Guest blogs can drive traffic, but small businesses must develop these strategies with an eye to quality.

Debating whether to invest in a bigger online advertising budget or in content marketing? About three-quarters of consumers say they prefer information from companies in the form of articles over ads.

The Custom Content Council’s Summer 2011 edition of Content Magazine shares data indicating that content marketing is an increasingly important way to engage online audiences. The report reveals that more than 75 percent of consumers think brands that offer valuable content are interested in building relationships with their clients. Two-thirds say they regard content as a service in itself.

While the majority of consumers acknowledge that marketers are trying to selling something through branded content, more than three-quarters are fine with this as long as the information provided is valuable.

It seems that marketers are already making move to accommodate content-hungry consumers. The source says that two-thirds of businesses will invest more heavily in content creation in the next couple of years. Plus, 85 percent of marketers believe branded content drives repeat purchases.

Content marketing is poised to become a competitive tool for brand engagement and customer acquisition. Supporting the Custom Content Council’s data, ContentLEAD recently reported that a Focus Research study found 48 percent of marketers will boost their online content resources this year.