5 Tips to Use Salesforce Campaigns Effectively

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Salesforce Campaigns are one of the most under-utilised objects in Sales Cloud. As a marketing automation enthusiast, Campaigns come top of my favourite features! I’ve seen many Salesforce orgs that either have no Campaign records, or at the other end of the spectrum, have thousands of campaigns, some probably dummy, auto-created campaigns from various marketing automation connectors. My guess is that this is attributed to a lack of education, and the fact that there is no pressing use cases to use the object straight away.

Salesforce Campaigns are powerful to link together your marketing initiatives, and the leads and opportunities that are generated as a result. In this post,  we will look at 5 ways to use Salesforce Campaigns effectively.


Lead Source vs Campaigns

The most basic way to describe the Lead Source field is as a Salesforce picklist field which records where leads came from. It will indicate which lead generation channels produced the greatest number of new leads (also known as ‘first-touch’ reporting).

Trying to squeeze the functionality of the Campaign object into the Lead Source field is the biggest mistake I see.

If you have seen a fair number of Salesforce orgs (especially older orgs), it’s likely that you have seen a Lead Source field bursting with a mismatch of values (like the image on the right). There’s no consistency between high-level channels (eg. Tradeshow) to specific marketing initiatives (eg. Tradeshow 2014). This is a big no-no! If your organisation does this, you should make it a priority to stop this abuse of the Lead Source field!

  • Scalable: you cannot keep adding a picklist value for every marketing campaign you run. That would be ridiculous, right? I’ve seen Lead Source fields with 50+ values!
  • One value per lead: as a picklist field, each lead can only have one Lead Source value which can be very limiting, mainly by masking any other marketing activities that contribute to the opportunity (hopefully, a won opportunity eventually!)
  • Attribution reporting: By keeping it to a set number of marketing channels, you can focus your efforts on tracking marketing activity in more sophisticated ways. This will open up other options for attribution reporting, namely Campaign Influence.
  • Lead Source is a special field that has been deliberately engineered a certain way in Salesforce. Bad data at the lead level will quickly seep through your org to other objects (accounts and opportunities!)

In a nutshell:

Lead source = 1-to-1: one Lead Source value per lead.

Campaign history = many-to-1: many campaigns can be related to one lead.

This brings me on nicely to the second tip about how leads are related to campaigns.

Campaign Members

Campaign Members are Leads and Contacts related to a Salesforce Campaign. In a nutshell, there is no direct relationship between a Salesforce Campaign and a Lead/Contact; this is why Salesforce is designed to use Campaign Members instead. When you want to add someone to a Salesforce Campaign, a new Campaign Member record is created.

Technical note: Campaign Members is a junction object that allows you to connect multiple Leads and Contacts to many different campaigns, the Campaign Members object itself is a child object of Campaigns.

Campaign Members have a ‘Member Status’, which describes the level they have engaged with a Campaign.

The default statuses pre-populated on each new Salesforce Campaign are:

  • ‘Sent’
  • ‘Responded’

You can modify and add statuses that best match your campaign touchpoints – for example, you might have a status for ‘Downloaded PDF’, or ‘To be contacted’ if they submitted a contact form.

I wrote a whole separate post on Tips for Working With Salesforce Campaign Member Statuses. Knowing some best practice before diving in to customise Campaign Member Statuses can save you headaches down the line.

Campaign Influence

Salesforce Campaign Influence is how Salesforce Opportunities are associated to the Campaigns that helped generate them. It’s all about joining the dots between sales revenue (stored in opportunities) and marketing data (stored in campaigns) – and therefore, the fundamental connection in measuring Marketing ROI (return on investment).

Campaign influence reporting and what’s known as ‘multi-touch attribution’ paints the whole picture of your prospect’s interaction with the marketing campaigns you are running. This feature does rely on using campaigns for every marketing initiative (so some discipline!) and using Opportunity Contact Roles. Once you have these processes nailed down, accurate Campaign Influence is the graduation from limiting Lead Source tracking, to full-blown reporting.

I recommend you read the full guide to understand how Campaign Influence works – the ’nuts and bolts’!

Campaign Hierarchies

t’s about time we spoke about Campaign Hierarchies! Campaigns can be organised in a hierarchy structure, which groups different tactics involved in a campaign (child campaigns), rolled-up to one umbrella campaign (the ‘Parent’ campaign).

You could think of Campaign Hierarchies as a tree; the roots grow into branches, that split off into many leaves.

