Marketers / Analytics / Marketing Ops

Calculate Multi-Channel Lead Acquisition Costs Using Salesforce

By Lucy Mazalon

Branded content with Heeet

How much does it cost you to acquire a lead? Which marketing tactics actually resulted in successful interactions?

You’ll be all too familiar that the digital marketing industry releases new innovations each year. Multi-channel marketing has become mega-multi-channel.

Scaling up campaigns to take advantage of more channels is one thing – however, being able to pinpoint what’s actually working is a pipedream for many marketers. Simultaneously using Google Analytics, advertising platforms, Salesforce, and marketing automation is not enough – data needs to be exchanged across every platform in a usable format for reporting.

The reality is that marketers shoehorn data from one location to another in sub-optimal ways. When marketers do achieve the full data picture, how many of those data points actually get used in reporting?

Then there’s the topic of privacy. Respecting visitors’ privacy (when they wish for their activity to not be tracked) is crucial, even as far as your multi-channel marketing attribution (reporting). The reality is that we cannot rely on third-party cookies (those added by services that are not your company); instead, we must rely on first-party data – as in, the data customers want to share with you. What was originally possible with close tracking for detailed marketing attribution is changing.

Google Analytics vs. Salesforce Reports

Google Analytics and Google Ads are considered leaders for a reason. The drawback with these platforms is that assessing performance is only surface-level. All data is anonymized, so you can’t pinpoint individual prospects’ behavior.

Use a CRM like Salesforce to track the in-depth interactions an individual prospect or customer has with your business.

In Salesforce-speak, the challenge is: once a prospect is captured, the lead qualified, and (hopefully) the opportunity won, you’ll find that the new customer’s record is removed from the Google Analytics/Google Ads data that attracted them to your business in the first place.

Options Currently Available

Closing the gap between rich web analytics data and an individual’s Salesforce record is a pressing requirement that’s been tackled. So, which options are available to you?

How it worksDownsides (limitations)
Use Salesforce FlowPass UTMs from the form submission to the Campaign Member (ie. a lead/contact that’s added to a Salesforce campaign). Details here.Requires someone with specialized knowledge. Automation can break and could need troubleshooting; if a specialist external to your organization set this up, you’ll continue to be reliant on them.
Pardot Google Analytics and Google Ads connectors (available for all Pardot customers)

Simple to “plug in” and sync click data from Google Analytics/Ads to Pardot prospect records.

Lurking beneath the surface, however, you’ll find the data sync is restricted, the information unusable, and inflexible (and illogical) attribution to opportunity records. To understand this further, I really encourage you to read the investigatory guide.

Use the Pardot API

Integrate Pardot (Salesforce) to receive the multiple data points you desire from Google Analytics/Ads.

The Pardot API has its limitations. Creating this integration requires highly specialized knowledge; if a specialist external to your organization set this up, you’ll continue to be reliant on them.

READ MORE: Google Ads Connector for Pardot: Overview of Reporting Capabilities

What is Lead Acquisition Cost?

Before we look into what a better solution could look like, let’s break down what lead acquisition cost is, and how it translates into data and analytics.

  • Lead acquisition: Depending on the organization, these are new records of individuals captured, converted, or even generated revenue (opportunities won).
  • Cost: The monetary value of all the activities involved in acquiring the lead. Depending on the marketing channels used, this can be an estimated figure or very accurate. For example, the amount to sponsor a conference would inevitably involve hidden costs; whereas a Google Ads campaign will have highly accurate costs associated.

In a Salesforce context, this translates to:

  • Leads being captured, and when qualified, converted into contacts.
    When involved in a marketing campaign, Lead and Contacts are associated with the Salesforce campaign (becoming a campaign member).
  • The campaign cost is stored in a field on the Salesforce campaign. Typically, this requires users to input the amount manually.

Bringing this together for every new lead, you will know the cost of the campaigns that captured their interest – and voilà! You can calculate the average calculate lead acquisition cost across any channel.

The Challenges with Campaign Cost

Marketers will typically input the campaign cost into Salesforce manually. This suits campaigns with a fixed spend, eg. hosting a conference.

When it comes to digital channels, the cost is constantly changing – eg. Google Ads campaign cost depends on keyword bidding. In the name of accurate lead acquisition costs – there must be a better way.

How a Better Solution Looks

We saw which options have been available to the ambitious marketers; from my own experience, these options are a hassle and could cause challenges further down the line.

To recap our goals, we aim to:

  • Calculate how much it costs to acquire a lead.
  • Understand how each marketing channel contributed to your conversions (or fell short!)

