| |

Fail or Flourish: Auditing Your Lead Sources

November 21, 2017 | Kim Para Allen | 2 Comments |

Where did you come from?

Champagne flutes, picture frames, backpacks and quilts. These are all things I know I didn’t purchase for myself. So where did they come from? It would be so helpful to have the data readily available (especially if there are thank you cards to write)!

Marketers often face a similar dilemma. How often have you heard,  “Where the heck did these leads come from?”

Grasping for originating information is common in the world of lead acquisition. The good news is that we have the software, Marketo, to support this data storage; now we just need to take action.

Here’s where to get started:

Start defining now.

If there are data questions, the best place to start is a People Performance report (or, Lead Performance report if Marketo hasn’t updated the naming in your instance).

In the Setup tab, look at Leads created all time and group the leads by Lead Source. This will give you a report that looks similar to this:

From this example report I can see all types of values (including slight differences like Tradeshow vs. Trade Show) and that there are 93 total values (look in the bottom right for this number). Go ahead and save this report (you’ll need it again).

Be forward thinking.

What should the lead source values be? Our best practice recommendation is for the lead sources to be a reflection of your channels (in Marketo), and therefore your campaign types (in Salesforce).

If you have a finalized list of channels – these are the ways that leads can be acquired and marketed to. It makes sense that this would be your list of Lead Sources as well. For the additional layer of information, we suggest a Lead Source Detail field that would write more specific information to support the source.

Some examples:

1. A lead comes in through a webinar registration: Lead Source = Webinar, Lead Source Detail = Q4 Preparing for the Holidays Webinar

2. We scan a lead badge at Dreamforce: Lead Source = Tradeshow, Lead Source Detail = 2017 Dreamforce

You can also continue to add important information such as acquisition program, acquisition date, etc. that will help “shape” lead stories and history even further.

With your list of channels and lead sources, here’s a breakdown on getting this implemented:

  • Start writing to the Lead Source field consistently (form hidden fields, change data value flow steps, columns on list import templates)
    • Train anyone working in Marketo on this process (documentation helps)
  • Create a smart list, with a subscription, to catch leads with values outside of your now decided-on list, or empty values – this you will want to keep an eye on
    • The smart list would look something like “Lead Source is not [list of normalized lead source values]”
  • Build campaigns to catch the “easy fixes” for things that are easy to predict to automatically trigger and normalize
    • This would look something like: Smartlist “Lead Source is Tradeshow”, flow “Change Data Value of Lead Source to Trade Show”
  • If leads are coming in through SFDC or a CRM, setup campaigns to set lead source when leads are created on those platforms.
    • Example: Smartlist “Lead is created (trigger), original source is Salesforce.com”, flow “Change Data Value of Lead Source to Salesforce”

Clean it up.

Before you start cleaning, be sure to have new processes in place and documented – like, everywhere! There is nothing worse than cleaning the data only to go back and find more junk values added.

Take the list of values from the report pulled earlier and export. You can then map those values to your new standardized list. Example: “Web Form” should be changed to “Web.” Then batch those mappings!

*Hint: continue to use that person performance report by lead source to check the cleanup progress.

Make the information work for you.

Congrats! You now you have the ability to report better on metrics such as: totals by lead source, qualified leads by lead source, cost per lead by lead source, etc. The information that these cleaned up values allows for better reporting and budgeting and is just the start to forming a complete picture of your database.


  1. Dave on October 21, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Thank you for sharing, Kim. I wanted to leave a quick note, I noticed you mentioned using hidden fields in forms to assign Lead Source. I inherited an instance with hundreds of forms that are still live, many of which are using hidden fields to write to the Lead Source. However, this has allowed the value to be overwritten every time they fill out a form with that hidden field.

    How do you guys get around this?


    • Andrea Lechner-Becker Andrea Lechner-Becker on October 23, 2019 at 11:39 am

      Hi Dave, Andrea stepping in here, as Kim is out on maternity leave! You can block Lead Source from UPDATES in Marketo’s (I assume you’re using Marketo) field management section. This will allow lead source to populate ONCE, but not overwrite. If you have more questions email me andrea at our website domain. =)

Leave a Comment

Want more? Here's some related content


#MAfails: New to Marketing Automation and Looking With Your Eyes Shut

My most memorable fail in the marketing automation world happened when I was still pretty...

Do You Have It? Thoughts on the "Optimism Effect"

I often wonder: is optimism an inherent, or learned skill? I hope it can be...

The Two Things Your Business Must Have to Grow

When I graduated from college way back when (can a little more than a decade...
email best practices ebook

Walking the Talk: Email Best Practices

 Here's how WE talk to OUR clients about email. (more…)
click to convert: landing page best practices

Click to Convert: All You Need to Know About Landing Pages

The only guide you need for consistently high converting landing pages. (more…)

Content Planning Checklist

Your first step in the right direction to creating high caliber content is a content...

Back to the Marketing Future: From Demand Gen to Account-Based Marketing

Great marketing doesn't require stolen uranium. And while we may not need roads where we're...
Email Subject lines ebook

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Enticing Copy that Readers Can't Resist

With the rise of digital marketing, businesses are using multiple platforms like social media and...