G2 Crowd is releasing its third quarterly research report: Crowd Views. The first two focused on “Solving the Talent Crisis” and “Solving Common Enterprise Problems.” This edition is about small business and the technology they use to solve their problems. The goal of this edition of Crowd Views is to help other small businesses understand what their peers are using to solve business problems. This is the ninth blog in our 10-part series about these small-business insights.
Marketing automation software, email marketing software and other digital marketing software offer small-business marketing geniuses the ability to take their campaigns to the next level. Whether it’s through inspiring newsletters, targeting the right prospects or serving up hyper-personalized messages, the age of digital advertising has helped businesses of all sizes — small businesses have felt the positive impact in unique way. Now, with artificial intelligence platforms in the mix, it begs the question: How can small businesses use marketing AI to grow (or sustain) their company?
Before digging into this question, it’s important to know where small businesses that plan to grow, also known as growth businesses, are spending their money. The latest edition of Crowd Views helps provide insight into how growth businesses’ budgets are being prioritized.
As you can see in Figure 12, small businesses that are growing are prioritizing hiring for marketing, advertising and sales in 2017. Investments in software, cloud software and other IT software, on the other hand, drop off quite a bit to 11 percent from 20 percent in 2016. The smallest businesses (1-25 employees) are planning on investing heavily in marketing and advertising at 33 percent, but drop off the average for sales headcount at 15 percent. The largest segment, 100-250 employees, is heavily skewed in the opposite direction, with sales headcount as their highest response at 29 percent, and marketing/advertising at only 5 percent.
Based on this information, it seems businesses with 1-25 employees are looking to allocate a significant amount of resources toward marketing and advertising. The growth of artificial intelligence is starting to have a bigger impact on marketing as a whole, and will continue to become more accessible to smaller companies.
Artificial intelligence can assist small-business marketers in a variety of ways. This starts with the start of the marketing process: Building a website.
The Grid is one example of a website builder that uses artificial intelligence, named Molly, to design websites.
One reviewer of The Grid commented, “The Grid is an amazing new concept. They have blended features of social network with a website builder that utilizes artificial intelligence to put together content.”
The Grid can help small businesses by building websites in a fraction of the time, and cost, it would take a team of developers and software engineers to complete the same task. This could be a game-changer for small companies looking to save their precious resources.
Content writers may feel their jobs are not in jeopardy from being replaced by artificial intelligence. While that might be true for now, tools like Atomic Reach, Wordsmith and Quill are already being used to create more clickable content.
These tools can generate unique content that actually reads like it was written by a human. They can achieve this by using pre-built templates to enter relevant data and keywords.
For small businesses, this could help create SEO-optimized content without increasing marketing headcount, saving time and money (you should be starting to notice a theme).
Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are heavily used by small businesses looking to engage potential customers.
Facebook in particular, which is incredibly popular among small-business users, is using artificial intelligence to prevent websites from sharing content that provides a bad user experience. It is currently training artificial intelligence using deep learning to prevent annoying ads and spammy headlines.
This helps small businesses externally by providing those visiting their Facebook page a better overall experience.
Email marketing is a tried-and-true method of attracting new customers, with many email marketing software tools including levels of personalization and automation that help with email open rates and overall engagement.
Artificial Intelligence is changing email marketing by adding even more in-the-moment personalization. Email marketing tools like Boomtrain and Automizy can help small businesses using artificial intelligence to supplement more marketers with intelligent list segmentation and greater levels of personalization.
Companies of all sizes are beginning to use artificial intelligence to customize marketing content based on personalized customer preferences and behavior to engage them and hopefully convert them to make a purchase.
When it comes to marketing automation tools for small businesses, products like Emarsys and Kahuna can free up valuable human marketers’ time and create targeted marketing materials. Again, this can lead to reducing time and money spent on marketing efforts.
Crowd Views shows that small businesses with 1-25 employees are investing more resources into marketing efforts. Artificial intelligence is already making waves in digital and online marketing, and will likely impact small companies more dramatically as the technology evolves.