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12 AI Trends Small Businesses Should Be Aware of for Strategic Planning

7 Mins read

As artificial intelligence continues to revolutionize the business landscape, small businesses must stay abreast of emerging AI trends to remain competitive. We’ve gathered insights from a diverse group of professionals, including marketing experts and founders, to share their perspectives. From optimizing strategy with data analytics to engaging customers with personalized video emails, explore the twelve AI trends that these savvy leaders believe small businesses should be aware of.

Optimize Strategy with Data Analytics

Leverage data analytics to optimize your business strategy. For businesses that have an online storefront, make it part of your processes to check and analyze your page’s website insights. Before you decide on anything, first check what the analytics are telling you to keep your decisions informed. 

In this day and age of AI technology, this is the best approach to staying on top of the latest trends and understanding customer behavior, so that business owners may adjust their strategies accordingly.

Carolyn James, Consultant and Trainer, Website Insights

Improve Experience with AI Marketing

Businesses can take advantage of the emerging trends in digital marketing to improve and personalize the customer experience while increasing brand reach at the same time. 

AI-powered chatbots can be used to answer simple queries from customers and potential customers, so they don’t have to wait for an available agent anymore. If the AI-powered chatbot can answer the questions properly, there is a high possibility of converting a site visitor into a paying customer. 

Aside from that, video marketing can be used to expand customer reach. Since everybody is on social media, the use of video marketing, especially when they are converted into sponsored posts, can reach more people. Hence, more people will know about the brand and its products and services, which may, in turn, become the company’s customers. It should be noted, though, that for video marketing to work, the released content should be interesting and always up to date.

Omer Lewinsohn, General Manager, Marketing Expert, Management.org

Consider AI’s Impact on Service Industries

The speed of adoption of generalist models like ChatGPT is something business leaders must keep in mind when planning their strategies.

I’m in the consulting business, and ChatGPT represents a mid-term threat as it offers a cost-effective alternative. As a business leader, ask yourself: What tasks or skills do we perform for our clients that ChatGPT or other AIs can do? And how quickly is the market adopting AI for these use cases that overlap with our services?

The consulting industry is one of those cases. There are specific use cases, like secondary market research, that ChatGPT can perform exceptionally well, as opposed to hiring a market research consultant or company. AI is disrupting this industry, and business leaders must react to this threat.

Jose Bermejo, Founder and Managing Partner, Predictable Innovation Strategy

Use AI for Content Outline Creation

While most think that AI is great at content creation, most of the time, it is not that great at it. Using AI, you can generate readable but “robotic” content. Unfortunately, though, many still use AI to create similar content repeatedly.

While AI is not a perfect solution for content creation, it’s great at content outline generation. Therefore, it’s better to use AI to generate the content outline and basic structure before you start writing. Especially when you work with a writer who needs to understand the topic before writing, this helps a lot.

Burak Özdemir, Founder, onlinealarmkur.com

Adapt to AI-Driven SEO Changes

Small businesses should definitely monitor how AI SEO is starting to really pick up speed next year. In 2023, Google came out with an experimental AI-powered search engine they called the Search Generative Experience (SGE), which was available to users who chose to try it out through Search Labs. The full impact of generative AI on searching the web isn’t totally clear yet, but one thing’s for sure: AI is going to change how search works. And that’s going to affect how businesses get noticed in search results.

I think by 2024, the big question is going to shift from “How do you get on the first page of search results for a certain keyword?” to “How do you get the AI tool to recommend your business, come up with the answer you want, or give out info about your business?”

We’re not completely there yet, but as AI tools become more popular, figuring out how to do this is going to be more important. A good starting point is to spread your content and brand as far as you can, not just on Google or any one platform. You want to share your content to get more people to see it, but also to possibly be used as data for these big language models AI uses.

Patrick Beltran, Marketing Director, Ardoz Digital

Balance AI Integration with Human Touch

My advice is not specific to one approach or trend; rather, you need to be careful of jumping on, or becoming overly reliant on, a certain strategy or approach at such an early stage of AI growth. Also, you don’t want to lose the human element of your internal processes, so choose wisely how you want to integrate AI within your existing team.

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

Capitalize on AI and IoT Convergence

The blending of AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to make its way into the small-business world. Think of IoT like a modern-day Doctor Dolittle, but for things instead of animals. Just like he talked with animals, we can now communicate with objects, and they can talk to each other. Picture everything around you being able to tell you what’s happening with it. For example, your chair might let you know you’ve been sitting too long and need to stretch.

