How Modern Small Businesses Are Benefiting from Artificial Intelligence

How Modern Small Businesses Are Benefiting from Artificial Intelligence
How Modern Small Businesses Are Benefiting from Artificial Intelligence

The significant essay Artificial Intelligence in Service” by marketing specialists Ming-Hui Huang and Roland Rust advanced the idea that four different forms of intelligences—mechanical, analytical, intuitive, and empathetic—are required to carry out service-related activities.

The theory made the important point that in order for artificial intelligence applications to perform some more complex service tasks, they must be able to go beyond being merely mechanical and analytical and develop abilities that require intuition and empathy.

This type of intelligence should be taken into account when deciding how to divide up tasks between machines/AI technology and human labor. Human intuition and empathy are more challenging for AI to replicate, as the majority of us who have interacted with chatbots for customer service issues are aware, leading this idea to make a great deal of sense.

One may argue that marketing responsibilities other than customer service are covered by Huang and Rust’s idea. For instance, Amazon and Google have mastered excellent mechanical and analytical intelligence for appropriate targeting in advertising, and AI has greatly aided social media ad targeting.

However, apps that are more intuitive and sympathetic might open up new areas in which customers may respond to advertisements more effectively by responding to the emotions they are feeling or by exhibiting intuitive patterns connected to buying behavior.

There is little doubt that more AI applications are being successfully used by many firms, even small enterprises. Time will tell how far AI has advanced in the “feeling” domain and associated tasks.

The 33.5 million small companies in the United States—defined as those with 500 or less employees—represent 99.9% of all firms, 4% of employment, and 43.5% of GDP, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is crucial to assess if small firms are using AI effectively.

Constant Contact, a digital marketing and automation company specializing on small businesses, and the market research firm Ascend2 performed a survey on the usage of AI by small businesses, which unequivocally shows that AI is no longer solely for big firms.

Results from the company’s Small Business Now research suggest that 91% of small businesses employing AI say it has improved their company’s success. Additionally, the study discovers a strong link between a small business employing AI and its general success.

According to Constant Contact’s Chief Product Officer, Russ Morton, technological advancements have helped small firms employ AI more successfully. Almost overnight, it became possible to have a two-way conversation with an algorithm, and that started a dramatic shift in how we use technology to process data and produce content.

“We can’t talk about AI without acknowledging the technology breakthroughs late last year in natural language processing and large language models,” he says. It increased awareness of AI as a whole and prompted corporate executives from all sectors to pay attention. Now that 2023 is halfway over, that paradigm change has only become faster.

According to small company owners that employ AI, the top benefits include leveraging technology to save time that can be committed to other duties, reducing manual errors, and accelerating growth.

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Additionally, 28% of respondents who said they utilize AI said they anticipate saving at least $5000 over the following 12 months. Notably, just 26% of small organizations claim to be investing in AI, while 44% more say they intend to use it soon.

This statistic points to a market where AI is expected to expand. Lacking even a basic awareness of the advantages of AI technology, together with not presently employing AI, are the main barriers for individuals who are interested in doing so.

Small company owners express their strong value for time savings in the poll. Additionally, research reveals that AI facilitates various tasks, including managing workers, streamlining bookkeeping, and effectively filling orders.

When asked what they would do with an additional hour freed up by AI, 37% responded that they would plan what their company would do next, 31% that they would tweak their overall strategy, and 30% that they would enhance their goods or services. Notably, just 22% of respondents claimed they would take time for themselves, demonstrating how driven these people are to see their businesses flourish.

Another important conclusion of the poll conducted by Constant Contact is that small company owners say that acquiring customers is their largest issue. In fact, according to 60% of small businesses, finding new clients is the largest issue they are presently experiencing.

Marketing to a specific demographic is ranked second (39%) and turning leads into sales is ranked third (35%). These difficulties highlight the value of AI for marketers.

According to Morton, AI has the ability to assist in addressing marketing-related difficulties.

Since most small companies must be marketers in order to operate, finding the time to design and maintain marketing initiatives might seem onerous. Automation and AI have a role in this. The most frequent uses of these technologies by SMBs are social media, content production, and email campaign development.

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They are able to use automations to put some of the most typical marketing tasks—like welcome emails, reminder messages, social media postings, and campaign sends—on autopilot.

Because of this, they have more time to devote to managing their company’s other operations. When they get a little more advanced, they may employ automation to create tailored ads that are more likely to boost consumer interaction and boost revenue. But when combined with AI, automation becomes much more potent.

The optimal content, channel, and timing to send a message may all be recommended by AI, which is intelligent enough to comprehend what specific consumers are searching for and can rely on their behavior and preferences. If you run a small firm, you should use that kind of recommendation and personalization engine.

Morton maintains that these problems are not novel and that organizations’ worries about data security, cost, and the learning curve are mostly due to a lack of expertise with these technologies, which are unfamiliar to many small enterprises in particular.

In fact, the poll discovered that SMBs begin to appreciate the advantages and seek to apply the technology to other aspects of their organizations the more time they spend using AI and automation and the more sophisticated their marketing techniques are.

Clearly, the groundwork has been done for more small businesses to effectively utilize artificial intelligence for a variety of goals, but one of the major opportunities is the possibility to conduct more effective marketing.

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