American Marketer


What US small businesses think about AI

August 31, 2023

Customer acquisition continues to be the leading concern of small businesses. Source: Constant Contact Customer acquisition continues to be the leading concern of small businesses. Source: Constant Contact


By Dave Charest

Small businesses are a busy bunch.

On any given day, they might be fulfilling orders, engaging with customers in-person, managing staff, doing their books — plus dozens of other tasks. Most would relish an opportunity to gain back an extra hour or save some extra money.

Luckily, those goals and others are attainable thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing automation.

These technologies can help small businesses work more efficiently, drive more sales, and improve the ways they are marketing themselves – without making it more of a headache or a time suck.

We recently published a report called Small Business Now: An AI Awakening that outlines how small businesses are thinking about AI and automation, and some of the results that early adopters are seeing.

With insights from nearly 500 small businesses across the United States, the study reveals how these technologies can enhance marketing effectiveness and help small businesses save time and money.

Dave Charest Dave Charest

Aye aye
If you are curious about how AI can impact your business, here are the 10 stats about AI that you should know.

  1. Challenge accepted: 60 percent of small businesses say their biggest challenge is attracting new customers, while 39 percent say it is marketing to their target audience.
  2. Peaked interest: 74 percent are interested in using AI or automation in their business, and 55 percent reported that their interest in using these technologies grew in the first half of 2023.
  3. Off to the races: 26 percent are already using AI or automation, and the top use cases are social media (52 percent), generative content creation (44 percent) and email marketing (41 percent).
  4. Proven success: 91 percent of the small businesses polled say AI has helped make their businesses more successful.
  5. Reaping the benefits: 60 percent of small businesses that currently use AI or automation in their marketing say they have saved time and are working more efficiently.
  6. First step, social media: Small businesses say the easiest places to start leveraging AI technology are social media, content creation and analytics.
  7. Financial gains: 28 percent of small businesses expect AI and/or automation to save them at least $5,000 in the next year.
  8. Increasing efficiency: 33 percent of small businesses estimate they have saved more than 40 minutes per week on marketing by using AI or automation.
  9. Top concern: 44 percent of small businesses noted data security as their top hesitation about using AI.
  10. Value recognition: The more that small businesses use AI, the more they value it. Seventy percent of small businesses would be willing to pay more to access AI and automation.

SO, WHAT DO all these stats mean?

AI is here to stay.

The small businesses who are currently using tools powered by AI overwhelmingly agree that it is making their businesses more successful. They are working more efficiently, saving money, improving customer experiences, and growing quicker.

So, if you are a small business who is either starved for more time in your week, or you want to improve the way you engage with your customers without adding extra marketing work to your plate, do not write off AI as a passing trend. Give it a try and you might be surprised about the results you see.

Please click here to access the new report, Small Business Now: An AI Awakening

Dave Charest is director of small business success at Constant Contact, Waltham, MA.