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Where Should I Advertise My Small Business Online?

Published on April 4, 2024

In today's massively digital age, having a vibrant and multichannel online presence is crucial for any small business

However, in such a rapidly evolving landscape, it can be overwhelming for entrepreneurs to determine where to focus their efforts and how to get the biggest bang for your designated marketing bucks.

Knowing where your business belongs is all about identifying your target audience, where they’re most active, and what type of content is the most effective there (this varies wildly across different platforms).

This guide, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood digital marketing geeks, will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the ever-changing online advertising scene and attract customers who crave what you offer.

Know Your North Star 

Before diving headfirst into platforms, take a step back and understand your "Ws." What is your value proposition? Who is your preferred customer? Why should they buy your product? Where are they spending their online time?

A family-run boutique bakery will have a vastly different audience than a forward-thinking tech startup. Engaging with people who are more likely to appreciate your brand will increase your conversion rate and save you money.

Once you nail down your ICP (that’s the Ideal Customer Profile), you can gather demographic, socioeconomic, and psychographic data from fun tools like customer relationship management software to fine-tune your strategy even further.

Performing a competitive analysis will assist you in learning more about your target market. This process reveals vital information for setting your key performance indicators (KPIs). Taking a deep dive into your direct competitors’ social media is essential to discovering what works and what doesn’t.

Own Your Niche

Almost every enterprise can benefit from having a strong presence in your local community. You’re probably aware that Google results are location-based, and the search engine behemoth has an array of services for boosting your business and leveraging analytics to elevate sales

Setting up a Google Business Profile is easy and free, and should be one of your first steps in building your online empire. From there, you can design a Smart campaign to reach audiences via Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and more. The big G’s AI-powered features make it simple to stand out from the crowd.

Another excellent way to meet customers in your neighborhood is by setting up a page on Nextdoor, used by 1 in 3 households in the US. It’s a highly affordable option for brands on a tight budget, with the average cost of pretty powerful local advertising around $75 via Nextdoor’s Local Deals program.  

Millions of homeowners also head to Angi (aka Angie’s List) to search for local service providers such as plumbers, cleaners, and landscaping companies. It’s also free to set up a business listing on this platform, and Angi Ads provides plenty of metrics for optimizing your ROI.

Alignable is a lesser-known networking platform that has over 8 million users and serves as a valuable referral source for small business owners. The site also offers success tips and tutorials for creating an enticing profile and growing your network organically.

Be a Social Butterfly

Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock for the past 15 or 20 years knows that social media marketing is a cheap and effective way to promote your product. But if not done correctly, it can sometimes do more harm than good to your business’s online reputation

Authenticity and consistency are key to presenting your company as an authoritative voice amid a cacophony of fake news and increasing scams. This means being confident in your brand identity, values, and goals. 

Besides the big-name platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, there are a plethora of other social media sites you might not have considered for advertising purposes:

Millions of people utilize streaming services for their favorite music, audiobooks, and podcasts. That’s a huge captive audience for your message that’s super easy to segment based on your ICP. Spotify, SiriusXM, and Amazon all offer resources for creating engaging audio advertising campaigns. 

The Bottom Line

Today’s small business owners have a wide array of options for advertising online. There’s no one-size-fits-all secret to success — instead, entrepreneurs can build a digital marketing strategy that plays to their strengths. 

Making the magic happen comes down to creating relevant and useful content and getting it in front of the right eyeballs. If that sounds like it’s way out of your wheelhouse, the industry experts at Geek Chicago are here to help.

From managing your social media and building a beautifully responsive website to delivering custom content that truly converts, our knowledgeable team can make a world of difference for your brand. Take the first step and reach out to us today!

Get Your Digital Ducks in a Row: 4 Impactful Marketing Resolutions for Small Businesses in 2024

Published on January 12, 2024

Welcome to the roaring twenties of the digital era, where hashtags are the new high-fives and algorithms hold the keys to the kingdom. But the plethora of platforms, apps, and martech can overwhelm even the savviest small business owner. 

Geek Chicago is here to help. Just like it’s never too late to leverage the digital dynamic as an affordable way to boost your brand’s profile, there’s no time like right now to sit down and make your marketing resolutions for 2024. 

Resolutions aren’t just for those who want to lose weight or ditch bad habits. Making a plan for the future can be a powerful tool for embracing a growth mindset and increasing your innovation. Say goodbye to outdated strategies and embrace the future with these four massively forward-thinking solutions from your friendly Chicagoland industry insiders.

Resolution #1: Commit to Content Consistency

We get it — content marketing often feels like just another item on your mile-long to-do list. Coming up with new topics, writing posts, and promoting them on social media requires real time and effort. But here’s the tea: consistent content marketing pays dividends in the long run by boosting your site’s visibility, generating leads, and establishing expertise.

