How to Understand and Analyze Lead Sources

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Related Industries
  • Business-to-Business (B2B)
  • Ecommerce
  • Financial Services
  • Education
Related Capabilities
  • Strategy & Consulting
  • Performance Media Planning & Buying

If you work in B2B marketing or with any high-value product, successful campaigns typically aim for lead generation.   Your marketing campaigns could drive leads on a variety of channels — organic, paid, or referral. Understand your lead source, and you can make better marketing decisions. But digging into funnel data analysis to understand where your leads are coming from can be tricky.    

In this blog post, we’ll break down everything you need to know about lead sources: how to identify them, how to track them, and how they should inform your marketing strategy. 

What is a Lead Source?

A lead source is the origin of a lead—in other words, it’s how a prospective customer became aware of your company and its products or services. There are a variety of ways that someone can become a lead, such as through word-of-mouth, online ads, visiting your website, attending a tradeshow, or seeing one of your social media posts. It’s important to track your lead sources so that you can see which marketing activities result in the most valuable prospects for your business and adjust your strategy accordingly.  

Organic lead sources refer to leads finding your business during their own research or browsing. This could include Google searches or clicking on your social media posts. Paid lead sources refer to leads who clicked an ad to land on your website before submitting their information. This could include anything from Google Ads to social campaigns to paid newsletter placements. Referral lead sources involve personal recommendations — maybe from a current client or past business partner — via their own network.   

It’s important to know the difference between these three types of lead sources because each one requires a different approach in terms of marketing strategy and measurement.  

Types of Lead Sources

Let’s break down each of the three lead sources individually. 

Organic Lead Sources

Organic lead sources essentially come to you. These are users searching the web for answers and hoping to find information on your website or social media feeds. In B2B sales, this could be people searching for a solution or curious about whether you provide something they can use. Organic traffic is very valuable because it’s a chance to prove that your business can serve the user. If they take the next step and provide contact information, you’ve captured a lead! But building this type of content takes work, from search engine optimization to creating content that’s tailored toward your ideal buyer. But it’s worth it, and a requirement for success in some industries.  

Some examples of organic lead sources include:  

  • SEO-optimized website content  
  • Social media posts  
  • Blog articles  

If you want to generate more leads from organic sources, start with your website.  Ensure that every page has clear, easy-to-use calls-to-action (CTAs) When posting on social media, link back to relevant pages on the site. Perform SEO audits regularly to make sure that website content is keyword-optimized so that it ranks well in search engines. Finally, post high-quality, shareable content that helps your users find information they can use. This builds your authority and helps leads find you more easily when they go looking for information related to your business offering. 

Paid Lead Sources

Paid lead sources can be very highly effective because they enable audience targeting, reach, and scale. However, they can also be very expensive, so it’s important to weigh the cost against the benefits before deciding whether or not to use paid lead sources. Some examples of paid lead sources include:  

  • Google Ads  
  • Facebook ads  
  • LinkedIn ads  

If you’re going to use paid lead sources, it’s important to track your results so that you can justify the expense. Make sure to set up conversion tracking so that you can see how many leads each ad campaign generates. You should also A/B test your ads so that you can fine-tune them for maximum effectiveness. 

Referral Lead Sources

Referral lead sources mean that someone personally recommended you to their network. This could be in the form of a testimonial or a review, or it could be something as simple as someone mentioning you in a blog post or tweet. Referral lead sources are effective because they provide social proof that can help persuade potential leads to convert. 

If you want more referral leads, focus on building relationships with influencers in your industry who can help promote your business to their audience. You should also make it easy for satisfied customers to leave reviews by including links on your website and social media channels. 

What is Lead Source Funnel Analysis? 

Lead source funnel analysis is the process of tracking potential leads as they move through your sales funnel. By understanding where prospects drop off at each stage of the funnel, you can identify bottlenecks and make changes to your sales process accordingly. Google Analytics, as well as other platforms, offer helpful funnel visualization reports and other sales funnel analyses to help you identify sales-qualified lead (SQL) and marketing qualified lead (MQL) sources. 

Additionally, analyzing funnel data can help you see which lead sources are generating the most sales qualified leads so that you can focus your marketing efforts on those activities that are yielding the best results.  

How To Analyze Your Lead Sources 

Now that we’ve gone over the different types of lead sources, let’s talk about how to analyze your marketing funnel so that you can determine which lead sources are most effective for your business.  

  1. The first step is to come up with a system for categorizing and tracking your leads by source. Using your tool of choice, create a funnel visualization report showing each type of lead source (organic, paid, referral) and rows for each individual lead source (Google Ads, Bing Ads, Meta ads, etc.).  
  1. Once you know your conversion funnel by lead source, start tracking all of your new leads so that you can see which ones are coming from which source.  
  1. Choose a time frame to conduct your analysis. It should consider the length of your sales cycle — 90 days (about 3 months), for example. After tracking your leads, it’s time to start analyzing the data so that you can identify patterns and trends. Look at funnel metrics like conversion rate and cost per conversion for each type of lead source in your lead generation funnel. This will help you determine which types of lead sources are most effective for generating new business opportunities while also being cost-efficient.  

Starting here will help you build out a more robust lead scoring program. Once this is in place you can implement marketing automation strategies at each funnel step, helping to nurture each potential customer towards an informed sale. 

Putting Lead Source Analysis Into Action  

It’s not enough just to generate leads; you also need to know how to understand and analyze your lead sources to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Classify your lead sources, measure progress, and optimize based on funnel performance. This repeatable cycle should result in lower-cost leads, higher lead volume, and ideally, more qualified leads.  Some platforms largely automate this cycle, like HubSpot, which has phenomenal, heavily customizable reporting features which visualize the effectiveness of each of your marketing channels. 

Lead source data is an important metric that every business should track in order to make informed decisions about their marketing strategy. By understanding where your leads come from and segmenting them by source, you can start to see which activities are yielding the most qualified leads. Additionally, analyzing funnel data will help you identify any bottlenecks in your sales process so that you can make changes accordingly. When used correctly, lead source data can be an invaluable tool in helping you optimize your marketing efforts for maximum results. 

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