New report shows strong adoption of AI by SMBs and highlights biggest areas of impact
Constant Contact, a small-business-focused digital marketing and automation platform that has helped millions of small businesses and nonprofits, released findings from its latest Small Business Now report. The study explores how small businesses feel about artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing automation and where they expect to see the biggest impact from these technologies.
Constant Contact’s report indicates a strong correlation between the implementation of AI and a business’ overall success. According to the findings, 91 percent of small businesses who are currently using AI say it has made their business more successful, and they are using it to regain valuable time in their week, cut down on manual mistakes and grow faster. In addition to these efficiencies, AI can be coupled with automation for a financial benefit. More than one quarter of survey respondents (28 percent) expect AI and automation to save them at least $5,000 over the next 12 months.
“AI has been around for years, but it has finally matured to a point where it is making a real difference for small businesses,” said Laura Goldberg, chief marketing officer at Constant Contact. “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. Constant Contact has been ahead of the curve here with features like our AI Content Generator and AI spam protection, and we will continue to look for new ways to leverage them to help small businesses save valuable time, drive impact and become better marketers.”
“Being a small business owner means I wear a lot of hats, so every minute and every dollar counts,” said Mary Ginder, co-owner at Gindo’s Spice of Life, a Constant Contact customer. “I use AI when I’m looking for new ideas on how to describe a flavor profile for our sauces, or when I’m in a hurry to get a newsletter generated and don’t have time to write my own copy. I love how it gives me fresh ideas when I feel stuck, and it helps me formulate my thoughts and execute them much quicker than I could on my own. I’d say AI has helped cut my work time in half on average.”
Small businesses who have adopted AI are seeing immediate value
Small businesses overwhelmingly agree that using AI and automation has helped them cut costs and improve efficiency. The more they use these technologies, the more valuable their capabilities become.
- 60 percent of small businesses that currently use AI or automation in their marketing say they have saved time and are working more efficiently.
- 70 percent of small businesses would pay more for a marketing platform that gave them access to AI or automation tools.
- 33 percent of small businesses estimate they have saved more than 40 minutes per week on marketing by using AI or automation.
Small businesses are flocking to AI, but some still have questions
Interest in AI and automation is accelerating among small businesses. They understand there is an opportunity to leverage them, but some questions still exist.
- 74 percent of small businesses are interested in using AI or automation in their business, and 55 percent reported that their interest grew in the last 6 months.
- However, 46 percent say they have only a beginner’s understanding about the benefits of these technologies.
- The top concerns small businesses have about AI and automation are data security, perceived cost, and learning curve.
Small businesses unanimously say their biggest challenge is customer acquisition
Attracting customers is the biggest headache small businesses currently face, and it takes up an inordinate amount of their time. Many struggle with marketing and feel they lack the marketing talent needed to succeed.
- 60 percent of small businesses say attracting new customers is the biggest challenge their business is currently facing, followed by marketing to a target audience (39 percent), and converting leads to sales (35 percent).
- Challenges requiring the most attention are customer acquisition (31 percent), hiring/retaining staff (17 percent), and converting leads to sales (14 percent).
- 52 percent say social media is the marketing area they most want to improve in the next 12 months.
Learn more about the findings from Constant Contact’s Small Business Now: An AI Awakening report here.
Constant Contact’s Small Business Now report analyzes insights from 486 small business decision-makers in the United States at the Director level, or above. All stats are representative of their associated demographics. The survey was conducted by Ascend2 in June 2023.