In short, because blogs are well beyond the novelty stage, and now a mainstream communication medium for b2b vendors. They are generally trusted and progressively more widely read, and they draw an attractive demographic. They are search engine-friendly and one of the easiest, fastest and least expensive ways to increase the online exposure of your business.
Technorati now indexes more than 133 million blogs; nearly a million new blog posts are written every day. According to a recent study, 77% of active Internet users now read blogs. 51% of businesses view blogs as the most useful social media tool. Forrester Research reports that 91% of b2b buyers use social media in some form, and 58% react to content in social media (including blogs). And it isn’t just middle-management types using social media for b2b decision making; 77% of senior management team members listen to podcasts or webcasts, and 61% visit company blogs.
Consultant Suzanne Falter-Barns has echoed the blogs-are-mainstream theme and suggests that blogs will displace email newsletters and e-zines. Growing and maintaining an opt-in e-newsletter list has gotten more difficult for several reasons. First, due to their proliferation (almost every business now has a company newsletter – I even get one from my garbage collection service!). Second, due to overstuffed in-boxes, largely because of spam. Third, and related to the last point, over-zealous spam-blocking programs end up preventing many legitimate marketing emails from reaching recipients, leading to low deliverability rates. Fourth, they are a lot of work.
Blogs, on the other hand, are fast and reasonably easy to create. Anyone in your company with an interesting story to tell or knowledge to share can contribute. They are less formal than a newsletter. They are interactive. And they are loved by the media as well as by search engines.
Search engines (particularly Google) love blogs, for reasons partly philosophical (Google owns blog creation service Blogger) and partly technical. Blogs make your site “stickier” and more likely to be revisited by prospects looking for fresh, interesting content. A blog is also far easier to build than a Web site, requiring no or at least very limited knowledge of HTML and FTP. Keyword competition is also less intense for blogs and RSS feeds than for commercial websites (through with the rapid growth of business blogs, this is changing).
As blogger Ankesh Kothari has pointed out, blogs are fundamentally nothing more or less than a form of communication. If you can make money using other forms of communication (e.g. email or direct mail), then you can make money with a blog.
Most blogs don’t draw large audiences, but with a narrow industry focus, they do draw a highly targeted readership. By creating a blog that provides real value within your industry niche, and promoting it effectively, you can attract those highly relevant readers, create interaction, and enhance your company’s image by demonstrating your unique expertise.