State of Illinois Back to Business Program

NCRC Community Development Fund


The Back to Business (B2B) program in the State of Illinois was designed to offer COVID-19 relief to underrepresented businesses by reaching and impacting previously overlooked demographics. The main goal was to equip these business owners and stakeholders with the necessary resources to successfully apply for the B2B program, aiding their recovery from the pandemic’s economic impact.


Street Level Strategy was brought on to lead this project. We designed and implemented a multifaceted outreach approach, using earned media, paid digital, organic social media, and direct outreach to create impactful contact with targeted business owners and key community stakeholders.

Earned media with a focus on motivational and uplifting human interest stories played a pivotal role in generating excitement and recognition around the program. The paid digital campaign, using Google Ads, Meta Suite, and other social media platforms, reached the desired demographics driving them to the application portal. And social media proved crucial, with regular posts across platforms, and a bespoke influencer program expanded the program’s reach. Direct outreach included targeted emails, text messages, and phone calls, leading to higher engagement rates and significant participation in the program.


· A total of 2,086,096 programmatic impressions and 935,330 Facebook impressions were served over the 3.5-week paid digital campaign.

· Leveraging Instagram influencers with a combined follower count of 176,700 significantly amplified the audience and view count of the social media campaign.

· Email campaigns, with a remarkable open rate of 39.18% and a click-through rate of 3.2%, resulted in thousands of business owners receiving crucial information.

· Text messages targeting around 4,000 registered business owners effectively drew attention to the approaching application deadline.

· Phone outreach conversations enabled callers to capitalize on interactions, even with businesses that didn’t qualify, encouraging the sharing of information within wider networks.