With so much information, coming from multiple channels, this is a way that will enable marketers to fulfill those reporting goals. The outcome of this proposed alternative is to:

  • See detailed information about the prospects’ first and last (most recent) interaction.
  • Track how many interactions a prospect has with each marketing channel – before submitting a form and in between the first and last click. In reality, this is likely going to include multiple touchpoints (Google Ads, Linkedin Ads, SEO, social media etc.)

Here’s what a typical prospect journey would look like.

  1. The prospect is potentially browsing and interacting with your assets. At some point, they decide to “make themselves known” by submitting a form (or another form of consent).
  2. This confirms their consent for you to track their interactions.
  3. At some point, depending on how your organization operates, a human or a system will consider them qualified (you, a salesperson, Pardot). They will continue on their buyer’s journey, and eventually, become a customer.

This is what’s happening data-wise in Salesforce, behind the scenes:

  1. As the prospect browses and interacts with your assets, behavior tracking is kept “on their side”.
  2. Once they convert, a Lead record is created in Salesforce (and if you are using Pardot, a Prospect record too).
  3. First click information is captured on the Lead record, including the landing URL, channel, referrer, campaign name, and source/medium/keyword parameters.
  1. A Campaign Member record is created to associate that Lead with the Salesforce Campaign. This association can be determined by the UTM parameters captured.
  2. Simultaneously, now that you have their consent, the number of interactions they have had will be captured on the Lead record. Any further interactions will also be synced to the Lead.
  3. As the Campaign spend changes, the Salesforce Campaign will be updated.
  4. In Google Analytics, an “event” is recorded for the conversion. This is recorded as a “goal”.
  5. At some point, an Opportunity will be created when they continue further on their buyer’s journey, which will eventually, become a “Closed Won” Opportunity.
  6. In Google Analytics, another “event” is recorded for this conversion. This is recorded as a “goal”.

When you visit the individual’s lead record, you’ll see:

  • First and last click landing URL, channel, referrer, campaign name, and source/medium/keyword parameters.
  • # interactions with campaigns across Google Ads, Bing Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, SEO, or directly to your site.
  • The overall lead acquisition cost, then broken down by channel (e.g. Linkedin acquisition costs etc.)

Campaign list views also give you an effective overview:

When you visit Google Analytics:

  • In the “Campaigns” report, you’ll the usual acquisition metrics (clicks, sessions, impressions etc.)
  • Toggle on/off goals. Goals indicate an event that gas a clear value, e.g. “Salesforce – Closed Opportunity”, “Demo completed” (you would have configured goals to suit your needs). For each goal, you’ll see the completions, conversion rate, and the monetary value – e.g. the “Salesforce – Closed Opportunity” goal would pull in the “amount” data from your Salesforce Opportunities.


Multi-channel marketing has become mega-multi-channel. When it comes to understanding how much it costs you to acquire a lead, there are 4 key takeaways:

  1. Acknowledge that analytics tools are better suited to one type of reporting. In this context, Google Analytics is best suited for high-volume interaction data, whereas, Pardot/Salesforce are used for individualized reporting on Lead/Opportunity lifecycles. The best way forward, as demonstrated, could be to avoid shoe-horning all data points into Salesforce.
  2. Campaign cost is often not static, especially for digital channels, where the cost is constantly changing, eg. Google Ads campaign cost depends on keyword bidding.
  3. The combination of a) detailed information about the prospects’ first and last interaction, and b) how many interactions a prospect has with each marketing channel will enable you to calculate accurate costs, by lead, by channel.
  4. We must rely on first-party data, (the data customers want to share with you). This means considering how your digital marketing strategy will avoid third-party cookies, and in turn, respect visitors’ privacy when they don’t wish to be tracked on your website.

About Heeet

You’ve seen a better solution outlined in this guide – that solution is called Heeet. “Stop guessing lead acquisition costs” is Heeet’s philosophy.

Simply put, Heeet is a connector that sits between Salesforce and Google Analytics, Google Ads, and many other channels – pulling detailed first and last touch data into Salesforce, and recording key conversion points in Salesforce to Google Analytics as “goals”.

It’s easy to set up, plus, create and maintain GA goals from Heeet’s Salesforce app.

There’s a fixed, lifetime cost. One payment grants you get access to everything Heeet offers.

I’ve seen so many organizations that wish this gap in the market was filled. This is why you should request a demo, even if it’s to fulfill your curiosity. You can have your Salesforce data work in harmony with Google Analytics, so what do you have to lose?

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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