At the recent ad:tech New York conference, content marketing proved to be a leading discussion topic, and several marketing executives championed the notion that any type of business can - and must - market with content that will draw relevant traffic.

At the recent ad:tech New York conference, content marketing proved to be a leading discussion topic, and several marketing executives championed the notion that any type of business can – and must – market with content that will draw relevant traffic.

Jeffrey Ferguson, senior director of online marketing for Local.com, told attendees that content-driven sites are best-positioned to catch searchers' interests, but also reminded marketers that any type of business can offer industry-relevant and valuable content. Ferguson said, "good content is the heart of any site." For instance, he advises product-driven sites to frequently update keyword-conscious information including users' guides, review pages or corporate blog posts (and Brafton also recommends industry-relevant news, with 78 percent of Americans looking for breaking information online).

To emphasize the value of content marketing, Ferguson pointed to an example of a site that redeveloped itself according to the rules of keyword optimization and frequent content updates. He says the site quickly saw a 40 percent increase in organic traffic. Quality content is also critical linkbait, as this site jumped from 17,000 to more than 150,000 inbound links. Plus, the business behind the site saw a 28 percent increase in sales leads.

While it's clear that good content is key to a successful website, Michal Shapiro of Conde Nast reminds marketers that content is also key to social sites. She suggests that unique content be created for sites according to the audience most likely to be reached, and also advises marketers to adopt a narrative form when possible. Brand storytelling through quality content has proven successful – especially on tablets – in her experience.

Keynote speaker Lauren Zalaznick of NBC also pointed to the value of content, even (or perhaps especially) in a high-tech age. In her address about how content creates connections with consumers, she explained that internet users have an insatiable appetite for quality content. She reminded marketers to invest in their content strategies, saying that in a cluttered online landscape, only "the good stuff wins." Zalaznick has seen success with timely content that keeps ahead of the latest news or online trends related to her brands, and she also reminds marketers that it's valuable to engage consumers by offering articles they can comment on.

Additionally, Brafton has reported that researched and journalistic content can pay off. According to the Bloom Group, companies that invested in researched content for their sites saw three times the inbound leads of other analyzed firms, and Perfect Market says hard news content produces revenue online.
 

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.