Small business owners know the importance of marketing and advertising to drive website traffic and sales. But with limited resources and time, it can be difficult to tackle all the aspects of a comprehensive and successful marketing campaign yourself. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in.
AI is revolutionizing marketing by automating repetitive tasks, analyzing vast amounts of customer data, and delivering personalized experiences. In this article, we’ll explore 12 ways you can use AI for small business marketing—the right way.
Table of contents
- What is AI for small business marketing?
- Why use AI for small business marketing?
- How can AI be used for small business marketing?
What is AI for small business marketing?
Let’s start off with a few basic definitions. The definition of AI, or artificial intelligence, is “intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans.” AI is essentially the science of programming machines to be smarter than we are by making accurate predictions based on large sets of data.
AI for small business marketing is the practice of applying artificial intelligence to marketing tactics, strategies, or practices.
Take my (non-robotic) hand, and let’s learn more about AI for small business marketing together.
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Why use AI for small business marketing?
You’re a busy business owner or marketer. Why add learning new AI tools or tactics to your already-full plate? There are a few benefits…
Automate repetitive tasks
One huge benefit of using AI for small business marketing is that it can automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks. This can free up valuable time for both you and your employees to focus on other tasks or big-picture projects to move your business forward.
For example, by using AI to automate email follow-up, you can tag leads into email nurture sequences that move them down the funnel until they’re ready to convert. This allows you to be in a constant state of lead follow-up without lifting a finger (aside from setting up the lead nurturing sequence with your automated email marketing tool).
Help with ideation
Coming up with new and fresh ideas consistently is challenging. AI can help you out.
For example, say you’re looking for some social post ideas for an upcoming sale or promotion. Simply ask an AI tool to provide some suggested posts, and you’ll get a few options at the click of a button. From there, you can make edits to align the responses with your brand voice, confirm details are accurate, and get it scheduled. Google Bard is a good, free tool to start with.
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Analyze data quickly
AI tools can help you analyze and aggregate large amounts of data quickly. This equips you to make data-backed decisions that can improve your marketing and advertising campaigns.
For example, some AI social media tools can analyze when people have engaged with your posts to provide the ideal time for you to publish new content. This ensures your future posts will be published at the optimum time to drive engagement.
How can AI be used for small business marketing?
Let’s explore 12 common, simple ways you can start using AI for small business marketing today.
Today, consumers expect answers and support quickly. They don’t consider whether they’re engaging with a small, local business or a big-box retailer. They want answers, and they want them now. In fact, 90% of customers say an immediate response is critical when they have a customer service question. And 90% of customer service questions get answered by website chatbots in 10 messages or fewer. Meaning they’re providing what customers are looking for quickly.
So adding an AI-powered chat function to your website is a win-win. AI chatbots can analyze a customer’s inquiry and provide relevant information or direct the customer to either a live chat agent or an employee for further support.
Not only can website chat keep customers on your site longer and provide the information needed to convert, but it can also collect lead information you can use to follow up, nurture, or close leads who left without converting.
Personalized email campaigns
Email marketing has almost limitless applications for AI. One such application is the ability to personalize email campaigns. And we’re not just talking about a personalized email subject line (although that’s very important!). We’re talking a fully-personalized email based on the user’s previous purchase behavior or interaction with your business. This can lead to more closed sales, successful re-engagement, and the ability to stay top of mind with ease.
For example, say a customer visited your website, placed an item in their cart, and then closed out of their browser. AI-powered email marketing tools can trigger a cart abandonment email that reminds them to revisit your site to complete their purchase. You might even include a coupon to sweeten the deal. This allows you to close a sale without lifting a finger.
And that’s just one example. You can also trigger emails based on previous services they’ve completed with your business, appointment reminders, and more. All personalized to the specific customer with the intent to nurture and convert them.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a time-consuming marketing strategy. From creating a social media calendar to writing social posts and measuring results, it can feel like a never-ending battle to keep up with.
AI tools can help with a range of social media marketing activities, including analyzing social media engagement, creating personalized content, and suggesting the best time to post on social. This can lead to higher engagement and increased followers. Not to mention, it can free up your time for other activities or to create even more social media content.
While we don’t suggest using AI tools to create a social media strategy, these tools can help with many aspects of implementing your strategy. For example, you can prompt an AI tool to create social posts that you can edit and customize before scheduling.
You can also use AI tools to help analyze your social media reports to understand what types of social posts perform best for your business when it comes to engaging your audience.
Speaking of social media… You can’t be everywhere your business is mentioned online (unfortunately). But AI can help you monitor social media for brand mentions, feedback, and potential sales opportunities.
This can be extremely valuable when it comes to building an online community, engaging with existing and potential customers, and addressing customer service issues.
For example, someone may complain about your business in a social media post without tagging you. Using AI social listening tools, you can easily find that post and reach out to the user—hopefully addressing their concern (and providing a response other social media users see). This helps you get in on the conversation, preserve your online reputation, and potentially win back a lapsed customer.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an extremely complex marketing strategy. But the benefits are numerous—better visibility online, less overall cost, and more qualified leads from buyers seeking your exact products or services.
