By Michael Deane on May 9, 2019 8:47:16 AM
As a small or medium business owner, you most likely have your finger on the pulse when it comes to implementing new ways to organize your workflows and engage with your customers. However, artificial intelligence is possibly one of those things that you feel isn't for the likes of you.
Huge companies such as Apple, Uber, or UPS have the means and the resources necessary to tap into the AI and its ability to power better business decisions and make huge savings in time and ultimately, money.
But you’re probably already using AI on a day-to-day basis without even realizing it, via your favorite music streaming apps as well as services such as Google Maps. The same way those platforms make your daily life easier and more pleasant, business-oriented AI solutions can help you get your company off the ground.
Let’s find out how:
Boost your customer service with chatbots
Chatbots are no longer the clunky little beasts they were a few years ago. More and more of them are popping up on your competitors’ homepages and via messaging platforms, and for a good reason. Nowadays, sophisticated Natural Language Programming (NLP) means that they can chat with your customers almost as easily as a human sales rep.
But why would you want them to? Quite simply, because your human agents are, well, human, and therefore unable to answer eighteen different queries at once, nor do so 24/7. Chatbots may not (yet) be up to de-escalating situations with irate customers or finding out what happened to that very late order, but they can handle routine queries on things such as shipping fees, enabling your agents to spend more time on cases that need more in-depth investigation or require more sensitive handling.
Chatbots can be used to get the sales cycle rolling before your potential customer is anywhere near ready to talk to a real-life sales rep, either through your website or the apps they use every day, such as Facebook Messenger, Viber or WhatsApp (which, as an added incentive, now boast over five billion daily users).
So how do you go around creating an effective chatbot? The first step is to think long and hard about utility. Outline your objectives and then think about which platform is best for them. Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant for example enable you to code your own chatbots and even, in the case of Messenger, integrate it into your own website via a plugin. Another option, if you have the means, is to outsource your bot development to an agency.
Create AI-powered digital marketing campaigns
Ad fatigue is fast becoming a real problem in the digital marketing realm. Customers are bombarded by advertising messages everywhere they turn, be it while browsing the Internet, within their social media feeds, or even in print and on roadside billboards. And that’s without mentioning the problems posed by ad blockers. Marketers are having to get creative fast in order to maintain the necessary level of impact.
There are a number of steps to take in order to combat ad fatigue, and boosting your campaigns with AI-powered insights is one of them. Not only can AI help you detect the signs of ad fatigue, but it can also help you create personalized, one-to-one marketing messages that read as if they came from a trusted friend and offers timely promotions on tailored product suggestions. And while generic marketing emails will most often go straight into the trash, campaigns with personalized subject lines have an open rate that’s higher by 26%.
How does AI help you engage with customers and create marketing experiences that are actually relevant to their needs at a given time? By drawing on several different sources (social media profiles, previous purchases, and browsing habits among others) and external factors such as location and carefully-crafted buyer personas. In turn, this enables you to engage with them in an appropriate and timely manner while cutting down on unsolicited messages.
Use AI-powered solutions to move your business to the next level
As we’ve seen above, there’s no need to have a vast R&D team or a stable full of highly-talented developers at hand in order to dip your toe into AI. It can be as easy as having a Facebook page for your business: the social media giant’s Audience Insight tool provides digital marketers with valuable information that can help them get to know their customers better and tailor experiences to their needs. Google Ad Recommendations likewise offers a service with suggestions to improve your campaigns.
Many Software as a Service (SaaS) providers offer AI-powered solutions for a minimal investment, usually in the form of a monthly subscription plan. Requiring little to no technical know-how or expensive hardware, these solutions use AI to automate some or all of the routine tasks that eat up your working day while providing insights in which to ground your decision-making.
Online tools such as Quickbooks or Xero can take the stress out of accounting, while the CRM solution Einstein AI by Salesforce analyses all your existing customer data and turns it into actionable insights. If you’re looking to go beyond the free tools offered by Facebook and Google, Acquisio can help track marketing campaign performances and suggest the best ways to invest your ad budget.
Basically, there are three things that AI is really good at: analyzing vast quantities of data, using it to draw conclusions and suggest the best ways to move forward - be it with regards to digital marketing, administration, bookkeeping, customer service or CRM - and automating time-consuming tasks in order to enable your teams to focus on what they do best.
AI can feel daunting to begin with, but as you will have seen, there are several ways you can implement it that can make a big difference to your business. And with recent research predicting that within the next two years data-driven businesses will take $1.2 trillion from those that aren’t, why wait to get started?