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  • Google for WorkSmall businesses are no stranger to the delights of the Google platform. Integration, cloud-based storage, and extensive means for customization are only the beginnings of what we love about Google. And it just got better still for businesses everywhere.

    Google recently rebranded their old "Google Enterprise" (which includes Gmail for businesses and Google Cloud) to the much more approachable "Google For Work". Here's some information from Business Insider.

    The "Google For Work" Rebrand

    Currently more than 5 million businesses have "gone Google", more that 1 million Chromebooks were sold to schools in Q2 of 2014, and 64% of the Fortune 500 have gone Google. The rebrand helps to illustrate just that.

  • 10 Essential Elements of Brand Storytelling

    Brand storytelling existed long before the rise of social PR. Even in the earliest days of marketing, branding was as much about telling stories and creating a connection with your audience as it was about the hard sell.

    But since the rise of social media and modern SEO, brand storytelling has changed: Now, it’s all about connecting your audience with one another. It’s about being real and accessible, rather than bragging. It’s about using all of the new media opportunities at your disposal to show, rather than tell.

    In short, crafting a compelling narrative around your company is essential for drawing in new readers online and helping to turn them into loyal users. But how do you get started?

    Thanks to marketing guru Pam Moore’s “Social Zoom Factor” podcast, here are ten of the essential elements to shaping your brand story:

    1.) Be You, Be True

  • 10 Ways to Write Better EmailsDigital communication is at the forefront of our society. We post messages on Facebook, we shoot out texts, and... we email.

    In fact, according to WhoIsHostingThis.com, business correspondence alone accounts for over 100 billion emails sent and received each day.

    In the workplace, it is has become a very common practice to substitute an email in place of a face-to-face interaction with a client or a phone call. 

    Because of this, more and more business professionals are sending emails to people they've never actually met in real life. Emails become the new "first impression" and can make or break your budding relationship with a prospective client.

    These same ideas hold true for marketing emails as well (like newsletters, offer emails, event invitations). Every digital interaction you have with your pool of subscribers, whether or not they are long-time customers or newly curious prospects, is an important one. It creates a lasting impression about how you'll be communicating with them in the future. These impressions make the difference between closing a deal and losing one.

    Learning to write better emails enables you to build better relationships with your prospects. Here are the top 10 ways you can start writing better emails, as recently suggested by WhoIsHostingThis.com in an infographic.

    1. Use a Better Email Address

    Your email address is your business identity. While an @gmail.com address may be fine for the average person, you can do better as a business owner.

    Use Google Apps for Businesses to link your @gmail.com address up with your own domain name (i.e. @geekchicago.com).

    1. Use Google Apps for Businesses
    2. At Sign Up, choose "Use a Domain I already own."
    3. Enter the domain name.
    4. Create the account, accept the terms, and sign up.
    5. Start the domain verification process with the "Start Setup" button.
    6. Change the MX (mail servers) to Google's services.
    7. When confused, reach out to your host (or your local Geek!) for help getting the information you need.

    Why do this? Linking your email address with your domain name creates an improved air of professionalism. Wouldn't you rather interact with a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. than a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.? The first email address appears to stem from a professional organization, while the latter appears to be stem from a personal address.

    2. Keep Subject Lines Short and Sweet

    Did you know that 35% of email recipients choose whether or not to open an email based on the subject line alone?

  • We're well in to our new year, and we're well into a new game of Search Engine Optimization. Yes indeed, it's time for companies to buckle down and tackle the ever-changing search world to ensure their websites show up when someone searches for their target keywords.

    While there are, of course, hundreds of SEO strategies you can use to improve your website SEO, we've chosen these 4 SEO tactics (with the help of Hubspot's recent article) as new ones you can use to start your 2015 strategy off right. Here are 4 SEO tactics you may not be using yet.

    1. Embrace Google Hummingbird and Skip Meta Keywords

    With Google Hummingbirds's new algorithm, search engines are no longer valuing pages with targeted keywords. Now, Google effectively knows what your webpage is about. It knows your page topics, how unique the content is, and if it is of high quality.

  • 4 Tips For Avoiding Copyright Infringement

    Let's say you're walking through your neighborhood on the way to a friend's house. It's her birthday, but you haven't had a chance to pick up a cake or presents. (It's not that you forgot - It's just that Netflix dropped the newest season of Orange is the New Black one day early, and, well, things came up.) 

    You're coming up with an apology when you walk past an open window where a pie is cooling off. It smells so good, and you know it would make your friend's birthday so special. You look to your left and then to your right. You reach up into the window and make sure the pie pan isn't too hot. It's just warm enough to lift it off of its perch. "Oh, it's nothing," you rehearse to yourself as you grab the pie and run. "It's a family recipe. My grandmother brought it over with her from the old country. Did you know that the crust takes six hours to make?"

