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What is a lead source and why are they so valuable?

David Hartshorne 8 min read
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A lead source informs you how potential customers found your business. It’s vital information that helps you understand more about your audience, where to find them, and how to target them effectively.

In this guide, we’ll define what a lead source is and why they are so valuable. Then we’ll look at some common types of lead sources and review the best ways to track and manage them — we’re even including our Lead Management Template.

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What is a lead source?

A lead source refers to the channel through which a potential customer first discovers your business. For example, if someone searches for a product or service and finds your website in the results of a search engine, that search engine is the lead source. It could be via a search engine, social media, an email campaign, a referral, or many other places (see below).

Lead sources vs. lead methods

Take care not to confuse a lead source with a lead method. A lead source is the channel where leads are generated, whereas a lead method is how you contact those leads.

For example, suppose you call a lead who contacted you after seeing your social media content. In that case, the social media channel they used (e.g. Facebook) is your lead source, and calling them is your lead method.

Simply put, lead sources identify lead opportunities, and lead methods leverage those opportunities.

Why are lead sources so valuable?

It’s essential to identify and understand which lead sources perform best for your business so that you can optimize your resources and generate more revenue.

Identify your top-performing channels

Businesses use various channels to connect, engage, and convert leads. Depending on your product or service, audience, and business type (B2B or B2C sales), some are more effective than others. By measuring which lead sources convert the quickest, you can identify your top-performing channels.

Shorten your sales cycle

The time it takes to close qualified leads varies depending on your type of business, product, and buyer persona. For example, in the B2B setting, sales cycles are typically longer since they have more decision-makers. And a 6-18 month sales cycle is the norm for enterprise sales.

According to Sales insights Lab, at least half of your leads are not a good fit for what you sell. So, by measuring which lead sources bring in the most qualified leads, you can include the data in your CRM’s lead scoring. From there, your sales team can target warm and hot leads, close more deals, and shorten the sales cycle.

Prove your marketing ROI

By measuring how your lead sources perform, your marketing team can analyze how these channels impact your business, focus your resources where they matter most, and get the most significant ROI.

Types of lead sources

Here are some of the different types of online and offline lead sources.

  • Email marketing (email campaigns)
  • Organic search (from the SERPs)
  • Paid ads (PPC, display ads, social ads)
  • Directories (listings and review sites)
  • Blog articles (including guest posts)
  • Social media
  • Direct traffic
  • Direct mail
  • Referrals or word-of-mouth
  • Gated/ premium content offers
  • Events (in-person or virtual)
  • Backlinks (from a page on another website to your website)
  • Traditional advertising (billboards, TV, radio)
  • Cold calls
  • Affiliates
  • Influencers

Lead source best practices

Here are five best practices to identify, analyze, and improve your lead sources.

1. Identify and track your lead sources

Identifying and tracking your lead sources is key to effective lead management. Follow these four tips:

  1. Use a CRM. Tracking and managing your lead sources is much easier with a Lead Tracking Software or CRM. You can assign a lead source to each contact in your database to help track them properly.
  2. Go granular. Make sure you get specific about each lead source and remember to name it differently from your campaigns. For example, social media is too broad, so use subcategories like “Social media: Facebook” or “Social media: Instagram” to distinguish each lead source clearly.
  3. Track CTAs with UTM parameters. If you’re running multiple lead generation campaigns, track each CTA link with UTM parameters to get the lead source and campaign name.
  4. Keep your lead sources accurate. Don’t be tempted to change a contact’s lead source attribution – keeping that initial touchpoint intact is vital.

2. Determine which sources generate the most qualified leads

After identifying your lead sources, you can determine which sources generate the most qualified leads for your business.

A CRM software like can track your leads and their sources, and then segment them based on an assigned lead score to indicate how qualified they are. In fact, the monday sales CRM can automatically score leads based on predefined parameters, such as role, company, revenue, and employees, so that sales reps can prioritize their follow-up activities.

Score leads based on predefined parameters like company size

3. Pinpoint which of those lead sources convert into customers

The next step is identifying which of those lead sources convert into the most customers.

In other words, which lead source do you see the most customers coming from? Maybe it’s the source that generates the most qualified leads, or maybe not? So analyze your CRM data and determine which lead sources bring you the most customers. If you find one lead source converts more often than another, assign it a higher lead score.

4. Experiment with different channels to generate more qualified leads

While it’s good to know which lead source currently generates the most qualified leads and customers, you need to continually experiment with different channels – for example, A/B test email campaigns, adverts, and landing pages.

The market constantly changes, and so too do customer preferences. Plus, your audience evolves – for example, they may spend more time on social media than previously.

Experiment with different strategies, campaigns, and channels to see which generates the most qualified leads and conversions. You could unearth your most valuable lead source yet.

5. Measure and analyze the success of your lead sources

Although you’ve already evaluated your lead sources in the previous steps, you also need to measure the success of your lead sources over time, like a quarterly review. By analyzing your lead source results, like conversion rate, it will be easier to target, reach, and engage your audience on their preferred channels.

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How to track your lead sources with

The monday sales CRM allows you to capture, track, and manage leads in one place for a better customer experience and smoother sales process – filter out cold leads, nurture warm prospects, and close more deals. The platform lets you automate several steps in the process, enhance data insights, and centralize all your information.

Use a ready-made CRM template

If you’re unsure where to start, several top-notch CRM templates get you up and running, including the Lead Management Template.

Get started with the lead management template

Pick a template and customize it to fit your requirements.

Manage your leads in one place

Manage your leads in monday sales CRM with this 3-step process:

  1. Collect leads from any source, including web forms, social media, and paid ads.
  2. Centralize and qualify every lead – don’t waste time and money chasing cold leads.
  3. Score leads automatically based on custom criteria, such as role, company, and revenue.

Manage your leads in one place

Track lead progress through the pipeline

Track the progress of qualified leads in your CRM with a visual pipeline. Record who last contacted them, how they made contact, and the results of that interaction. Relegate leads that don’t pan out to the “lost” group so you can focus on the hot leads.

See where deals stand with a visual pipeline

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Frequently asked questions

Here are three frequently asked questions about lead sources.

What are the main types of lead sources?

The seven most popular lead source channels are:

  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • Paid ads
  • Social media
  • Referrals
  • Content
  • Events

What are the best lead sources?

Referrals from your best clients are the best quality lead sources. But here are six more sources to check out:

  • Former clients. Check if former clients are open to working with you again.
  • Competitors. Check who is working with your competitors.
  • Business & sales intelligence tools. Use these tools creatively to find industry-related prospects.
  • Google Maps. Use Google Maps to reveal opportunities in your target location.
  • LinkedIn. Search for groups, job titles, and industries you’re targeting.
  • Relationship marketing. Meet people at industry events and build online relationships afterward.

What is an organic lead source?

An organic lead source is a prospect who finds your company by searching for a product or service rather than visiting your URL directly. Most organic leads are unaware of your product or service before they search online.

Manage your lead sources with

A lead source informs you how a lead first found your business. It’s a critical piece of contact information in the lead management process and one you can manage far more efficiently with a CRM. Custom insights allow you to see which lead sources generate the most qualified leads and highest conversion rates.

Try sales CRM to see how easy it is to identify and track lead sources through your sales pipeline.

David Hartshorne is a writer for leading B2B SaaS and tech brands, creating detailed, actionable content that resonates with their audience. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him chilling with a thriller or roaring on the Villa.
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