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Incoming! Tips for Managing Lead Source Data

If you’ve spent anytime working in marketing in the last 10 years, you are undoubtedly aware of the challenges inherent to marketing in a digital world. It’s a battle out there – actually, in some cases, it’s an outright war! People are being hit with so much messaging, that it becomes that much harder to break through with what you want to say. Running a successful ad words campaign can generate a stream of leads that may make you feel like you are actually on a battlefield, facing incoming fire.

Do you sometimes walk away from your office feeling shell-shocked? If so, rest-assured. You’re not alone. The question to ask is how are you going to sort it all out? My advice is to start with the basics. I know, I know, it sounds cliché, right? But where you should begin is really not that complicated. Let’s talk for a few minutes about sourcing leads. I’m not talking about where you buy your leads; I’m talking about where your leads are coming from. And yes, there is a difference. Run this exercise right (the devil is most certainly in the details) and observe some patience with the process and you will find yourself relying on purchased lists far less often.

The digital world has opened up a virtual plethora of ways to generate new leads. But if you aren’t investing the time to properly record that information, you will be left with a mess of useless data. When it comes to sourcing leads, there are just a few simple steps you should follow.

Step 1: Define a Clear, Concise List of Lead Sources

Concise is the key word here. Make big buckets. And use a freakin’ picklist! A text field for Lead Source will never work. Here are some suggested values: Events, Inbound Call, Print Ad, Social Media, Web, Referral, Purchased List. My rule of thumb is to include no more than 10 sources. Use more than 10, and the buckets aren’t big enough. Don’t be too granular – that’s what the second step is for. Also, involve your sales team. Make sure they agree with the sources that you will be asking them to use when they enter leads into the CRM system. If they don’t agree, or don’t know that Events, for example, means tradeshows, webinars, and roadshows, they will get frustrated and may not end up recording the right value. And no, “email” is not a source. Think about it. How can you source a new lead from email? If you are sending an email to someone, don’t you already have the lead? Didn’t you get the lead from somewhere else? And if you’re saying, well what about leads generated through forwarded emails or those forwarded to a friend? Those should be recorded as referrals. Again, simplicity wins.

Step 2: Create a Lead Source Detail Field

Now this one should be a text field. This is where you get granular. Lead Source = Referral, Lead Source Detail = Forward to a Friend. You can still capture all those important details about which company you purchased that list from, or which specific social media platform that person was on when they discovered your company. Be granular, but don’t get carried away. Simplicity still wins.

Step 3: Make sure the Field Configuration is Right

If you’re going through the trouble of creating these fields, make sure everyone can see them and record data in them, but do not allow data to be overwritten. A lead can only be sourced one time – the first time it enters the database. Get with your CRM and marketing automation admins and make sure your items are set up correctly.

Step 4: Use the Fields on Everything

Be an absolute freak about recording this information. Don’t be lazy because you’re in a hurry. Got a social media push for a new whitepaper? Make sure you add the proper URL parameters (something like http://www.domain.com?ls=Social Media&lsdet=Twitter – where “ls” = lead source and “lsdet” = lead source detail). Don’t know about URL parameters? Get with someone on the Web team who does. They can be your best friends, along with an easy-to-use URL shortener. The more freakish you are about collecting the data, the better the data, the analytics, and the end result.

Marketing in today’s world doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can get out of hand pretty quickly. There is nothing that can replace good planning. Spend the time to plan your attack and you won’t only win the battle, you’ll likely win the war.

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