Best Practices for Utilizing Lead Sources

Version 1

    Thanks to Vanessa Shayan for creating this post.


    Lead Source answers the question “how did this contact come to us?” For example, “Tradeshow”. Many marketers use Lead Sources incorrectly in their CRM, making campaign management, reporting and lead scoring difficult.  While best to define lead sources prior to  the provisioning of your Eloqua instance, it’s never too late to start! Creating lead sources as a picklist in the CRM is best practice for data consistency, particularly important is mapping any kind of list import into Eloqua.

    Think of this picklist as the “bucket” for which individual campaigns will be nestled and from which reports will be built (this is why we recommend that clients define lead source values that will map appropriately to their campaigns for tracking and reporting purposes).  The Lead Source field in Eloqua also should be synced  to the CRM and is maintained as the lead transitions through all stages of the buying cycle. 

    There are two fields we recommend: Lead Source Original and Lead Source Most Recent. The Lead Source Most Recent field is what is updated with the last marketing touch-point or activity that the lead received at any given time.  The Lead Source Original field contains the first touch point or activity and doesn’t change. It can help you determine the original source as well as provide insight on the last interaction. Splitting the capture of this data into two fields is helpful as marketing can glean from the Lead Source Most Recent field the marketing message responsible for a sales accepted lead (SAL) or conversion.


    Here are some other advantages of using lead sources:

    • Keeping lead sources defined promotes data consistency and helps marketing hone in on the messages that best resonate with each lead source / demand generation channel. 
    • Lead sources are the basis for revenue reporting and budget management.  Marketers can answer the questions, “What percent of my overall revenue is attributed to Tradeshows?  Are they a worthwhile investment for the company”?  You’ll be able to forecast marketing spend on demand generation channels and invest in those that drive the most revenue.
    • It’s also important to follow the conversion rate by lead source--lead sources with higher conversion rates should be scored higher.  This helps sales understand which leads to focus on.
    • You can use it as part of your lead scoring criteria as you may have certain sources of leads that sales deems a higher quality

    Best practices on using lead sources:

    • Use good lead source naming conventions.  For example:  Email, Web Direct, Partner Referral, Social (Twitter FB, etc), Event/Tradeshow, List Buy, Content Syndication, etc.

      Some organizations also incorporate the actual campaign such as Tradeshow ABC 8/12/2012. This can lead to a length list of lead sources which can be problematic but it may be necessary based on the CRM technology you use and your reporting requirements.


    • Consistently capture lead source from all data sources. For example: form submissions, list uploads from tradeshows and other sources, and via your CRM data entry.


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