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Client Success Story: Windy City Home Inspection, Inc.



Founded in 1999,
Windy City Home Inspection, Inc. has been educating home buyers through the home inspection process for 20 years. One of the fastest growing home inspection companies in the country, Windy City Home Inspection puts a strong focus on customer service meeting and exceeding client expectations. Led by founder Jarrod Spadino, Windy City Home Inspection is certified by the American Home Inspectors Training Institute and backed by a consulting team with more than 60 years of industry experience.

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It's Time to Move Away From Email Blasts



Email is one of the most consistently effective tools in any brand’s digital marketing arsenal - if it’s used correctly. 

As studies have shown, email is popular among businesses and their audiences alike. As Hubspot has noted, for instance, 73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email. 99 percent of email users check their inboxes every day, and more than 50 percent of people say that they check their personal email account more than 10 times per day. 

At the same time, email is a powerful solution for brands, with a majority of marketers in one study (more than 59 percent) saying that email accounts for most of their digital content ROI, while also positively enforcing customer retention.   

So, that’s some of the good news about email marketing, including digital newsletters. Now here comes the slightly tougher pill to swallow: In many cases, if you’re not seeing the results you’d like from email marketing, the source of the problem could be your approach to reaching your audience’s inboxes. 

In particular? If the terms “email blast” or “eblast” are a big part of your digital marketing vocabulary in 2019, well... it’s time to change that. 

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Why Pay For Website Maintenance?



It’s easy to think of a website as a work of art, like a sculpture or painting. A designer conceives its layout, as well as its look and feel. A developer translates this design into a usable form. And then it goes live on the world wide web, where it sits comfortably, waiting to be found and shared. 

But that may not actually be the best way to think about your site. Because, frankly, it’s not just some item that just hangs on the wall of a museum. Instead, it’s a living, breathing thing, subject to change. It’s active and alive and engaging with users as part of the digital ecosystem. It’s not just some passive object sitting by itself! 

And even then, think about this: The paintings in museums may look like they’re just sitting there, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into preserving and protecting them. From hiring security guards, to installing protective features, to regularly restoring or refurbishing a piece of work, art isn’t stagnant either. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes effort that goes into making sure that an amazing piece of art and sculpture is safe, and always ready to display for new guests. 

Your website works the exact same way! Developing a brand website is not just a one-time, “set it and forget it” proposition. Even after a site goes live, it’s important to take steps to maintain it, so that it’s safe, functional, and always primed to help your business generate new leads. 

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5 SEO Trends We're Watching in 2019 (Plus One to Grow On)

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

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. 

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Gadget of the Week - SmartDesk by Cemtrex


For those of us who feel like we just have
too many separate items on our desk and want to relieve that clutter in the most high-tech manner possible, SmartDesk by Cemtrex could be just the solution.

Cemtrex promises that “this advanced workstation combines and reimagines all the needs of the modern office in a beautiful, intuitive sit/stand desk”.

But what makes this desk stand out from all the rest? Far more than just a desk with a built-in computer and keyboard, the SmartDesk comes replete with features that make it worth a look.

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What is Reputation Management, and How Do I Get Started?

What is Reputation Management, and How Do I Get Started?

Work in the fields of real estate, architecture, or design? Check out our free webinar -
"Reputation Management for Your Real Estate Business"
(link)

Did you ever a parent, or maybe an employer, warn you that once something goes out on the internet… it’s there forever?

In a lot of ways, this actually true, and not just a parental scare tactic. The information that makes it out there about your business, both positive and negative, can have a lasting impact on your brand.

Today, the open nature of the web has made it easier than ever for users to find all sorts of information about you and your business online, for better and for worse. And while this is great when it comes to passing along your brand’s quality content and spotlighting positive reviews, unfortunately, the web is also a great place for anonymous users and strangers to spread false or malicious information, or leave negative reviews that could have lingering ramifications for your business.

That’s where reputation management experts come in! Let’s take a look at just what reputation management means in our digital age, and why our team’s expertise can do wonders for your brand:

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App of the Week - SleepScore

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, our nightly sleep just doesn’t seem to relieve those annoying undereye circles or accumulated exhaustion. It might be because your sleep cycle is actually less than adequate.

But how do you check if your sleep cycle is doing what it should be if you’re, well, not awake to check? It’s not impossible or as expensive as you might think.

One way to forego the use of expensive sleep monitoring systems is to try SleepScore, a free app that promises to “understand, track and improve your sleep so that you can perform, look and feel better.”

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How Recognizable Is Your Brand?

How recognizable is your brand - especially online? The answer to that question may matter a lot more than you might think!

