How to Write a Prospecting Email that Gets Replies

Do you think that writing prospecting emails is difficult? It might seem like it, especially if you are not getting the type of response you are hoping for. 

When you write prospecting emails, you are not intending to be a spammer, but you might seem like you are if your email isn’t well thought out. As you write prospecting emails, put yourself in the shoes of the person who is reading it. What kind of reaction are they likely to have?

Decision makers rarely answer the phone and don’t usually get back to you if you leave a voicemail message. The point of email prospecting is simply to start a conversation and drum up leads. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, and if your response rate is low, you might be going about it the wrong way.

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Possible Reasons Your Emails Are Not Getting Replies

 

There are many possible reasons for getting a low percentage of replies to prospecting emails. Decision makers are busy people who are typically deluged with a ton of email that they spend a lot of time trying to get through. Often they make a split second decision about each email that they receive regarding whether to read or delete it.

The first thing to keep in mind is that an email with a bad headline will probably not be opened at all. Crafting an attention-getting headline is worth spending time on.

Once the email has been opened, there are certain things that may cause it to be deleted sooner rather than later. Common prospecting email mistakes include:

  • Emails need to be short and to the point. An email that is long and rambling may seem more like an intrusion than a request for a couple of minutes of conversation or consideration.
  • The focus should be on the recipient of the email, not the person who is prospecting. If you make the email all about you, the prospect quickly loses interest.
  • Benefits of doing business with you are not emphasized. Emails should clearly state what you have to offer, then quickly turn the focus onto what it means for them.
  • Rushing through your message and not noticing spelling or grammatical errors
  • Writing a generic message that could be sent to anyone
  • Offending the prospect in some way, such as implying their website is failing or ineffective in some way
  • Weak or missing call to action

These are some of the reasons your prospects may be quick to hit the delete button, and may not have read your email at all. If this is happening to you frequently, the next thing to consider is what should always be included in prospecting emails.

What All Prospecting Emails Need to Include

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If your emails are typically boring, lengthy or generic, it’s time to make a change. The focus can’t be on selling to prospects, but instead how you can be of some help to them.

All prospecting emails should start with a salutation that addresses a particular individual person rather than “To Whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” This should be followed by an engaging statement about why you are contacting them and what’s in it for them.

A clear explanation of what value that you have to offer them should be included in your email. Credibility should be established so that they understand why they should believe you or trust you. Be sure to include a clear call to action that can’t be overlooked or misunderstood.

 

Understand the Prospect

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Prospecting emails should be personalized and targeted. A generic email sent to dozens or hundreds of prospects isn’t likely to get the kind of response you are hoping for. No matter how similar the titles of different prospects sound, they are not identical people and each requires a different approach.

Take the time to learn a little bit about who you are approaching. What does each prospect care about the most? One may be focused on driving sales, while another is trying to increase revenue and visibility.

You can gain a lot of information about what matters to a prospect by doing a search on LinkedIn. Start by looking at particular job titles and considering what that type of job entails.

From LinkedIn profiles of a particular job title, you may be able to learn more about responsibilities, goals, and priorities. Drill down into individual profiles, and try to identify pain points that you can target. What solutions can you offer to someone who is trying to increase their visibility? Is it the same solution as someone who is focused on driving sales?

Speak the Language of Your Prospects

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Browsing LinkedIn profiles can give you a lot of information about a particular industry. It can also be helpful to study a company’s website and their online conversations to find out what topic they are most often talking about and what language they are using.

Spend some time reviewing websites of job leads to get a clearer idea what a particular job title entails, and where this type of role fits into a particular organization.

Listen to social media conversations involving a person you are planning to approach. Does your prospect address people in conversational tones or choose more formal or technical sounding words? What keywords are likely to catch a particular prospect’s attention?

The more you study prospects and the way they interact with others, the more you start to grasp who different prospects actually are and how you can offer solutions to relieve their pain points, challenges or struggles. With this type of detailed information, there is no chance that your emails will be generic.

Find a Newsworthy Item

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Can you find something your prospect recently did that made him or her newsworthy? This could be anything from a blog post that was recently published on a major blog to a press release to a share on social media that stimulated a lot of discussion relating to the industry.

