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How To Track And Manage Lead Sources

Written by:

Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How To Track And Manage Lead Sources

How To Track And Manage Lead Sources

In the same way that prospectors did it during the gold rush, companies must detect and manage the flow of money into the company by finding customers at their richest sources. By honing in on their most valuable lead sources, your business can generate more qualified leads without stretching your marketing budget until it crumbles beneath the strain.

If your business is looking to increase its lead generation efforts and bring in more quality leads, this guide will help you by walking through the different lead-source types, explaining how you can use them to track and manage your sources to produce maximum returns.

Key Takeaways

  • Lead source tracking occurs when a company identifies which source or marketing channel a potential customer first hears about their business.

  • By tracking lead sources, a company can identify its top-performing marketing channels, improve the ROI on marketing investments, and shorten its sales cycle.

  • Five ways to track lead sources include UTM parameters, call tracking, separate promotional codes, CRM software, and asking the customer.

  • Four ways to manage lead sources include measuring and analyzing each source’s success, consolidating leads by compiling them in one location, collecting granular information, and continuously adapting and experimenting to improve source tracking efforts.

Why Is Lead Source Tracking Important?

Lead source tracking is the process of identifying which source or marketing channel was being used when a potential customer first heard about your business. Using this information, your business can hone in on the best, most productive marketing channels, and make better, data-driven decisions.

In particular, here are three benefits a company can realize through lead source tracking.

Identify Your Top-Performing Marketing Channels

According to a 2022 HubSpot survey, a majority—81%—of marketers leverage at least three marketing channels. 

If you, like the majority of businesses, use several marketing channels to bring in customers, then lead tracking will allow your marketing team to identify which source produces the most qualified leads and paying customers.

Once this information is known, your business can then invest more time, effort, and money into its highest-performing lead sources to attract more qualified leads, and to improve the ROI of your marketing expenditures.

Improve Your Marketing ROI

According to Vendasta, 78% of customers buy from the first company that responds to their inquiry or need. 

In other words, by using lead source tracking and management to identify and focus on the most salient lead sources, your sales team can attend to hot leads the minute they contact your business and increase the chances of making a sale.

In the same vein, lead tracking helps your business identify whether each lead source meets the break-even point for costs in order to reallocate time, effort, and funding away from the less-stellar lead channels. 

By increasing revenue and reducing costs, lead source tracking can majorly improve the return on investment for every dollar you spend on marketing and lead generation.

Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Imagine you’re a customer who emails a business with a product question. If you don’t hear back from them in a reasonable time frame, you might choose to shop with a different company. Even if, for some reason, you choose to continue with the first company, you might have a slightly negative opinion of the company after wasting valuable time waiting for the business to respond to your email. At this point, you might represent a harder sale for the company.

That’s exactly why your chances of making a sale increase eightfold if you respond to a lead within the first five minutes, according to an InsideSales study. 

By identifying your most popular lead sources and reallocating employees to monitor those channels, your business can follow up with inbound leads immediately, decreasing each sale’s time to close and increasing customer satisfaction.

Types of Lead Sources

Before we get into how to track and manage lead sources, let’s take a look at what sort of sources we’re tracking and focusing on.

No matter your industry, product, or business model, you’ll likely have at least a few lead sources. If not, you’d have no customers, after all. 

Here are the most common lead sources, spanning almost all marketing efforts.

Online Lead Sources

  1. Blog posts, including guest posts
  2. Content marketing
  3. Paid ads, such as price-per-click (PPC) ads
  4. Landing pages
  5. Social media channels
  6. Backlinking
  7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  8. Email campaigns
  9. Pillar pages and organic search traffic
  10. Virtual events

Traditional Lead Sources

  1. Referrals
  2. In-person events, such as trade shows and conferences
  3. Physical print advertisements, such as newspaper ads and billboards
  4. Door-to-door prospecting
  5. Radio ads
  6. Direct mail
  7. Cold calling
  8. Networking

Although it is possible, it is not likely that your business is employing all of these lead sources. 

How Do You Track Lead Sources?

As we said before, the most popular number of marketing channels used by businesses today seems to be three sources. If you’re using more than that, we recommend following the lead tracking tips below to identify which lead sources are the best at bringing in high-quality leads for your business.

Without further ado, here are five tips, tactics, and methods you can use to help you track your company’s best  lead sources.

UTM Parameters

If your business sources leads through online channels such as social media or backlinking, urchin tracking module (UTM) parameters are the most powerful tool you can use to track where an inbound lead came from and what interactions they engaged in.

Simply put, UTL parameters are tags that can be added to the end of a URL that change depending on a lead’s source. 

There are five different types of UTM parameters you can mix and match to track lead sources:

  1. utm_source, representing which website a lead came from before arriving at yours
  2. utm_medium, representing which marketing channel the lead came from, such as email or social media
  3. utm_campaign, representing a specific marketing campaign material that may be associated with
  4. utm_term, representing any keywords, paid or unpaid, the material targeted
  5. utm_content, representing the specific website element that was clicked on by the user, such as an image banner versus a text link

Marketers can then collect and analyze the UTM data to drive insights on the marketing tools that bring in the most leads, using analytics software such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or a CRM software system

The best part about UTM parameters is that each parameter can track several sources at once, allowing the business to track multiple lead generation campaigns at once.

