Men are spending more time on the web accessing website content that can compel them to spend money.

A report from ContentWise and the Custom Content Council found that businesses of all sizes have increased their spending on content marketing. The greater focus on creating original articles, blog posts and other kinds of content led to more than $40 billion investments in 2011.

Small businesses are among the companies adopting different forms of content marketing to improve their web presences. From 2009 through 2011, web content has become increasingly important for SMBs looking to appeal to prospects. Meanwhile, fewer are advertising in print publications, with the number of companies investing in the channel falling from 91 percent in 2010 to 83 percent last year.

Of the $40 billion companies, including small businesses, spent on content marketing, investments totaling $26 billion were dedicated to the production of articles, blog posts and other forms of web content. Companies spent the remaining $14 billion on content distribution and paying content writers and other staff.

Hiring content writers or outsourcing production to a third party is critical for small businesses looking to improve online lead generation and web conversions. SMBs should evaluate writers’ ability to write quality articles, but should remember that audience targeting is equally vital for the success of content marketing campaigns.

ContentLEAD recently reported that 17 percent of companies relying on content marketing believe poor audience targeting is holding their campaigns back. Similarly, 97 percent of organizations said that creating content in the style and tone most likely to appeal to their prospects is among the most important elements of any campaign.