Ecommerce growth in the fourth quarter reached record levels and was driven largely by increased digital content consumption.

Market research firm comScore released its final numbers for the fourth quarter of 2011, showing that Americans spent more than $49.6 billion online in the three-month period. The figure represented 14 percent growth from the final quarter of 2010, when American spent approximately $43 billion on the web.

The final quarter of the year regularly sees increases in spending thanks to the the holiday shopping rush. However, web marketers and ecommerce companies are seeing spending recover from the worst of the recession.

“Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for ecommerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend,” Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, said in a release.

According to comScore, digital content and subscription services were among the fastest-growing sectors in the fourth quarter. Leveraging content marketing campaigns as part of an overall internet marketing strategy can help companies benefit from Americans’ increased ecommerce spending and web activity. Developing custom content that builds a website from an SEO standpoint can also foster a company’s role as an authority within its industry.

Part of developing strong content and emerging as a thought leader is establishing trust with an audience. Brafton recently reported that Google’s Matt Cutts said that trust, while not quantifiable, is a critical component of SEO. As such, working with trusted content writers and focusing on information that is relevant to a business’ products or services is essential.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.