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How can small local service businesses use AI to improve their digital marketing?

Many of us are concerned about the impact of AI on the digital marketing industry. We worry that large organizations will be able to automate the tasks of designers, copywriters and other content creators.

To stay competitive, large corporations with large customer bases that require content to be generated and analyzed by sophisticated AI systems are turning to these AI systems.

AI is not only for big companies.

AI-based solutions can be a great way to save time and money for small businesses, especially those with limited resources.

Digital marketing can be a full-time job.

Businesses that want to grow are expected to maintain a rich and relevant digital presence and enable increasingly sophisticated customers to interact with their business through multiple channels.

How can small-business owners meet the increasing demand in an area where they are not comfortable?

How can AI support small business marketing?

AI is available in many different forms. However, when it comes to marketing, generative AI is the most popular.

AI engines like chat GPT are called large-language models. These are AI algorithms that are trained using massive amounts of data and content. They can understand, summarize and create new content on demand.

AI can quickly and efficiently produce content about virtually any subject covered in the dataset it has been trained on.

Social Media, Websites, and Blogs

Create educational, informative or other helpful content that your website visitors, followers on social media, and search engine users can consume.

Create more and better material that your audience will want to read, share, like and comment on.

AI can generate content on any subject you choose, but for small local businesses, the needs of their customers are fairly consistent.

The prompts are key to getting quality and compelling AI-generated material.

If you have a well-structured question, it can be turned into a blog, FAQ, website, or social media posting. It may only need alterations and personalization.

You can ask the AI to produce a more suitable version if it doesn't. Over time, this AI will learn from your prompts and continue to provide better content.

To be clear, it's important to not skip the step of editing and reviewing the content.

AI is known to "hallucinate," which is another way of saying that AI can be inaccurate at times. Therefore, all work should be checked for accuracy.

Humanizing the final product is also important, since sometimes the text may sound formal or awkward. Add your signature to the content so that it reflects both your brand and your personality. This can be done by adding anecdotes, a tone or links to relevant content.

Direct Customer Communications

There are also direct-to-consumer campaigns that promote, educate, or inform consumers.

Even though these messages may be brief, such as SMS or emails, it still takes time to develop ideas for campaigns and to deliver the content to your target audience. AI can assist with both phases of the process.

AI can first be asked to give a list of topics on which a campaign could be based.

I asked ChatGPT, for example: "Give me a list with promotions that a local small plumbing company could run to increase revenue ..."

The AI virtual assistant responded with a list of short suggestions.

"Certainly! Here are some promotional ideas that a local small plumbing company can use to increase revenue:

  1. Seasonal Maintenance Package - Offer a package of discounted plumbing maintenance services such as drain cleaning or water heater inspection. This package should be promoted during certain times of the year when homeowners are more focused on home maintenance.

  2. New Customer Discount

  3. Loyalty Reward Program

  4. Bundle Packages

  5. Refer a Friend Program

  6. Limited Time Offers

  7. Social Media Exclusive Deals

  8. Discounts for Senior Citizens or Military Personnel

  9. Maintenance Plan Subscriptions

  10. Discounts for Partners

To ensure maximum visibility, advertise your promotion through multiple channels. These include your website, social networks, local advertising and direct mail. Monitor each promotion's effectiveness and adjust your strategy based on the customer response and revenue increase."

AI can then be used to suggest the actual messaging. The prompt can be structured to take into account any or all of these factors:

  • Type of message: Invitation, promotion, announcement, thank you note, educational, informative, etc.

  • Products or Services to be Mentioned: Message types.

  • Words to include: Specials, offers, discounts etc.

  • Exclude specific words: Names of competitors, alternative product references.

  • Demographic Targeting Information: Gender and age, marital status etc.

  • Writing Tone: Friendly, conversational, informative, and professional. Welcome, witty etc.

  • The perspective of writing: first or third person.

The more specific the AI prompt is, the better the response generated.

SEO and Paid Search

AI is the core of SEO. AI algorithms are what powers Google and other search engine for years.

Why not use the same technology to create the structured content that search engines want?

For small business owners and employees who have the time and know-how to manage their websites themselves, generative AI for SEO is a powerful tool that can help them with keyword and content research. It also helps create page titles, Meta descriptions, and other advanced aspects of site optimization.

AI is not surprising as it is built into paid advertising platforms like Google Ads Content is automatically created or recommended based on previous performance and/or existing content.

Advertising campaigns from both large and small companies can benefit from each other.

Website Support

Chatbots for websites are commonplace. AI opens the door to an entirely new level of chatbots that can interact more smoothly with website visitors, and extract more accurately the information they seek.

As AI LLMs have been trained to scour the internet and interpret huge volumes of information, they can also be trained to catalogue the small corner that is your website, containing important details about all your products, services and business practices.

Smart systems allow customers to send their questions via other channels, such as SMS or email if they encounter roadblocks on the site or ask questions that the bot is not trained to answer.

The AI-generated content is only the beginning. We are already seeing systems such as DALLE2, mid-journey, and Midjourney produce photo-realistic pictures based on simple language prompts. Full-scale video production is not far behind.

The potential for creating compelling business content is also real.

AI promises to automate the personalization and optimisation of content. This will ensure that the right content reaches the right people, at the right moment, as has been Google's strategy for years.

Now, Google and other search engines will not be able to deliver such customized content. This is now possible for all thanks to open-source AI solutions.

Small business marketers can stay on top of their game by using solutions like predictive analytics. They can automate the successful tactics and ignore those that haven't.

AI is just a tool

Even though AI can save time when creating content, it is not a replacement for humans.

AI-generated content is created based on existing content. This means that there is the possibility of duplication as many creators will publish this content verbatim.

it is rightly pointed out that:

Experts claim that AI is still not able to match the writing abilities of humans. It often produces answers which are incorrect, nonsensical, or biased. For many companies, cost-cutting outweighs a loss in quality.

It's not what you or Google want to hear. You will need to build on what AI has to offer, adding your unique voice, perspective and anecdotal twist.

Google continues to use its E.E.A.T. (Experience Expertise Authority Trustworthiness) principles for primary content ranking factors. E-E-A.T. is what small businesses need to add as a starting place for AI.

In conclusion

AI-powered digital advertising offers small businesses tremendous opportunities to improve their online presence through the creation of rich, relevant content. It also enhances customer experience and generates more leads.

To reap the benefits of this revolutionary technology, however, businesses must understand their challenges, establish measurable goals, create strategies, and continually monitor and optimize their performances.

More Resources:

  • Local Search Engine Optimization For Small Business: 7 Ways to Gain Visibility

  • 7 Tips To Improve Local Search Engine Optimization & Attract More Business

  • Local SEO: The definitive guide to improving your local search rankings


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