Refer to this newsworthy item in your pitch, letting your prospect know that you were interested in the discussion or the published item and that your service may be ideal to help him attain future related goals. Keep in mind that current topics will become outdated quickly, so don’t take too long to act on something that you see on the news or in social media posts.

At this point, the prospect knows you have been paying attention to him and his business and that you have some familiarity with the industry and the jargon. This allows you to make a much better first impression than someone who simply offers a service but doesn’t prove interest about the subject and the company.

Deliver Value and Prove Credibility

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A prospecting email doesn’t focus on you, and it doesn’t focus on sales. Your message should sound like a trustworthy individual that can deliver value.

The more you can prove that you have done your research and know something about their company and what their needs are, the more you prove your credibility and increase your chances of receiving a response to your email.

You don’t want your email to sound like a hyped up sales message. Your focus at this stage is to sound like a trusted advisor, not a salesperson. Think about what you can do to help, not what you have to sell.

Have a Clear Call to Action

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Instead of trying to sell something in your email, your goal is simply to gain the prospect’s trust and interest. One way to conclude your email is to direct them to a blog post. Ask them if they could read the post and let you know their thoughts.

This is in no way pushy. Ideally, the post that you send them to will include information that demonstrates your ability to get results.

Another call to action would be to ask them if they have tried a particular marketing strategy, and suggest that they read a post which offers more information about this different approach.

Suggesting they look into more information is not likely to be threatening to them, especially if you have taken the time to get to know them and what they might be looking for.

In your warm and friendly email, you’ve demonstrated that you have a shared interest in their industry and have information that may be helpful to them.

Approaching prospects in this way makes a lot more sense than trying to send an email blast to hundreds of different prospects that you may not actually be able to help. 

Prospecting emails are meant to help you find the right leads for your business. When you approach it the right way, you have a much better chance of getting replies.

Three Trends Defining The Future of Social Media for Business

Social media has evolved in the past decade immensely. What was once seen as a communications channel between friends is now comprised of multi-billion dollar platforms that have incredible influence on people's lives.

As we’ve seen the Facebook newsfeed go from a place consisting of college students innocently sharing their travels and adventures to almost fifteen years later where post IPO their advertising platform and media capabilities have transformed our global landscape, it’s important to think about where social media is heading and the trends that are defining this next generation of users.

Before looking towards the future, let’s take a moment to see what the social media landscape looks like currently. According to Pew Research:

  • 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicated that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78% among those ages 30 to 49, to 64% among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37% among Americans 65 and older.
  • Facebook and YouTube dominate the social media landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites.
  • 35% of (Global) adults now say they use Instagram, an increase of seven percent from the 28% who said they did in 2016.
  • Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users ­– and around six-in-ten Snapchat and Instagram users – visit each site daily

The data doesn’t lie; we’re all becoming addicted to our digital identities and social media usage. As the percentage of young people using social media rates the highest, it’s key to analyzing how they are using social media as that will define the future of content creation and consumption.

Video Is Front And Center

 

According to Adobe, 52% of marketing professionals name video as the content with the best ROI. That percentage will only increase as video becomes essential within every aspect of content and media. 

As customers spend time watching video across all social media platforms whether that is an explainer video, product testimonials, behind-the-scenes content, or thought leadership interviews -- users are glued to videos to connect with brands and companies they have an affinity towards.

For companies, they can truly understand which channels optimize for their audience and create content off of those metrics. Additionally, the marketing team will need to figure out which channels those videos work best on. 

The strategy that works best for teams is to create long-form content and then distribute it across the appropriate social media platforms. 

Take GoPro, the company that manufactures cameras for action based lifestyles; they’ve mastered the art of branded and user-generated videos. Their YouTube channel has almost 6 million subscribers that include incredible global adventure videos in skiing, snowboarding, hiking and more all captured on their cameras. These videos can run in length from 1.5 minutes to thirty minutes alongside user-generated content, as GoPro has an emphasis on community

 

Aligning with their YouTube strategy, GoPro has a strong Instagram presence. With a focus on the consumer, they encourage posting user-generated Instagram Stories and tag @GoPro on accounts. Their comprehensive strategy posting quality content allows GoPro to be one of the leaders in the video content space. 

