Then, after enough time has passed, do a final review to find your top 3 most valuable lead sources. Repeat the tracking and analysis process regularly to gauge the success of your future campaigns and spot changes as they occur.

Step 4: Put the data to work by experimenting with new lead-generation campaigns

You could play it safe once you know which channels and campaigns attract the most leads. But if you really want to push the envelope, it’s time to experiment with new lead-generation campaigns. You might also want to try different channels whenever something new comes around, just in case it’s the next big thing.

Although it’s exciting to try new things, take a measured approach by only setting aside a small amount of your budget for such experiments. Keep the rest going into creating campaigns for your most valuable lead sources. This will help keep your marketing program in the green while leaving the door open for improvements.

Whenever you create something new, don’t just leave its success to chance, either. Use A/B testing to create compelling email marketing campaigns. Gather customer feedback about banner ads, landing pages, and social media posts. Don’t forget to measure the performance of each new marketing approach to see if it works on a small scale. If it does, you’re likely okay to go bigger and see if it still gets the desired results.

Track your lead sources for marketing and sales success

Getting started with lead source tracking might be resource-intensive, but the insights often prove invaluable in informing your marketing strategies. The data creates a scoreboard for your brand, allowing you to make game-changing decisions that elevate your marketing and sales success. As you go all in with what’s working and ditch what’s not, your efforts will get you ever closer to achieving your business goals. So, keep tracking, analyzing, and adapting to stay at your very best.

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