Compared with the rise of newer marketing tools such as Facebook and Twitter, the corporate blog may seem a bit stodgy. But a new study finds blogging to the most important lead-generation source among social media options, followed by StumbleUpon, YouTube, Facebook, De.lic.ious and Digg.

Of the 167 executives and business owners surveyed by Internet marketing firm HubSpot, three-quarters of those that have tried blogging said their company blogs were “useful,” “important,” or “critical” to their business. Nearly half the companies have a blog, and three-quarters publish content at least weekly.

Mike Volpe, vice president of marketing of Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot, said blogs provide companies benefits beyond building relationships with customers. “Not only are you creating a community around blog articles, but all those articles get indexed by search engines, so blogging has elements of search engine optimization (SEO) as well,” he said.

The findings about blogging, however, seem to be at odds with a recent study by Forrester Research showing that consumers rated corporate blogs as the lowest-rated source of reliable information among the 18 categories the firm asked about, including Web portals, print newspapers, radio and personal blogs.

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