In fact, get this: According to a recent consumer survey, brought to our attention by Customer Think, a remarkable 41% respondents viewed brand consistency as the most important factor in brand loyalty. This study indicates that consistency actually matters more to consumers than “authenticity, relevance, or transparency.”

That’s remarkable - but it makes sense the more you think about it.

After all, who hasn’t been scrolling through Netflix for something new to watch, only to settle for a Parks & Recreation episode you’ve already seen three or eighty times?

Or how about this? Have you ever been in a new city, looking for something to eat? Your traveling companion is scrolling through listings on their phone, when finally, you stop them, saying something along the lines of; “Oh, that sounds familiar. I think they were on Bourdain. Let’s go there.”

The operative words there? “Sounds familiar.”

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How to Drive Sign-ups and Conversions from Instagram



Instagram, for a long time, was regarded as a repository for selfies and vacation photos and not much else. But today? It’s the fastest growing social media platform by a mile, inching towards a billion users. It beat Snapchat at its own game. And it’s become a powerful tool for businesses.

And for businesses, success on the platform in 2018 is all about how you use it.

For all its growth and changes, Instagram is still a visual-first platform, emphasizing photo and video sharing. As such, it’s a remarkably powerful tool for improving your brand reach and recognition, getting your messaging and branding in front of audiences. But what about referral traffic and conversions? Can this visual platform actually be used to drive warm leads directly to you?

While it may not be the easiest social media goal, it is certainly possible to use Instagram to drive traffic, form-fills, and conversions. All it takes is a plan - and a bit of digital marketing savvy.

Here are six ideas to help you turn your Instagram presence into a traffic-driving, conversion-generating machine:

1.) Use Visuals to Stand Out from the Crowd

As we mentioned already, Instagram is a powerful visual tool - and using it this way can help you build the consistency and loyalty necessary to help funnel new audience members from “curious” to converted.

In short? Statistics show that the more recognizable and likeable your brand is, the more likely consumers are to do business with you. And Instagram is a great way to introduce yourself to new audiences, leaving the sort of lasting impression that could result in further business.

What does it take? For starters, it’s important to make sure that your Instagram is instantly recognizable as yours. Who you are, what you do, and how users should think about your brand… All of these things should be instantly recognizable, for newcomers and longtime fans alike.

Incorporate your brand colors and imagery throughout your Instagram posts, and be consistent. Use the same filter, colors, or aesthetics throughout all of your Insta content. Have an identity, a voice, and be recognizable. When it comes to conversions, consistency counts!

And don’t forget to make all that visual content as gorgeous as possible. Investing in a professional photographer - or at least some high quality photo equipment - could go a long way toward stepping up your game. Don’t forget to look into visual tools that can make your individual posts stand out (Canva is a Geek favorite). And, finally, remember to experiment with all of the unique visual tools that Instagram makes available: Live streaming videos, Stories, GIFs, and Boomerangs can all help your brand stand out in a user’s crowded feed.

2.) Engage With Your Audience

Social media - even visual-first social media platforms like Instagram - is the new public square. It’s where people go to meet, discover new things, and interact - not only with their friends, but with the businesses that they come across.

As such, people have come to have certain expectations when it comes to interacting with brands on social media. For instance, did you know that a huge majority of consumers who interact with a brand - such as posting a complaint - expect a response within just an hour or two?

Bottom line? You can’t just use Instagram to talk, and expect people to listen. Instead, you have to use all of your social platforms to truly engage with your audience. When it comes to driving in leads and referrals, this can come in many forms!

For one thing, studies show that social users react extremely positively to user-generated content. So, to help drive in conversions, consider resharing or reposting content from users who interact with your business. Pictures of happy customers, satisfied testimonials, or user-submitted demos can all really help entice your next customers to convert.

Another strategy to keep in mind? Beyond post regularly, take care to be active. Respond to questions and comments, “like” content, and generally do what it takes to show that you’re listening and engaged with consumers on the platform.

3.) Reach the Right People at the Right Time

When it comes to building your Insta audience - or reaching that warm lead who is most likely to convert with your business - it’s important to always think about amplification. In other words, ask yourself what you can do to get your message out to as many people as possible. More specifically? How can you get your content out to the right audience, the one most primed to turn to your business to fill their needs?

Fortunately, Instagram has all sorts of built-in tools to help you reach that audience. For one thing, hashtags are still a massively useful way to connect your posts with eager searchers. Affixing a few (but not too many) hashtags below your post - or in a comment - can help connect it with the right people. For instance, if you’re a gardening company, your go-to hashtags might include: #gardening, #flowers, #outdoors, #greenliving, or so on. Make sure that you’re using hashtags that people are actually seeking out and engaging with. A “branded” hashtag that’s totally unique to you might look nice, but it may not actually help you reach audiences, if no one else is actively looking for that term.

