The first job of a leader is to inspire trust; that's why, as a leading provider of software to schools in the UK and internationally, I feel it's important to be honest and transparent about who we are and where we are going. At Finalsite our goal is to empower schools. In this article I'd like to share with you some frequently asked questions, and dispel the myths that I hear when I'm out and about visiting schools across the country.
1. Where does Finalsite host?
We have multiple data-centres throughout the World, including here in the UK. Unlike any other supplier in the UK, this gives us redundancy even in the case of a data centre failure.
2. Is Finalsite's Composer platform GDPR compliant?
We are an enterprise solution hosting more than 1,000 schools around the world. So yes, we are fully compliant. We are also in the process of gaining certification for IS27001 which would make us the only school website supplier with this accreditation.
3. How long will I be tied in for?
Well that's entirely up to you. We offer flexible 3, 4 and 5-year term contracts. One of the reasons we can offer 5 year contracts is because we are very stable - we've seen a lot of companies come and go, so offering a 5 year contract offers our clients confidence that they can depend on us. It also gives our team of product specialist the ability to plan product with a longer view. Many schools also prefer 5 years – simply because this fixes their annual fee for a longer time and they are also looking for a longer-term relationship. We can spread the cost of the setup over the duration, which can make it more affordable.
4. What happens after the initial contract term?
Nothing! If you want to maintain the same software and modules the annual cost stays exactly the same. No increases.
Delve deeper and ask your own questions during a free webinar, "In safe hands - Top School Website Considerations and Security Issues" hosted by CEO, Jon Moser and CSO Dan Clarke.
5. Does Finalsite use templates?
Whilst there are many suppliers out there creating novelty style websites that lack both substance and depth, we offer a range of themes that give schools on tight budgets first class websites. However; the majority of the websites are entirely bespoke and use a design team that have won more creative awards than any other school website supplier in the UK. We've recently been named an official Webby Honoree, which means that from more than 13,000 entries received Finalsite's work ranks in top 18% of all work entered from around the world, as judged by the Academy.
6. What about ROI?
As a premium supplier to independent schools, proving a return on investment is crucial. Whilst there are many suppliers out there creating novelty style websites that lack both substance and depth; we focus entirely on creating websites that achieve actual outcomes (CTAs) with proven methodologies and established user journeys – hence our client's enquiry conversion rates are second to none and our websites perform beyond the homepage.
7. I've been told 'the technology' is not that important when choosing a website supplier - is this true?
The only suppliers who would ever tell you this are those that have a platform they'd rather you didn't look at. Before selecting a supplier ask each one that you are considering to provide a full content management system (CMS) demo. Not all Content Management Systems are equal – despite what those with the worst technology might tell you. If you can't successfully update it; the great user experience you've created won't stay that way.
8. Since the merger, are you still the number one provider of school websites?
Since School Website merged with Finalsite in December 2016 we've increased the number of UK independent schools that we work with by more than 20%, and the number of HMC schools by the same percentage. We've also maintained client retention at 96% and client satisfaction at 92% and the majority of our clients have re-signed with us for another term - we will let those stats do our talking.
9. One of your competitors told us...
At Finalsite we have a rule – we don't talk about other providers and like to win deals on the merits of our company, design and software. If other suppliers need to talk about Finalsite then we take that as a compliment as it means they can't win or retain a client without discrediting what we do first. This for us at least, this is no way to establish a long-term relationship with a client or indeed a long-term strategy for conducting business, as we believe our customers are looking for a supplier with integrity, honesty and a complete focus on their own offering.
10. What does the Composer roadmap look like?
Internally we don't refer to our platform as a CMS, as that's actually only a small component of it; we're building a marketing and communications platform capable of facilitating inbound marketing, one of many projects that our team of 30+ developers are working on. This is indicative of our innovative approach to software– giving schools access to cutting edge technology and marketing techniques that deliver better results.
11. I've been told websites are dead – is this true?
To a certain extent, yes – it is true. Websites as stand-alone information pieces have certainly had their day, as has to a certain extent social media (there's already more posts and content on a given topic that anyone can read it a lifetime) – that's why our platform is being developed as an inbound marketing platform. Inbound marketing is 60% cheaper than traditional marketing, has a higher conversion and therefore ROI.
12. Why Finalsite?
That's the easiest question of all. Where else can you find a marketing and communications platform that gives you a cutting edge online presence, allows you to personalise content to different users, fully integrates with your MIS, allows you to initiate email marketing campaigns directly from it, provide portals to parents, students and staff with a single sign-on, generate inbound leads from prospects yet to reach out to you and integrates social media seamlessly into your marketing. No other solution even tries to come close to this level of sophistication, technical execution or delivery.