Enrollment is a top priority for higher education institutions looking to become more resilient in the face of constantly changing trends. While it is true that college enrollment goes up and down due to student expectations, current events, and other factors, the number of active and engaged students is always important.
Campus leaders must be smart, flexible, and innovative in order to increase college enrollment. In the college enrollment process, technology and digital trends are more prominent than ever. As a result, long-term success is dependent on these channels.
Learn how to increase college enrollment with smart, tactical, and hands-on strategies you can use right away in this post.
What is a CRM in Higher Education?
A CRM in education essentially performs the same functions as CRMs in other businesses. It assists the company in managing interactions with customers at each stage of the customer's journey. This includes everything from student recruitment and retention to student support, as well as providing reports to both the institution and the student along the way, and automating processes to make life easier for both parties.
With competition becoming a growing issue for more institutions, higher education CRM systems are expected to provide tools to improve team collaboration, allowing those institutions to compete more effectively.
Benefits of Using CRM for Higher Education
There are numerous benefits to using a CRM for colleges and universities. Although this data framework operates behind the scenes, it provides college students with a unified and transparent experience.
Benefits of higher education CRMs include:
Engagement with Prospects
Prospects are looking for useful information, and first impressions are crucial. You'll be able to capture a prospect's name, email, geographic location, previous education, and more by using a CRM. This type of data is extremely valuable because it can be used to tailor future promotions and campaigns to their specific interests.
Marketing Through Automation
Colleges and universities can greatly benefit from marketing automation. The best higher education CRM systems will assist you in streamlining your student lead management and follow-up processes, ultimately improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your operations.
Gain Insights on Organizational Processes
Higher education institutions used to gain insights into their organizational processes by keeping pen-and-paper records or complicated spreadsheets, all of which were filled with redundant or outdated data. Data collection is now quite simple, thanks to CRM software for educational organizations. These CMSs include reporting and analytics tools that allow users to add, manage, and access data. Higher education institutions can make better decisions and develop more effective growth strategies as a result of powerful features like these.
Manage Budget & Resource Allocation
School CRM software includes tools for gathering valuable, granular data on your target audience. This information is nicely organized into detailed reports that can help with smarter budget and resource allocation management.
Security & Data Protection
Personal information such as applicants' and students' names, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, and more will be stored in your CRM. That is, it is critical to protect this highly personal and sensitive data. Fortunately, the best CRM software for higher education includes a variety of security features, such as user authentication, authorization, encryption, data security filters, and others.
Choosing the Best Higher Education CRM for Your College or University
Before investing in a brand new CRM for education industry, it is important to have answered a few questions.
Does the Education CRM Fit Your Specific Needs?
If the need to customize the education industry CRM arises after you have purchased it, you may want to consider the additional costs. If you already have a technology infrastructure in place, you'll want to know if the top CRM for higher education can be easily integrated into it. If you need to hire programmers to make changes, this could be expensive.
Is the Product White-Labeled?
To provide a unified experience to your clients, it will most likely be necessary to brand your school CRM software in your style. If the CRM does not come with this capability, you may want to reconsider.
Does the Provider Offer Support/Training With the CRM Software?
CRM software is only as good as the people who use it. You will want to ensure that the software provider is invested in helping you get the most out of their product, such as by providing training, and that they will provide support if anything goes wrong.
Consider Initial and Additional Costs
Aside from the initial purchase/licensing costs, you'll want to make sure there are no other recurring costs, that your package price includes all relevant features, and that there are no limitations that will prevent you from fully utilizing the product. For example, if you decide to get college CRM software on a subscription basis, you'll want to know if there are any restrictions on the number of users who can subscribe.
Keep in Mind Security and Stability
Given that CRM software is, by definition, a distributed system, security should be one of the top priorities. Your CRM should be accessible to both students and teachers at all times. Downtime for the best CRM software for schools in USA, for example, is highly disruptive because the school calendar is often quite rigid and intolerant of delays. You should also ensure that the data you save is regularly and securely backed up so that you can easily recover from an unexpected data loss. [Related article: 5 Steps of Effective CRM Implementation Strategy]
Key Features of Higher Education CRM
Manage Institution Events
Fundraising, recruitment, and student engagement all rely heavily on event planning. A CRM allows you to manage all of your event-related tasks and keep track of relevant data from a single system. CRM for school management includes robust event management tools that can be used to inform your event planning strategy.
Back in the day, the only way to receive an inquiry was by phone; today, things are a little different. Inquiries can come in through a variety of channels, including phone, email, social media, and website chat, to name a few. To ensure that no inquiries slip through the cracks, you must collect and store them all in one location. Furthermore, you must act quickly. According to statistics, the chances of converting a lead to a customer drop by an astounding 80% after 5 minutes! Fortunately, CRM for universities includes all of the tools you need to respond quickly to new inquiries and maintain communication.
