It's no surprise that businesses are embracing advanced emerging technologies. According to Statistics Canada data from 2017, 18.9% of all industries in Canada used emerging technology, 22.5% implemented business intelligence technologies and 42.8% had integrated the use of some form of advance technology.1
What's more, the value artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, brings to businesses is becoming more apparent. And folding in artificial intelligence to boost productivity and impact the bottom line isn't just for corporate giants with robust budgets. If you're a small business working with limited funds, you can certainly develop new tech tools or tap into existing platforms to also integrate AI.
We sat down with Patrick Leonard, founder of Brighter Digital, an Edmonton-based digital marketing company, to learn how his company went about weaving in AI into its marketing and customer service efforts to help bolster growth.
The marketing team at Brighter Digital used Google Ads' machine learning to reach its audience. First, they used responsive search ads, which mixed and matched ad copy, to discover the most engaging ads for their target audience.
The team used that tactic, alongside a bid strategy called “maximize conversions," which taught Google which types of visitors turned to leads to home in how to best to spend their marketing budget.
“We can then direct more of our ad dollars to those types of people," says Leonard. “The result is more leads for less money."
To integrate Google Ads, Brighter Digital integrated a handful of tools, including Google Tag Manager on its Wordpress site so they could add other tags and scripts, and CallRail to track phone calls. The spend? About $500 to $1,000 CAD on Google Ads every month.
Brighter Digital tapped in to RankScience, an SEO split testing platform, to perform hundreds of SEO experiments to gradually find the winners for elements such as page titles and alt text. While Leonard feels that trying to replace one's SEO team entirely with AI is jumping the gun, integrating emerging technology into your SEO efforts holds value.
“It was just one piece of an overall SEO effort, but it allowed us to reposition our man-hours elsewhere," says Leonard. It cost about $400 CAD to run RankScience each month.
On the customer service front, Leonard's company was running into problems with chat requests. While there weren't a ton of chat requests from customers, they would come in at odd times. What's more, the success rate was quite low.
They decided to let AI to take the wheel by way of Drift, an automated solution. Drift works by analyzing previous conversations to help it understand the business.
“With a little input it becomes capable of asking and answering questions to deliver leads to your sales team," says Leonard.
AI can drive bottom line savings
Brighter Digital's efforts to integrate machine learning into its marketing objectives have equated to bottom line savings. By testing hundreds of variations of ads, web content and responses, the company has drawn meaningful conclusions about what performs best—even with relatively limited amounts of information.
“The improved performance across our various marketing touch points means more customers at lower acquisition costs," says Leonard.
Begin now and start small
Want to integrate AI into your business, but not sure where to start? Look into your marketing efforts, an area that is particularly conducive to AI applications in business. For those in retail, marketing and sales, AI can particularly help with pricing, promotion and customer service management.
AI can analyze customer data to create and customize promotions that can lead to an increase in sales for brick-and-mortar retailers alone. And while some small businesses might be slow to adopt AI for fear they don't have the budget to implement them, you don't need a substantial investment to begin.
“I was very excited when new tools and popular marketing platforms started adding machine learning capabilities that are much more accessible," says Leonard. “A small budget is no longer a barrier to entry for smaller businesses that want to leverage machine learning to improve marketing outcomes."
What's more, if you're a small business owner, there's no need to worry that AI will completely replace human talent.
“Research some of the tools and understand how they can complement your people-driven processes," says Leonard. In turn, your business and teams will work with AI to help your company thrive.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.