Today, a good customer relationship management (CRM) platform is the backbone of many successful student recruitment efforts. A CRM is a customer-centric system that can help education professionals nurture relationships with prospects and enrollees, produce data-driven insights to illustrate progress towards goals, and streamline their admissions and marketing initiatives to save time and effort.
In the right hands, this is a tool with immense value. For those who are new to the concept of CRM, though, or are in the process of adopting and exploring CRM platforms, it may not be readily apparent exactly how to harness the power of this type of system. (source)
What is a CRM system?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system helps manage customer data. It supports sales management, delivers actionable insights, integrates with social media and facilitates team communication. Cloud-based CRM systems offer complete mobility and access to an ecosystem of bespoke apps.
Why do you need a CRM For Education
For the past few years, many post-secondary institutions have been investing in a CRM to automate and streamline their recruitment process.
In addition to streamlining their processes (something that should be done regardless), there are a number of benefits that can be gained by choosing the right CRM for your institution, including:
- Access to an ecosystem of plug-and-play integrations to simplify processes (and to create more opportunities to automate your institution’s workflow)
- Mobile applications that allow staff to access their work – and real-time productivity insights – from wherever they are
- Analysis features to help you better understand how you’re growing the capacity to stand out among your peers
- Scalable person-to-person messaging systems that let you have conversations with your entire prospect list, building relationships and nudging prospects towards your institution
- Intuitive CRM software platforms that assist your entire team in acquiring, nurturing, and retaining more customers, students and revenue streams
A Marketing Automation System For Your Institution
CRMs and marketing automation platforms are not mutually exclusive solutions; rather, they can be combined to achieve economies of scale, and marketing automation can be a major driver of your CRM.
Intelligent Marketing Automation is something that you should always be considering when you’re looking to get the most reach, the most conversions and the smoothest possible process for your institution. Marketing Automation can be used to:
- Send emails to targeted prospects
- Identify potential enrollees
- Provide real-time analytics
- Track engagement and responses
- Maintain the visibility of your institution to your prospects, students, and other clients throughout the year
Attend a Search Marketing Expo to learn all that marketing automation has to offer. It’ll help you build a better understanding of how you can use a marketing automation platform to achieve the best results for your institution.
The Benefits Of A CRM For Education
An essential part of any student recruitment program is the ability to manage the relationship between the institution and the prospective enrollees. The idea is to quickly build relationships with the leaders of the school, as well as with the students and staffers who work within the school.
Connect with more students
It’s not unheard of to have to delete 10-20% of your prospect list for a hugely popular school, due to lack of time to engage with all of the students who are interested. Additionally, you may fill your classroom weeks before you’ve even reached out to each of those students, making it impossible to fill a classroom these days. Your CRM can help with this.
Students who are interested in your school or program but haven’t applied will be removed from your list by the automated approval routing systems you can build into your CRM. That provides the opportunity to use a deeper set of first contact tactics to persuade students who don’t have an application on file to register.
In addition to helping you make a successful connection with each student who is actually interested in your institution’s program, CRM platforms help you build relationships with the students’ contact people. This makes sure that your marketing efforts are more effective and more likely to result in enrollment.
Improve contract agreements and follow up
CRMs can also help you keep track of the contact information for the students who have already committed to your institution. You can use this data to keep track of the most important people who already have an umbrella agreement with your institution and regularly send targeted follow-up to make sure you come to the top of mind. For example, you can send targeted notifications through email, text, and even social networks to help ensure that a prospect’s connection with your institution is always active and in a positive light.
Monitor all of these factors and more, and you can better manage the entire lifecycle of the students who are serious about enrolling at your institution.
Offer improved customer service
Tracking leads and contacts makes it easier to keep everyone on the team well-informed of the institution’s status in the enrollment process. You can track responses to inquiries, follow up on the status of applications, and even build reminders into the CRM system for various dates in the enrollment process. This provides a level of visibility to your school or institution that gives your entire team access to key information, making everyone more effective at their job.
