2013 Review of Tenenz - AFSB Accounting & Financial Site Builder

Overview             

AFSB (Accounting and Financial Site Builder) by Minneapolis-based Tenenz is a tool for creating a compelling web presence for a firm.  The templates have a simplistic interface, and meet the basic needs of practitioners without overwhelming clients and firms with too many options.   Some stock photography is available and included, or users can upload their own pictures for their site.  The text and pages are fully customizable by the end user, and additional pages can be easily added using the AFSB web-based WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor.  AFSB Accounting and Financial Site Builder has a 14 year history with the tax & accounting community, and is part of Tenenz, who has provided products to the accounting and tax professionals for over 40 years.

AFSB has announced a new client contact tool called Client Centric Communications, which can be used to manage e-mail newsletters, links, and social media channels for the firm.  Content for this service will be provided by AFSB, and users can access this service for up to 250 clients for no additional charge.  The company announced that it plans to integrate a new File Sharing  Portal and File Storage Function as part of its basic service fee.  Users can edit and/or replace provided content with their own writing, if desired.  The existing e-mail marketing service complies with COPPA/CAN SPAM and other regulatory requirements, but requires an additional charge.

Sites can be created using a website wizard and can integrate with a variety of other tools, including PayPal for receiving client payments, Google Maps for directions, and social media widgets to integrate the firm’s social presence into the website.  Although blogs are not natively supported, users can set up a blog with WordPress or Typepad and simply create a link to the main website.

Basic search engine registration and configuration is included with the application, but as with most entry level packages, users will most likely want to utilize search engine consulting services to enhance the ability of clients and prospects to find the website using keywords.

Data is hosted in a commercial hosting facility with redundancy and daily backup.  AFSB reports that their portals are compliant with major regulatory requirements, including HIPAA, GLB, and IRC § 7216.

Introduced in July 1999, AFSB Accounting and Financial Site Builder is now in its 14th year with a mission, per its website, “to offer websites that are affordable, designed just for tax and accounting business, and easy to manage.” AFSB is part of Tenenz, Inc., which has served tax and accounting firms for more than 40 years.

AFSB has an excellent WYSIWYG text editor for changing page content with toolbars similar to Microsoft Word. Advanced users can add html code to any page. Although the amount of help in AFSB’s Support Center is somewhat limited, users can e-mail technical support with questions. AFSB also provides a service to make changes on a website for its customers at $100 per hour ($25 minimum)

Search Engines

Firms can enter a navigation title, page heading, keywords and description for every page. Help is available to review and suggest changes to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO) from AFSB Tech Support. Google Analytics can be automatically integrated into all pages of a firm’s website for no additional fee.

Domains

Included in the cost of an AFSB website, all domains are unique and may be either owned and managed by the firm or by AFSB depending on the firm’s preference. If AFSB manages a domain, there are no contracts and the firm always has the option to transfer out and self-administer. Firms may export their own data at no charge, however, licensed images, templates and other copyrighted material may not be exported as firms do not own this information.

Hosting

Data is stored in a SAS 70 Type II facility with redundancy and all site administration is done over SSL. Data is backed up daily. The AFSB integrated portals are HIPAA/GLB/IRC 7216 compliant for secure and encrypted file transfers.

Email

Though not required, e-mail is included in the service for all AFSB administered domains. Up to 20 e-mail accounts are offered (or more upon request), which can be accessed from a firm’s e-mail software such as Outlook or from a web browser. AFSB offers the following types of accounts: Forwarding, POP and IMAP.

Newsletter Marketing & Content

Monthly client newsletters are available to all AFSB customers for no charge and it automatically populates to all AFSB websites. It may be e-mailed to clients and prospects with real time reporting. Firms can also add their own content. All AFSB sites have two RSS feed functions: the News Digest from AFSB or the firm’s newsletters, both of which a firm’s clients can subscribe to. An optional e-mail marketing service is available that has full COPPA/CAN SPAM compliance.

Other Features

Twitter and Facebook are built into all AFSB sites automatically. Because of the html nature of AFSB and the WYSIWYG editor, users can incorporate their social media tools. Last year, AFSB added the ability to use the Twitter API to automatically post new information and newsletters to the firm’s Twitter account.

This Fall, AFSB.net will be introducing a new, dynamic client contact tool we call, Client Centric Communications which will allow robust email, link and social media channels for firm announcements, holiday greetings, client notifications, newsletters, tax tips, personalized e-mails and more. Content will be provided by AFSB.net, but users can customize at will. Users will also have intricate multiple list management options and auto release programming at their fingertips. There is no additional fee for this service up to 250 clients

In December, AFSB plans to launch its new, robust File Sharing Portal and File Storage function to the web service-again at no additional fee.  

Best Firm Fit: Firms interested in managing their own web site content any time and from any where to a template-based solution at a low cost.

Strengths

  • With a basic monthly subscription fee of $31.99 and a 20% discount if paid annually ($299.99/year, effectively $24.99/month), AFSB is the least expensive web builder among the products reviewed after the discount.
  • Over 140 templates and thousands of variations available, including specialized templates for both CPAs and EAs.
  • New templating system uses CSS technology, a billboard homepage feature and Flash
  • AFSB’s “Website Wizard” guides the user through creating a website step-by-step.
  • Users can easily add an events calendar, a PayPal link to accept payments securely, Google Maps showing the company location, and social media widgets and unlimited pages of their own content.
  • AFSB Sites come with articles, monthly client newsletters, and financial calculators.
  • AFSB has been built on a flexible, open platform that allows subscribers to integrate any of their familiar software programs such as their accounting and payroll software, on-line e-filing programs, archiving tools or blogging engines.

Potential Limitations

  •  All of the templates and pages come with pre-filled written content that is fairly basic as is, but all pages are readily edited and customizable to each firm’s liking with AFSB’s step-by-step web site wizard.
  • Although the software allows for an unlimited number of additional pages, the content management is not searchable, potentially making it difficult to manage a very large number of additional pages.

Summary and Pricing

AFSB reports that it has a satisfied customer base and a high retention rate because of four factors: its low cost, sites are created and available for editing seconds after sign-up, AFSB does not self-promote in the footer of its customers’ websites, and firms can easily add their own services.

AFSB’s basic monthly subscription fee is $31.99 and a 20% discount is offered if paid annually ($299.99/year, effectively $24.99/month). There are no setup fees or constricting contracts. For an optional one-time $30 fee, AFSB provides search engine optimization and registration services. If requested, AFSB modifies templates or creates custom site designs for a fee that ranges from $100 to $250. Currently, AFSB is offering a 60-day Free Trial.

 

 

Loading