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I have written about the rise of “content marketing” as a marketing strategy in past issues of my newsletter. This month, I want to share the story of a company that is executing the most well-thought-out and effective content marketing strategy that I have seen. Reading about this company’s success might spur a few ideas for creating your own content marketing program — or improving the program you currently have.

In early 2012, I was contacted by the managing director of an outsourced CFO services firm about supporting their content marketing initiatives. Located in Southern California, CFO Edge had launched a content marketing initiative about a year earlier, and they were looking for a new writer to generate weekly articles primarily on financial and operational topics.

I’ve now been working with Art Rothberg, the firm’s managing director, and Jeff Kryder, the coordinator of the content strategy program, on this program for nearly a year and a half. They graciously agreed to share a few details about their program with my newsletter audience.

Conveying Thought Leadership

The idea originated with Art, who wanted to create a regular series of articles to help business leaders and referral partners better understand financial and operational performance topics to improve profitability and accelerate growth. “From the very beginning of the content program early in 2011, I wanted to publish a weekly article to convey our thought leadership in an insightful and consistent way,” Art told me.

The article is positioned as a “Wednesday A.M. Brief” and published as a PDF download in the ungated Resources section of the company’s website every Wednesday morning. “As a provider of insightful and actionable articles, CFO Edge is seen as an experienced, credible provider of outsourced CFO services and a thought leader in financial and operational performance,” said Jeff.

What sets this program apart from most other content marketing programs I’ve seen is that these weekly articles are just the tip of their content marketing iceberg. CFO Edge leverages these articles across several other formats to get the most bang from their content marketing bucks:

• Their monthly newsletter contains brief descriptions of that month’s articles and links directly to them.

• Series of articles are often linked together to form in-depth white papers on particular financial and operational topics.

• Articles are shared by the firm on all of the relevant social media sites: LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

• PDFs of the articles are printed in hardcopy format for partners to distribute at networking meetings, conferences and other events.

Gated landing pages are created for the white papers and newsletter subscription signup that capture prospect contact data for follow up.

This is a perfect illustration of what I often stress to clients and prospects: If you’re paying to have quality content created, then by all means, leverage that content to the hilt!

Using SEO Strategically

The other thing that really sets CFO Edge’s content strategy apart is the planning that goes into the topic selection and the article writing itself — especially the strategic use of search engine optimization (SEO). “We strive to create and publish content in ways that are aligned with SEO best practices,” Jeff said. “This increases the presence of CFO Edge articles in search engine results, thus driving more potential prospects to our website.”

Keyword metrics available from Google Analytics are especially valuable, he adds. “We monitor these metrics for impressions displayed in response to keyword searches, and have generated a number of articles based on findings there. Using Google Analytics, we can also view metrics on keyword searches that attract visitors to the site, which is very helpful in identifying the comparative drawing power of the various topics we write on. We also use SaaS keyword tools to identify new keywords and evaluate current ones.”

While content marketing can be used for both client retention and new client acquisition, Jeff says CFO Edge’s program functions primarily as a client acquisition tool. “It supports direct sales by the firm’s partners while helping level the competitive playing field with other firms that may be larger or have longer histories.”

But Does It Work?

But what’s the bottom-line impact of CFO Edge’s content program, you might be wondering. Is it generating quality leads that can be tied directly to new client acquisition? “Yes,” Jeff answered. “And we see correlations in both qualitative and quantitative ways.

“For example, when a partner connects with prospects in response to a landing page form completion or web inquiry, the partner asks how they heard of the firm or came to the website. They frequently mention conducting a web search as part of their buying process and coming to a CFO Edge article or white paper page as a result of their search.”