A recent study from InboundWriter reveals that most companiesí investments in content marketing donít pay off. The study found that only 10-20 percent of a Web siteís content drives 90 percent of Web site traffic, and only one-half of a percent drives over 50 percent of the traffic to the site. In other words, most of the content used in content marketing and online publishing misses the mark 80-90 percent of the time.

The researchers studied traffic patterns for more than 110,000 pages and 32 million page views from dozens of Web sites over the course of a year. Not only was it found that the content marketing was not effective, more concerning was the apparent fact that marketers didnít know why one piece of content successfully attracted interest so that they could build upon their success.

So why do businesses create online content? Search engines were originally designed to help users find relevant information on the Web that pertained to a keyword. They had to evolve and become more sophisticated as marketers attempted to game the search system. Content marketing has become a new way to try to game the system by publishing online content that enhances a search result.

Is content marketing an effective tool with an as-yet unrealized potential? Or is it just a fad, a digital approach to advertorials? While this remains to be seen, marketers who want to insure authentic audience engagement should keep their focus on seeking credible, independent, third party media coverage for endorsements. Having a trusted blog, newspaper or other legitimate news outlet report positively on a company remains far more effective than having a company create and distribute positive content about itself, no matter how elaborately presented.