Recognize and prioritize the best prospects
Knowing your prospects is a crucial portion of a recruitment program effort. CRMs give you the ability to keep track of new information that comes in regarding the students. That information should help you to recognize and prioritize the prospects who are more serious about enrolling at your institution, which in turn can help you turn the people who are interested into the people who are enrolled in your institution.
How to Use a CRM For Education
CRM, or customer relationship management, systems can seem daunting to large institutions with large teams, but the reality is that there are CRM options that are extremely affordable, easy to program, and easy to manage.
For example, there are low-cost cloud-based CRM systems that you can use to manage the student recruitment process. These are designed to easily integrate with other tools that you may already be using in your institution or in your company, so that you can move seamlessly between programs that you use to engage with students. For example, if you use an email marketing tool to engage your database, you can ensure your CRM is integrated with that to ensure the maximum impact of your efforts.
Of course, this integration also must be established so that you can integrate with tools like social networks, the registrar’s office, financial aid officers, and your marketing automation platform. As you develop deeper relationships with your institution members and leads, along with their friends and families, it’s important to transfer that information to your CRM. This helps you build a complete record of knowledge about those people to help your institution reach them when the time is right.
For example, the CRM can inform you when audience members have access to some of your institution’s upcoming major events, and then you can use your database to populate social networks with event reminders, updates, and so on, making it easy for people to connect, engage and even interact at a time that is most convenient for them.
The Challenges Of A CRM For Education
For those who are new to the world of CRMs, choosing the right platform isn’t always easy. Before you jump into the entire process, you have to be aware of the things that you should be looking for in an education CRM.
The ease of use of the software
You don’t want a software experience that is difficult to use. It has to be easy to set up and navigate, with an intuitive platform that your entire team can get used to. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re getting a platform that is going to be able to support your outstanding growth in terms of both the number of team members and the number of leads and cases you are following.
The tools and functionality of the software
You want to make sure the software has the capabilities you need to successfully follow your leads and cases, but you also want to make sure that it has the tools you need to engage your leads and cases. Whether it’s an HTML form builder, landing pages, a CRM form, social widgets, or mobile interaction, you need a platform with the right functionality to help you and your team succeed.
How the software integrates with the other tools you are using to engage your school community
Ultimately, your educational CRM shouldn’t be considered a separate program in and of itself. Instead, it should be a part of your larger admissions program and be used to help you leverage your existing platforms as well as to help you optimize your existing relationships.
The Importance of an Educational CRM
For an institution and the people engaged in the school’s recruitment program, the CRM is as essential to the success of your institution’s recruitment strategy as anything else you’re using. It provides a level of relevance and return on investment that you simply can’t get without a CRM system. It can also provide a number of other benefits, including those listed below:
Keeps track of valuable lead information
CRMs are designed to store your institution’s most valuable asset: your candidates. As you think about the entire enrollment process, a CRM is an amazing way to keep track of your leads, prospects, and clients. When a student is interested in your institution, he or she becomes a lead. By using a CRM, you can store and track all of your leads. Over time, you can track the progress of those leads and understand your entire pipeline.
In doing so, you can understand where the problems are in your recruitment efforts, and you can establish contingency plans to ensure that your institution is able to make sure that any leads are considered and that everyone eventually enrolls. You can also easily measure the success of your recruitment efforts so that you can constantly update your strategy, and ultimately reach the best possible outcome for your institution.
Tracks contacts across campaigns and channels
An important CRM feature is its ability to keep track of contacts throughout multiple campaigns. This comes with a variety of benefits, including the fact that you can better understand how well campaigns are working, and what you need to change or improve. Of course, the CRM can do this by tracking the leads on those different campaigns. This way you have a complete picture of everything you’re doing to acquire leads. You’ll also have a clearer vision of how well the different channels are working to generate results.
Generates meaningful statistics
The CRM allows you to generate a variety of statistics, including the number of leads, the number of cases, the number of new enrollments, and more. This way you know how well your marketing efforts are working and if you need to add or remove any strategies to be more effective. You can also generate performance metrics that are more useful than simply relying on the number of new enrollments, such as:
- The top ten prospects
- The most engaged prospects
- Time to close cases
- Least successful prospects
- The most engaged prospects
How you use these stats will change the course of your educational CRM, and drive your strategy for the entire enrollment process.