Streamline Admission & Evaluation Process
CRM for students enables you to automate the entire admissions process, from lead generation to applicant, student, enrollment, and payment. Based on detailed reports, you can track the status of your leads and determine which processes require additional investment. Furthermore, many of these CRM systems include a document management system that allows for the uploading, viewing, and printing of student documentation as part of the admissions process.
Manage Accounting & Invoicing Systems
A practical accounting and invoicing system to run finance operations is something that every higher education institution requires. The best CRM platforms enable you to process payments securely, track payment history, and generate financial reports. Furthermore, CRMs can be integrated with third-party payment gateways to enable online payments for tuition and other school fees.
Integrate with Institution's Website & Social Media Channels
Your website is the engine that drives your recruitment efforts. This is where prospects go to find relevant information, ask questions, and see images of life on your campus. You can quickly manage your leads and convert them into students by integrating your website with a CRM system. Information will flow instantly from your website to your CRM, updating in real-time.
The same is true for your social media platforms. These are the most important communication channels for you. Your social media channels are overflowing with data that your team must process and manage. Integrating your social media channels into your CRM software for universities can save your team hours of data entry and prospect response time.
7 Best CRM for Higher Education
Salesforce has established itself as the world's leading CRM solution and the best CRM for higher education. Salesforce, on the other hand, is a standout option for higher education, especially since the introduction of Education Cloud a few years ago. Salesforce created a unified solution for universities to manage the entire student lifecycle, from admissions to alumni outreach, with this product.
Depending on your organization's existing software and the level of experience of your in-house team, partnering with experienced Salesforce consultants may be the quickest and most cost-effective way to get your system up and running and fully utilize its extensive capabilities.
- Every learner and applicant is seen from every angle.
- Access to a user and developer online community, with 99 percent of questions answered within 24 hours.
- Other software and application integrations
- AI and analytics that are robust for everything from applicant tracking to alumni insights and beyond
Provided by a vendor on request.
- It has the best analytics available.
- Adaptable and versatile
- Because of our extensive knowledge base and user community, your questions will always be answered promptly.
Full Fabric provides a suite of solutions to meet the needs of higher education. Foundation CRM, its centerpiece software, fully integrates with other software products to manage all aspects of a student's experience at their chosen institution.
Event management is handled by some education CRM solutions via third-party integrations, but Foundation CRM includes this functionality out of the box. To top it all off, the lead management functionality of the software makes it simple to qualify prospective students. Full Fabric also provides Core for student retention and Origin for building customizable admissions portals at scale.
- Specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of higher education
- Platforms that are mobile-friendly are available.
- Advanced segmentation tools for better lead qualification
- Compatibility with other software platforms and technology
Module-based and dependent on the annual number of applications.
- Developed specifically for the unique needs of the higher education industry
- Allows you to automate important tasks like contact and lead capture.
- A simple, comfortable user interface (user interface)
- Analytics and data reporting still leave a bit to be desired
Hubspot, a well-known all-in-one marketing solution, offers both free and premium versions of its CRM for student management. The free version has a lot of features, but larger institutions of higher learning will benefit more from premium software that can be bundled with a full suite of marketing, sales, support, and operational automation features.
Hubspot's marketing focus makes it ideal for converting prospective students into applicants, and with a plethora of integrations available, it may be a good fit for your institution's tech stack.
- A simple interface with little learning curve
- There is a lot of user-generated and customizable content, forms, and other things.
- One of the most robust and feature-rich open-source tools available.
- Advanced lead generation and tracking tools for applicants and recruiters
HubSpot's core CRM platform is completely free to use for as long as you want, without cost. The free plan has no expiration date. You can add up to 1,000,000 contacts and an unlimited number of users, as well as try out tools like email scheduling, live chat, tasks and activities, ad management, and email templates.
- Stunning UI and nearly flawless UX
- A 30-day free trial is available.
- The contact filtering and organization are excellent.
Radius, Campus Management's (now Anthology's) pioneering higher education CRM software, isn't winning any beauty pageants. The interface is a little out of date, and the UX can be a little clunky as well. If you're looking for a best-in-class admissions management solution, you won't care because Radius delivers in spades.
Radius offers a variety of digital review tools to help you make better, faster admissions decisions, in addition to bringing all applicant information into a single, accessible interface. Radius even empowers your students by providing a self-service portal for tracking application and financial aid status as well as personalized learning recommendations.
- From application to review, management of the entire admissions process
- Text messaging and chat are available modes of communication.
- Resources dedicated to segmented groups and users
The vendor doesn't provide any info on pricing plans.
