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We have historically been using the LeadSource field on Leads and Contacts as a key value for creating ad hoc segments in our marketing automation tools (eg Hubspots, marketos of the world) but now we are encountering Leads that had one 'source' but we need to keep pulling them into new segments.

Is there a better field or approach for bucketing contacts/leads into 'lists' and then syncing that field into the Marketing Automation platform?

I was also considering creating a text-area field that would write all the values, historical and current, of the Lead Source, and would be updated by an Apex Trigger...thoughts?

Any experience 'hacking' campaign objects in this way?

I feel like I am about to jump off the deep end (which you can probably tell by my inclination to use an apex trigger), which is why I wanted to ping this off SFDC SE.

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You'll probably want to use Campaigns; you should read the Campaign Management Implementation Guide.

Basically, a Lead Source is a generic term, such as "Email" or "Convention," just a general classification of where a Lead came from. When you want to get more specific, you should use Campaigns as a means of tracking interactions.

This is naturally a many-to-many relationship (e.g. each lead can be affected by several campaigns, and several leads can be affected by a single campaign). Web-to-Lead lets you capture a campaign, opportunities can be influenced by campaigns, and campaigns can drive various reports, marketing initiatives, such as email drip campaigns, and so on.

All of this is pretty much built-in to the system, no coding required. I have a feeling you'll have more specific questions, and we're here to answer them, but I'd recommend at least giving the documentation a once-through, as well as checking out the related trailheads over at Salesforce Trailheads.

  • Thanks @sfdcfox! Yes, I have been investigating campaigns, but where I stumble is how we can use them to "roll up" leads into something actionable for third party marketing automation tools, which is why I considered a custom field that let's us segment accordingly – GPP Dec 13 '16 at 7:25
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    @GPP I can't speak for all tools, but I know that services like ExactTarget, Got Marketing, etc all allow the use of campaigns for segmentation purposes. You'll probably want to consult the documentation for your specific service(s), but I feel that Campaigns is usually the right answer. – sfdcfox Dec 13 '16 at 7:37

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