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Lead channels: Where do your best leads come from?
Lead channels: Where do your best leads come from?
Andy Fowler avatar
Written by Andy Fowler
Updated over a week ago

Lead channels (sometimes referred to as "marketing channels") are groups of sources that bucket leads into categories. Nutshell has 8 built-in lead channels that can be connected with a lead:

Organic search: Searched Google or another search engine and found your website

Paid search: Clicked your ad on Google or other search engine

Organic social: Visited your site from Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Paid social: Clicked your ad on Twitter, Facebook, etc

Email: Clicked a link in your email campaign

Referral traffic: Arrived from a third-party website

Traditional: Saw a billboard, connected at a tradeshow, etc. engine

Direct traffic: Navigated directly to your website

(Note: leads can be connected to "No channel" or to more than one channel)

What's the difference between a lead channel and a lead source?

Channels are categories of sources, and sources are more specific than channels. Here are a few examples for a fictitious company, ArrowGrid:

If a person searches Google for "best solar panels" and then clicks on the result for

• The channel is "Organic search"

• The source is "google"

Then, if that same person searches "best solar panels" on, and then clicks on the result for

• The channel is "Organic search"

• The source is bing

A different person might be browsing Facebook and click an ad for in their news feed. This ad was part of the 2023_facebook_q1 campaign that the marketing team was running. In this example:

• The channel is Paid social

• There are two sources: and 2023_facebook_q1

In summary – sources are more specific pieces of information, whereas the channel is the umbrella. By distilling those leads down in a handful of channels, it becomes much simpler.

See Nutshell's Attribution Report for the best way to report on Lead Channels.

How do channels end up on leads?

Any number of channels can be manually added to every lead in the sidebar on the right by clicking the Add channel button.


However, we strongly recommend using Nutshell Analytics to automatically track website visitors and attribute lead channels to your leads. See this article to get started with Nutshell Analytics and streamline the process of getting channels on your leads

How do channels and sources fit together?

Channels are sources are usually tightly linked, which is why they're configured on the same setup page. You can manage your sources on the channels and sources setup page to get started.

New sources can be edited and configured in each channel. For example, Facebook might be added as a source for "Paid social"


Note: If you don't want to use lead channels, you can still add sources without a channel at the top of the page.

If I've been using Nutshell without channels, what happens to my existing sources?

Sources that were created before channels were introduced are categorized into the "No channel" bucket – no change is needed! However, if some of your sources fit into our new channels, you can click on a source to recategorize it and add a channel. That looks like this:


Reporting on channels

You can report on your channels in a number of different ways in Nutshell. The easiest way to see new and closed leads broken down by channels is via Nutshell's Attribution Report. This report provides a breakdown of new leads by channel, as well as win rate by channel.


Additionally, you can filter your leads by channel to see a breakdown of leads in a given channel.


And finally, with our other reports, you can segment your leads by channel to see a breakdown of your sales, losses, new leads, etc by channel:


For more information on reports, see this article


Can I use lead sources without using lead channels?

Yep! Nutshell works just fine without lead channels. Sources that aren't associated with a channel show up under the "No channel" section of the setup page.

Can I use lead channels without using lead sources?

Yes again! You can add a channel to a lead without adding a source. However – we highly recommend automating channels with Nutshell Analytics

Can I add my own lead channels?

You cannot add or remove lead channels from Nutshell. We think keeping a small set of channels is the most effective way to manage and report on where your leads come from. If you need to be more specific about where leads are coming from, sources are the way to go.

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