Creating brand awareness and enhancing corporate reputation are most often the objectives of content marketing initiatives, but marketers are finding that having quality content actually drives in quality sales leads, according to a report published by eMarketer.

“Informative, nonpromotional content in the form of webinars, white papers, videos, blogs and peer recommendations on social networks and forums can attract prospects,” said eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher, author of the new report, “B2B Lead Generation: Using Content to Acquire Customers.” “It can also be used to build and maintain ongoing relationships with potential buyers—a must for remaining top of mind throughout the purchase process.”

There have been numerous studies recently which back up this claim. Customer acquisition—including both lead generation and lead nurture—are top priorities for B2Bs, according to a June 2011 poll from MarketingSherpa.

Content, especially different types like white papers, fact sheets, case studies, webinars and email newsletter campaigns, can help serve these purposes throughout the B2B sales funnel—and according to data from Focus Research, the usefulness of these types of content is different for B2Bs than for business-to-consumer oriented companies. Blogs, webinars, white paper and video have been found to be more effective in the B2B realm.

“Online content is the fuel for the new B2B marketing lead generation engine,” said Fisher. “In creating informational, educational and actionable content in the form of white papers and webinars, marketers can effectively lure early-stage buyers into their sales pipeline.

“By mixing this content with comparative, company-specific and interactive content—and regularly sharing it via email or e-newsletters—marketers can build relationships designed to nurture prospects throughout the sales funnel,” she continued.

The full report, “B2B Lead Generation: Using Content to Acquire Customers” is available only to eMarketer corporate subscription clients.

My take? This trend is reflected in my own client work. I’m currently working with three organisations to help them add content creation and curation into the marketing mix.