The number of those who read blogs at least once a month has grown 300% in the past four years, and what they read strongly influences their purchase decisions, playing a key role in ushering them to the point of actual purchase, according to a BuzzLogic-sponsored study, reports Retailer Daily.
“Harnessing the Power of Blogs,” a research study of more than 2,000 online consumers in the US, was conducted by JupiterResearch, a Forrester research company.
The study aimed to uncover changing behavior around blog discovery and consumption, how blogs factor into consumer purchase decisions, and the nature of blog influence on buying behavior.
For example, frequent blog readers (those who read blogs more than once per month) – constituting 20% of blog readers – say they trust relevant blog content for purchase decisions more than content from social networking sites, the study found.
Below are additional findings released by BuzzLogic.
Buying Behavior: The Nature of Blog Influence
- Blogs influence purchases: One half (50%) of blog readers say they find blogs useful for purchase information.
- Blogs go beyond tech: Outside of technology-related purchases, for which 31% of readers say blogs are useful, other key categories include media and entertainment (15%); games/toys and/or sporting goods (14%); travel (12%); automotive (11%); and health (10%).
- Niche focus ups influence factor: For those who have found blog content useful for product decisions, more than half (56%) say blogs with a niche focus and topical expertise were key sources.
Blogs’ Place in the Purchase Cycle
Blogs factor in to critical stages of the purchase process, weighing most heavily at the actual moment of a purchase decision, according to the study: Among respondents who say they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52%) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase.
Blog readers’ responses regarding blogs’ influence as it relates to the following steps of the purchase process:
- Decide on a product or service: 21%
- Refine choices: 19%
- Get support and answers: 19%
- Discover products and services: 17%
- Assure: 14%
- Inspire a purchase: 13%
- Execute a purchase: 7%
Blog Ads and Reader Trust
For frequent blog readers, ads on blogs are on par with sponsored search results, one of the most prevalent and successful forms of advertising on the web – and trust of blog advertising exceeds that around social networking site advertising.
Fully 25% of frequent readers say they trust ads on a blog they read; paid search links also account for 25% of their responses; and 19% say they trust ads on social networking sites.
The study also suggests ads on blogs spur various activities:
- 40% of blog readers have taken action as a result of viewing an ad on a blog; 50% of frequent blog readers say so.
- Top activities include the following:?read product reviews online (17%);?sought out more info on a product or service (16%); visited a manufacturer or retailer website (16%).
Changing Reader Patterns: The Power of Links
Frequent blog readers use blogs as the top online navigation tool to discover other blog content, ranking higher than general web search or blog search, the study also found:
- 38% of frequent readers said blog links were the top tool for discovering new blog content.
- 34% cited web search, and 11% said blog search engines were the top tool for discovering new blog content.
- For frequent readers, blog links appear to have similar impact as a trusted recommendation from a person (a response from 39% of survey participants).
One in five general blog readers (defined as consumers who have read a blog in the past 12 months) use blog links to discover new blogs.
Blog search engines received the lowest ranking from respondents: 6% of general readers say they use these tools to discover new blogs.
Blogs are not consumed in isolation, but experienced as part of a connected conversation: Nearly half (49%) of blog readers and 71% of frequent readers read more than one blog per session.
“For a portion of web users, blogs rival search as a navigation tool, which has really interesting implications for advertisers,” said Rob Crumpler, CEO of BuzzLogic. “Blogs are becoming trusted guides, steering users who are seeking very specific information to places of interest online. Being able to identify where this is taking place across the blogosphere gives us a window into user intent and a means to better target advertising to a qualified audience. This is great news for advertisers looking to maximize value in today’s environment.”
About the study: In August 2008, JupiterResearch designed and fielded a survey to online consumers selected randomly from the NPD Group US online consumer panel. A total of 2,210 persons responded to the survey. Respondents were asked approximately 40 closed-ended questions about their behaviors, attitudes, and preferences as they relate to media and entertainment, including 10 questions relating to blogs. The samples were balanced by a series of demographic and behavioral characteristics to ensure that they were representative of the online population. Demographic weighting variables included age, gender, household income, household education, household type, region, market size, race, Hispanic ethnicity, online tenure, connection speed, and student status.