The secret sauce for brands' successful content marketing strategies might be a simple recipe - custom content and social integration.

Every brand is looking for that winning combination of search, social and mobile that will keep them one step ahead of the competition. A new study from Ascend2 suggests that taking the lead might be less about finding a secret edge and more about doing what marketers already know they should – produce original branded content and share it on social networks.

In the recent SEO Strategy Outlook Report, the firm asserts that extensive social media integration is a common thread among companies considered to have superior strategies. Meanwhile, half of businesses with inferior strategies fail to sync their social marketing and content production efforts. At the same time, 55 percent of brands running first-class campaigns say creating original web content is one of the most effective practices they employ.

Ascend2 data shows original content is key to web marketing success.

Just how big of a difference is there between those in the ‘superior’ category and those considered ‘inferior?’ According to Ascend2’s data, marketers with stronger campaigns are more than five times as likely to convert qualified leads from SEO traffic.

Companies might be settling for below-par content marketing strategies because they put great value on cost reduction and management, Brafton previously reported. Nearly 95 percent of businesses said they perceive cost reduction as a success metric – a belief that might benefit their bottom line in the short run, but hurt it over time.

Around 48 percent of companies surveyed by Ascend2 confirmed that budget limitations and marketing team members were stumbling blocks that interfere with online success. Faced with these obstacles, many brands choose to outsource their content marketing. SEO experts can consult brands on the best social networks plans and skilled editorial teams produce steady streams of original articles to keep website visitors reading, clicking and converting.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.