Small businesses have a lot to consider when developing a website to drive sales.

Half of marketers will be increasing their marketing budgets this year, according to Focus Research’s Marketers’ Benchmark 2011 report, and it seems many of them will be devoting more dollars to content marketing.

Online content was cited as the strongest performing channel of the past 12 months by 36 percent of marketers, second only to email marketing (which also requires original, branded content). Content marketing will be a “high priority” investment in 2011, with 48 percent of respondents saying they will boost their online content resources this year.

Both B2B and B2C businesses will likely find content converts site visitors, online content was cited as a top marketing method by 36 percent and 37 percent of marketers in those sectors, respectively. Plus, 47 percent of B2B firms and 49 percent of B2C companies say content marketing is a 2011 top investment area.

With this in mind, marketers will want to invest in content to drive leads and remain competitive. Notably, 54 percent of respondents say a lack of resources holds them back, and Focus reports that 34 percent reference driving customers to their company websites as another top challenge.

Brands might want to turn to writing professionals and SEO experts to help them achieve sustainable online content efforts that can drive site traffic. The investment can pay off; as ContentLEAD has reported, search optimized blogs influence purchase decisions.