6 Ways to Track Marketing Leads and Where They’re Coming from

Laura Caveney
5th January 2022

Tracking marketing leads is vital to understanding how your marketing is working to impact your bottom line. In this blog, we discuss six easy ways you can track your leads and get more data from your marketing.

Do you struggle to track your leads? Well, you’re not alone. 

In fact, we asked marketers just like you what they find challenging and 37% said generating high-quality leads was one of their biggest challenges. And there’s a good reason for that.

If you can’t fully understand the quality of your leads, then you’re going to struggle to find a strategy that consistently brings in high-quality leads.

The trick to this is tracking your leads.

But there’s a hurdle in the way. Many marketers struggle to track their marketing leads, meaning they’re left reporting on vanity metrics like clicks, impressions and likes.

Without proper lead tracking for your marketing, you won’t be able to knuckle down and understand how many sales each channel, campaign and keyword is driving.

This blog will explain:

So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in.

What are marketing leads?

A marketing lead is an individual who shows interest in a product or service making them a potential customer. 

Instead of selling directly to a customer onsite, some businesses have to generate leads that go on to speak directly to a sales team. This poses a variety of challenges for marketers. 

Related: Lead value: what is it and how to track it

91% of marketers say that lead generation is their most important goal but 37% of marketers say that generating high-quality leads is one of their biggest challenges.


Marketing leads can come into a business via a variety of different channels and conversions.

✏️ Note
We should know because we recently performed a study using our analytics and attribution product to reveal how several industries drive conversions and leads using various marketing channels.

View our full report on conversion trends.

From phone calls and forms, to organic or paid, marketing is the driving force behind lead generation. Businesses need to drive users from the top of the funnel all the way to a sale, or the bottom of the funnel. 

Related: Customer journey stages and how to track them

What is lead tracking?

Lead tracking is the process in which marketers track their leads across their full customer journey.

It begins with tracking a lead’s initial touchpoint and ends with them closing into revenue. 

By tracking your lead’s full customer journey, you’ll better understand how your marketing is driving new leads and driving revenue.

It will also help you to improve your sales funnel to drive new sales, quicker.

Tracking leads can be achieved in a multitude of ways. Most frequently, marketers track leads once they’ve converted. That means they only get a view of their activity post-conversion.

However, what your lead was engaging with prior to conversion is essential to know.


Well, you’ll likely want to know what kickstarted their customer journey with you. It’ll help you understand where leads are coming from.

Plus, if you’re tracking them through the full journey, you’ll be able to learn where your highest-revenue leads are coming from.

⚡️ Pro Tip
Get ahead with our lead tracking cheatsheet (no email necessary!). It’ll show you the issues marketers face when it comes to tracking their leads, plus how to overcome them.

Why is it hard to track marketing leads?

Your lead data is out there, but it’s disconnected.

Think about how many steps leads go through now to convert from an anonymous website session to a customer.

Tracking all of that plus conversions isn’t easy because your apps aren’t speaking to each other. 

Let us explain with some examples.

Difficulties tracking a marketing lead’s conversion

If you don’t rely on offline conversions, well then, lucky you. But if you use conversions like phone calls, live chat or form fills, they can be hard to track.

We’re not talking about tracking lead volume here, we’re talking about lead quality. 

✏️ Note
We’re kind of experts in offline conversion tracking. Learn more about them and how you can better track them as part of a marketing journey with our free eBook. 

While you might have something set up to track form fills, how are you linking the person behind that form fill back to a marketing channel? When that person converts into revenue, you won’t be able to attribute it back.

Related: 5 ROI tools to link marketing to revenue

And you know what that means? Inaccurate ROI leads to poor optimisation of your marketing efforts.

And this inaccuracy carries across your other conversion points, too. 

If you’re missing tracking conversions, then you’re already starting on a back foot.

Issues tracking a marketing lead’s full customer journey

Even if you work in eCommerce, where tracking your marketing is much simpler as it’s pulled directly into Google Analytics, you still haven’t got full visibility of your marketing leads.

