Figuring out when to use Lead Source or Campaigns can be tricky, particularly to new Salesforce Administrators.
The short answer is, use both, but use them differently. The rule of thumb is that Lead Source should be high-level categories like “Events” or “Purchased Lists” while Campaigns can be incredibly specific, like “Spring 2011 Flyer Drop” or “Google Adwords – Competitor Keyword Campaign”.
Much of this comes down to what you technically can and can’t do with the Lead Source value, as it’s *similar to a standard Salesforce picklist. Because it’s a picklist, you can reasonably only have 20 values in there before it starts to get unwieldy. Yes, you can, in theory, have up to 100 values in the picklist, but users will often find this annoying as they scroll through so many values.
*I say similar to a standard Salesforce picklist because it is a bit different. The Lead Source is a single picklist that appears on multiple objects: Leads, Opportunities, and Contacts. If you change the picklist values on one of these objects, you’ve changed it for all of them.
Merging Leads – Campaigns are better
Keep in mind is that Lead Source doesn’t accumulate, while Campaign does.
Imagine you have two web to lead forms on your website, one for downloading a whitepaper, and one for attending a webinar. If a Lead fills in both these forms, and you merge the Lead records, one of the Lead Source values will be overwritten, and thus your knowledge of the Lead’s interest is lost. If you had recorded the lead’s interest in the whitepaper and webinar through the Campaign object, when you merged those two leads together the resulting lead would have two campaigns.
This additional information is valuable to both the marketing and sales team.
Reporting on Leads and Opportunities – Each have Advantages
The main advantage of Lead Source for Salesforce reporting is it’s simplicity. Users can understand it instantly, and intuitively ‘get it’. Other than that, though, the power and features lie with Campaigns, an object that few people ever use to the full extent.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Campaigns themselves have powerful reporting abilities within the Campaign page itself, while the Lead Source has nothing.
Let’s say you want to know how your marketing is going and you’re just using Lead Source in Salesforce. You could run a report on your Leads, or a report on your Opportunities (which, if created by a converted lead, start with the Lead Source from that Lead). You could create a summary report grouped by Lead Source with Sum and Average calculated for the Opportunity Amount. You could go further and create Salesforce Lead Conversion Rate matrix reports – but this is pushing the boundaries of reports, and the average user can’t do this.
But if you are using Campaigns, so much information is available just by glancing at the Campaign record. You can see all of the Opportunities associated with that Campaign and the amounts, split further by total and won.
You can also see the Leads and Contacts, and which Leads were converted, giving you an idea of how effective this Campaign was.
Using Nymble – Leave Lead Source Blank for Web Forms
If you are using Nymble to track your incoming Leads from the web, then the best thing to do is to leave Lead Source blank. That’s because we auto-populate Lead Source (but only if it’s blank) at the time of sync. This way, instead of just having “Web” as the Lead Source, you can see “Google Adwords” or “Organic – Google”, “Organic – Bing”, etc.
If you then attach the Lead to a Campaign with the Web to Lead form, you get the best of both worlds.
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