As you can see it’s imperative to post content where it plays best. In doing so, companies can capitalize on this universal ‘pivot to video’ happening and create long-term relationships with their communities.

Ephemeral Content Storytelling

With 60% of Snapchat and Instagram users returning to the site each day, that’s an attractive statistic for the case for disappearing or ephemeral content storytelling. 

This new form of storytelling has been embraced by users, influencers, and brands alike. With ephemeral content that only lasts 24 hours, this lends itself to a lot of testing and discoverability for brands to find what works for them. Consumer brands like Everlane and Away Luggage have done a fantastic job at creating consistent content on their channels to take their products around the world and showcasing them in a strategic and sophisticated way through ephemeral content storytelling. 

Everlane hired millennial filmmakers to go to an ice cave in Canada to test out the new puffer jacket. The content influencers created Instagram Stories to share how they’re still warm despite being in frigid temperatures, and in doing so, were able to promote the product in a fun, compelling style that connects with consumers.

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Companies that are looking to invest in ephemeral content storytelling can look at their competitors or other brands that are producing compelling content. Each industry has companies excelling in this form of storytelling.

They can learn best practices to engage their audience in making sure that customers are viewing the entire story and interacting with the content. This can include chatting with customers in the direct message/chat features of the platforms. These chats can help bring about stronger relationships through humanizing the brand and making customers want to purchase or advocate for the brand because of their ability to make customers feel that they’re part of their community.

Additionally, the form of storytelling with these platforms differs from traditional social media. The content is less curated, and some integrations make the content more engaging including Snapchat face lenses, Instagram GIFs integrations, the ability to draw and write on the material, and much more.

Stories are overtaking regular grid activity on Instagram and platforms like LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Skype and others are integrating stories into their suite, marketers will need to learn how to execute on ephemeral content. 

Influence Marketing Is Going Strong

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By 2020 influencer marketing is on target to become a 10 billion dollar industry. The rise in influencers across all social networks, but especially YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat highlight how the millennial and Gen Z generations are embracing influencers wholeheartedly. 

There are influencers in every industry that use social media storytelling to create communities. Because of this, brands can work with influencers to expand reach and bring about greater engagement. 

Influencers are incredibly skilled in content creation and understand the platforms thoroughly; making it easier for brands to let go of the reins so that influencers can produce content for any of the brands' goals and intent.

In addition, influencers have been known to develop unboxing videos on YouTube where they show off the new product, fashion and beauty hauls where influencers try on or test new products in long-form vlogs, posting lifestyle photos on their Instagram Grid highlighting the product, and Instagram or Snapchat Stories to share a uniquely immersive experience. 

With the multitude of content ideas, building relationships with influencers is vital for the future of your business and your community -- as influencer marketing is here to stay. 

Content drives our daily consumption and purchasing decisions. For marketers to succeed, they will need to understand the social media climate and trends. 

By knowing that video is becoming how people are digesting content to ephemeral content storytelling being the force towards more user growth on Snapchat and Instagram, and influencer marketing becoming a necessary tool for brands to engage communities and create valuable content, you’ll be able to produce and execute upon a comprehensive and valuable marketing strategy.

 

Facebook Reconsiders Plan to Group News With Political Advertisers

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Facebook Inc. doesn’t know how news organizations will fit into an initiative to provide transparency for political advertising on its social network.

The company came up with a policy that puts news publishers in the same category as political publishers for the purposes of its new ad-transparency efforts. Facebook told media organizations they would have to verify their identities and have any ads promoting stories about politics placed in a public database, just like political campaigns would.

Within hours of a Bloomberg News report on the initiative and criticism from news organizations, Facebook decided to rethink its plan. It no longer has a clear solution for transparency around ads that promote news stories about politics, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The confusion at Facebook, even after making a decision, underscores how difficult it will be for the company to clean up false information and manipulation on its social network ahead of elections. Facebook has been working on ways to boost more trustworthy news on its site, without judging the content itself. Transparency in media advertising would help combat a trend of hyper-partisan pages on Facebook that post information masquerading as news, meant to go viral in a way that furthers political agendas. But putting legitimate news sites in the same category, and in the category of political content, is likely to erode trust in factual reporting, a media industry group argued.