Remember, most customers go through the buyer’s journey which consists of the awareness stage, the consideration stage and the decision stage. 

Each of those stages could be made up of multiple touchpoints, leaving you with reams of data that you can’t get visibility on.

Let’s use an example.

Ella visits your website for the first time from an organic keyword search. She views your ranking content and then leaves.

She returns a day later via a direct search.

3 months pass, and Ella hasn’t returned to your site. But, thanks to some smart retargeting, you reach her via a PPC campaign. She again visits your website but takes no further action.

Ella's customer journey - where do marketing leads come from

A week later, she visits your social media profile and clicks on your website from a shared link.

A day later, she converts into a lead by filling out a form. She visited your site this time via a direct search.

Ella's customer journey continued - where do marketing leads come from

So, according to Google, that lead came from direct.

But if you work in marketing, you know a direct search result has had prior engagement with you. Without proper lead tracking, you can’t understand how your marketing channels worked together to drive Ella from a website visitor into a lead.

Related: What exactly does direct traffic in Google Analytics mean? 

With all of this data floating around for each of your marketing leads, how can you even begin to compile this data to understand where your marketing leads are coming from?

Well, we compiled 6 easy methods you can use to start tracking your leads. Or, if you’d prefer, we have a complete guide on how to track marketing leads and customer journeys which you download here.

What is the best way to track marketing leads?

The best way to track every lead and every interaction is by using a marketing attribution tool.

Marketing attribution is a key tool used by more and more marketers every single year. Marketing attribution puts the data in your hands by automatically and accurately linking your closed revenue back to your marketing touchpoints.

🚀 Pro Tip
Understand more about marketing attribution with our complete guide. This blog will run you through the different attribution model types, how it all works and the benefits.

Complete guide to marketing attribution

It’ll allow you to view individual leads and customers’ full customer journeys, plus get a full view on how channels, campaigns and even keywords drive clicks, leads and sales.

We support marketers to track every new lead and every interaction. Plus, with a tool like ours, you’ll be able to attribute your closed revenue back to the influencing marketing channel, campaign and keyword.

tracking sara's customer journey in ruler analytics

👉 Sound good? Book a demo to see it in action or learn more about how Ruler attributes revenue to your marketing

Not sold on attribution as the best solution? Don’t worry. Keep reading and we’ll go through 6 easy ways to track your marketing leads. 

How to track your marketing leads: 6 easy ways to track your leads

The issue with tracking leads is that the data all exists, but it isn’t easily viewed in one place. Without this key data, you’re marketing blind.

We compiled six easy ways to track your marketing leads so you have greater visibility of where they came from, and how much revenue they convert into. 

  1. Call tracking and marketing attribution
  2. UTM tracking and Google Analytics
  3. Asking leads directly
  4. Hidden form fields
  5. Using CRM systems
  6. Using promo codes

1. Invest in call tracking and marketing attribution

Call tracking is the use of dynamic numbers on your website. That means, for each website visitor, they’ll be given their own unique number. If they call, it allows you to easily track where they came from.

This is great for understanding not only call volume, but also call quality. Ruler’s call tracking software allows you to playback calls too so you can identify training opportunities to help your sales team upsell.

If phone calls are the only conversion point you have, then call tracking is the perfect solution.

But chances are, you use other conversion types too.

Marketing attribution allows you to close the gap between your marketing activity and your sales.

Here’s how it works in practice:

Ruler Analytics is a leading attribution tool. We’ll quickly run you through how attribution with Ruler works. But remember, other attribution tools will follow a similar sort of route.

Ruler monitors every single visitor to your website and stores data on their browsing history, referrals and more.

Related: Track where your leads came from with Ruler Analytics

When that user converts into a lead, whether that’s by phone, form or live chat, Ruler will send all of the data held on that individual over to your CRM or wherever you’re storing your leads.

In the meantime, Ruler will continue to monitor and refresh the data on that lead.

Then, at the point of sale, Ruler can scrape revenue data assigned to that user and attribute it back to the marketing channel and campaign that influenced it.

