The 411 on Lead Sources in HubSpot

One of my favorite reports to build in HubSpot and show my clients is the sales by lead source report. It shows the client where their revenue is coming from so they know where to further invest resources. 

When you know where your leads are coming from, you can spend more dollars and give more attention to those sources to get more leads… and that means more customers and more revenue. That’s how you scale your business. 

Here’s an example of what a simple report might look like for December 2021:

Example of what a simple report might look like for December 2021

But creating a report like this isn’t a simple matter — even though the report looks fairly basic.  A lot of thinking went into how lead sources are logged in HubSpot to generate this report. 

WARNING: What follows is severely geeky, but you need to understand it if you want to track your lead sources correctly. 

Below are four questions you need to answer before building out your lead source logic in HubSpot to generate these types of reports. 

  1. Should I use native lead sources, custom leads sources, or both?
  2. Should I track lead source by contact, company, or both?
  3. Should I attach company or contact to deals?
  4. When tracking lead source to deals, is it the first, or last lead source?

Let’s investigate each one of these questions in detail.

Should I Use Native Or Custom Lead Sources, Or Both?

First, let’s clear one thing up. There is no “lead source” field on either the contact or company object in HubSpot. It has to be created and populated by you and the workflows you create. 

HubSpot has “original source” and “latest source” fields for the contact object, and associated drill-down fields that provide additional information. The company object has an “original source” field and associated drill-down fields. All these fields are automatically set by HubSpot based on contact activity. The data that HubSpot puts into these fields is “native” lead source data. You can find more information about native data here on the HubSpot website.  

While these fields contain important data that is used to capture and log lead source for both the contact and company objects, they won’t usually work by themselves to provide you the reports you want to see. They only log native lead sources. You will want to log native AND custom lead sources to get a good view of where your customers are coming from.  

Let’s look at an example to understand the difference between native and custom lead sources. This report shows the amount of revenue generated from each lead source in 2021.

Amount of revenue generated from each lead source in 2021

“DDMS,” “Historic,” “Office,” and “Old Email List” are all custom lead sources. They require manual entry or automation to be tracked. Website (direct traffic), ZoomInfo (offline sources/ZoomInfo), and Referrals are native lead sources that HubSpot automatically tracks. 

So to properly generate this report, a lead source field had to be created, in this case on the company object, and it had to be tracked and populated using workflows that set it to either a native or custom value. 

To properly generate this report, a lead source field has to be created, and in this case, on the company object. The lead source field has to be tracked and populated using workflows that set it to either a native or custom value.

The point is, HubSpot does some amazing things but if you really want to keep track of where your revenue, deals, and contacts are coming from, you’ll need to implement your own workforce automation to log both native and customer lead source data.

Should I Track Lead Source By Contact, Company or Both?

This is a key question, but usually easy to answer. If you are a B2C company, you usually only care about the contact object. If you are a B2B company, you’ll probably want to track lead source for both the contact and company objects. 

B2C companies want to know how people found their business. B2B companies also want to know how people found their business, but usually, they’re most interested in the first person who found their business and what their lead source was. HubSpot can be set up to log the original source of the first contact associated with a company as the company’s original source. But of course, that only works for native sources. 

If you are a B2B company, you’ll also want to create a lead source field on the company object and write automation to log the lead source from the first person of the customer’s company that was logged in the CRM. HubSpot helps some with this work, by setting the original source field of the company to match the original source field of the first contact associated with the company. 

Should I Attach Company Or Contact To Deals?

Whether you attach a company or contact to a deal is what drives how your reporting works. 

For B2C companies, the easiest way to go is to link a single contact to a deal. That contact is usually the buyer. The lead source for the buyer is then associated with the deal and you can easily create a lead source to deal report. 

For B2B companies it is a little more complicated because they have a lot of contacts that work at a single customer’s business. That’s why I advise B2B companies to link a company to a deal. When they do that, by tracking the lead source for the company, there is just a single lead source that relates to a deal which allows you to create a lead source to deal report easily. 

But the real answer for B2B companies is that it's a good idea to track lead source for both contact and company. That way you not only create the company lead source to deal report, but you can see where the company’s contacts are coming from. 

When Tracking Lead Source To Deals, Is It The First, Or Last Lead Source?

This is another fairly easy question to answer, but it is important. Do you want to track the first touch or the last? HubSpot tracks native sources in a field called “latest source.” So, it is possible for both B2C and B2B companies to log the last source for a contact in the lead source field. 

B2C may find it useful to track both first and last by creating additional custom fields on the contact object. For B2B companies, I almost always recommend logging the first source of the first contact associated with your customer’s company. 

Let's get started!

Having your lead source logic correct in HubSpot is imperative. It enables you to see what marketing channels are bringing in leads that turn into deals and customers. It shows you where you can invest to mine more leads. And finally, it provides a closed-loop to calculate a return on your marketing investment (ROMI). 

There are many different ways of setting up lead source tracking in HubSpot, but it all boils down to what exactly you find important to measure. In our experience, accurately calculating ROMI requires very thoughtful and intentional lead source logic that has been personalized to the company that’s utilizing HubSpot. 

No two organizations are the same, so there’s no “one-size-fits-all” lead source solution that truly works for every company. To learn more about how HubSpot can work for you, check out our HubSpot Consulting page or contact us to get personalized help from the 1 Bold Step experts. 

About 1 Bold Step

At 1 Bold Step we believe that everything can be more efficient, but especially marketing. Acting as an extension of a client’s marketing department (onsite or virtually), we help create systems, order, and accountability. With a focus on increasing sales and proving return on marketing investment, we’re determined to change marketing from overhead to value add. 

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