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5 Ways AI Can Help Small Businesses Boost Holiday Sales, According to an Expert From Google AI is creating new opportunities for small business owners. Here's how to take advantage.

By Selin Song Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • Make your business discoverable online.
  • Create more compelling creative materials.
  • Use AI to connect with customers anywhere.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the holidays just around the corner, retail and ecommerce sales in the U.S. are expected to grow, presenting shoppers with a variety of choices and businesses with plenty of opportunities to reach their customers. In 2022, shoppers spent more than $1 trillion on holiday purchases at retailers, breaking previous records. Also in 2022, more people said they would likely shop on Small Business Saturday than Black Friday, showing their support for independent retailers. This is all great news for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) — if they're prepared to capitalize on the opportunity.

In my role as head of Google Customer Solutions, an organization serving millions of customers worldwide, one of the frequent questions small business owners ask me is how to best prepare for the holiday shopping season. My answer, which applies to businesses that sell online or from a physical storefront: Take advantage of digital tools to reach your business objectives. Four in five small businesses say digital ads help them compete with larger businesses, and 82% agree digital ads reach prospective customers more efficiently than offline ads.

AI-powered tools are making it even easier for SMBs, especially those without large marketing teams or advertising budgets, to compete with the most sophisticated advertisers, giving millions of businesses access to local and global markets. These tools, whether it be campaign types or new capabilities, can help SMBs find potential customers, design eye-catching creatives faster, gather insights on ad campaign performance and make budget allocation decisions with confidence.

There's still time for SMBs to achieve their business objectives and grow this holiday season by upleveling their marketing with AI. Here are five tips to get started:

1. Make your business discoverable online

Before promoting your business, ensure customers can easily find you by updating your business details, hours of operation, website, location and contact information on search engines and review sites. Having up-to-date information about your business and even your available inventory is critical to helping you reach potential customers online, wherever they are. As you begin working with more AI-powered marketing products, you'll understand just how important the inputs you share about your business are to finding success — it's not just set it and forget it.

2. Create more compelling creative materials

AI can make your creative assets more compelling. Yet asset creation remains a top challenge when developing and optimizing a marketing campaign. With new tools, such as Adobe Firefly and Adobe Express, Affable.ai or Omni, you can instantly produce text, image and video assets or make your existing ones more dynamic. This includes capabilities like converting text from ads into professional-sounding narration or auto-generating video from static image assets. Experimenting with these creative tools will help you take your campaign to new heights more efficiently.

3. Use AI to connect with customers anywhere

By leveraging AI-powered campaigns, merchants with an online presence can promote their products directly to shoppers across different channels where customers may begin their shopping journey. According to data from Casely, an online tech accessories retailer, investing in Performance Max, an AI-powered campaign that works across all Google inventory, helped drive a 169% revenue increase in just eight weeks. Start by inputting your business goals and creative assets, then let the AI do the heavy lifting.

4. Take the guesswork out of budget allocation

It's important for SMBs to stretch their advertising budget as far as possible and put resources into the campaigns that perform best. Planning is another essential part of managing AI-powered campaigns. Using tools like Performance Planner, you can easily create a month-by-month plan and see forecasts of different budget scenarios on a weekly basis during the peak shopping season to take the guesswork out of how to make your budget work hardest.

5. Maximize your performance

Having the tools to measure traffic and engagement is critical. It's important to understand what's working well and what could be improved. Doing this effectively requires analyzing the right data, which can be daunting for some businesses. AI-powered measurement tools like Salesforce's Einstein Copilot or Twilio Flex can automate this process, helping SMBs make better decisions. They can also process, analyze and synthesize huge amounts of data to help SMBs anticipate and respond to future customer behavior — invaluable information to help prepare for the holiday shopping season year after year.

Now more than ever, AI is leveling the playing field and creating new opportunities for small businesses to grow and thrive. Whatever your plans are this holiday season, business owner or customer (or both), remember that small businesses are the beating heart of our local economies. They create jobs in our communities and diversify our choices of goods and services. Supporting them year-round, especially during the holidays, creates positive ripple effects that benefit us all.

Selin Song

President, Google Customer Solutions

Selin Song is the president of Google Customer Solutions, Google’s ad sales business serving millions of customers worldwide.

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