Reading by Gerg1967

There's nothing quite like a little inspirational story to start the new year and get your online marketing headed in the right direction. Joanna Pfahler, Content Marketing Specialist at MSI Data, has just such a story to share with you. One year after launching their new content-focused marketing efforts, MSI Data has seen some serious results.

According to Joanna, since transitioning almost exclusively to content-based tactics around December 2012, they've seen a 131% increase in website traffic, and a 382% increase in leads. November of 2013 brought in their largest number of visits and leads ever.

Wow, I say. Nearly four times the leads. I'd like four times the leads. Who wouldn't? So how did they do it?

Well, first they brought in Joanna. She's the driving force of content at MSI, spending her time managing the editorial calendar, researching, writing and editing blog posts, ebooks, white papers, case studies and website content, managing email marketing and newsletters, and performing other miscellaneous marketing and writing tasks.

The bottom line here: If you can dedicate a skilled person to content marketing, the payoff is worth it.

A Useful Blog is Essential

"Since we're experts in the field service software market, we're able to create valuable content for potential customers while also making a name for ourselves as thought leaders in the industry. We publish about two to three educational blog posts per week in a variety of relevant topics: field service, construction, HVAC, technology, mobile technology, and more," explained Joanna.

"In these blog posts we make an effort to stay up on industry trends, while saying something new and interesting about the future of the field."

Two to three posts a week is a sustainable pace for many business bloggers. Importantly, that pace also allows Joanna and her team to deliver worthwhile content, much of which builds upon the content published in their educational resource center. They aren't publishing articles just to fill pages and bolster keywords-- a treadmill that pays worse dividends the longer you stay on it. No, MSI seeks to educate potential customers and to demonstrate their thought leadership-- high-minded marketing goals, to be sure.

Syndicate That Content

Obviously, every new piece of content deserves to make the rounds of your social accounts. Content fuels social, after all. But there are also many online publications that happily syndicate content, helping you gain more reach than your own site. Here is one such list, but there are dozens of sites that will repost an article to serve their readership. Alternatively, Repost is a service that lets anyone find and grab your content for publication to their own site, while earning you the link.

Explore New Opportunities

"Our latest efforts have been to reach out to publications in targeted industries, like HVAC or construction equipment, provide a sample of our current content, and offer to write new content for those publications," said Joanna.

"We've found that educating these targeted audiences about relevant topics in their field is useful for them, and it makes us more credible and recognizable at the same time."

Joanna uses examples of content published in the past and suggestions for article topics they could contribute in the future. For example, as experts in software for HVAC contractors, MSI recently wrote an article for the HVAC publication ACHR News about how a mobile app for technicians can make HVAC companies more service-centric, which will be published early this year. Joanna also tries to regularly exchange content with partners on their blog, which essentially create joint-marketing initiatives.

Become a Community Leader

According to Joanna, MSI recently became the sponsor of a field service resource center on an important industry partner's website. "Through this resource center we publish blog content and offer downloadable content for VARs interested in learning about or selling field service software along with the ERP systems they already sell."

How in the world did you score that gig?

"Well, our software integrates with several ERP systems and we've been working on growing our partnerships with various ERP software providers. We knew that partnering with ERP VARs presented a strong opportunity, so we contacted the owner of a popular industry site directly, proposing the idea of the service management resource center," Joanna said. "Our email provided ideas about how we could work together consistently and outlined the partnership ideas we had in mind, which revolved around delivering useful content to their audience."

A year in, what are the lessons learned and your plans for 2014?

According to Joanna, "It often takes time to see the results of great content, and in the enterprise software space, there are many 'soft benefits' that can't immediately be quantified."

Now that they have a large sample of what works, Joanna is setting specific goals for MSI's content marketing efforts, including growing partnerships, outreach efforts, and across-the-board performance improvements.

To see real marketing impacts, content marketing can't just be a 'when I get around to it' kind of effort. It takes commitment over the long term. You may not have the resources to add a Joann to your team, but there's no reason you should look back on 2014, wondering why you didn't create the content you knew you should. Content gets results. Joanna has the proof.