Report: 74% of Businesses Interested in Using AI and Automation

Report: 74% of Businesses Interested in Using AI and Automation

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Was the last email newsletter from your favorite jewelry boutique generated by AI? What about the Facebook and Instagram posts from your local coffee shop?  Years after big brands first started using AI and marketing automation to generate better ROI from their digital campaigns, small and mid-size businesses have finally jumped on board en masse.

The trickle-down effect — in which innovative or successful marketing strategies initially implemented by large, well-established brands eventually influence and are adopted by smaller businesses — coupled with the simplicity of tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard means that generative AI is now being used by businesses of all shapes and sizes.

According to a new survey by Constant Contact, 26% of small businesses are already using AI or automation, and the top use cases are social media, generative content creation, and email marketing. Seventy-four percent of SMBs say they’re interested in using AI, and 55% say their interest has grown in the last six months. Business owners overwhelmingly say that using AI and automation has helped them cut costs and improve efficiency; the more they use the technologies, the more valuable their capabilities become.

“AI has been around for years, but it has finally matured to a point where it is making a real difference for small businesses,” explained Constant Contact Chief Marketing Officer Laura Goldberg. “Our report shows that small businesses who harness the power of AI and marketing automation to solve their biggest challenges, like acquiring new customers and creating more memorable experiences, are much better positioned for success.”

To conduct its survey, Constant Contact polled more than 480 small businesses across the U.S. The results show a strong correlation between the implementation of AI and a business’ overall success. Ninety-one percent of business owners currently using AI said the technology has “made their business more successful,” and they’re using it to regain time. 

That’s not the only benefit of generative AI. In an interview with Street Fight in March, CSP CEO Chris Rodgers said he expects AI to have a major impact on local search in the coming months, as well, particularly as it has to do with the way consumers find local businesses in their areas.

“As we move forward into the future, it’s clear that AI will continue to advance, and the most simple aspects of SEO, content, and digital marketing will begin to be automated,” Rodgers said. “This presents an opportunity for SEO professionals to evolve into a channel that more closely aligns with traditional marketing and is more strategic in nature.” 

More than one quarter of the respondents in Constant Contact’s survey said they expect AI and marketing automation to save them at least $5,000 over the next 12 months. That’s an exciting proposition, clearly, but it’s also an indication that some small business owners might not be setting their sights high enough. 

According to Curt Larson, chief product officer at the global ad exchange Sharethrough, the largest players in the adtech industry are years ahead when it comes to AI. Major brands are saving millions using AI to leverage deep learning algorithms to automate basic work processes. They’re also using AI to ingest “endless amounts of data points” to determine when and how much to bid at a level of sophistication — based on audience, device, time of day, domain or app, context, performance, and many other factors — in a way that would be nearly possible for humans to replicate on their own. 

“As advertising demands increase, AI can do the mundane tasks that can take up a large chunk of cognitive load and time, enabling advertisers to work more efficiently and effectively to focus on things humans are best at, like being creative,” said Larson, in an interview with Street Fight. “Advertisers today can take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to campaigns. Once running, AI analyzes the data in real-time and adjusts maximized performance based on certain parameters set by the advertiser to yield the highest ROI possible.”

To learn more about how businesses of all sizes are using generative AI in 2023, check out Retailers Find New Ways to Level Up Marketing with ChatGPT.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.
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