So put on your big kid pants this year and set a reasonable goal for posting regularly on your blog and social media. We recommend starting with two articles and 8-10 social media posts per month as a solid baseline. Putting your ideas on a calendar can help you stick to your schedule

But how do you come up with ideas that appeal to your target audience? The US Chamber of Commerce has developed A Complete Guide to Content Marketing to help you get started on the right foot. Captivating true stories, personal videos and pictures, and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks are all stellar ways to create an authentic brand voice.

Once you build a reputation for delivering frequent, relevant material, your momentum will snowball into more web traffic, subscribers, and sales. Consider it an investment into your future revenue streams (you can thank us later).

Resolution #2: Optimize Your Site for Speed and Scrolling

Here’s a scary stat: back in 2017, Google found that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes over 3 seconds to load. Unfortunately, the vast majority of small business websites are still not properly optimized for mobile, 7 years later. That means you could be losing tons of potential customers without even realizing it.

Put speed optimization high on the 2024 priority list. Here’s how:

With some TLC, your business will soon have mobile site speeds fast enough to make Sonic the Hedgehog jealous.

Resolution #3: Cultivate Reviews, Testimonials, and User-Generated Content

Online reviews aren’t just for picking restaurants anymore. A staggering 93% of customers now read reviews before making purchasing decisions. And brands with more 5-star ratings rank higher in local search results. Still wondering if you should bother cultivating glowing reviews? Absolutely!

Set aside some dedicated time in 2024 to get your review house in order. Start by auditing review sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp to understand what customers currently say about your business. Then develop thoughtful responses to demonstrate you listen and care, even for less-than-5-star feedback. 

And of course, politely encourage happy clients to leave positive reviews or testimonials to boost your rating. It’s also wise to utilize surveys, contests, and social listening (more on that below).

User-generated content is a delightful way to engage with potential buyers and get an SEO boost. Managing this critical feedback loop pays dividends for years down the road.

Resolution #4: Fine-Tune Your Social Media Persona

Raise your hand if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ever-growing list of social media platforms. 🙋🏿🙋‍♂️ Us too! 

The sheer number of options — from old staples like YouTube and Facebook to up-and-comers like Threads and Mastodon — is downright dizzying these days. Rather than wasting energy trying to adopt every hot new app, focus your 2024 social strategy on quality over quantity

Take a deep dive into your current follower demographics and engagement rates on each platform. Then double down on the 2-3 that best serve your target audience. Refine your on-brand messaging and establish a memorable and trustworthy brand voice to spark meaningful conversations. You’ll gain way more traction with refined efforts on proven platforms vs. stale, sporadic posts across too many networks.

You can also enhance your online cred with a bit of social listening — it’s the art of digitally eavesdropping on conversations around your brand or content pillars, and “extracting insights to help inform your future marketing efforts,” according to Search Engine Journal. Getting to know what your customers desire can inspire new product ideas and create a framework for developing content that turns browsers into buyers.

Bonus Resolution: Embrace Data-Driven Decision Making

Since the pandemic, the business world has undergone a seismic shift. Consumers now expect omnichannel communication, instant smartphone gratification, and brands that project honesty and authenticity

Many small businesses are struggling to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. Riding the wave of the latest technology, offering a unique customer experience, and promoting relevant and useful content will significantly improve your bottom line.

We hope these 4 totally achievable resolutions give your hustle new life in 2024. And if you’re feeling inspired to seek professional assistance, we’ve got you covered. Our boutique firm is a small business too, so we understand how to harness the power of digital marketing to deliver real, affordable results. Give us a buzz today to start growing your audience tomorrow!

How to Elevate Your Digital Marketing for the Holidays

Published on November 1, 2023

Who doesn’t love a good holiday? Whether it’s Christmas, Chanukah, Halloween, Independence Day, or even National Popsicle Day, there’s a celebration for every taste.

And for brands like yours, the holidays aren’t just a time to get together with friends and family, but a chance to drive in traffic and make some serious sales.

The best way to put holidays to work for your brand? Refresh and refocus your digital marketing! Here are four ways to elevate your digital marketing efforts around the holidays:

1.) Start Your Campaign Early

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How to Decode Your Most Pressing Google Analytics Questions

Published on August 24, 2023

Google Analytics is the easiest way for marketers, developers, and businesses to track the successes and failings of a website – but for many, the powerful free tool just leaves more questions than it actually answers.

“What exactly is bounce rate?”

“How do I have such a high average time on page and a high bounce rate?"

“Which metrics should I actually be concentrating on?”

“Hey, what did you mean when you said that bounce rate and exit rates are different things?”

“…Help?”

At times, Analytics can be frustrating and a little confounding, even for the experts. Fortunately, like any program or process, there is a way to work through and logically break down all of your Google Analytics questions.

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Content Marketing on a Budget: Maximizing ROI for Small Businesses

Published on August 7, 2023

The marketplace is constantly evolving, and traditional forms of marketing just can’t keep up.

Is your small business grappling with how to develop and use content to generate leads and drive sales without spending a fortune?