So, no matter if your leads take six months to convert, or if they convert offline, you’ll be able to view accurate revenue directly in marketing apps like Google Analytics.

⚡️ Pro Tip 
Not sure if Ruler is right for you? Learn why you need Ruler to see the three core elements of our product and why they’re viral for marketers looking to track, evidence and optimise their marketing.

2. UTM tracking and Google Analytics

You can set up goals in Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager for key actions on your website, such as a form fill or a phone call. However, this won’t break it down much by channel or campaign.

One workaround is using UTM tags.

These are bits of code you add to the end of your URL which lets you track channel and campaign success directly in Google Analytics.

Related: Complete guide to tracking links in Google Analytics

However, this doesn’t tell you much about lead quality. While you can count the volume of form submissions, and click to calls with goals and tracked links, you can’t see which go on to convert into a sale.

3. Asking leads directly

The obvious way to track your marketing leads is to ask your leads directly. You’ll often see forms online with a ‘how did you hear about us’ box. But how accurate are these?

Often, they’re inaccurate or even ignored. And while it can provide valuable insight, it’s completely dependent on the person you’re asking.
For example, it’s not unheard of to be told a user found you on Google, but they actually clicked a PPC ad. That lack of attribution doesn’t help your ROAS!

form field how did you hear about us

And what did we say earlier, about long sales cycles? Leads aren’t usually generated in one touchpoint, so you’re missing data on all the other marketing channels. 

We’d advise including a ‘how did you hear about us’ form field for major conversions, but primarily rely on marketing attribution to give you conclusive insight.

✏️ Note
We actually put the ‘how did you hear about us’ field form to the test. We compared our attribution data to what leads told us.

Read the full results.

4. Hidden form fields

If you have access to a web developer, then one way to understand where your leads came from is to use hidden form fields on your form submission boxes.

Remember, this can obviously only be used for forms, meaning any other entry point goes unattributed.

You can add hidden form fields to a channel-specific landing page, or in combination with UTM parameters. When a new user visits that page and fills in the form, the hidden field will fill in dynamically to add in their lead source.

This can be really useful for PPC campaigns for example, but their scope is pretty limited beyond that.

And, while you might get insight on what channel promoted them to fill in the form, what about the rest of their customer journey?

Related: How to view full customer journeys with Ruler Analytics

You’re missing key data on how consumers are engaging with your content.

5. Using CRM systems

There are hundreds of CRMs out there and each offers a slightly different array of features.

Some, however, offer the capability to track lead source directly by using their own built-in forms.

Take Salesforce for example. Their web-to-lead forms allow you to scrape the data of the referring source for each lead.

web to lead form salesforce

This can be really insightful, but it’s still limited data.

Other, more costly CRMs offer more lead tracking capabilities but the price quickly starts to skyrocket.

And while they do offer better features and allow you to get your data all in one place, their capabilities don’t quite match that of a marketing attribution tool.

And remember, marketing attribution tools like ours can pass data over to your CRM, so you can get all the data where you need it most.

Related: How to send lead source data to your CRM with Ruler

6. Using promo codes

If you’re running a specific campaign, then of course you want to know how many new leads, or sales, you’re creating. 

Promo codes are a great way to entice new customers, but they’re also great for tracking purposes.

By using a promo code, you can essentially add a quick filter to all of your purchases to see which were influenced by your campaign.

But remember, a promo code still won’t give you a clear indication of where a lead came from. If you’re using a promo code across channels, then what more is it really telling you?

Need help tracking your marketing leads?

And there you have it, six ways you can track your marketing leads to understand where they’re coming from.

Want our advice? You should be implementing all of the methods listed above as part of your marketing tracking.

It will help you get a good holistic and granular view of your marketing activity. 

There’s no such thing as too much data, right? 

Put simply though, marketing attribution is the best tool for tracking leads through their full customer journey.

Learn more about how you can track touchpoints, or book a demo with us today to learn how you can collate your lead data and use it to optimise your marketing.

revenue attribution marketing attribution - ruler analytics

Check out the full infographic to see how to effectively track your marketing leads