A cool breeze, a gorgeous sunset, Taylor Swift friendship bracelets, tapas, and a musical trio featuring Catalan music. A buzzing reunion — are we at adult summer camp or Finalsite University Barcelona? The American School of Barcelona warmly hosted marketing and admissions professionals from 35 schools across 20 countries, and the energy and enthusiasm continue to pour over the Finalsite team and attending schools.
Wrapping up my 15th Finalsite University conference leaves me with the familiar feelings of excitement, rejuvenation, and bonds formed between our schools in attendance — a feeling that can only be created at an event of this nature.
As Finalsite CEO & Founder Jon Moser outlined in his keynote presentation, your school’s needs and how you work have evolved, and so has Finalsite. Notable shifts in the industry have meant growing school competition, higher parent expectations, and changes in how you do your jobs, all of which require different tools for success.
If you weren’t able to join us, there was much to celebrate and share in this long overdue reunion, including Finalsite product best practices and strategies amongst the decades of school marketing experience in the room. Here is what you missed:
Inspiring Client Stories
Hina Ghurma, Director of Marketing and Communications at Whitgift, engaged attendees with fun ‘speed dating’ activities with peers, asking the crowd to describe a school’s personality as if it were a person.
Ghurma shared how Whitgift uses its website to communicate its culture and offerings clearly and how combining the school’s impressive long history with visually stunning treatments strongly relays its identity online, leveraging it as a differentiator amongst their competition.
The human touch, attention to detail, and personalization are omnipresent throughout their site — a British independent school for young men founded in 1596 with well-known peacock residents (as well as flamingoes!)
Philippa J. Scudds, Director of Marketing and Communications at Canford School, shared her recent redesign launch story — Canford leveraged a school milestone (its centenary this year) and collaborated with Finalsite on a bold new design online — her fourth with Finalsite and 8th school website launch.
The case for a new website also stemmed from recognizing changes in digital behavior and focusing on recruitment and retention. With the new school vision and values, more interactive elements, and personality, they can show, not tell.
This resulted in increased site traffic, page views, direct entry to admissions pages, and a record number of video views. Even under tight deadlines and concurrent projects, their approach enabled them to achieve their website goals.
A hot topic has always been Finalsite Portals. When/how do you set them up, and for whom? Penny Morgan, Digital Communications Coordinator at Zurich International School, demonstrated the power of their Community Portal, in particular for parent engagement. It takes ongoing maintenance, but with Finalsite’s COPE tools (Create Once Publish Everywhere), content can be easily streamlined.
With their recent website/portal redesign, the school surveyed their constituents, analyzed findings, prototyped a design based on findings, and rolled it out accordingly. Personalized news, calendar events, and categorized tasks based on grade level (I loved the ‘Deadline’ category as a parent, in case I miss a form to fill out!) beautifully organized via Finalsite’s Posts, Calendar Manager, and the style guide. They also send their Weekly News using Finalsite’s Messages module and app.
Exploring Finalsite’s Workflows, the mobile app, and leveraging dynamic content were also top of mind. Diving into the software with peer schools to hear how they manage Post subscriptions or tricks, such as putting your site’s Style Guide in Composer Shared Elements, was part of the fun.
Did you hear that Finalsite Leadlfow now enables Finalsite Enrollment to integrate with Finalsite Composer, resulting in a seamless workflow? Lead generation tools and a reporting CRM right at your fingertips!
A resounding theme during the conference was realizing we are not alone and the power of collaboration. If you couldn’t join us in Barcelona, attend a relevant upcoming Finalsite University. You won’t regret it — maybe you can even collect a friendship bracelet from each one along the way!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Director of Global Markets, Meredith and her team work with schools around the globe to implement best practices for school marketing and communications. With over a decade of school marketing expertise, Meredith is passionate about helping schools optimize their use of Finalsite's products and services. If you can't find her meeting with members of #TeamMeredith in Zoom, search for the closest Starbucks locations!