As artificial intelligence (AI) has stepped out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world, it has become increasingly intertwined with our day to day lives. Whether you know it or not, AI is likely a feature of many of your online experiences, using data gathered through your web and device usage to curate your experience. Savvy marketers and small business owners are now applying the interaction of big data and AI to create innovative marketing and sales strategies that are taking digital platforms — and soon the real world — by storm.
Why small business owners need to be aware of advancements in AI
The ability of AI to understand users’ needs allows highly personalized content to be created, generating better engagement than ever. AI can be applied to brick-and-mortar stores to provide solutions based on customer behavior. And customer service is being taken over by the machines, providing seamless customer care. In short, don’t sleep on AI.
This ability to better understand and engage with customers is crucial for modern small business owners to compete. It can make advertising less expensive, streamline online shopping experiences, and provide top-tier customer service without excessive staffing. And as more and more consumers turn to online avenues for their day-to-day needs, traditional shopping expenditures, and nuanced experiences, if your business isn’t in the mix you’ll quickly see yourself falling behind.
But not to worry, there’s still time. You can still learn to leverage AI to grow your business. Let’s start by looking at 5 ways AI is revolutionizing digital experiences for consumers.
1. Deep learning
Through deep learning, algorithms help computers amass data and learn from it, generating powerful insights into human queries and speech patterns. The ability that AI has to apply this deep learning to marketing is one of the features that makes it so powerful to companies. Using this knowledge, AI programs can then provide users with highly relevant solutions according to each user’s needs.
Big companies like Google, Microsoft Facebook, and Apple already use deep learning and AI for their marketing and other projects like chatbots, and it’s working well for them.
Using deep learning to produce content for ads allows a degree of careful curation hitherto unseen. Ads can be targeted with exceptional specificity. This is revolutionizing PPC (pay-per-click) marketing especially – algorithms requiring limited human input will generate optimized content and campaigns with greater efficiency than a human ever could.
2. Vision-based AI
Naturally, businesses based online are most excited about AI, and those that market their businesses in the digital world certainly have a lot to gain from AI-based strategies. However, businesses in the physical world can also take advantage of technological developments in AI. Vision-based AI is becoming powerful enough to analyze the physical world, and businesses can gain great insights into consumer behavior in-store.
We are already seeing the fruits of vision-based AI – Amazon Go Stores use it to track which items shoppers take from the shelves and both Google and Amazon use it for their camera apps, where a user photographs an item to get more information about it and to compare prices.
In-store, AI can track the smallest details of customer behavior such as eye movement, allowing physical store arrangement to be optimized. And within eCommerce, the power of vision-based AI to analyze visual content allows insights to be gained from image-based platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok, allowing marketers to develop sophisticated social media marketing strategies.
3. Big Data, AI, and the internet of things
AI and big data are closely tied, and as the data we can gather expands we will be relying heavily on AI to provide the analytic insights that make that data so valuable. The Internet of Things (IoT) — the connectivity of everyday devices onto the web — is producing data on a level never before seen about consumer practices, but without AI this data cannot be converted into actionable insights.
Computers imbued with machine learning algorithms can trawl through billions of data points to allow marketers to make sense of this informational influx. For example, Agreeable Research already use machine learning to create “controlled social networks” that lend insights about why a customer chooses to purchase an item.
4. The future of customer service
Language-based AI is expanding to allow machines to generate accurate humanlike content, mimicking conversational ability to a high degree. This allows AI to take over customer service, revolutionizing the way we provide quality customer care. AI-powered chatbots can be immediately available to provide troubleshooting and Q&As for customers without the wait associated with a human representative. This on-call function serves to build a strong brand image as caring and helpful.
And customer service can expand beyond chatbots to the entire experience a customer has with your brand. AI can create highly personalized web experiences based on user data. Websites can be rearranged to provide the best fitting content and a highly curated, personal experience, projecting an image of strong customer focus.
Proactively provide the best experience
Think of your logged-in Amazon page — immediately, some of the content you see is tailored to you, based on what you’ve shopped for previously. This is due to AI.
What’s more, using data and machine learning, platforms are able to accurately predict customer behavior which can lead to even more opportunities. Whether this is predicting customer behaviors and their sales habits, or whether it’s marketers being able to predict trends and create content and marketing strategies accordingly, predicting is big business.
With AI tools able to automatically learn and improve with your offered experiences as you go, the opportunities you’ll be able to make and benefit from will only get better as time goes on. This is an essential practice if you want to compete in global markets.
Review data to drive your strategy
The final point here to remember is that AI doesn’t just have to be used to look into the future to make accurate predictions, but also to look into the past. By analyzing and finding patterns within our data, it can help highlight improvements that can be made based on the present customer experience.
For example, tools like Google Trends help to predict what customers will become interested in in the future based on which searches have been popular in the past and which have recently become popular. And these tools are actually far more effective than traditional strategists.
5. Personalization of user experience
Since AI systems can handle tremendous amounts of data, there’s no other solution that comes close. Of course, you probably already use personalization for things like email templates and contacting them on social media, or via your chatbots.
However, AI offers a lot more than just this. For example, let’s say you’re shopping and, based on your previous purchase history, let’s say through the presence of your store app or website history cookies, you can upsell products and make recommendations based on their purchasing and viewing history.
Websites can also use previous purchase history to create unique user experiences using AI. For example, a customer could continue where they left off, looking at more options for the same product next time they visit the page. eBay and Amazon already implement a start page quite like this.
Leverage external data to improve experience
This can also use information based on market trends and market forces. This will connect your customers to your business in a much more personal way. Gone are the days of trying to guess what products to recommend your customers, and by getting it wrong, potentially pushing them away and make them want to open your emails in the future.
This can be applied as well to your targeted ad campaigns on Google or your social media platforms. By hyper-targeting your advertisements to the people that are actually going to be interested in your products, especially those target markets you may not even be aware of but AI may identify, you’ll be connecting to your target audiences in the best possible way.
The future of marketing is here
AI has truly transformative power in the world of marketing – especially for small businesses. AI allows the insights made possible by big data to be applied to highly specialized campaigns. The improved ability of AI to recognize images and human speech implies great possibilities. The future of marketing lies in AI and small businesses that get on board will see enormous results.
Right now, small business owners already have access to tools that can help them leverage AI. You can quickly automate communications with customers with chatbots, collect marketing information through lead gen forms and web analytics, as well as automate other mundane tasks, freeing up time for more enjoyable work. Free and easy to use AI tools like Facebook chatbots or X.ai are already out there, it’s up to you to use whichever ones are right for you.