“Your business needs AI.”

You’ve probably heard that once or twice before. But at this point, it’s become so ambiguous that it can leave even the best business owners scratching their heads.

AI continues to improve, and it’s clear small businesses should be using it – but how?

When done correctly, AI can transform your business. But when you implement it incorrectly, your brand risks sounding robotic, impersonal, and uncaring of customer needs.

This post defines artificial intelligence and how small businesses are using it. I’ll break down the pros and cons of this technology and provide ways to integrate it into your business. We’ll also sprinkle in a few free tools you can try today.

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Trends, Challenges & Opportunities


But first, let’s start with the basics and explain artificial intelligence.

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Artificial intelligence is any technology that makes a machine smarter.

AI assesses situations, makes decisions, and analyzes results to improve performance over time, similar to how humans think and act. Its purpose is to automate tedious or mundane tasks, giving you more time to work on things that require critical thought.

And, AI is only getting better. Our research shows that 55% of small business owners expect to save nearly 20 hours a month using AI.

In the section below, let’s review this data and other reasons for adopting AI.

Why should businesses use AI?

39% of business owners use AI, and more than 50% will use it by 2025.

Why? Because AI offers plenty of advantages to small business owners, like:

  • Saving time
  • Saving money
  • Operating like a big business

thryv ai small business data

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But, with all these advantages, why are some businesses slow to adopt AI? Well, 23% don’t know where to begin, and 35% aren’t sure what to do with it.

If you fall into one of those buckets, below are some ways to use AI for your small business.

How to Use AI for Small Business

Here are a few proven use cases for AI. We’ve organized them by marketing, sales, and customer service.

AI for Small Business Marketing

AI is great for marketing. It can help you communicate with customers and manage campaigns.

Here are a few ways you can use AI for small business marketing.

Social Media

Almost every social media platform has adopted AI. There are tools for writing captions, creating images, scheduling posts, and interpreting comments. AI-powered management tools, like HootSuite or Buffer, can also track and monitor your performance. These platforms provide insights into how your content performs and how you can improve it.

Tools to Consider: 

Digital Advertising

ai for business - digital advertising

Digital advertising is the ads you create for Google, YouTube, social media, email, and other online channels. Tools like Google Ads now have AI assistants that gather real-time feedback on your marketing campaigns. They can tell you how well an ad is performing, which channels drive the most engagement, and what you can do to manage your budget more efficiently. Some tools even design ads for you, generating copy and images based on your company’s messaging.

Tools to Consider: 

Campaign Management

Marketing is all about meeting customers on their preferred channels – social media, email, phones, or in person.

The more channels you use, the harder it is to track your progress. AI not only helps you monitor performance but also makes suggestions on how you can improve campaigns. For example, it can highlight channels you should invest more in and ones that generate engagement. You can use this information to double down on your most successful campaigns, leading to more sales and traffic to your website.

Tools to Consider: 

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Buying Software

A 12-step guide to buying the right software for your business.

AI for Small Business Sales

These AI tools can help business owners close deals and increase revenue. They typically work hand-in-hand with marketing and customer service tools.

Customer Relationship Management

AI has taken CRMs and made them even more valuable for business owners. Before, you could log customer information, track conversations, and record notes for future use. Now, AI can flag contacts you might not have interacted with as much and help you write messages to follow up with them.

It can also design automation that streamlines communication, making each interaction personal without having to search for information. These features make it easier to stay connected with customers and nurture relationships over time.

Tools to Consider: 

Payment Collection

thryv AI payment collection tool for small businesss


AI can automate payment collections so you don’t have to write invoices or follow up on overdue payments. Tools like ThryvPay sync with your CRM, making it easy to record purchases and set up recurring payments as needed. It also tells you who spends the most at your business so you can share promotions with your most valuable customers.

Tools to Consider: 


ai for ecommerce businesses

AI is improving e-commerce for both buyers and sellers. It provides robust product suggestions based on previous purchases and recent pages you’ve visited.

And, rather than being shown ads that aren’t relevant to your search, you’re now being shown products and services that are local to your area. For example, if I Google “best dog groomers,” it will automatically show results in my area.

Tools to Consider: 

AI for Small Business Customer Service

Lastly, here are ways you can leverage AI for customer service.


ai chatbot for small business

Chatbots are a classic example of AI in customer service. If you want a demo, click the Thryver icon at the bottom of this page. You’ll be presented with a list of options, from asking a question to scheduling a sales call.

Chatbots are great for helping customers with simple problems and are even better at collecting information. You can program a bot to ask for emails, have it learn more about the customer’s problem, then answer the question outright or route it to a human. It’s a 24/7 assistant that creates a better customer experience than being put on hold or sent to voicemail.

Tools to Consider: 

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are essential for small businesses, and AI not only helps you collect feedback but also analyzes it. For example, you can use a tool like MonkeyLearn to analyze text for free. It can tell you how positive a comment is and help you sort feedback by topic or sentiment. It’s particularly handy for social media when you can’t determine if a customer is being sarcastic.

Tools to Consider: 

Online Listings

Local business listings get you discovered on search engines. It’s also where customers can leave reviews and comment on their experience. AI has made it easier to manage your local listings, keeping them updated as your brand grows and develops. It also has tools to track engagements from sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Nextdoor, so you can respond to reviews quickly and from the same place.

Tools to Consider: 

Pro Tip: Check out this post for more ways to use AI for customer service.

Adopting AI for Your Small Business

AI is an advantage for businesses. Its biggest benefit is its ability to save time and help small businesses operate like larger enterprises. Business owners can do much more using the same resources integrated with AI tools.

Try some of the strategies above and look for ways to adopt AI today. It will increase your output and return more time in your workday so you can have a leg up on your competition.

Buying Software Checklist

Buying Software

A 12-step guide to buying the right software for your business.