What is a Lead Source? 6 Types You Can Use

Reviewing priority lead sources

Understanding each lead source you have is crucial for gaining more qualified leads, and eventually, clients. Learn about six of the most common lead sources and how you can use a targeted strategy for each.

Reviewing priority lead sources

Winning new clients is a fundamental part of growing your business. However, the process of growing your client base is not always obvious for a small business owner. If you don’t know where to begin the client acquisition process, you can start at the beginning: identifying your lead sources.

Lead sources are the places where you find leads, or potential customers. Here you will learn more about lead sources, different lead types, and the best way to identify qualified leads and convert them into customers. 

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What is a lead source?

A lead source is the path by which a potential customer discovers your business and either make a purchase or engage with your business in a different way, such as offering their information in exchange for a lead magnet, or scheduling a consultation. Lead sources overlap significantly with marketing channels because part of your marketing strategy should maximize lead generation.

There are a wide variety of lead sources. However, not every lead source will work the same for every business. It’s important to prioritize the lead sources that win your ideal clients in order to make the most of your marketing resources. To do so, you should understand the most common lead types and how they work. 

Types of lead sources

Different types of lead sources align directly with the marketing channels you might already be using. Lead generation in digital marketing can come from channels like social media, your blog, and your digital ads, while traditional channels like print ads can also help generate new leads. Here are some of the most effective sources for lead generation.

Social media

Social media platforms are excellent ways to create awareness of your business. Though they offer a great place to communicate with current and former clients, potential clients can discover you and start engaging with your content. 

The best social media platforms for lead generation depend on your business. Here are different ways you could leverage some of the top social media platforms: 

  • Facebook: One of the most broadly used social media sites in the world, Facebook allows you to target people by a wide range of demographics and makes sharing content easy. It’s an ideal lead source for any business targeting private consumers.
  • Instagram: This image-based platform works best for creative or aspirational products and services. For example, personal coaches, designers, and photographers thrive on Instagram.
  • LinkedIn: This platform is designed to help people build professional connections, which makes it ideal for B2B companies. LinkedIn could be a critical lead source if you provide services that make businesses operate better.
  • TikTok: This short video platform is hugely popular among a younger audience and has a strong algorithm to present people with content they’ll like. That makes it an excellent way to get organic traffic from a younger crowd.

You can use social media as a lead source by linking to landing pages or specific lead magnets in your posts. In fact, social media is a great way to promote your lead magnets and digital products since you can repurpose them as short-form videos, infographics, or other posts that entice a download. 

Web searches

People rely on search engines to find recommendations. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is such a popular lead source. SEO helps your website appear higher in the search results for specific keywords, making it more likely that your target audience sees your site when they search for a related item. 

You can use blog posts and landing pages to improve your site’s SEO. Regularly posting relevant content that appeals to your target audience helps SEO and gives potential customers a reason to return to your site. 

By creating content for your ideal audience, they’ll be more likely to take action. For instance, as a graphic designer, you could publish a blog post about “8 Color Palette Mistakes in Web Design” that also offers downloadable color palettes. People searching for that advice might find your article and download your offer, thus turning into a lead.


Referrals are one of the most valuable lead sources for entrepreneurs. When a client is happy enough with your business to recommend you to others, these referrals can automatically become qualified leads. Because your current clients already understand your value, their recommendations will include others who need similar services.

While you can’t force referrals, you can incentivize them. For example, many companies offer discounts to people who make referrals. If you offer a 10% discount for every referral that fills out your contact form, you give current customers a reason to refer your company and make them a valuable lead source.


Today, you can advertise both online and in traditional formats like print to reach your target audience where they spend their time. You can place traditional ads in trade magazines, on signs and billboards, or mail print ads directly to your audience’s addresses. These ads can link to landing pages with contact forms or phone numbers people can call to learn more. 

Meanwhile, you can also create digital ads for social media, sponsored blog posts on other websites, or audio and visual ads in podcasts and YouTube videos. All of these can include links to pages or contact forms that will help you gather lead information. 


Email marketing can deliver offers and promotions directly to qualified leads’ inboxes. However, the content in your emails needs to be valuable to your email list, or they’re unlikely to remain subscribed. 

To generate leads, it’s best to nurture your audience with education first. If you spend the time to support your audience’s needs by teaching them useful information, you’ll build trust and loyalty. That’s when you can begin introducing them to products in your emails as solutions to their problems, generating valuable leads.


Live events have always been a great way to meet potential customers. Event lead sources can include trade events, interviews, open houses, and conferences. After the pandemic, virtual events like online Q&As can be just as valuable. 

Anything your target audience can attend virtually or in person can become an event lead source. You can hand out business cards with links to contact forms or take down lead information directly. If you make yourself available during and after the event, you may even be able to convert a qualified lead into a customer then and there.

How to identify priority lead sources

With so many lead sources available to you, it’s unlikely they will all equally benefit your business. For that reason, investing equally in every lead source may stretch your marketing budget without getting results. The solution is to identify your priority lead sources and invest your resources there. 

A priority lead source gets consistent, high-quality results compared to other options. For example, if you’re getting most of your leads from Instagram, that should be one of your priority lead sources. Investing more heavily into your Instagram presence can lead to even better results. 

Meanwhile, if Facebook ads aren’t getting you qualified leads, then Facebook should not be one of your priority lead sources. You can take the time and resources you were investing in Facebook and shift them to Instagram to make the most of the lead sources that work.

Before shifting your marketing resources, you need to identify your priority lead sources. That’s where HoneyBook can help.

HoneyBook offers a lead source report directly associated with your contact forms. This report can help you track where your leads come from over time. You can use the contact form across channels, so you won’t miss out on valuable information. 

Even better, HoneyBook’s lead source report feature makes monitoring easy for both digital and traditional lead sources. This can help you compare all of your lead sources, not just online traffic. As a result, you get a holistic overview of your leads, so you can make better decisions about your marketing budget allocation. 

How to build strategies for every lead source

Once you’ve identified the priority lead sources for your business, it’s time to strategize how you can make the most of them. Different lead sources require different approaches if you want to convert qualified leads into customers. The best way to create a strategy for each lead source is to consider the buyer’s journey. 

The buyer’s journey is the path a customer takes from first learning about your business to actually making a purchase. Every lead source supports a unique buyer’s journey. For example, someone who found your company through a search engine will have a very different approach than someone who was referred by a friend. 

To build a successful strategy for a specific lead source, work your way through the buyer’s journey for that source:

  • Awareness Stage: The lead becomes aware that they have a problem they need to solve.
  • Consideration Stage: The lead considers options to solve their problem.
  • Decision Stage: The lead decides how to solve the problem, becoming a client.

You can generate leads in both the awareness and consideration stages. For example, with advertising and social media, you can highlight pain points for your target audience. Meanwhile, with your email newsletter and referrals, you can target people who already know they have a problem and are considering how to solve it.

As you’re strategizing, you’ll also need to ask yourself two significant questions: 

  • What does the potential customer know about your business? Advertising leads may only know that you offer specific services, while referral leads know what you do and that you’re trusted by people they know.
  • What do they need to know to convert? An advertising lead will likely need more information to convert than a referral lead because of how they learned about your business.

By understanding how leads learn about your business and where they are in their buyer’s journey, you can build a marketing strategy to help you win potential clients more effectively. 

Start winning new clients by focusing on priority lead sources

Understanding your lead sources allows you to make better marketing and customer acquisition decisions. With HoneyBook, you can uncover your priority lead sources, so you know exactly where to focus your attention. That will help you gain new clients and keep your business growing with less stress.