Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm, with seemingly everyone talking about its potential. But how can a business owner sort through the chatter and determine real-world ways to use AI effectively?
First, understand its general business value. AI algorithms are essentially “smart detectives” that can examine data from all types of sources—from customer reviews to business data—to uncover insights and information that can help business owners make better decisions, says Dave Fonvielle, founder of Online Success Genie, a Las Vegas company that helps business owners use tools to boost productivity.
“The more data AI analyzes, the smarter it becomes,” Fonvielle says. “It keeps learning from new information so the small business can stay on top of the latest trends and changes in customer preferences. This knowledge gives them an edge over their competitors.”
It’s also important to know that AI is increasingly being integrated into the business tools and solutions that small companies use every day—so you can access it far more affordably than you could even just a few years ago. Sites like G2 and Capterra provide information about software features and pricing and allow you to do side-by-side comparisons and read customer reviews.
So, what are some of the key ways small businesses can benefit from AI to become smarter and more efficient? Here are three:
Creating personalized marketing and customer engagement strategies
Just like TV streaming platforms now use AI algorithms to provide personalized content recommendations based on your viewing history, small businesses can use AI to create personalized marketing campaigns by collecting and analyzing the past behaviors, preferences and demographics of their customers to create hyper-personalized messaging tailored to each customer individually.
For example, AI can analyze what ads you’ve run in the past have been most effective and suggest how to better target your ads going forward. It can also help you analyze your search engine optimization and suggest how to optimize your content and your website in order to generate more traffic and engagement.
Using generative AI to help write better content and summarize materials
Generative artificial intelligence—the use of algorithms to produce content based on prompts fed to them—is a fast-growing type of AI, thanks partly to the advent of ChatGPT. All types of businesses can use it to write various types of copy faster—whether blog posts, emails, social media postings or other types of materials. (Word of caution: Generative AI has been known to insert inaccuracies on occasion, so it’s important to thoroughly review and fact-check any content it creates for you.)
Moriarty’s Gem Art, a jewelry store in Crown Point, Indiana, has used AI to create copy for its email marketing campaigns with great success. The result: Over 75% of the time, the AI-generated subject lines produce higher open rates, and about 65% of the time, the click-through rates are higher with AI-produced content within the email body.
“While these results are amazing, they aren’t enough to rely completely on AI,” says owner Jeff Moriarty. “But it’s worth testing with it in your own email platforms to see how well it can improve your campaigns.”
It can also be used to quickly scan documents given to it and provide a summary—a feature that can be particularly valuable to businesses, such as law firms, that have to wade through lengthy documents.
Increasing efficiency with predictive analytics
Through predictive analytics, AI can help businesses optimize inventory levels and forecast demand, leading to cost savings, increased productivity and better decision-making.
For example, a company can use predictive analytics to manage and optimize its inventory based on both internal and external data, including seasonal fluctuations.
Keep in mind that AI is only as powerful as the data fed to it—so businesses with the best experience using it are the ones that are already collecting data that can then be analyzed by the AI models to provide better insight.
Says Reiko Feaver, a partner at the law firm Culhane Meadows in Atlanta: “Input affects output.”Print this article