“We’re making changes that impact political and issue ads with new labels and a searchable archive,” Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, said in a revised statement on Friday. “We recognize the news content about politics is different and we are working with publishers to develop the right approach.”

The social-media giant sent letters this week to members of the News Media Alliance, which include the New York Times and the Washington Post, outlining new rules that would take effect May 22. Under the guidelines, Facebook said it would disclose when news organizations pay to boost the exposure of political articles, and store the details in an archive that includes ads for politicians or political groups. The political articles promoted would include labels specifying “paid for by,” just like the political ads.

The notification prompted backlash from the News Media Alliance, which represents nearly 2,000 news organizations, arguing that their members should be left out of the database and the new rules on disclosure will ultimately elevate less-credible news sources on Facebook.

“Your plan to group quality publishers alongside political advocacy, which the ad archive will do, dangerously blurs the lines between real reporting and propaganda,” David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, said in a letter Friday addressed to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg. “This treatment of quality news as political, even in the context of marketing, is deeply problematic.”

Critics have pilloried Facebook for letting Russian operatives spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign. The company has announced changes to its advertising policies that it’s said would make it harder for rogue operatives to set up fake accounts and push divisive points of view. One of the requirements includes forcing advertisers touting social or political issues to verify their identity and location.

Another change entails creating a political ad archive, showing the total amounts spent, the number of impressions and demographic information including age, location and gender of who saw them.

“Preventing misinformation and interference in elections is one of our top priorities,” Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said in an earlier statement Friday. “All ads on politics and issues will be in a searchable archive, including news content.” She later revised her statement, removing the reference to news content.

The issue of political ads on social media has caught the attention of Congress. Senators Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced the Honest Ads Act, which would subject online political ads to similar disclosure rules that now govern advertising content in other media such as TV and radio. The measure has the support of Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Election Commission is also considering new regulations that would require disclaimers identifying the sponsors of online, mobile and other forms of digital advertising, offering alternative rules. A public hearing on the proposals is scheduled for June.

Top 20 Social Media News Sites

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With the excess of information in the world, it can be hard to sift through what really matters. For you and your business, social media is one thing you should keep an eye on. Here are 20 sites that offer a variety of takes, opinions, and focuses for social media news.

 1. Social Media Today

For the PR, marketing, advertising and business professionals that need to have a thorough understanding of what is happening in social media. Topics frequently discussed: tools, platforms, people, and companies on the social media landscape.

2. Alltop

Alltop describes its services as a tool to answer the question “What’s happening?” With this media page, you can enjoy a filtered and useful list of social media news articles and blogs to avoid information overload.

3. Mashable

While not super business-oriented, Mashable is the go-to site for “how to” articles. Their social media page is no different. They can get you updated and trained on advances in social media in no time.

4. Social Times

Social Times is a good mix of “how to”, news, and opinion articles involving social media. There is also research provided on the page, giving a much more in-depth perspective than a typical online article.

5. Digital Trends

Digital Trends describes its mission as trying to help readers navigate an increasingly digital world. You can find trends and news for social media in a neatly designed platform. The site also offers technology reviews – which is becoming increasingly important as the line between tech and social media blurs.

6. Bloomberg

As you would guess from the provider, Bloomberg’s page on social media is very business-driven. You’ll see articles about IPO’s, shares, stocks, and growth. If you’re looking for pure business information, this is the place to come.

7. Open Forum

Open Forum compiles a list of articles and pieces about different topics and puts them in one place for your convenience. You can follow the page, which allows you to receive email updates whenever anything new comes up.

8. Forbes

Again, much like you would expect, the Forbes social media page is also very business-driven. Most of the articles found here are marketing and sales related. It’s also a good source to go to for updates on privacy concerns.

9. Entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur webpage on social media has a strong focus on consumer targeting. They also have fun interactive polls and opinion articles that are a little different than what you are used to seeing on business sites.

10. CNN

In typical CNN fashion, their social media articles are hard news pieces. They cover a lot of privacy issues and lawsuits that involve social media sites.

