WASHINGTON, DC: Boosting brand awareness, improving visibility on search engines and generating leads are among the primary aims of brands that use content marketing, a study has revealed.

Clutch, the research firm, surveyed 300 content marketers in the US regarding topics including their objectives, strategies and metrics.

And it reported that driving brand awareness was the "main goal" for 49% of respondents in this space, ahead of "higher visibility in search engines" on 30%. Lead generation claimed third spot, with 21%.

Fully 71% of participants utilised paid advertising as part of their distribution tactics, with organic social media logging 70%, traditional marketing hitting 69% and email newsletters being referenced by 63% of the sample.

"On top of personalising the promotion channels you use, it's important to prioritise paid forms of content distribution over organic efforts," Clutch stated.

"In fact, we found that the majority of enterprise content marketers surveyed believe paid advertisements are more effective than organic approaches to content distribution."

When discussing the types of content created for their programs, research/original data was leveraged by 74% of the panel, the same total as infographics and product reviews.

Video followed next on 70%, while blog posts registered 57%, case studies secured 56% and white papers were mentioned by 55% of contributors. (Learn more about social video, one of the top content trends this year, in this free-to-access report from Warc's 2017 Toolkit.)

In identifying which content categories delivered the best results, the top three remained the same, with research/original data scoring 18%, beating out infographics on 17% and product reviews on 16%.

Effectiveness represents an obvious motivation behind favouring specific content formats, but Clutch suggested other factors also play a role, as evidenced by the underlying model supporting an enterprise's content marketing.

"For example, the hub-and-spoke content model entails creating an in-depth content piece, such as a white paper or research report, and then building trails, or spokes, back to it," the company asserted.

"These spokes focus on small, micro-sections of the longer content and usually take less time to create. Some examples of spoke content include infographics, reviews, interviews, and case studies, while the typical hub content types include white papers, eBooks, and research or original data."

In measuring the success achieved by content marketing, a 32% share of interviewees pegged sales as the "most important" indicator, ahead of consumption and lead generation, recording 29% each, and sharing on 10%.

Data sourced from Clutch; additional content by Warc staff