While we don’t recommend using AI for the technical aspects of SEO, such as keyword research, SEO content creation, or technical implementations, it can help automate more time-consuming and repetitive processes.
Some of these SEO automation tasks include SEO audits, creating keyword clusters, generating topic ideas, and reporting. You can also use AI tools to create content briefs for you using topics and keywords you’ve previously researched.
An SEO audit report generated in ContentKing.
By using AI to assist with these tasks, you can streamline processes, get more done faster, and tap into additional insights for how your SEO strategy is moving the needle.
AI tools are great resources for developing content topics and ideas. It’s one of the easiest use cases for AI in small business marketing.
Simply provide the AI tool with a prompt and get a list of content topics or social media post ideas. From there, you can make simple adjustments to customize the topics to your business or keywords and get started.
You can also use AI tools to help you build out content briefs or outlines, further saving you time and brainpower when it comes to creating content.
Again, we don’t suggest using AI tools to fully create your content. AI tools aren’t perfect (yet), so there’s room for error and inaccuracies. AI tools also lack experience and expertise, something that Google notes as important for SEO (with EEAT), so it’s important to infuse your own experience and expertise into any content that you’re creating.
Lead generation and conversion
Any small business knows that generating leads can be an extremely manual and time-consuming process. Aside from creating and implementing lead generation campaigns, there’s often a lot of follow-up and back-and-forth involved in converting those leads into customers.
AI can help your small business automate this process in a few different ways. One, we’ve already covered: automating nurture sequences through email marketing.
But you can also use AI to help with lead generation ideas and campaigns. For example, you can use AI to provide promotion ideas, create copy for lead generation campaigns, and automate other follow-up processes so you can convert more leads into customers.
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The right images and videos can make your marketing campaigns and social posts pop. But actually creating these assets can be time-consuming and challenging without the proper design support.
Luckily, there are AI tools that can help. For some AI tools, you can simply provide a text-based prompt, and the tool will generate an AI-created image for you. Using other AI tools, you can provide a little bit more information and get a full video that’s ready to upload.
By generating AI-created images and videos, you can produce more visual content at scale and save both time and resources on creative.
Canva’s Magic Studio generates AI-created templates based on a short prompt.
It’s important to note that some of these tools are still in testing and may not generate the quality of images you’d want or need for assets like display ads or print ads (for example, many AI tools have a hard time getting human hands right for some reason). But they can be helpful for creative assets like social posts, email banners, and more.
It can be difficult to find trends and insights when it comes to your customers and all the data you have on them. Luckily, AI can provide insights into customer preferences and buying behavior, which can help you create more targeted campaigns.
For example, you can use AI to analyze customer data in your CRM and segment your customers based on specific buyer behaviors, demographics, and more. From there, you can create separate email marketing campaigns that speak to each customer segment to drive more purchases or interest.
Identifying and targeting the right audience with your online advertising can be a big challenge. AI-powered ad targeting helps small businesses target audiences effectively, resulting in more conversions and better ROI.
Many ad platforms have created AI-powered ad targeting options to help streamline this directly through the platform. Other businesses have integrated AI technology into their ad management platforms so they can better manage your ad campaigns based on what’s driving the best results—and targeting the right audience.
Collecting and analyzing customer feedback can help you improve your business offerings, processes, and overall customer satisfaction. But collecting this data can be a time-consuming process.
With AI, you can automate this process to collect and analyze customer feedback quickly—enabling you to make meaningful changes and improvements to your business.
For example, you can use an AI tool to automate a feedback request email to a customer at a set time after a completed purchase or service appointment.
Many tools like this can also prompt the customer to leave an external review on a site like Google Business or Yelp based on the score they provided in the feedback request email. This helps you boost your online reputation and provide valuable information to win over new customers.
Whether you’re looking to launch a new product or service or just want to better understand your revenue projections for the year, AI can help.
AI can help small businesses predict sales and outcomes based on customer data, which can help plan product launches and promotions.
This can help you better plan your marketing campaigns and allocate your budget accordingly without spending hours digging into the data yourself.
Use AI for small business marketing the right way
AI is revolutionizing the way small businesses create and execute marketing campaigns. By automating repetitive tasks, analyzing vast amounts of data, and delivering personalized experiences, AI can help you effectively reach and engage your target audience, ultimately leading to higher conversions and better ROI.
Here are the 12 ways you can use AI for small business marketing:
- Website chat
- Personalized email campaigns
- Social media marketing
- Social listening
- SEO automation
- Content ideation
- Lead generation and conversion
- Creative support
- Customer insights
- Ad targeting
- Customer feedback
- Sales forecasting
Want more AI marketing resources? We’ve got you covered:
- AI for Email Marketing: 7 Ways to Use It (+Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make)
- The Small Business Guide to AI Content Marketing: Tips, Tools & Precautions
- 43 Insane AI Statistics & What They Mean for Your Business [Infographic]
- 6 Ways to Use ChatGPT for Small Business Marketing (+6 Ways NOT to Use It)
- Completely Awesome ChatGPT Prompts to Make Marketing Easier