​A new survey shows that marketers are increasingly using online content for lead generation purposes.

​Content marketing will only pick up steam as name-brands embark on their own campaigns moving forward. The “2013 Content Marketing Survey Report” from IMN found that 49 percent of U.S. companies now have formal content marketing strategies in place – up from 28 percent in 2012. More, the survey highlighted another 27 percent of respondents who noted they don’t currently have content creation efforts in place, but will by 2014.

As the content marketing space has evolved from an optional practice into a crucial component ​for higher website conversions and brand loyalty, companies’ goals have also changed. In 2012, lead generation through online content was the No. 4 goal among marketing departments. However, 44 percent of surveyed professionals indicated content for lead gen is their No. 1 priority – up 28 percent year-over-year. Other marketing objectives include customer engagement (19 percent), awareness (19 percent), thought leadership (11 percent) and loyalty (7 percent).

When asked what tactics help drive content marketing success, more than half of respondents credited social media marketing for getting branded content to the masses. This channel was followed by companies’ websites (44 percent), newsletters (42 percent) and email blasts (42 percent).

Connecting content writing with social media marketing can fuel results for brands across verticals. Brafton reported that 95 percent of web traffic clicks links on Page 1 of Google SERPs. More, a SearchMetrics report shows a correlation between brands with significant social shares and Page 1 rankings in search. Marketers who conceptualize unique content programs must consider social as an essential distribution channel for lead gen, brand awareness and visibility in SERPs.

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.