Even though my example might sound a bit light-hearted, this tech is actually really powerful. It’s useful not just for people using these “things” but also for the folks who make them, maintain them, insure them, and everyone involved in the life of an asset.

When you mix AI with internet connectivity, you end up with connected “smart things.” This makes them even more capable, allowing them to interact with people and other objects and respond to what’s happening around them. Small businesses haven’t been quick to jump on the IoT bandwagon, mostly because of the cost and how complex it is. But that’s changing fast as the price of sensors goes down and the tech gets better. Gartner research shows that through 2020, both new and established IoT companies are going to compete hard for small- and medium-business customers, which will push IoT costs down by over 50%.

This is a big chance for small businesses. In fact, a lot of experts in IoT think small businesses will be the ones really leading the way in using IoT and getting the most out of it in the next five years.

Amy Tribe, Director, OGLF (Our Good Living Formula)

Enhance HR with AI Assistance

AI is actually really helpful when it comes to bringing on new hires, as it can assist with many HR-related tasks, from recruiting to employee onboarding. By automating repetitive tasks and improving the efficiency of talent management, you can make your life easier as a small business owner. 

I think one of the coolest and most useful features is that AI algorithms can suggest personalized training and development opportunities based on employees’ skills, career goals, and performance evaluations, promoting continuous learning. In today’s business world, continuous learning and an increase in opportunities for employees are a must if you are looking at how to increase retention rates. This is why AI is a helpful tool, as it will always be one step ahead in terms of good HR practices and trends.

Melissa Ng, Business Development and Operations Manager, AppSalon

Prioritize Authentic Content Over AI

I conducted an experiment where I created two marketing blogs: one where I shared my advice, thoughts, and opinions about the future of marketing, and another where I published ChatGPT outputs.

The results weren’t surprising. The website where I published thought-leadership-type content performed much better than the AI blog. In fact, the AI blog never reached over 20 readers per day, and most of them bounced within 10 seconds.

This can be a massive advantage for you as a small business owner. While everyone else publishes generic ChatGPT content, you can publish unique thought leadership content, separating you from the competition.

Scott Lieberman, Owner, Touchdown Money

Explore Opportunities in GPT Store

The nearing launch of the GPT Store by OpenAI is going to be a big deal in AI, showing us a future where there’s way more variety in how GPT models are customized. I think this is the start of a time full of new ideas and ways to use AI. The ease of making GPTs, along with the huge number of ChatGPT users, is opening doors for all kinds of new experiments and ways to make money.

And for small businesses, I think the GPT Store is a boon for companies in all industries. It’s a gateway for businesses from any industry to get GPT models that are just right for what they need, helping them be more efficient and creative. Now, businesses have a chance to find new ways to make money by creating and selling their own GPT models on the store. The range of GPT applications available means businesses can get really useful tools for things like analyzing data, creating content, and improving customer service, which are all very important for growing a business and keeping up with the competition.

Lucas Ochoa, Founder and CEO, Automat

Understand AI’s Limitations and Hybrid Use

One AI trend that small businesses really need to keep in mind for their strategies is the limitations and potential problems with AI. The trend right now is a hybrid approach! AI can be super useful for getting insights and automating things, but it’s key to understand it’s not perfect.

If you rely too much on AI, especially with data that’s old or incorrect, you might end up with conclusions that aren’t right. Small businesses have to remember that AI doesn’t always get the little details, which can lead to incorrect ideas about what’s going on. The best way for small businesses to use AI is to mix it with human input. It’s really important to know what AI can and can’t do so you can make smart decisions and fine-tune your approach.

James McNally, Managing Director, SDVH [Self Drive Vehicle Hire]

Engage Customers with Personalized Video Emails

For small businesses looking to up their game and really stand out, sending personalized video emails is one cool AI trend to take advantage of. Tech tools like HippoVideo or Vidyard allow you to send videos in emails that speak directly to each customer. It’s like making a mini-video just for them, saying their name and talking about things they’re interested in.

This is super useful for small businesses because it makes customers feel really noticed and important. It’s way more personal than a regular email that everyone is so sick of getting every day. Using this AI technology can help businesses connect with customers in a cool, unique way.

Juliet Dreamhunter, Founder, Juliety

Brett Farmiloe is the founder of Featured, a Q&A platform that connects brands with expert insights.

AI trends stock image by Nuttapong punna/Shutterstock

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