Deciding how to organise your Campaign Hierarchy starts with figuring out how the structure will cascade, top-down. It’s often a decision that takes time to discuss (often with some healthy debate) because there is no right answer! One thing I am sure of, however, is that once you’ve planted your tree, you can’t suddenly uproot it, or swap the branches for the leaves! (Without great effort, of course).

This is how a typical Campaign Hierarchy looks in Salesforce:

Read more on Campaign Hierarchies: 5 Tips for Organising Your Salesforce Campaign Hierarchy

Campaign Reporting

One of the greatest advantages of Campaigns is reporting capabilities. The data that Campaign Influence is collecting automatically is invaluable. This type of data enables the marketing team to see which Campaign are effective and exactly the output that they are producing. Where are the gaps in the process? Maybe Marketing is generating the Leads, but Sales are not closing opportunities, or it is the opposite way around?

On the campaign itself, you can view these default campaign fields for reporting:

  • Budgeted Cost and Actual Cost
  • Leads in Campaign
  • Contacts in Campaign
  • Num Sent
  • Converted Leads in Campaign
  • Opportunities in Campaign
  • Won Opportunities in Campaign
  • Expected Response (%)
  • Expected Revenue
  • Responses in Campaign
  • Value Opportunities in Campaign
  • Value Won Opportunities in Campaign

These fields report on the campaign with equivalent fields for ‘in hierarchy’, meaning the total for all the campaigns related together in the hierarchy, eg. ‘Total Num Sent in Hierarchy’, ‘Total Value Won Opportunities in Hierarchy’. You can add both of these to the campaign page layout, if you wish, or just add them to reports to keep your page layouts clutter-free.

If you’re a Pardot customer, take a look at ‘8. Campaign Engagement History Metrics’ in this post.

Salesforce is loved for its powerful reporting capabilities. A number of reports are available out-of-the-box:

  • Campaigns
  • Campaigns with Campaign Members
  • Campaigns with Leads
  • Campaigns with Leads and Converted Lead Information
  • Campaigns with Contacts
  • Opportunities with Campaign History
  • Campaigns with Influenced Opportunities (Customizable Campaign Influence)

These should cover the majority of your Campaign reporting needs.

Bonus: Connected Campaigns

Are you a Pardot customer? If so, keep reading.

With Connected Campaigns, Salesforce Campaigns and Pardot Campaigns have a one-to-one (1:1) relationship. Marketers only need to create and manage campaigns in Salesforce, which sync to Pardot as campaigns and are, therefore, available to link with campaign assets created in Pardot, eg. emails, forms, etc.

Check your org has Connected Campaigns enabled, and how to enable them if you haven’t done so.


Salesforce Campaigns can be used on their own and provide value to some extent. The real value comes when they are paired with a powerful Email marketing tool. Combining Email Marketing tools with Salesforce Campaigns means that you segment the Leads/Contact data in Salesforce, build the list (the campaign members), and send out email campaigns directly from Salesforce (depending on the connector your marketing automation tool of choice offers – Pardot, Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp & Dotmailer for some of the best). When the email is sent out to them, their status can be automatically updated (Responded, Opened etc).

9 thoughts on “5 Tips to Use Salesforce Campaigns Effectively

  1. Avatar

    I agree with you…Campaigns are very helpful in tracking performance and give a different lens that just tracking by lead source. They’re also a great place to keep records of the details, budget, of a marketing program. These details can blur over time if they’re not tracked properly. Thank you for the great post!

  2. Avatar

    Good article except you did not include that iContact (www.icontact.com) offers the only native Salesforce email marketing tool in the market. It takes advantage of Salesforce Campaigns functionality improving the use of Campaigns even further. Happy to connect with you and review our app and how it leverages an actual Salesforce Campaign and all it functionality anytime. Check us out on Salesforce App Exchange. Would not mind you updating the article either. 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Great stuff Ben. The campaign member is an invaluable object that should definitely be leveraged in a data-driven business!

  4. Avatar

    Good post. I’m pretty new to Salesforce. One question I have is how do you know which campaign someone belongs in? Let’s say someone fills out an inquiry form. We have no idea where they came from. How do we know which campaign to put them in?

    1. Avatar

      Hey Ross,
      I’m not connected to this post, but you can designate a campaign on a web-to-lead form, or a donation form (in our case) has a campaign that it connects to. If you used another form you could create a process builder that tagged contacts who filled out that form into a certain campaign. I have a “web sign up” form for those people who found us online with no prior engagement that we know of.


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