    In reality, you probably would never take a dessert out of someone's window and then pretend like you made it to impress a friend. But, would you use an image that you didn't create in order to make an impress your blog followers? Copyright infringement can feel like a grey area in today's world of digital and visual marketing, but here are some strategies to help you get a fair piece of the pie.

    What Is Copyright? 

  • 5 Apps You Need To Create a Paperless Office (Image Source: Pixabay Creative Commons)

    You've probably received an email from a contact that looks like this: "At the Smith and Smith Electric Repair, we do our best to conserve resources and work towards a paperless office. In that respect, we ask that you print off the attached document and fill it out before an electrician arrives."

    It sounds a bit like a joke, right?

    Imposing paper and printing costs on the customer isn't a route towards conservation nor is it tech-savvy protocol. A truly paperless office implements thoughtful uses of apps that satisfy the needs of both business and consumer. Here are some apps and programs to take on when closing the door on your office's paper use. 

    1. Evernote

  • 5 Golden Rules of Mobile Website Design (Source: http://pixabay.com/en/woman-smartphone-chatting-girl-410320/)

    Did you know that 80% of Internet users are using their smartphones to search online?

    Did you know that Google plans to use mobile friendliness to rank websites?

    Creating a fantastic mobile website experience for your prospective clients is more important now than it has ever been. This algorithm change from Google will affect 40% of mobile search inquiries - a massive amount compared to the measly 12% which the former Panda updated impacted.

  • 5 Reasons Not to Use a Free Website Builder (Source: pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

    We have reached a point in business where the importance of having a website for a company of any size is pretty much universally understood. In today's digital landscape, it is simply "the cost of doing business." Despite this, however, many business owners balk at the idea of investing money on website design.

    To a certain extent, this reluctance does make sense. Investing in a custom site seems like a sizable chunk of change upfront, especially for start-ups, where money can be spread exceptionally thin.

    At this point in the decision-making process, many small business owners decide to self-design a website using a free website builder, like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, as a way to cut costs in the short term. Unfortunately, this decision has come back to haunt many small businesses in the long term, due to hidden costs, loss of ownership, perceived lack of professionalism, and poor functionality.

    Don't let it happen to you! Take control of your site now, and enjoy the benefits down the line. Need some convincing? Here are five big reasons you should avoid free website builders altogether:

    1. You don't own your site

  • 2019 is going to be a big year - particularly in the world of search engine optimization, orSEO. 

    Already this year, there are trends and narratives taking shape in the SEO realm. On Google and other search engines, changes and developments, big and small, are starting to have an impact on search engine results pages (SERPS). Audience tastes and techniques are changing. New technologies are gaining a foothold. 

    Bottom line? If your brand is considering starting with SEO in 2019, or fine-tuning the approach you already have in place,  it’s important to keep an eye on all these developments as they come up. Knowing what lies ahead for SEO could make all the difference when it comes to getting your business the traffic and conversions you need - or else, getting left behind. 

  • 5 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Activity With Smart Automation (Source: Adapted from Pixabay Public Domain Image)

    Social media is an elusive form of marketing for many in the business world. You understand the importance of an online presence and getting active on the social media world, but achieving results is another matter altogether. Do you automate, or do you strictly post when inspiration strikes?

    While there is no universal agreement (as social media great Seth Godin opts for a pure distribution channel approach, while purist Dan Shure vows never to automate), Copyblogger recently released some helpful ways businesses can use automation with these carefully constructed guidelines to maintain a human element to your social media activity and generate interaction. Here's the scoop.

    1. Remain Connected

  • Email TipsMost modern busines-types find themselves with full email inboxes on a day-to-day basis. It may seem simple enough to leave an email sitting there for a few days until you make the time to jot off a quick response, Google executive Eric Schmidt has some different ideas for you. Here are 6 insightful rules taken out of a recent article in Time Magazine which will up your emailing game to a professional rank.

    1. Respond quickly

    Strive to be the business professional who is known for their timely responses. We live in an age of instantaneous gratification - texting, googling, and Siri-ing are have built a client base that expects a timely response when they contact you in a digital manner. Responsiveness could be the difference between getting the job or not.

    Responsiveness also serve to better your inter-personal connections with your team and colleagues. It is more likely that you will be kept in the loop with important discussions and decisions.

    Do your responses have to be long? Not at all. A simple "got it" will suffice to let your team members know that their email has been read and that you're acting on it. This reads much better than a non-response, which is riddled with subtext, such as: "I'm far too busy to respond to you," or "I haven't read your email," or "I don't really care that much."