11. The New York Times

News about social media, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times. One very cool feature of this site is the “timeline” aspect: you can see a chronological order of the biggest news in social media over the last few months.

12. Huffington Post

The Huffington Post page for social media news is primarily composed of lists. The page is surprisingly humorous, without a strong focus on sales or business.

13. Scoop.it

Scoop.it is the place to go for social media infographics. There are a wide variety of topics on display for you to choose from. They also have a good inventory of articles that help businesses learn to leverage different social media sites.

14. Smart Brief

Smart Brief conveniently organizes the social media news by industry. If you’re interested in say, mobile app development, you can simply click and have specific news for what you’re looking for.

15. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed is many young people’s go-to place for popular news. It can, however, be a good source for social media updates as well… if you don’t get side tracked by an article about cats on the way. Here you can find both opinion and informative articles on any number of relevant networking topics.

16. Tech News World

Focused on the tech side of social media, Tech News offers an interesting and unique take on social networking. You get less typical material and more in-depth coverage of changing technology and how it will impact social networking.

17. CMS Wire

CMS Wire is another site that follows more of a typical news article format. They have more of a focus on marketing, and some interesting takes on some businesses' social media campaigns.

18. Sprout Social

Sprout Social has more of a research report feel to its homepage. They have news such as social indexes and updated advice for those working in social media.

19. Social Media Portal

Social Media Portal compiles news articles about the top players in social media. One benefit of this site is that the articles are clearly labeled by their topics icon; if you’re looking for just Pinterest news, you don’t even have to read the titles of the other articles.

20. The Guardian

The Guardian is a great source for social media news worldwide. They don’t focus only on news from the USA. You’ll see articles from the UK, India, etc. that will give you a global perspective.

6 Digital Skills that will Future-Proof a Workforce

Once a niche skillset, digital skills are now a workplace essential.

Within Europe and across sectors, at least 80% of managers and professionals need basic digital abilities. In larger workplaces, as many as 50% are required to have specialist digital skills.

Digital technologies are now commonplace in daily life and becoming embedded into working culture. Having a workforce that knows how to use them efficiently is key to a company’s success.

But which digital skills will be essential in the coming years? Each year, new technologies are developed, many gaining media attention. With so many buzzwords to keep track of from VR to AI to cryptocurrency, how can companies know what’s prudent to invest time and money into?

1. Expert Data Analysis

In this era of big data, many companies are sitting on a mountain of untapped information about their customers, process and workforce.

As digital transformation advances, the data recorded will continue to increase. Knowing how to harness this data is crucial to understanding your business and its future. Employees who can extract, analyze and translate useful information from your company’s data set will be essential, and the skill will integrate into more and more roles within teams.

Done effectively, data analysis can give you essential business and customer insights. It can also be used to inform campaigns and content.

Currently, there are four main types of data analysis used by businesses.

  • Descriptive analytics - often combined with other analytics, this practice brings together raw data from multiple sources to give valuable insights into the past.
  • Diagnostic analytics - requires more detailed data to identify patterns and provide insights into specific problems.
  • Predictive analytics - uses the findings of descriptive and diagnostic analytics to detect tendencies, clusters and exceptions, and to predict future trends.
  • Prescriptive analytics - requires historical data plus external information, and uses machine learning, business rules and algorithms to prescribe what action to take.

The current trend, as highlighted by a recent BARC survey, is recognized by executives as the growing importance of predictive analysis and data mining. As sophisticated technologies and tools are further developed, the more important the role of the advanced analytics of predictive and prescriptive will be.

2. Advanced Social Selling

As the social media boom of the 2000s settles and matures, so have its users. This means that sales teams of the future will need to adapt too. According to today’s most successful social sellers, the trend is moving away from the cold call and the hard sell, towards value-based selling.

At the heart of value-based selling is trust. To create this, advanced social sellers need to equip themselves with content and conversation, so that they can build more meaningful relationships with their customers. 

A recent State of Sales Report by LinkedIn showed that 77% of buyers won’t engage with a seller without reading up about their company first. If you consider this with the fact that 80% of buyers reviewed 5 or more pieces of content before their purchase, it is clear that quality online content around your company and about your product will be essential for all future sales teams.

