In 2019, global companies spent about $2 trillion, or twice the worth of Apple corporation, on digital transformation including digital tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). If that number sounds overwhelming to small business, it’s part of the reason why SMBs are having a much tougher time scaling digital transformation in an effective way.
Faced with a wholly different budget and a niche market, only about 48% of small businesses have so far embraced digital initiatives in contrast to the 70%+ of large companies. As we have discovered at MightyCall by closely working with small businesses, the primary challenge for SMBs is filtering critical business needs from the overall ‘hype’ surrounding digitalization.
Creating personalized customer experience through data and insight is the priority of every small business in the coming decade. The ability to extract and apply such insight is what AI and digital tools are created to do. In step with the leading business trends, here are some can’t-miss digital and AI tools of 2020.
At the 2021 SALT New York conference, which was held earlier this week, one of the panels on the main stage discussed the best macro shifts coming out of the pandemic and investing in value amid distress. The panel featured: Todd Lemkin, the chief investment officer of Canyon Partners; Peter Wallach, the managing director and Read More
These digital tools demand no extra hardware and offer a practical (and budget-friendly) answer to the competitive demands of small business.
AI tools for personalized content
In 2020, a business must use digital tools to personalize the whole length of the customer experience journey, not a mere part like e-mail marketing and social media. In this light, businesses that embrace contextual content — a combo of smart AI with strategic customer experience — are promised to stay a leap ahead of competitors.
Contextual content tools such as RightMessage use Artificial Intelligence to personalize web content based on existing data, traffic sources, and visitor behavior. This means that two different types of visitors (like a lawyer and a general contractor) will never see your website in the same way. Instead, they will be invisibly guided along to the content most relevant to them. While in reality this filtering is performed by AI, each visitor is left with the ‘magical’ impression that your product/service is tailored exactly to their needs.
On a simpler level, Venture Harbour’s WordPress Content Personalization plugin is a question-based AI assistant. It asks your site visitors pre-programmed questions and displays site content based on their answers. A simple personalization tool like that can increase visitors’ time on your page by over a third, reduce bounce rates, and improve Google rankings.
Pricing: RightMessage plans start at $19/month. Venture Harbor’s WordPress Content Personalization plugin is free.
Digital tools for conversational commerce and messaging automation
Automation is a word we’ll continue to hear a lot in the 2020s. With customer interactions becoming faster, consumers are more impatient for great service than ever. For small business particularly, fast and helpful customer interactions are drivers of success.
With studies showing 67% of consumers expecting a live chat response in under 10 minutes of inquiry, every SMB with an online presence should prioritize conversational messaging. First of all, this relates to AI-powered chatbots and social media messengers for business (e.g. FB, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp Business). Failure to organize smooth conversation across a variety of channels means losing out on a growing number of leads and importantly, failing to engage your most socially active users.
In 2020, top conversational commerce tools for SMBs are those that bring multiple chat channels to one place: your fingertips. A digital tool like Liveperson.com helps hold business chats via a single platform. Functionality includes AI-powered bots, omnichannel social media messaging, and webchat. Insights include audience analytics and an AI feature for rating consumer sentiment.
Pricing: Liveperson plans start at $40 per user/month.
Virtual phone system with cross-device experience
Small business has an immense advantage over a large company since you and your team can stay mobile and meet client demands practically anywhere you go. A top digital tool to keep voice communications with your team and clients flowing smoothly is a Voice over IP (VoIP) business phone system.
A VoIP provider for small business like MightyCall offers the standard business communications of an analog phone system (e.g. local, toll-free, and vanity numbers, extensions, call menus, automated voice greetings, etc.) but on top of that provides omnichannel business functions like these:
- Forward calls to any device at hand (smartphone, iPad/tablet, laptop, desktop, IP phone) and talk business from any location with internet or Wi-Fi.
- Protect your privacy and never confuse whether a call to your mobile phone is a personal or business call.
- View analytics, delegate tasks to team members, and use built-in CRM functionality to grow your customer base
- No hardware to buy, fix, or maintain
VoIP phone systems save businesses up to 60% on landline costs. They are embraced by the world’s most demanding industries as well as home-based practices, online stores, and other leading SMBs.
Pricing: MightyCall plans start at $19/month for unlimited users, with a free trial available.
Digital and AI tools for data visualization and analytics
The problem for small businesses isn’t the lack of data to work with. It’s the failure to gather that data on a single platform and structuralize it for later use in predictive analytics and marketing.
Large companies are using predictive marketing all the time to recommend products (Amazon makes up to 30% of profits on its recommendations tool) and come up with new ideas. A famous example of using existing data to create a new product is Netflix using predictive analytics to create its popular House of Cards series based on user behavior data.
In 2020, every single interaction with your clients gathers critical data from various channels — phone, chat, email, website, social media, CRM platforms, etc. To organize that data and work it into what’s called predictive analytics and predictive marketing is what digital tools like Qlik help businesses do. Qlik gathers all the data your business has and analyses it with the help of AI. It then presents the information in simple, appealing visuals, forging a path for what the company calls “intuitive visual discovery”.
Pricing: QlikSense Business starts at $30/month with a free trial available.
Digital software for internet privacy and security
As we move into 2020, we see that cybersecurity is still a problematic area for small businesses. Over 40% of SMBs consider they’re not susceptible to internet security challenges faced by larger companies.
Studies show a totally different picture. With 60% of cyberattacks targeting small and medium-sized companies, there’s no way to predict when a security leak or privacy attack will happen to your small business. Most small businesses handle sensitive customer data that, if leaked, can cause great problems and lawsuits for the business. The only way to safeguard yourself is to use the leading digital tools in cybersecurity to stay protected.
Home offices, practices, and other SMBs should use up-to-date digital security tools like Acronis. Acronis Cyber Backup protects the team’s devices against ransomware and safeguards data on 25 platforms. In contrast to tech-savvy (and unnecessarily pricey) enterprise solutions, small business designated cybersecurity software is easy to understand and does its job perfectly for small teams.
Pricing: Acronis Cyber Backup for Business is $99/year with a free trial.