What is a lead source?

A lead source is what turns a prospect into a potential customer. It's the moment when someone decides to look at a company more closely. The more you know about those marketing channels and campaigns that a prospect came in from, the better.

When it's complete, a lead source data set includes the following:

  • Which marketing efforts turn audience members into sales leads
  • Which channels are the most effective at reaching your target audiences
  • Which keywords offer the best lead generation
  • What selling points get results
  • How people reach out to you or request contact from your sales team

You can look at this information on an individual level, focusing on where an individual lead came from and what made them interested enough to reach out. You can also look at lead source data collectively, figuring out which are the most and least popular sources. Both offer important information about your potential customers.

Why should you measure your lead sources?

Lead source data offers a leg up to your marketing and sales teams. For sales, lead source data gives important information about pain points. When you pursue a lead and know what marketing campaign caused that person to express interest, you can target your sales pitch more accurately.

Let’s say you work as a sales rep for a growing software-as-a-service (SaaS) company. You get a lead who signed up for a free demo through an ad on social media. The marketing department reports that this particular ad promoted your company’s project management functions and targeted mid-level managers.

You now know who you’re talking to, what they’ve already heard about your company, and what they need. Project management functionality piqued their interest, so you’ll start the conversation there. The same information is just as useful to marketing teams, but for different reasons. Because marketers focus more on generating leads, they want to identify the top leads to pass over to sales.

What does lead source data tell you about your marketing campaigns?

Marketing teams are always trying to minimize the cost of lead generation. That’s never been easy, and as ad spending rises in response to the e-commerce boom, it’s becoming harder and harder. Lead source data gives marketing teams the edge they need to control spending without compromising on results.

Which marketing campaigns get the best results

Lead source data lets you compare the success of various marketing campaigns and the channels that they use. For example, if you're a business-to-business (B2B) marketer for a SaaS company with typical traffic patterns, you’ll probably find that organic search produces a lot of your leads.

That’s useful information all by itself. It tells you that search engine optimization (SEO) will probably be a smart investment in driving more traffic. It also tells you that it’s worth learning more about those searches.

What content people encountered on their way

There are many tools, including visitor-level call tracking from CallRail, that lets you track individual lead journeys. You can find out which keyword someone entered to reach a particular landing page. You can look at whether they browsed any other pages on your website before they called you.

This individual-level data isn’t only important to sales reps. It also tells marketing teams which keywords get results — and what topics interest people who use those keywords. With that information, your team can create more targeted content and use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising budgets more wisely.

How to personalize campaigns

When a campaign turns out to be the original source for many leads, that means it’s reached your target audience. Some of those prospects will be ready for sales right away, but some will need more contact with marketing materials.

You can use lead source data to move people through the funnel toward conversion. For example, if someone sends you their email address using a Facebook ad but doesn’t respond to your initial outreach, you can track them back to the original ad that captured their attention.

Based on that ad’s focus, you can send them links to certain social media posts, articles, or webpages. By targeting the lead’s initial pain points, you make your solution appear more relevant.

How do you capture lead source data?

Lead source data is powerful, but it rarely drops into your lap. It’s not difficult to find or understand, but you need to know what tracking tools are available to you. Here are some ways to track lead source: Website analytics: Website analytics tell you how people reached your website. If you’ve never used this tool before, Google Analytics is a good place to start. Conversion tracking: Conversion tracking tools ike Google Ads and Facebook Ads tell you where people go after seeing your paid ads. Customer relationship management: CRM tools let you organize source information by lead, giving you a detailed picture of each potential customer. Call tracking: With features like source-level and visitor-level phone tracking you can assign a different phone number to each website visitor. When that person calls, you can see what pages they’ve viewed, which campaigns they responded to, and what keywords they used if they did a search.

Why lead tracking matters

Salesforce has reported that 92% of all customer interactions happen by phone, and depending on your industry and marketing strategy, many of those will come from offline sources like referrals.

By setting up call tracking, you can keep leads from falling through the cracks, while also helping you learn more about the calls themselves.

Call-tracking services are designed to let you search for particular keywords, including those that indicate whether someone is a qualified lead. Select services like CallScore by CallRail now include automated lead scoring as part of their call-tracking packages.

This feature lets you identify caller data points and conversation keywords that indicate readiness to buy. CallScore automatically points out the leads that are ready for your sales team, letting you close sales faster.

For any B2B marketer or sales rep, lead source data is a crucial piece of the marketing analytics puzzle. It tells you which of your lead generation strategies work hardest for you and how to turn your marketing qualified leads into customers.

Find out what tools are available to you, and make sure you have a communications hub that keeps track of your lead conversations. The more data you have, the more you’ll learn about where your leads come from.

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