September 01 2015
The What, Why and How of Lead Source Tracking
As an agency partner, we work with a number of enterprise B2B clients to define their lead management process. From sales and marketing alignment workshops to lead scoring and lead source tracking, we have seen our fair share of business use cases and processes. Although each model Bulldog generates is client specific, we start each new engagement with our internal definitions in mind. Here’s the what, why and how of the Bulldog method for lead source tracking.
At a high level, marketing starts with campaigns. A campaign is a collection of assets and promotions under one thematic umbrella. An example of this would be an email, a banner ad and a social post all promoting your new product. Assets for this product could be whitepapers, videos or e-books to name a few.
When discussing campaigns, it is important to define a campaign response. A campaign response is the conversion point during your campaign when someone provides information to get information. Another way to think about this is when someone takes your CTA.
Marketing responses are made up of a few key elements:
- Who is this responder?
- Which campaign drove the response?
- What asset did they consume?
- What was the vehicle that drove them to our CTA?
For this post, we are focused on which vehicle drove your audience to the CTA or the lead source. Examples of vehicles include emails, banners, websites, organic searches or paid searches. Keep in mind, this is for lead source tracking which is different than campaign tracking.
As a marketer, you promote your marketing initiatives in a number of places. You may promote your new whitepaper on Facebook, Twitter, an email and a banner ad. But, how do you know which asset drove the most form submissions to access this whitepaper? By tracking lead sources, you gain insight into which marketing initiatives drove the most ROI. This insight will allow you to use your marketing budget in a smarter way. Don’t waste your time with initiatives that yield poor results. Use lead source tracking from previous campaigns to make smarter decisions on the direction for new projects.
When you are getting started, make sure to understand your promotional strategy, and document it. What vehicle types are used (email, paid media, etc.)? How many emails will there be? What vendors will be in the mix? What are the difference amongst each (audiences, etc.)? What naming convention will you use for lead sources? What will your reporting look like at the end of a campaign?
Be the expert. When you know what can be tracked, provide your guidance on what should be tracked. What level of granularity do you need? Rolling up granular lead sources is easier than splitting out high-level lead sources. You can determine Twitter and Facebook as “social media” lead sources, but if you only capture a lead source as “social media,” you won’t be able to differentiate Twitter conversions from Facebook conversions.
Once you decide on your level of granularity, you may need to make infrastructure updates to capture these lead sources. Common methods of lead source tracking include hidden fields on forms, cookie tracking on websites and passing query-string parameters.
If you have a form in your automation platform that has one vehicle driving to it, consider using default values on the form. No need for your form to capture information that won’t change from one submission to the next. You’re probably going to find this example is rarely the case.
More often than not, you will have multiple vehicles driving to one form. In this case, you will want to generate URLs for each vehicle driving to your form. When you kick off a new project, come up with a list of all of the vehicles driving to your asset. Each vehicle will need its own unique URL. In the URLs, query-string parameters should be defined to differentiate each conversion. Here’s an example:
Email 1 CTA: www.bulldogsolutions.com/leadsourcetracking?bdls=em1
Email 2 CTA: www.bulldogsolutions.com/leadsourcetracking?bdls=em2
Banner Ad 1 CTA: www.bulldogsolutions.com/leadsourcetracking?bdls=ba1
Facebook Post 1 CTA: www.bulldogsolutions.com/leadsourcetracking?bdls=fb1
The base URL for each CTA remains the same, but the query-string parameter value changes for each asset. Work with your team to determine what your lead source query-string parameter will be. In the example above, this is “bdls.” This parameter should be consistent across all promotions and maintained in one place. This ensures there is no duplication and keeps track of what the vehicle is. Numerical codes work, but also consider naming conventions that will be more meaningful to someone looking at the lead source values without a point of reference. Consistency is key.
Once you have your URL generating under control, you need to update your landing pages and forms to capture these query-string parameters. In Marketo, you can define that hidden fields should capture query-string parameters. If you don’t have Marketo, work with a developer to build code into your landing pages that capture query-string parameters and post them to hidden form fields.
Create new lead source fields if needed and add them as hidden fields on your form. Once your form can capture query-string parameters, test and retest. Make sure you are catching the parameters on each submission. As hard as you try, there will always be those pesky submittors who manage to fill out your form and bypass your smart new lead source tracking methods. To avoid this, have default values hard coded. While default values give you less information, it is better than missing information.
Generating cool reports thanks to lead source tracking? I’d love to hear about them on Twitter @cjm5053.