Perfectly natural to be thinking about Terminator and C3PO right now. AI is one of the buzzwords of this year and has been looked at thoroughly through different lenses, killer robots beings the least of that. But small businesses have been receptive of AI nonetheless. As the most flexible part of the economy, operating in an ever-changing environment, small businesses are not shy of experimenting. And of quite recently they’ve been warming up to the idea of AI helping them run their businesses much more efficiently, simplify tasks, reduce risks and human errors, while saving on costs.
According to a recent survey, 13.6% SMB CEOs are already investing in AI solutions for their businesses, with this percentage set to rise in the near future as ROIs become well-known and people learn to use these solutions. 29.5% of CEOs already believe that among upcoming technology, AI will have the greatest impact on their business next year.
Sales and Marketing ends up being the focus of most small businesses to keep getting a stream of new customers, and AI and intuitive algorithms are being utilized by solutions ranging from Google to Contento itself to deliver just that. Here are 4 ways in which small businesses are leveraging AI for sales and marketing today.
1. Chatbots and Voice Assistants
As a small business you can’t hire a whole team to answer to prospects queries at times especially when everyone is bogged down with their own clients they’re solving problems for. And often you can see patterns of questions that keep being repeated by prospects and customers. Small business can waste a lot of their time just troubleshooting problems that fall into this category.
The integration of chatbots on digital platforms such as websites, social media platforms and phone conversations has all but resolved that issue. If a chatbot can draw on a well maintained bank of FAQs, it can reduce the number of complaints you have to personally resolve as business owners.
Chatbot integration has become very simple. A variety of them are available in the market to get started with which can be added on to your website without a lot of hassle or know-how of development.
2. Sales Platforms
As the number of customers increases, there’s a lot of data you’re working with which is difficult to analyze to find out important patterns in as a small business. Often you’re spending too much time, effort in processes which eventually don’t create the amount of sales leads you need to justify them.
AI is used by a lot of solutions to not only identify these patterns, but to suggest changes to your Sales strategy to get more out of it. For instance, finding the right discounts to give to clients is now a problem that AI provides in Sales-centric software today. Salespersons don’t have to worry about cutting into their revenue and can make propositions that work for them in the long run. AI can also now help predict using the same patterns the best time to propose an upselling proposition to clients. With these helpful solutions at their disposal, Sales can keep customers happier by recognizing their needs better, and capitalizing on the opportunities within the right window.
3. Marketing Automation
AI solutions for marketing have grown to include a lot of new applications within digital marketing, especially with the uptick in digital marketing spend across the globe and especially among small businesses. They now allow for more intelligent social listening, and more recently content curation and creation, which is an amazing feat in itself.
Scheduling of content was already available by companies such as Buffer, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite among others, but automation of content curation is a new addition that is only now picking up. Linkedin itself now employs an intelligent algorithm which allows business users to find popular and relevant content to share from their account. Similarly platforms like Contento allow you to find relevant and trending content from across the internet so users can post it on their Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
For small businesses, the opportunity is huge. A lot of them are already investing in solutions which allow for creating and scheduling content a lot more easily, but with investment in AI, small businesses could save on a lot of effort, time and money by curating content.
4. Dynamic Buyer Personas
Similar to how sales platforms are employing AI to better understand their customers and create offers accordingly, platforms such as Social Bakers allow businesses to create buyer personas from their social audiences.
The AI categorizes your audience into broad customer personas using their interests on social media. This allows to create custom strategies for these buyer personas to allow businesses to understand what kind of content your customers want and when. This greatly simplifies the amount of effort a business needs to put into creating custom strategies for prospects.
With AI, the buyer personas are kept updated; the algorithm keeps track of changing interests, affinity to influencers, content preferences of the buyer personas. The resulting strategies feel more personalized for the customers. This can mean satisfied customers for small businesses, while putting in less hours per prospect while not having to reinvent the wheel every time.
As algorithms become clearer and are fed data that is more accurate, this has a great chance to completely change the status quo within marketing, for businesses, as well as solution providers.
It's mind-blowing to realize that this is just a glimpse of how AI is being utilized by small businesses today. You really don't have to strain your eyes to see the potential for AI to completely revolutionize sales and marketing in the near future.