It’s absolutely possible to create a successful content marketing strategy on a limited budget. The notion of competing with larger, more resource-rich competitors can be daunting, but fear not! Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

The key is to focus on quality over quantity. You need to make every piece of content count in order to boost the visibility of your brand and thrive in an ever-more online world. 

Don’t underestimate the power of engaging content when it comes to captivating your target audience. Let’s take a deep dive into embracing a digital mindset and leveraging some budget-friendly tips for maximizing your content marketing effectiveness.

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Think 2023 Is Too Late to Get Started with Digital Marketing? Think Again

Published on July 14, 2023

“Isn’t Twitter kind of dying as a platform?”

“Does anyone actually even read content anymore?”

“I just don’t see how I’ll have the time to focus on a new website, let alone content.”

“Digital marketing sounds great! But I think I’ve missed my shot at it…”

We hear thoughts like these from business owners here in Chicago and around the country all the time. For some, digital marketing still seems like an unattainable pipe dream that they’ll never get a chance to reach.

For others, even those who recognize the incredible value of digital marketing, there’s another belief — that the best days of the web are already in the past. That SEO, social media, email, and other digital marketing channels have already passed their expiration date.

To both of those groups, we have one thing to say: Digital marketing success is always within grasp, and it’s never too late to get started.

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LinkedIn 101 – The Basics That Every Business Professional Needs to Know

Published on June 26, 2023

Most business professionals have at least a peripheral understanding of how to market their products or services on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. (If not, Geek Chicago is here to help with those, too.)

LinkedIn, however, is often vastly misused or misunderstood, by businesses and professionals alike.

On the one hand, LinkedIn is the preferred social media network for B2B marketers, it’s able to call itself one of the leading job search sites in the world, and Microsoft valued the company enough to acquire it for more than $26 billion.

On the other side of things, plenty of would-be LinkedIn users have been left scratching their head after creating a profile. Others have told us that they’ve long avoided the process altogether.

Whatever the case may be, LinkedIn remains one of the key social media networking and content marketing opportunities for businesses and individuals, and if you aren't an active part of this community yet, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Here's our 101 crash course on learning the basics of LinkedIn.

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5 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Referral Traffic

Published on April 13, 2023

In terms of inbound marketing for your site, we tend to talk about traffic in two major ways: either as organic traffic, or referral traffic.

Broadly speaking, organic traffic is best categorized as the clicks that come from users who find your site directly from a Google or Bing search. Referral traffic, then, refers to the visitors who come to your page through any site other than a major search engine.

For your site to truly generate value and help your brand achieve its strategic goals, it’s important to have campaigns in place to drive in both organic and referral traffic. Unfortunately, we see many too many people who tend to focus on the former at the expense of the latter, not realizing that SEO and referrals are deeply interconnected.

Referral traffic is, indeed, a key part of “off-page SEO:” The more trustworthy sites that link to your pages or content, the more the search engines value your content. The more that Google and its ilk trust and recognize your content, the higher they prioritize it on search engine ranking pages (SERPs). Consistent, steady referral traffic, then, will also net you more organic traffic down the line.

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How Do Users Engage With Your Site, and What Does It Mean for Your SEO?

Published on March 1, 2023

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a process your brand can use to position itself highly on search engine ranking pages (also called SERPS).

In a lot of ways, SEO is one of the most important tools you can use to get future customers to find your business’s information online. It’s also an effective way to keep users coming back for more, and increase the likelihood that your newfound website visitors will be primed and ready to become eager conversions, either right away or at some point down the line.

In short, SEO really does matter. It’s an essential strategy for businesses of all sizes to have in place.

But, then, this beggars another question: What goes into a successful SEO effort today?

From the jump, it’s important to realize that SEO is a multi-faceted process, and a lot of different elements go into generating search engine success. It’s part art, part science, and part game – and you need to master all three of those buckets if you want to claim your rightful place at the top of the SERP.

Today, we’re going to focus on one part of the SEO formula that often goes overlooked: The user.

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How to Rekindle Your Audience’s Passion for Your Brand

Published on February 13, 2023

Maybe you’ve been at a fancy restaurant, only to look over at the corner booth and see a young couple who can’t seem to keep their hands off of each other. They’re canoodling, they’re sharing food, and they’re generally showing to the world that they’re, like, so totally in love.

And then your gaze glides over to another table, and you see, perhaps, an older couple. They’re sitting in silence and swapping bites. For them, the passion seems to be missing, that spark just burned out with time.

In a lot of ways, gaining and retaining clients for your business can be a little like entering into a long-term relationship. At first, it’s all about the thrill of meeting each other, and seeing all the amazing, novel things you can do together. But over time, familiar patterns settle in, and the old tricks just don’t seem to be working as well as they used to.

This is particularly the case when it comes to digital marketing, centered on high-quality content creation. While some things, like blog posts primed for SEO success, only get sweeter with time, the fact is that other elements slow down or stop working on audiences altogether the longer they’re in play.

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