Lead Sources vs Lead Methods

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It’s crucial to know what marketing works for you and your business and what marketing doesn’t work. Whenever we launch a marketing campaign for a client, one of the things we always bake in is tracking lead sources. The best way to properly measure a campaign’s effectiveness is to track how many leads come from a source, then how many of those leads turn into closed clients.

One thing I’ve noticed is that so many of our clients don’t properly understand what constitutes a lead source, and what is simply what I call a “lead method”. It’s so important to understand what the differences are so that you know exactly what you’re supposed to be tracking. So, let’s dive into the differences between a lead source and a lead method, discuss why the distinction is so important, and then talk about the relationship between the two.

The Definition of Lead Sources

A lead source can best be defined as the original point at which a customer first hears about you. It’s the first step in your lead funnel and ground zero for your relationship with your customers. A quick list of lead sources includes:

  • Traditional Media like Billboards, TV, and Radio
  • Cold Calling
  • Buying Leads
  • Industry Sources like Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.
  • Direct Mail like Postcards, Door Hangers, and Flyers
  • Referrals from Past Customers, Your Database, or Industry Referral Partners
  • Events like Happy Hours, Tradeshows, or Lunch and Learns
  • SEO via Search Engine Results
  • SEO via Referring Domain Links
  • PPC
  • Social Media
  • Email Newsletters

The Definition of Lead Methods

A lead method includes the ways in which a customer would contact or reach you. It is also your opportunity to enhance your value to the customer. A quick list of lead methods includes:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Face to Face
  • Websites
  • Landing Pages
  • Social Media

The Importance of Distinction

You may notice that “website” isn’t on the list of lead sources but is actually a lead method. One thing I want to make very clear: a website is not a lead source. Customers reach your website via other means, either through a search engine, a link on someone else’s website, an online ad, the business card you handed them, or even a billboard they see on the freeway.

I think it’s incredibly important to understand the distinction between a lead source and a lead method because a lead method isn’t going to get you new customers on its own. You don’t buy a phone and expect it to start ringing with prospects. You don’t sign up for an email address and expect people to start emailing you about loans or properties. Similarly, you can’t design and develop a website and expect people to start filling out your contact form.

Lead Sources are Pointless Without Lead Methods

Have you ever tried to get a hold of someone who didn’t have a phone? It’s nearly impossible, right? What about no email? I mean, come on! The truth is, lead sources need a lead method to be effective. What would be the point of putting up a billboard with no phone number or website? You can’t even run online advertising without a website; Google won’t let you. Since SEO is about getting a website’s page ranked, it’s impossible without one.

Lead Methods Enhance Value

Lead methods present you with a great opportunity to enhance your value to your customer. Using your phone to enhance value includes things like having a cell phone so you’re always available, having voicemail, etc. Phones have been around a while so they’re pretty dialed in in terms of showcasing and enhancing value to the customer. There’s also not a ton of customizing you can do.

Think about your website, however. You can pimp the hell out of that! You can write awesome content, provide downloadable content, showcase testimonials, all kinds of stuff! In fact, if you’re smart about how you enhance your website, you’ll be doing SEO at the same time and helping your website be an actual lead source.

The More Lead Methods, The Better (Within Reason)

The more lead methods you give your customers to reach you through and the more ways you’re enhancing your value through those lead methods, the greater the chances that they will actually reach out to you. Even if you receive 95 percent of your leads from referrals, those leads are still looking up your website and checking you out on Facebook.

The reason I added the (Within Reason) caveat to this section is this: you want to make sure all of your lead methods actually do enhance value. If you sign up for a Twitter account, a Tumblr account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account, and 30 other websites, and then you promptly never update them, they’re not adding value. In fact, I’d wager that they’re taking away your value, because people see your empty accounts, sitting there, mocking them, and it takes away from your professionalism.

Lead Methods are Mandatory

When you think of things like your website or your Facebook page as lead methods—comparable to your phone and email—and not lead sources, they immediately become mandatory. They’re no longer “nice to have” or “should have”. They’re now “must have”. A website might not have been a necessity in 2000, or even 2005. But in 2014, it is. Hell, even this cat has a website, and he’s a cat.


So, I hope by now you understand the difference between lead sources and lead methods. This understanding will help you properly track and analyze your lead sources, a process that is so crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. I also hope that you’ll do yourself and your business a favor and invest in as many lead methods as your budget will allow and as many lead sources as is effective for your business.

3 responses to “Lead Sources vs Lead Methods”

  1. […] is a chart of common marketing lead source categories based on a sample of around 400,000 opportunities from our top 500 roofing and/or […]

  2. […] come from a variety of sources and enter the sales pipeline at a variety of points. A lead source is defined as “the original point at which a customer first hears about you.” […]

  3. […] lead source is a channel that brought a lead to your website for the very first time and entered your marketing […]

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