Ways to Capture Lead Source in Pardot and Salesforce

By Lucy Mazalon

Lead Source is one data point that marketers have their eye on. The most basic way to describe Lead Source/Source is as a Salesforce/Pardot field that records where leads came from. It will indicate which lead generation channels produced the greatest number of new leads and down the line, which generated the most revenue based on won opportunities.

There are multiple ways you can record a prospect’s source, depending on how your lead data is being captured, and what information that user or tool has at their disposal. However, there’s more to the Lead Source field than meets the eye, which leads to plenty of questions for Salesforce or Pardot Admins getting started with first-touch attribution.

READ MORE: Let’s Talk About Salesforce Lead Source

This guide will take you through different ways you can capture lead source using Pardot and/or Salesforce. There is a mix of methods, suitable for automated or manual record entry.

A Quick Note

Pardot and Salesforce do not share the same origins, in fact, Pardot was only acquired by Salesforce in 2014. That’s why there are two (interchangeable) field names:

  • Lead source: Salesforce field, picklist field.
  • Source: Pardot field, text field.

The ‘Source’ field in Pardot comes mapped to Salesforce Lead Source by default.

Be aware that the ‘Source’ field in Pardot is free text which has implications when syncing this field with the picklist field in Salesforce.

Pardot: How Source is Automatically Populated 

If you’re a Pardot customer, a prospect’s source can be populated automatically. You may be expecting some magic from your state-of-the-art marketing automation platform – well, here it is!

Pardot can pick up a prospect’s source based on the ‘Referring URL’. This is the URL that ‘referred’ the prospect to your website/landing page the first time they converted from a visitor to a prospect; in other words, the URL of the page they were on before hitting one of your tracked pages.

Pardot will scan the referring URL for a source it recognizes, and use that for the prospect ‘source’ field (full list of referring sources here).

  • eg. If a prospect was on the page below before landing on a tracked page of your website:
  • Pardot would pick up ‘linkedin’, and fill the source field with ‘linkedin’.
  • Pardot can also recognize the type of referring URL eg. natural search, ad, paid search, empty) and combine this with the source to give a more specific source (further details here).

‘Referring URL’ is a visible field on the prospect record. However, it cannot be mapped to a Salesforce field and synced to Salesforce.

Pardot: How to Capture Source Using UTMs and Hidden Form Fields

While automatically detecting and populating source from the referring URL is a great capability to have at your fingertips, it’s not every marketer’s preferred option. There are possible reasons for this:

  • Not all sources are on the full auto-populated source list.
  • You have a specific UTM structure you stick to for your analytics reporting.
  • The referring URL is not always captured.

Adding a utm_source value to the URL that prospects use to access your website/landing page will override the automatic source matching behavior (point #1). While it’s generally more reliable than the auto-populating method, it requires some planning; if your team is allowed free reign over utm_source values, not only will you end up with messy website analytics, but Salesforce Lead source reporting will be also, once those values sync across!

If you’re looking for advice on how to structure your UTM values, check out the explainer video by Stack Moxie below:

Using Hidden Form Fields with UTMs

The next stage is to add a field with a ‘hidden’ type to your form. As you may guess, this field will not be visible on the form, but will be laying in wait to capture the source value!

You will need to add some Javascript to your page (ie. your Pardot layout template, or your website page) that will ‘parse’ the URL (break it up into chunks), and insert the utm_source value into the hidden field. As you can guess you will need some web development knowledge to achieve this.

Using Hidden Form Fields without UTMs

This one is a classic trick every savvy marketer will know. You can have more control over source values by setting a source value in a form hidden field that will carry through to the prospect’s record when they submit the form. Basically, you’re ‘hard-coding’ that source value to be taken every time the form is submitted.

However, I would argue that this is only suitable in cases where one source of traffic is directing traffic to the website/landing page.

One mistake I see often is organizations that mix up a prospect’s source and their conversion point. By making a distinction between how they got to the website/landing page (and not the page itself), you lay a foundation for cleaner reporting.

Salesforce: How to Capture Lead source Using Web-to-lead

Web-to-lead functions like a form handler in Pardot, just with a less intuitive building experience. These notes are for anyone who is already familiar with Web-to-lead forms (otherwise, I recommend reading this article beforehand).

On the Salesforce side, you generate the HTML code, which you paste into your website. Add Lead source as one of the fields to Web-to-lead as you are building.

To populate Lead source, you can:

a. Edit the HTML code to always be set to a specific Lead source value for that form, and edit the code to hide the field (same principle as point #3)

b. If opting for UTMs, leverage Javascript to parse the URL, and insert the utm_source value into the field. Edit the code to hide the field (same principle as point #2)

As you can guess, you will need to do this configuration on the website side, and you will need some web development knowledge to achieve this.

Salesforce: How to Capture Lead source with User Manual Entry

The easiest way to capture Lead source when a user adds a lead to Salesforce, is to make the Lead source field required. This forces every lead to have a value.

There’s more than one way to make a field required in Salesforce, so pause and have a think first.

  • Should all users be forced to add a lead source? (if the answer is ‘no’, then you will need to bypass specific profiles)
  • Do you have any integrated systems adding lead data to Salesforce, and do those pass a lead source value through? (if you do have integrations, and the answer is ‘no’, then you will need to bypass this integration)

If you have a straightforward setup, where you would like all users to add the lead source and have no integrations to be concerned about, then you can make Lead source required on the page layout:

If you are not your org’s Admin, consult your Salesforce Admin before making changes like this!

Something else to consider: can every user in your organisation give an accurate Lead source? Do they have the data available to make that decision? Should users be allowed to change a Lead source value once it has been set?

Find these tips and more in the ‘Tips for Using Lead Source’ section.


Lead Source is one data point that marketers have their eye on. Nailing down Lead source, how it’s captured and synced to Salesforce, is the foundation for any organisation’s lead generation efforts. If you do not master accurate and consistent source capture, then your team will be chasing their tail when graduating to more complex multi-touch attribution.

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

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


    October 30, 2020 8:10 pm
    Hey Lucy, Super helpful article. Question - For Pardot, do you have any tips on how to automatically detect and add if a new prospect is a result of a "Direct Visit" inside the Lead Source field? I've worked with Hubspot in the past and this First-Touch attribution is built-in and more robust versus Pardot. I would like to build my Pardot instance to be just as powerful. Thanks!
    Lucy Mazalon
    December 09, 2020 1:56 pm
    Hi Paul, thanks for the feedback! It's tricky, you could assume that leads without a referring URL/or tracked UTMs that they could be a direct visit. Unsure how robust your tracking of other sources are (ie. if you're using UTM parameters). Might just be a case of process of elimination for detecting direct site traffic. Good luck!
    October 06, 2022 11:33 am
    Hi Lucy! Thanks for the great content! Are there any good solutions how you can track multiple touches (assisted conversions)? Since our prospects might submit a form several times and I find it helpful to track all sources, otherwise we might be wrong assuming that email (for example) is better than cpc, because if prospects submit a form after clicking the link from email - that will overwrite all previous data that actually brought this lead initially.
    April 24, 2023 8:03 pm
    HI YURII! Have you found a solution here? I am looking to do the same thing and running into a few roadblocks. Thanks!
    April 28, 2023 8:15 pm
    We use source to identify the original way they came into the realm of our brand (e.g. paid media, social, etc), and then we use Marketing Touch Most Recent/Marketing Touch Most Recent Details to describe recent touches, and automation rules/Engagement Studio programs to add records to Salesforce Campaigns that describe the campaign touchpoints during their journey. With these, you can use a multi-touch reporting model with the out-of-the-box Salesforce reporting.

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