My company VerticalResponse is in the business of enabling small businesses to create and deliver email newsletters, quickly and affordably. Bottom line? We are an email marketing company. So people I know were shocked when I went to the Business Blogging Summit last year in San Francisco, and boy did I get religion. In my mind, blogging was for people to basically publish a personal diary, not for business.

Wow was I wrong. Business blogging is exploding. After this conference I set out to do a test. Without disrupting anyone in the company, my "pet project" was to launch a blog and make it successful. I talked to a few friends who have been blogging for years. They've been crazy about it as am I now. I got some great pointers.

I set up my Typepad account and off I went. It's about $12/month and no engineering needed. Perfect.

What did I learn? A lot. Here are some reasons why I've found that blogging for business not only works, but is necessary.

1. The Voice of the Business - Do you really know what the leader of the company you do business with is thinking? What they go through? What is important to them? What type of person they are? Do you usually have the ability to tap into their expertise? What's going on in the company? More often than not you never get this type of insight. And hey, some CEO's don't want to put themselves out there for people to publicly chat with. I get it — It's a lot of work. But if you want your voice to be that of the company, there's no better way than a blog.

2. Comment Consolidation - What a time-saver. If one of your readers has a question, chances are others have it too. What better way to answer it than in one place where everyone can see and hopefully benefit.

3. Customer Interaction - Not only do I love to interact with our own users but when they comment and others start to comment on the comment, it's the best thing for everyone. This is exactly what any blogger would want. I don't have all the answers, so I try to encourage customer experts to comment and pitch in on ideas. What might work great in one industry, might actually do well in others.

4. Traffic Driver - We get about 160+ visitors to the blog a day. When when we combine it with our email marketing newsletter we get thousands. It also drives traffic from the search engines as another source, and gets picked up by other blogs that find the posts interesting.

5. RSS Feeds - Some people like to get their information with RSS feeds. It's easy with a blog, they'll sign up for your feed and get it realtime right in their reader.

That's the experience we've had here with blogs and it's only getting better. It's just one of the many ways we communicate to our customers and thanks to those loyal customers, we've made it to the 2006 Inc. 500 List.

Got any reasons why businesses should blog? Love to hear them!

Janine Popick is CEO of VerticalResponse, an Inc. 500 company.