Instagram also allows users to affix location tags to their Stories, or on posts. Like hashtags, these allow you to reach the right audience - in this case, one that is local to your business, and thus more likely to need your services specifically.

4.) Crush Your Call-to-Action

Now that you’re reaching the right audience with your consistent, visually distinct content, it’s time to turn those visitors into leads! One of the most effective ways to do that is to reconsider one aspect of Instagram that many of us take for granted - the call to action, or CTA.

There are a few different ways that you can use Instagram to deliver a CTA that really helps convert. To begin with, take a look at the link included with your bio (a vital part of setting up your business Instagram page). Does it lead to a link that is actually valuable for you - either in terms of delivering content that can help drive conversions, or because it leads directly to a landing page with a form-fill or sign up? Make sure your link is functional and useful, for your audience and for you. And don’t forget to genuinely offer a reason for people to click! A simple message like “For more on how to elevate your marketing game, follow this link:” could do wonders for actually driving traffic through to your site.

For ecommerce brands, there are other options! For instance, if you’re in direct sales, you can make your Instagram “shoppable,” making it easy for consumers to make purchases directly through the platform. There are also third-party tools you can use to turn each of your Insta posts into a link, driving users through to a landing page that you control.

And, finally, for brands that have 10K followers or more, you can use Stories to drive traffic directly to the landing page of your site. Just include a link in your Story, and users will get the option to “swipe up” to visit your chosen page.

5.) Run Contests

What could be more effective at driving in leads than a contest? If you’re looking to increase your number of form fills, conversions, or referrals in a hurry, launching a competition through Instagram is a great way to go about it.

There are all sorts of methods you could use, depending on your goal - share contests, like contests, and tag a friend contests are all a great way to amplify your brand’s reach in a short amount of time, for instance. Or, you could use Insta as a launch pad to get people to sign up on landing page - as long as you provide an incentive. For instance, you could say that a person will be chosen at random from your email list by a certain date to receive a prize. Or you could reward customers who post a selfie in your store, or with one of your products. The possiblities are limitless!

6.) Offer Exclusive Promotions and Deals

Like a contest, an Instagram promotion is a great way to build an air of exclusivity around your brand - and to motivate people to convert quickly, before the chance is gone!

There are all sorts of ways you can offer promotions through Instagram. For instance, you could use your Story to reveal a promo code or offer that you don’t divulge through other channels. Or you could initiate a “flash sale” using Instagram, encouraging consumers to flock to your site quickly, before the deal is up!

7.) Tap Into the Power of Paid Promotions

Finally, it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every social media marketing strategy. On the one side are the organic tactics; these are all methods we’ve discussed already. On the flip side, there are paid tactics. Using social media to reach audiences used to be all about organic reach; now, it’s shifting toward a paid advertising channel.

On Instagram, a mix of both methods tends to generate the best results overall. So, with this in mind, it’s key to remember that just a few dollars and a little bit of targeting on the platform could go a long way towards allowing you to reach the right audience and drive in more conversions. For instance, with Instagram ads, you can narrowly target your ideal audience - and even use the platform to retarget and remarket to people who have already expressed an interest in your brand. At the same time, paid promotion on Instagram offers opportunities that organic posting doesn’t. For instance, you have ad options above and beyond branded Stories or posts, and can easily unify your Facebook and Instagram marketing into one cohesive campaign.

By and large, Instagram ads are sophisticated yet easy to manage - and are often less expensive to start with than many business owners think!

Looking for Instagram Inspiration?

Ready to take your social media marketing efforts to the next level? Looking for digital marketing pros to bounce your ideas off of? In need of fresh written or visual content? Ready to build a landing page worth landing on?

For all these things and more, Geek Chicago can help! Drop us a line when you’re ready to get the conversation started.

Gadget of the Week - Plume


Ever feel pigeonholed by your WiFi carrier and wish there was a new way to stream your favorite shows or sift through emails?

Plume Adaptive WiFi, a subscription based service, promises to change the way you think about and use the internet at home.

Plume wants to adapt to your space and lifestyle” through self-optimized high-speed WiFi. So, what exactly do they mean?

For Plume, self-optimizing WiFi entails creating multiple access points spread around your home, instead of using a singular router. This allows for more widespread coverage, and is achieved through the placement of hexagonal silver “pods” that you can place in as many or as few rooms as you need.

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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).