Tracks opportunities at every stage of the process
One of the biggest benefits of a CRM for your institution is that it helps you track every opportunity at all stages of the enrollment process. Whether it’s a student that has been on your campus, a prospective student, or a person you’re working with through the decision process to sign up for classes, a CRM system tracks the progress of every lead that comes through your institution. This includes the people who are most interested in enrolling.
This helps you manage the current student population, but it’s also an invaluable tool for continually expanding your student population. Let’s say, for example, that you have a high schooler who is going to attend your institution next year. Instead of putting a prospect in the pipeline and tracking the status of his or her interest, you can put that person on your CRM and follow the student’s progress throughout the process. You can easily communicate with the parents and the student through the CRM, and you can establish this process to ensure that every lead is considered and that enrolled students become alumni.
Removes confusion and adds trust and transparency to your institution
Another important CRM feature is its ability to help your institution become more transparent and more effective. A CRM brings much needed clarity to the entire enrollment process. While your institution’s growth is an important part of the entire process, you also need to ensure that you are working with your prospects properly. You need to make sure they can trust you and that you’re not making false promises. A CRM system automatically creates transparency for your leads and provides them with the ability to understand exactly where they are in the process.
It also facilitates career conversations with prospective students. With a CRM system, you can track where students are in their career development and begin to have those conversations that prepare them to consider your institution. This can help you create a sense of trust, and it can also help your institution set students up for success.
Sells your institution in a trustful and respectful way
Students often leave conversations with you feeling pressured and overwhelmed. This takes a lot of the trust you have built with them and destroys it. Unfortunately, this is a common problem. Many educational institutions create a negative campaigning environment. A CRM provides a positive campaigning environment that focuses on your institution and honestly helps students make the decision that is right for them.
Fosters a collaborative approach
In the modern age of higher education, it is very difficult for individual departments to work together.
Higher education’s tracking of metrics has led to a singular vision of the enrollment process that dictates that each department work separately because they are “competing against one another for the same students”. A CRM system allows departments to collaborate because it shows where leads are in the process.
Your institution’s CRM will help your institution succeed. Not because you have a fantastic tool to track your student leads, but because your CRM helps you establish a collaborative environment based on the needs of the student, and a trust-based relationship between your institution and each of the leads in your recruitment pipeline.
What to consider before getting a CRM for educational institutions?
So let’s say you’re ready to make the leap and integrate a CRM into your educational institution. What are you looking for? How do you determine which solution is best for your institution?
First, consider why you want to purchase a CRM system. If you already have a CRM system, you may simply want to expand the functionality of your current system. Hopefully you are considering it because you want to improve student enrolment. If that’s the case, you need to consider the number of people and the depth of functionality required to effectively track your leads. You also need to make sure that you can more effectively manage your students, data, and potential students.
An educational CRM system should offer an effective tool that helps you manage your students. It should be accessible to anyone in the institution, and it should be expandable. You will want to look at at system that can be customized for your institution, and you’ll want to make sure it has a variety of features that will meet your needs. Carefully consider the metrics that will matter for your institution based on your goals, and make sure the platform is expandable so that you can explore new features in the future.
You should also consider the cost of your CRM and what you need to do to get started. Do you need a dedicated server? Is this going to require a large IT investment? What kinds of hardware and software are needed to install the system? Will you need software upgrades as the system grows?
You should also make sure you have a good platform that supports a seamless experience. You may not only want your CRM to coordinate student recruiting, but you may want to expand it to include the parents who are involved with the decisions that are being made. Similarly, you might want to install an administrative dashboard to help make the process of managing your CRM a seamless one for your entire team.
Finally, you should make sure your CRM is scalable. You might think you want a low-cost system, but you need to consider your institution’s future. If it is effective now, you need to make sure that it can be effective for your institution going forward.
A Student CRM solution for educational institution.
So what is the best CRM solution for your institution? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as “this is the best CRM.” The goal of the CRM should be to help you manage your students effectively. That means that it should be adaptable, sustainable, scalable, customizable, and accessible. There are several CRM systems that can help you accomplish these goals.