Good content can assist social sellers in starting conversations and building relationships. “Put relationships first,” advises Phil Gerbyshank to ambitious social sellers. 

It is crucial to make a connection with your audience and then maintain it by adding value in the way of sharing content. Social media is much more an opportunity to educate and become a resource for your potential customers, rather than to sell directly - that’s for further down the customer journey.

3. Mobile Expertise

Smartphones are now more common for online use than a desktop (51% vs 42%). And, with the digital native Generation Z set to make up 40% of all consumers by 2020, organizations will need to adjust their own expertise to survive in the coming years.

The rise of mobile means that businesses must adapt their strategy accordingly. This means adopting a mobile-first approach, in which comms, content and customer journey are optimized for mobile. 

Leverage mobile-optimized video communications throughout the sales process and add video-building abilities to your sales teams to better engage the next generation of consumers. This will prove essential to all communications through native apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram.

The predominance of apps also means that businesses will need to stay abreast of the trends to make sure that their app remains relevant - and more importantly - discoverable. Intelligent, AI-powered marketing platforms can translate the vast troves of daily created user data into actionable updates to how your app is marketed. 

The information is out there, future-proofing your workforce will simply be a matter of developing the right skills to be able to harness it effectively.

4. Multi-platform UX design

As more of your customer base spend time online, moving between different devices, your company’s digital presence will need to take centre stage.

The key to this is to ensure your app or website is easily navigable is at the heart of UX (user experience) design. And, with 79% of internet users admitting to searching for another site if they can’t easily use one they landed on, it’s essential to invest in this digital skill.

Importantly, websites and apps will need to be responsive to give users a consistent feel across different devices. Not doing so will create an impasse between brand and user, that will encourage consumers to look elsewhere.

Consider how to make design teams agiler. To speed up the process and to allow creativity to flow, divide up the work for different features. If individuals have more independence, they will have clear ownership of their section and are more likely to feel creatively satisfied. This agile framework will lead to more productive workers and more flexible design necessary to keep up with tomorrow’s digitization.

5. Network and information security

This skill, while on the surface seems the least glamorous, is one of the most important.

Cybersecurity is one of the biggest issues of today and will continue to be as digital transformation advances. With recent controversies about cyber security in high profile cases like Yahoo, Sage and Hilary Clinton's email, ensuring business data is kept secure has emerged as a top priority.

As security methods evolve and develop, so do the threats against it. And the more connected your workforce, the more the whole company is at risk from one employee’s oversight. Even something as simple as using social media at work can be a risk.

Having a workforce that understands the basics of online security – and the steps they can take to defend it – will keep your company, and its sensitive information, away from prying eyes and breach scandals.

6. Creative thinking

Arguably the most important digital skill for the future doesn’t relate to a specific device or software.

For 6 in 10 occupations, 30% of tasks are automatable. As technology rapidly evolves, previously revered breakthroughs are quickly forgotten, and specialized skillsets become obsolete.

Therefore the most important skill for any employee in the face of automation is creative thinking. To ensure the longevity of a workforce, they must be able to do what machines are unable to.

For example, VR and AI are fascinating developments, but may not yet be relevant for your company. It is important to invest in creative, versatile workers that are keen to learn and will be flexible through each technological advance.

As machines become more involved with daily tasks, the more we will need to have creative, versatile workers whose skills transcend what the machines can offer.

When it comes to digital transformation, it’s crucial to have a workforce that has a grasp of the complexity of the digital world, and the new stages of a customer journey. 

From making the most of big data to staying on top of how consumers are using technology are all essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce. Making sure they have the right expertise to adapt as the technology evolves will help to future-proof teams as time marches on.

State of Inbound 2017 Asia Pacific Survey Report is Here

 

The 2017 report by HubSpot will give you the data you need to benchmark your activities against 6,000+ respondents while also giving you insight to plan your future digital marketing and sales strategies. Here's one of the highlights:

This year we’re seeing two major shifts take place: Marketers are making the leap into visual content creation while salespeople are slowly shifting from the hard-seller stereotype to a more trusted advisor.

Learn more. Download the report now.