How AI Could Help Your Business

With artificial intelligence (AI) permeating strategies at bigger companies, it was only a matter of time before small business owners would start finding ways to incorporate AI tools in their strategies for marketing and growth.

A growing number of small businesses are using AI or considering doing so, according to research indicating a changing sentiment among small businesses about the software trend. 

Nearly half of the small and medium businesses (46 percent) surveyed by researchers at Salesforce said they believed their businesses are ready to use AI. 

The survey results were released as part of the company’s Third Edition Small & Medium Business Trends Report, which includes data and observations from more than 2,000 small and medium business owners and leaders from around the world.

And, artificial intelligence, along with CRM, tops the list of technologies small and medium businesses say they’ll invest in over the next year, according to a survey by Vista, in partnership with Salesforce. 

If you’re considering ways to use AI in your small business, here are several examples of how some companies are incorporating AI tools:

Improve online ads.

Take advantage of Facebook’s AI capabilities to improve your ads online.

The social media platform giant has the ability to gather and analyze data about your target audience, such as their interests, demographics, keyword searches and other online data. You can use the AI-collected data to create Facebook ads that are more effective. 

Create targeted content.

Find AI tools that can help you create targeted articles or emails.

Look for platforms that can take your ideas or data and produce unique articles for your small business or content for email. 

Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms, a drag and drop form builder for WordPress, says there are a number of affordable and easy to use AI tools out there for small businesses.

“My company is a testament to this,” she writes in a Council Post blog on Forbes. “We take advantage of AI for our email marketing. Many email marketing services offer AI features that improve the effectiveness of your messages, such as subject-line generators to attract a higher click-through rate.”

Craft customer experiences.

One of the hottest technologies is using AI-powered tools to personalize customer experiences, including recommending products and automatic order fulfillments.

AI tools, specifically technology that recommends products to customers based on their preferences, has become the top growth area for sales teams, and its adoption is forecast to grow 155 percent over the next two years, according to research published on the Salesforce website.

At the same time, AI-powered developments like individualized recommendations and automatic order fulfillments are raising the bar against which customers judge companies, according to “The AI Revolution” report by Salesforce. Its research shows 48 percent of consumers and 63 percent of business buyers now expect personalized offers.

Other AI-Driven Tools In Play.

Your company as well as your customers are likely already engaging with AI-driven products every day.

Among the most popular AI-powered products are things like credit card fraud detection, email spam filters and automatic reminders, as well as the popular AI-powered voice-activated personal assistants.

Looking ahead.

Only 13.6 percent of respondents in the Vista survey said they were currently using AI to enhance different aspects of their business – business operations (51%), customer engagement (45.5%), talent management/hiring (20.2%) and financial reporting (16.2%).

But Salesforce predicts the next wave of AI technology will enable companies to continuously adapt processes based on past experience.

“...ushering in vast improvements in customer targeting, for instance, because deep learning algorithms will be able to spot patterns in behavior that are more likely to lead to sales,” says the company’s AI report. “In supply chains and manufacturing, potential benefits will include predictive maintenance of equipment, along with yield and inventory optimization.”

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