Call Tracking

If your company relies heavily on potential customers calling the business to place an order, call tracking software can help you identify which marketing channels and content produce the most inbound calls.

Call tracking software creates and assigns unique phone numbers to each marketing tool you want to track and it routes those inbound calls to your main phone line. For example, you could assign two separate phone numbers for your Facebook Ad and Instagram Ad campaigns to see which of the two platforms brings in more new leads.

You can use call tracking to monitor different channels, mediums, and segments, such as:

  • Website pages/landing pages
  • Newsletters
  • Blog articles
  • Social media ads
  • Paid ads
  • Organic ads
  • Offline ads
  • SEO keywords
  • Paid search keywords
  • Google business profile

By seeing which phone number receives the most calls, your business can determine which lead source brings in the most valuable leads.

Separate Promotional Codes

Similar to call tracking, by using separate promotional codes, you can identify which promotional channels are the best at generating leads by assigning different codes or different discount coupons for each lead generation campaign.

A simple example of this is when influencers advertise that viewers can get 15% off their first purchase by using their name as a discount code during checkout. On the sponsoring business’s side, these unique discount codes tell the business exactly how many new leads each influencer brought in.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

If your business has the money to spare, a customer relationship management (CRM) software system can integrate with your marketing channels, automatically tracking leads throughout the marketing funnel and through the sales process.

Even if you don’t have money for a state-of-the-art CRM with marketing automation, a CRM platform can still help you track leads by allowing your sales team to manually tag each sales lead’s profile with the source they came from.


Finally, the easiest way to determine where a lead came from is to simply ask them.

If you ask leads to fill out a contact form when requesting lead magnet content, you can add a small required field asking, “How did you hear about us?” along with a list of your lead sources. New customers are usually happy to answer honestly.

The best part about this approach is that it can be adapted for virtually any lead channel, whether it be chatbots, in-person conversations, or online lead generation tools. 

You could even add it to post-sale review forms to get the opinion of current and former clients, honing in on the lead source that provides the most paying customers.

How Do You Manage Lead Sources?

So, now that you’ve identified your most valuable lead source, what do you do with that information you’ve discovered? How can you use what you found to leverage your lead source tracking data, to manage your marketing funnel and each buyer’s journey?

To answer these questions, here are four best practices to help you manage your lead sources.

Measure and Analyze the Success of Your Lead Sources

Now that you’ve set up your lead source attribution system, the next step is to run data analytics to determine which sources produce the most qualified leads.

Some key performance indicators you could use to measure the relative effectiveness of each channel are:

  • Number of raw leads
  • Number of organic leads
  • Conversion rate
  • Sales velocity
  • Click-through rate
  • Average customer lifetime value
  • Lead scoring

On top of determining the most effective lead generation channels, you should also run these analyses for your individual marketing campaigns so you can hone in on the strategies that bring in the most leads.

Manage Your Leads In One Place

It doesn’t matter how many leads your business can attract if your sales team can’t process them efficiently.

That’s why it’s important to route all your inbound leads into one central pool and assign them to your sales reps in an organized and efficient way. This process is called lead distribution

By pooling all your lead sources together, you can ensure that the customer journey is consistent across all buying channels, and that no leads are lost within the cracks of the marketing funnel.

As your business generates more and more leads, a CRM system or other lead management software can help your business consolidate and assign leads.

Collect Granular Information

Beyond simply identifying lead sources by broad channel descriptors, it’s also important to collect source information at a granular level – in other words, you need to get the nitty gritty details about your leads as they relate to your marketing campaigns.

For example, in our prior list of lead sources, we gave fairly broad categories, such as “social media channels.” However, if your business runs several different campaigns on several different social media platforms, you will need to have separate tracking tools for each platform and campaign you run. This will help you collect more data that will be useful to your business.

Continue to Experiment

Our final tip is to continue to experiment with your lead tracking system, continuously adapting it to your needs as your company grows.

According to a 2023 survey by HubSpot, nearly 80% of marketers say that their industry has changed more in the past three years than it has in the last five decades. No matter your industry, field, or niche might be, your business is bound to grow and change, capitalizing on new marketing opportunities and consumer trends.

As such, your lead tracking methods should be frequently updated and fine-tuned, staying in line with your company’s overarching operations and strategies.


What are lead sources vs. lead methods?

Though closely related, it’s important to make a distinction between a lead source and a lead method.

While a lead source is the avenue through which a lead initially hears of your business, a lead method is the avenue through which your company first contacts the lead, or that the lead uses to contact your company. 

With instantaneous connections such as cold calling or chatbots, the lead source and lead method are one and the same. 

However, let’s look at an example case where a consumer first hears of your business through social media, checks out your website, and submits an online form with their phone number so a sales rep can reach out for a consultation call. In that case, the lead source would actually be social media, and the lead method would be the phone call.

What are some privacy concerns when tracking lead sources?

Should you decide to use browser cookies or other online tools to track lead sources, you must ensure that your software tool complies with consumer privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

These laws limit the extent to which you can collect leads’ personal information and online activity and they set parameters for the storage and use of this consumer data.

How can I attract more leads per lead source?

Once you’ve honed in on the most effective lead sources, you can then use the budget you’ve freed up to create better marketing material for those channels. 

In particular, we’d recommend using an ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer persona to make personalized and appealing ads for your target audience.