    2. Be concise

  • 7 Landing Page Flaws That Damage Your Conversion Rate (Image Source: Flickr CC Commons)

    You have put a significant amount of work into developing your business. You've invested in a responsive website, you've started your presence on social media, and you're on your way to generating leads with an inbound marketing campaign.

    Your leads are captured when people find value in the content you present them on your website. In turn, they share with you similarly valuable information about themselves: their name, their email address, their company, and more.

    ...provided, of course, if your landing page is up to snuff.

    Landing Page Basics

    A landing page is a page designed for your prospects to land on, get interested about the product you offer, and give you information about themselves which you need to create a first correspondence with them.

    (Note that landing page is not synonymous with home page. Business owners can, and often should, have multiple landing pages. You can have separate landing pages for separate promotions, multiple landing pages for the same promotion.)

    Landing pages are where you make or break your lead generation goals. These pages alone can persuade (or dissuade) your users to fill out the form and create a lead. The placement of your images, the length of your descriptions, and the wording in your titles directly affect your ability to convert customers in the future.

    Unfortunately, many companies often fall victim to these 7 mistakes, recently displayed in an infographic by Quick Sprout (also shared by Hubspot). Here's how you can optimize your own landing pages.

  • If 2015 is your year to gain more customers, chances are you've looked to your company website in an effort to see where you can pull in new leads (and, ultimately, convert those leads into new customers).

    Where many businesses fall short in this effort comes in the form of a sub-par landing page.

    Why, what is a landing page, you ask? Oh, my young Padawan, you have so much to learn. A landing page is home base for your company webpage. It will likely be the first thing a prospective client stumbles upon when searching for your business. It serves to capture the interest of your leads, and warm them up to the idea of your product/service before filtering them through to your sales pages.

    This being said, your landing page is a place of finite, specific detail. No one item should be left on your landing page without undergoing intense scrutiny. Size, color, call-to-action buttons, photos, text, branding... every element on your landing page should have strategic backing.

    Set your foundation with strong forethought, test, tweak, and repeat. It will take some time to learn what works.

    There are some fundamental building blocks, recently outlined by Hubspot, which will help you go through your revision process with some clarity. Here are 7 ways to create a landing page with a high conversion rate.

    1. The Two Consistencies

    There are two key areas in which you will need to strive for consistency: presented information and user experience.

    First, presenting consistent information is essential. Any inconsistency that a prospective client comes across is a major turn-off. Pricing, claims, name spelling, locations, phone numbers, and any other text claims must be consistent. Anything else will bring a major blow to your credibility - and believe us, a prospective client isn't going to spend time searching around your site for the "right" information. They'll just close your window altogether.

    Secondly, user experience should be consistent across the board. If you are constantly changing website elements, or your website elements differ from page to page, you'll experience drop-offs.

    2. Change, But Slowly

  • 8 Website Turn-OffsBusinesses everywhere put forth ample amounts of effort to get customers to their website. Search Engine Optimization is pursued, keywords are researched, quality content is written, and more.  But what about page abandonment(measured in "bounce rate")?

    If customers aren't staying on your website once you get them there, however, there's a bigger problem at hand.

    Once your prospects land on your website, you want them to be encouraged to click through your pages and engage in your content by reading a blog, filling out a form, or maybe even buying something.

    In other words, attraction is only the first step in your inbound marketing game - lead conversion is the essential second step. If customers are dissatisfied with your website once they get there, your work to get them there will be entirely wasted.

    So, what things turn customers off of your website? Here are 8 top turn offs, originally outlined in an Hubpost infographic.

    1. Bad Navigation

    The problem:

    Having bad navigation design is one of the best ways to frustrate your visitors. Complex or inconsistent navigation makes it difficult for visitors to find the information they're looking for.

    Avoid scattering navigational elements around different portions of your website, linking navigation within large bodies of text, or use elements that are in any way unclear (like a link simply titled "other" or a linked image that does not obviously serving a purpose).

    The solution:

    • Group navigational links together in a central area
    • Aim for logical, intuitive, easy to understand links in terms of language and location

    2. Too Many Ads

    The Problem:

    It's a given that customers do not appreciate advertisements. This notion is compounded by having too many obtrusive ads in one area, particularly ones that pop up over the browser window, flash, and fill the entire browser window.

    The Solution:

  • Do you remember how Google search was back in the late 90s?

    If you don't, it isn't really that surprising. Google has come a long way since then, especially in terms of its search algorithms.

    In the beginning, getting your website to rank highly in a Google search comprised of a simple two steps:

    1. Saturate your pages with as many keywords and trigger phrases as possible
    2. Accumulate inbound links - The more, the better.

