Social Media is one of the best platforms for helping you to establish credibility in your market, increase your visibility online and develop relationships with people in your target audience. But after you have done all of those things the next step of course is how to leverage those relationships into sales of your products or services.
Recent studies show us that it takes between 7-10 touches or contacts before a prospect is actually ready to spend money for your products and services online.
So how do actually move your prospects from connections to conversation and from there to conversions, consumers and finally into clients? One way of course is by using a freebie to capture email addresses and then use a series of autoresponder messages to move them through the marketing process. Once your prospects sign up for your list you can send them further marketing messages by email. Success here rests on whether they will actually open those emails and decide to take the next step.
We all know email overload is a big problem. Most people get so much email they only actually open about 10% of their messages. I think I open even less than that! There is just too little time in the day. So how else can you keep in touch with those prospects and move them through your marketing funnel?
The answer is Ning! It is an exciting free platform that can help increase your conversion rate by at least 50%.
Ning is an online social networking platform that anyone can use to create their own groups online, either public or private. It works something like a forum but on steroids. You invite people or your prospects and then each person can create and customize their own page which can include pictures, videos, bios, and applications such as importing blogs or any other RSS feeds. You can also customize the design of the site including the information you request from your prospects and also the design elements such as the colors and look and feel.
There is a forum where members can have conversations among themselves, create their own relationships, and ask questions so they get to interact with you. There is a chat feature so you can use it in conjunction with courses or trainings so people can ask question in real time.
Did I mention the best part that Ning is free?
There is a group function that you can use to further segment the users based on whatever criteria you set. Each group could match a different level in your marketing funnel. You could have a group for all your prospects that signed up for your freebie. Then they can be upgraded to the next group after purchasing your 1st product. People can talk amongst themselves and ask you questions about your other programs. The site can act sort of like a help desk (for non techie issues). These discussions can be the perfect place to gently funnel your prospects further down the line and hopefully up-sell them to your next price point or product.
I recommend that you head over to the http://www.ning.com site and look around. I am sure you will find it is a perfect relationship developing tool for both your prospects and clients alike.