The benefit of article marketing depends on how you use it as a tool. Most people use article marketing as a way to get “laser-targeted” backlinks to their website. Others use it to pre-sell to their customers so they can sell their product more easily.
Although in theory article marketing is a great way to get high quality backlinks, practically speaking, article marketing is a lot less effective. The problem lies in the way article directories operate and the articles that the hold. Over 90% of all article directories hold a lot of spam and consequently, have less Page Rank. The other 10% include EzineArticles, GoArticles and ArticleDashboard, which have a good reputation.
If your goal is to get thousands of “excellent quality” backlinks by submitting to directories, you will have to write hundreds of articles and submit it to hundreds of article directories because most article directories do not provide a lot of link juice to your website.
Think about it this way, if the majority of the people submit duplicate content to article directories in order to just get a link from them, the link directory will have few incoming links but thousands of outgoing links. Therefore the PR which flows to your website through the directory is very less, often negligible.
But if you religiously write 2 articles a day and submit it to 100 different article directories, you can have a decent ranking in 1-2 months.
Article directories also contain some very good, unique articles, written by people who do not wish to spam the directory to get a link, but to pre-sell to their customers. I think this method of benefiting from article directories is the more effective one. If you sell a unique product or service and write compelling articles, customers will always find you. The problem with this approach is that it requires an expertise from you in providing a specialized service and it also requires a good amount of time to write excellent articles.
In the end, article marketing works in theory. Period. It might not work that well for people who do it simply to gain backlinks, but if you have a unique service to provide, article marketing can help you pre-sell very effectively.