Not too long ago, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) was relegated only to sci-fi movies and TV shows. However, the future seems to have arrived today as AI technology has exploded in popularity throughout the last year. AI tools for small businesses are plentiful these days, and many business owners are waking up to the usefulness of these tools to increase productivity and lower costs.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at some ways small business owners are embracing AI, but we’re also going to take a measured and realistic look at the limitations of this emerging technology. You’ll learn how to use AI to automate some aspects of your small business, but you’ll also learn how to implement AI responsibly.
A Quick Caveat
Before we continue, it’s important to first clear up a misconception: What we refer to as AI these days is not truly artificial intelligence, also known as artificial general intelligence or AGI. Instead, what these technologies do is akin to pattern recognition. Large language models like OpenAI’s Chat-GPT are trained on huge volumes of text data while AI image generators like Stable Diffusion are trained on data from large collections of existing images.
The current crop of AI technologies do not actually think or reason; instead, they use predictive modeling to generate seemingly logical outputs. The limitation is that these models can only utilize the data they have been trained on and do not actually “think” like a human does. The result can mean that AI may hallucinate information it states as fact or generate less than optimal output.
How Small Businesses Can Use AI to Improve Productivity
Despite the above-mentioned limitations, AI for small businesses can still be very powerful when used correctly with tempered expectations. If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to leverage AI to get more done, below are some ways to benefit from AI for small businesses:
Coming up with descriptions for a product or service can be challenging. While you want to use language that sells, you also want to be accurate and speak to what matters most to your customers.
With AI, business owners can input prompts explaining what a customer base likes and doesn’t like, along with a brief description of what a product or service does. From there, AI can generate short, punchy descriptions of products that can be used for digital storefronts or marketing collateral.
Writing high-quality blog posts is crucial for search engine optimization and other aspects of digital marketing, but writing blog posts can also be time-consuming if you aren’t a proficient writer. Instead of creating content from scratch, you can use AI to write an outline based on keywords and topic ideas. This can give you a head start that saves time.
One word of caution about using AI to write content: Don’t rely solely on AI for this task. Although AI can generate passable content that looks okay to natural language processing (NLP) algorithms and even sounds good, it’s imperfect. Factual inaccuracies can make their way into your blog posts, potentially harming your brand’s credibility.
Also, Google has recently changed its search experience and ranking system. Many brands that have chosen to rely exclusively on AI-generated content are seeing large drop-offs in visibility and rank due to unhelpful, generic AI-generated content. If you use AI-written content, edit it to demonstrate expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness.
You can also consider using AI to help out with customer service tasks. While it's inadvisable to let AI run a customer relationship entirely, machine learning does open the door to some forms of automation that can be useful for your brand and customers. AI can develop responses based on customer behaviors over time through machine learning.
For example, AI chatbots can accept customer inquiries on your brand’s website and respond in real time. This allows small business owners to provide 24/7 customer support without having to have live agents standing by at all times. The limitation here is that AI chatbots can only respond based on their training data, so they can’t replicate original human thought.
Small Business Branding
AI can also be used for branding. When running a small business, it can sometimes be challenging to develop things like unique selling proposals (USPs) or other branding elements. Large and enterprise-level businesses typically have marketing departments to handle these tasks and codified style guides, but small business owners may not have access to these resources.
Thankfully, AI for small businesses can be used to work out how to write a USP of a product, service or brand. By feeding generative AI a few details about your company, products, and customers, you can receive instant feedback in the form of several USP options to choose from.
AI-powered chatbots can also be used to generate ideas for social media content, text for social media posts, and questions to ask your brand’s followers to increase engagement. Some social media sites already incorporate AI into their messaging platforms, allowing customers to ask questions and engage in interactive chat sessions.
Others use AI to answer messages while your business is closed or your customer service agents are busy. This can greatly help keep customers engaged, but it also demonstrates that your brand cares about the customer service experience.
Use AI With Caution
As powerful as AI can be for small business owners, you’re encouraged to use this technology cautiously. Nothing will ever replace the experience of interacting with another human, and over-reliance on AI may turn some customers away. By taking a balanced approach and looking at AI as a set of tools to enhance your brand, you’re more likely to get the most out of this exciting technology.
Contact E-Marketing Associates to Learn More About Enhancing Your Digital Presence
Whether you want to leverage AI to build a stronger brand more efficiently or you simply want a partner to rely on for services like online marketing websites, E-Marketing Associates is the team to trust. We help brands use digital marketing technologies to connect with customers, generate leads, and increase sales.