​Content marketing now receives nearly 40 percent of the average brand's budget, and today's biggest ​companies lead by example.

​Companies increasingly recognize brand journalism helps them establish themselves as authoritative enterprises in their niche industries. Through publishing custom content, businesses generate leads and boost brand lift, helping them gain some traction in competitive markets.

The Custom Content Council published its annual spending report, showing that U.S. brands allocated 9 percent more toward content marketing last year than in 2011. Overall spend for content creation totaled $44 billion last year. More, the CCC reports that businesses dedicate 39 percent of their budgets to in-house content writing or brand journalism through external editorial teams.

Spend is up, but who’s investing in custom content?

With companies focusing on content marketing as a way to achieve various objectives, businesses playing catch up can learn a lot from today’s leaders, and the Aberdeen Group published a report to highlight the latest trends.

The source defined “Leaders” as those companies that met four predetermined criteria:

  • Ability to show marketing-generated leads.
  • Year-over-year revenue growth.
  • Y-o-y increase in media mentions.
  • Marked rise in social media mentions.

All other respondents are considered “followers.”

63 percent of industry Leaders use branded content to meet their marketing goals, compared to 54 percent of followers.

According to the Aberdeen Group, 63 percent of industry Leaders use branded content to meet their marketing goals, compared to 54 percent of followers. Eighty-eight percent of Leaders produce their own editorial content for their news sections, blogs, press releases and newsletters, and only 35 percent of followers invest in the same practices.

What does content help brands achieve?

When asked why content is the go-to marketing solution, brand recognition (44 percent) and public sentiment (35 percent) generated the most responses from both Leaders and followers. Companies that see the value of regularly updated blogs know that building credibility through written content helps brands break into new markets and support their bottom lines.

Not every organization has the scalability to build internal editorial teams, and it’s also not always necessary to put brand journalism responsibilities on in-house professionals. Content marketing services can support existing promotional demands by becoming an extension of internal teams. Clearly, content marketing is a must for every business today, so companies should learn to lead and not follow by investing in content for custom campaigns.

Ted Karczewski

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.