How to Use Artificial Intelligence For Your Small Business
Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm. It has the potential to change people’s lives and is being likened to a ‘4th industrial revolution’. The first 3 being, steam engines, electricity and mass production, and the rise of the digital age.
Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are already investing heavily in AI and machine learning.
As a small business owner, you probably think you don’t have the resources to spend on AI tools and technologies. But guess what? Integrating Artificial intelligence in business may be easier than you think.
What exactly are these AI and ML anyway?
Before we go into more detail, let’s first understand the difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Both these terms are often used interchangeably and hence get mixed up.
Artificial intelligence is the broader concept of programming machines to carry out tasks in an intelligent way. Whereas machine learning is when you give machines access to data and let them learn on their own.
You are probably using machine learning in your everyday life, already. For instance, when you watch a couple of shows on Netflix, it keeps track of your ‘watch history’ and uses machine learning to suggest new ones that you may like.
You see artificial intelligence and machine learning are already around us in more ways than we can think of. They have brought convenience in your personal life with their smart ways. So why not use them to help manage and grow your small business as well?
Artificial Intelligence in business
Luckily, the Fortune 500 companies with huge capital on hand are not the only ones who can take advantage of AI. It’s never too early to jump on the AI bandwagon and turn your small business into a data-driven organization.
Here are a few techniques you can use to embed Artificial Intelligence into your business workflow.
AI Tools and Applications
Unlike large companies, small businesses can’t afford to hire Data Scientists to analyze heaps of data, detect patterns and draw results. Luckily, for small businesses to provide a better user experience there are AI-ready tools available in the market.
Artificial intelligence can be integrated into any element of your small business workflow that uses data. These AI-ready tools are affordable and have easy-to-use interfaces. You can now take the hassle of hiring accountants, lawyers and marketing specialists out of your life by using third-party AI tools.
Customer Support Services Automation with AI
When your customer services agent is a robot, you no longer have to worry about paying your staff extra to work on weekends and public holidays.
In 2017, about 2% of customer services and support processes were handled by virtual customer assistants (VCAs) or chatbots. This number is expected to rise exponentially and go up to 25% by the year 2020.
Chatbots offer an excellent way of automating tedious tier-1 tasks. Thanks to artificial intelligence, your employees can now concentrate on more complex customer inquiries.
An increasing number of companies are using chatbots within messaging applications to interact with current and potential customers. In 2016, more than 34,000 chatbots were being used on Facebook Messenger alone.
One of the popular chatbots, Chyme can help deal with basic customer services requests. If your line of work requires frequent travel, then Tradeshift Go can help book cheap flights, hotel rooms, etc. for you. Bookkeeping can be a time-consuming job, especially for solopreneurs. Botkeeper uses AI and ML to keep track of all your bills, invoices, and other accounting needs of your business.
These are but only a few very basic examples of chatbots. You can choose the ones that fulfil your needs and improve the efficiency of your business.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems have been around for a while. They are designed to help businesses keep track of the company’s interaction with current and potential customers, across different channels (phone, email, and social media).
Popular CRM platforms like Salesforce use artificial intelligence to help your small business analyze customer sentiments. They collect data from your phone conversations, emails, customer reviews and social media interactions. This data is then evaluated to detect patterns. For instance, calls with successful outcomes are separated from unsuccessful ones. Both are compared and analysed to draw conclusions. Eventually, this information is then used to improve sales and marketing tactics.
Examples of AI Tools for Marketing
Spending large sums on marketing campaigns is hard for small businesses. Tools like Acquisio use AI and ML to make marketing more efficient and cost-efficient. In as little as $200 per month, you can manage your marketing operations across multiple channels. And remember, this is only an investment. It uses a sentiment analysis algorithm to assess customer engagement. This means that AI can help you figure out the marketing strategy that works best for your business.
Email Marketing: You can now use artificial intelligence even to improve your email open rate. Tools like Phrasee use artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language understanding to generate email subject lines that beat those created by humans. These increase the chances of your emails getting opened and read by your target audience.
Content Marketing: No doubt content marketing is one of most effective marketing strategies. When your competitors are putting out gigabytes of content every day, it can be hard to keep up. Hubspot’s content marketing tool uses AI to help you generate blog ideas. You can discover topics to write about, organize the content into topics and even track the ROI (return on investment).
These intelligent platforms and machine learning promise to make life easier for small business owners. Use them to your advantage and save time and money.
Explore and see how artificial intelligence can help you stay ahead of your competitors in today’s data-driven world. It’s time to move forward in the right direction and invest in AI to help your business grow.
Have you used artificial intelligence for your small business yet? If not, are you planning to step up your game by trying any of these tools and techniques?
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Bisma Hashmi is an electrical engineer turned copywriter, with experience of working in the engineering and telecommunications sectors. For the past 7 years, she has been working as a copywriter. She enjoys writing about Science & Technology and the Engineering & Construction sectors. Helping businesses save time by creating quality content for them is what makes her the happiest. Her main focus is on B2B sector. However, she also equally likes writing for B2C. When she takes her copywriter’s hat off, she’s a mum of two. Amongst her many talents, Bisma is famed for her excellent baking and cake decoration skills.