- Workflows enable you to automate many of the most time-consuming admissions management processes.
- Completely cloud-based, with no IT setup required
- Its useful two-way web chat feature allows you to respond to student inquiries quickly and efficiently.
Maestro is highly configurable, cloud-based, and has a plethora of analytical features to boot. Maestro eliminates the hassle of running an educational institute with features such as course management, graduation planning, admissions, and tuition billing. Maestro is also simple to operate. It's simple to organize students and contact them all at once via text or email. To save time and keep everyone informed, you can send configurable communications directly to your students' inboxes or post an announcement.
- Management of hierarchical organizations through integrated management
- Advanced communication and admissions tools
- Analytics and reporting in real-time
- Services for school administration
Although the vendor does not provide a starting price point, a free trial is available if you schedule a demo.
- Excellent customer service.
- Highly adaptable and customizable solution.
- Simple to use.
- Any device can access it (phone, tablet, computer).
- Appropriate for scaling organizations.
- A bit of a learning curve
- Dated interface
Slate, Technolutions' purpose-built university CRM platform, is an all-in-one platform designed to meet the unique needs of higher education institutions. From data visualization to marketing automation, the platform provides a highly customizable and feature-rich interface that is currently used by over 1,500 colleges and universities around the world. Slate also claims that its clients frequently recoup the cost of the platform within the first year because it eliminates the need for cluttered and expensive third-party tools.
- Application Management
- Fee Management
- Financial Aid Management
- Forms Management
- Self Service Portal
- Pricing is not provided by the vendor.
- There are numerous communication channels.
- Marketing automation that is dynamic.
- Forms can be dragged and dropped indefinitely.
- Statistics and analytics are embedded.
- Event management.
- The release of requested features has been postponed.
- Learning the various areas of the platform can take some time.
- Better reporting options could be provided.
Embark Campus is only priced via custom quote because the company is committed to providing flexible, accommodating solutions for each institution on an individual basis. It has a full-service online admissions program.
This software platform also has scalable solutions for managing every stage of the admissions lifecycle and beyond. Inquiry forms can be customized and created, mobile engagement is available, and automated email scheduling is also available.
With Embark Campus, higher education institutions will be able to match branding, collect portfolios, safeguard data and accept documents, and even customize the entire journey for each student or applicant.
- A simple dashboard that is fully customizable and scalable.
- Document sharing and organization online
- Maximum security
- Best practices for higher education CRM that are industry-leading
You will have to request a custom quote.
- Send individual emails or automated emails on a regular basis.
- Both smartphones and tablets are supported.
- Add your own colors and branding to your application site.
- Make changes to the logic of your application form.
- Assign applications to groups and reviewers.
- Issues with uploading materials.
- Not as intuitive to use as users would like.
[Related article: Comparison of CRM]
How Do Higher Education Institutions Leverage CRM Software?
CRM system use cases are nearly limitless, and any school that is willing to implement, adapt, and scale can find success with a CRM strategy.
Many colleges and universities use automated CRM solutions for the following reasons:
- To cultivate strong relationships - The higher education experience is built on the principles of community and relationships. CRMs should support these efforts at the campus level, allowing leaders and staff to connect with students from the moment they arrive.
- To gain valuable data insights - In addition to the social and academic aspects of college life, leaders must make critical decisions about the school's strategic direction, technology requirements, enrollment campaigns, and other issues.
- To maintain contact with alumni - Graduates remain valuable members of the university community. Regular CRM updates keep alumni engaged and encourage them to give back to the school or community.
[Related article: How do you choose the right CRM]
Tips for CRM Software Implementation in Higher
Moving to automated software technology necessarily requires planning and strategy. 75 % CRM projects fail due to insufficient planning. Plan ahead of time for implementation to assist users and stakeholders in achieving success.
- Ensure buy-in at all levels. Make no assumptions about a new technological solution. Instead, include every employee whose job responsibilities may change or benefit as a result of the changes.
- Select only secure and compliant solutions. Privacy standards are critical when working with student data. Regulations such as FERPA also have an impact on how institutions interact with students and families, particularly through digital channels. Choose a CRM that meets these requirements.
- Establish internal standards and procedures. Don't leave your customers in the dark. Take the time to define expectations, provide adequate training, and communicate regular or daily usage standards. These proactive steps can help each team and individual user reduces confusion and frustration.
[Related Article: The Best Marketing Automation Software & Platform]
Finding a higher ed CRM that works for you is dependent on your institution's unique characteristics, the resources available to you, and your expectations of the CRM software. That being said, there are a few things to consider before making your investment, as well as a few well-known names trusted by many educational institutions that may be worth investigating. Once you've found the best solution for your needs, the benefits will be critical to your institution's success.