    As you probably already know, the Google search algorithm has evolved quite a long way from its primitive beginning.  Keywords and links are no longer the full name of the game - value, on the other hand is.  "Hacking the system" (i.e. keyword saturated content that has little to no actual value to readers) has been effectively avoided as Google's algorithm has improved.

    Google has endeavored over the years to find new, more effective ways to deliver high-value, high-quality search engine results. Starting in 2003 with "Boston", Google users started seeing these algorithm changes labeled with names. In recent memory, you may recollect mention of "Panda", "Penguin", and most recently, with "Hummingbird".  Google has recently endeavored to have their searches pull up high-quality content that effectively serves as an answer to a question.

  • App of the Week - CamCard (Source: camcard.com)

    From the social calls of the Victorian era to the Silicon Valley meet-and-greets of today, business cards have a long and storied history in our culture.

    And while cards are still one of the easiest and quickest ways to make a solid first impression and keep track of your contacts, there’s no denying that they can get frustrating. They’re easy to misplace or lose track of, and even the highest-caliber paper gets worn and torn over time.

    Fortunately, there’s an amazing app bringing business cards into the digital world: CamCard.

  • App of the Week - Wodify (Source: Wodify.com)

    Who says CrossFit can’t be geeky?

    With the Wodify app, boxes (aka CrossFit gyms) across the country are replacing their iconic whiteboards and “Workout of the Day” charts with flat screens and smartphones – and your workout may just be all the better for it.

    While there are plenty of fitness – and even CrossFit-specific – apps on the market, Wodify is different due to its box-focused approach, which lets you manage the practical ins and outs of your box membership with just the tap of a finger.

  • CamScanner Makes Scanning Portable (and Affordable)On-the-go, all-in-one, inter-connected, and portable electronics are at the forefront of the technology craze of today. We're all about universal cloud storage, multi-platform apps that respond to one another, using our phone for our flashlight, our alarm clock, our calculator... and our scanner.

    Scanning apps, as they go, can be so-so.  The exception to the rule is an app that has stood the test of time, and is ranked the #1 scanning tool out there - CamScanner.

    User friendly features abound

    This tool produces some archive-worthy, high-quality scans, and its not just for Geeks.  Here are some of the ways CamScan excels in usability:

    • CamScan comes with the auto-crop and smart-enhance features that make your document look completely professional. It will sense the borders of your page, and scan it in enhancing readability by eliminating shadows, rotation, and more.
    • There are also some great annotation features that allow you to custom watermark your pages, add notes/annotations, and more.
    • A nifty searchable PDF option allows users to search for text/images directly within the scanned document. Neat!
    • It syncs across all platforms as well, updating files on your smartphone, tablet, and computer simultaneously.

    There is a free version available with some limited features, but at the moment CamScanner Pro is only $0.99 on Google Play and iTunes (limited time only!)

  • De-clutter Your Gmail Inbox With Infinite Email AddressesDid you realize that your Gmail address contains many email addresses in one? Gmail, in fact, recognizes many derivatives of your original email address, such as:

    Original: [email protected] com =
    [email protected] com
    [email protected] com
    [email protected] com

    Adding a period "." anywhere in your original address will still direct mail to your original address, and adding a +word before the @ sign will do the same.

    If the email all goes to the same place, you're wondering, what's the point? Built in organizational filters, that's what! Using these simple email derivatives gives you the tools to organize your inbox to the max.

    Here's how you can optimize your inbox.

    Use "+news" to sign up for newsletters

    When you next decide to sign up for a newsletter, sign up using the email address similar to [email protected] com. You can now organize and prioritize all email sent through that email address via label, filter, or more.

    How to do it:


  • If you’re reading this from a coffee shop - while you also have spreadsheets, sales reports, or your personal portfolio open in other tabs at the same time - you might just be a digital nomad.

    Today, technology has made it easier than ever to get work done without having to tether yourself to a traditional office. Digital suites, Skype, task managers, messaging apps like Slack - all of these innovations have made it possible for people, and perhaps even entire businesses, to work without having to ground themselves in place.

    For some people, this means getting to work from the comfort of home. For others, it means making stops at a shared office space, or the classic coffee shop. And for still more, embracing the life of a digital nomad means truly hitting the road, working and traveling all at the same time.

    Our friends over at Hubspot have a great article spotlighting some digital nomads turning work into a vacation,available here. One big takeaway from that read, for us Geeks, was this: Embracing the traveling lifestyle and combining it with work can be an amazing opportunity, one that leads to increased productivity and more “moonshot” thinking. But it can also mean having to make sacrifices - when it comes to time and when it comes to budget.

    But here’s one sacrifice you shouldn’t have to make:digital marketing.

Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).