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  • Writer's pictureNicole

Steps to track lead sources

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Figuring out where your leads are coming from is an important step in your marketing efforts because you want to figure out where your time, energy (and maybe even ad money) is best spent.

In this article, I’m going to take you through 4 easy steps to track lead sources and what to do with that info.

Rather listen? I talked about this process with my friend Sara on The Bright Balloon Podcast!

Step 1: collect the info!

Don't forget to ask your customers how they heard about you on your inquiry form. Whether you’re using a form from a CRM like 17hats, a form through your website, Google Forms, etc. I highly encourage you to be sure this question is on there.

Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I’ll also suggest making this question type a drop-down selection, rather than a checkbox or text field, for a few reasons:

  • If someone checks more than one box in a checkbox question, how do you know where they initially heard about you?

  • Text can always be spelt wrong, abbreviated, etc.

  • If customers can write in anything, it’ll be very hard to compile that data into useful info

A drop-down form will give you much cleaner data!

Now, what to include in this drop-down question, where you ask your customers how they heard about you! I would suggest the following options:

  • repeat customer

  • referral

  • online search

  • any of your active social profiles

  • any local networking organizations you might participate in

  • other.

As a bonus tip, I’d also consider having a follow-up question immediately after this drop-down question, asking something like “If a referral or other, we’d love to hear the details!”. This should help you capture the individual names of the people spreading the good word about your business as well as any lead sources that you didn’t think to list.

Just be careful not to list too many options in your drop-down... customers might not take the time to read through more than 10 options or so, and could end up just selecting something in order to move on to the next question of your form.

Step 2: Compile the data

After you’ve been tracking your lead sources for a while, export or download a list of your contacts to view the results in a spreadsheet.

If you were previously using a checkbox or text field to ask this question, you may need to spend some time cleaning up your data to make sense of it. For example, cells that have been filled in with checkboxes may have commas between all lead sources that were checked. You might consider making each lead source in that cell its own entry by moving it to a separate row.

Additionally, for cells previously filled in from a text field, make sure all cells containing an abbreviation or misspelling are updated to match the format of that lead source in your drop-down list. And if some referral names were written in, replace the name with “referral”... but of course be sure not to lose track of that name!

In any case, grab this free download with a Google Sheets template that can help you summarize and clean up your data into an easy to understand pie chart!

Step 3: Utilize the info

What’s the pie chart telling you? Are you getting a lot of referrals you might consider sending thank you cards for? Is nobody finding you via search? Is it time to stop posting on a certain social platform?

Let this data inform your marketing decisions. Take advantage of what’s working and give yourself permission to stop or slow down your marketing efforts where it’s not working.

This said, I will always advocate for doing what you can to improve your presence in online search. If it’s not very strong, improve it by doing things like:

  • Updating your service area on your Google Business Profile

  • Adding a few products, services and more detailed information on Google Business Profile

  • Adding keywords to the meta descriptions, titles and copy of your website pages

You might also consider setting up an automation in Zapier to send your Instagram posts to your Google Business Profile to keep it fresh and updated.

Anyway, back to the point of utilizing the info… this is a goldmine of data that your customers are giving you through this question, so it is definitely in your best interest to pay attention to where your customers are coming from!

tracking lead sources on a map

"This is a goldmine of data that your customers are giving you."

Step 4: Repeat

Now that you’ve taken the steps above to track your lead sources, I'd suggest checking in with this data every so often to stay on top of where your customers are coming from.

Whether you’re manually downloading / exporting your contacts each time, or using a tool like Zapier to automatically and continually update your spreadsheet and chart, go ahead and set that reminder for yourself right now to check it each quarter, twice a year, monthly… whatever interval feels sustainable and helpful to you.

Consistent check-ins will allow you to make small tweaks in your marketing plans throughout the year, rather than huge shifts to the way you work.

And it all starts with a simple question!


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