Welcome to our ‘Choosing a Higher Education CRM system’ series. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be used to manage every step of the student journey. From initial enquiry management through to graduation and beyond! Choosing the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be confusing, time-consuming and expensive. We want to arm you with questions and advice to help you choose the system that’s right for you.
Our first blog in the series takes a look into the different steps on the student journey where a Higher Education CRM system can help. So, you can see if it’s something that will deliver tangible benefits to you and your University.
Step one: attracting
The decision to attend University is certainly not an easy one. Especially considering the potential financial outlay. So, expectations are high. Competition is fierce. Personalised marketing is the norm.
Also, the influence and impact of social media is keenly felt by everyone. There’s a wealth of information out there – in a variety of different media – and your savvy potential students have access to it. What you do, how you do it and what others think of your University is being heavily scrutinised – all the time.
It’s no surprise then that you’re having to constantly increase and adapt your efforts to stand out in order to attract students to your University.
And this is where Higher Education CRM systems can help you with:
- Planning, managing and tracking your digital marketing activities
- Focusing your messages to your target audience
- Personalising communications and using different media to send your messages
- Automating responses and follow-ups to campaigns to maintain regular communication in line with GDPR guidelines and avoiding over-contacting
- Traceability and fulfilment of all incoming enquiries and prospectus requests
- Leveraging and interacting using social media platforms
- Planning, managing and tracking events and general open days
- Offering secure, online portals so prospective students can manage enquiries, register for events and download information
- Managing your interview process
- Tracking digital marketing campaigns to make sure you’re making the most of your budget
- Analysing which media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and campaigns are having the most impact – and when’s the best time to send your communications
Step two: engaging
The student journey is starting earlier for many – with students engaging with Universities two or more years before they are due to start. You may already have School Outreach Programs in place to engage with schools. Higher Education CRM systems can help you manage these relationships and track activities.
Once a student has made an enquiry about your University, that’s only the beginning of the story. You can’t take anything for granted. You want to make sure you’re in regular contact with any potential students. You’re trying to impress the benefits of your University over your competition. So, you’re the first University they think of. To do this you need to know what’s important to your prospective students. And this is where personalised communications become increasingly important!
You can store prospective student’s personal information, securely, in a CRM system. You can then use this to focus your messages through various digital marketing platforms. Some Higher Education CRM systems also offer data encryption to make sure any personal data is protected from unauthorised internal and external viewing.
Plus, you can link your Higher Education CRM system to your Student Information Management software. This helps you stay up to date with where the prospective student is on their journey. You can then use this data to send them communications at key stages in their application and enrolment process.
In addition, you want to encourage students to attend your applicant open days to really see what you offer. There’s a higher chance that they’ll choose your University if they have a fantastic experience at one of your applicant open days. This is where Higher Education CRM can really help. The right CRM system can take a lot of the administration overhead – and stress! – from your applicant open days. From sending personalised invitations, through to online registrations and automated ‘thanks for attending’ or ‘sorry you couldn’t make it this time’ communications. It can even help you tailor your applicant open days to the courses your applicants are interested in.
Step three: retaining
Once, you have enrolled the student, that’s the end of their journey, right? No … You can use CRM systems to send communications to your students throughout the duration of their course. These can be used to offer support and assistance, advertise events and activities as well as encourage them to give their feedback on their experience.
Higher Education CRM systems can also help you manage your graduation process – including sending and managing invitations, confirming attendance, printing tickets and creating the order of ceremony.
Plus, you can start your students on the next step of their journey and also encourage them to complete a postgraduate course with you. As well as use the CRM system to manage your Alumni communications and events.
Learning and improving the journey
A Higher Education CRM system can help you improve the way you do things; improving your reputation, increasing revenue and reducing costs. So, to measure success you need to know where you’re starting from and what you’re trying to achieve.
Higher Education CRM systems give you dashboards and reports to help you track progress, as well as identify potential trends by comparing last year’s event attendance to this year, for example.
Some dashboards can even tell you how many prospective students you had signed up for the same event this time last year. For example, 2 weeks before the event start date last year you had x registered and this year you have y. You can then compare your marketing activities for both years and see whether you need to increase your activity to make sure you get the numbers in.
Where do you start on your Higher Education CRM journey?
Now you can, hopefully. see where a Higher Education Management CRM system can help you manage each step of your students’ journey, where do you start?
Firstly, you need to know:
- what you do. Is it mapped out? How do your different departments work together? And what are the outputs expected by each?
- how does what you do fit into the University’s overall strategy? Where are you going? And what are you trying to achieve?
- do you have systems in place already? What do they do? Are they working? Are they linked?
- what are your biggest challenges? Do you think your issues are process or software related? Or other?
- what data do you hold? Where? How would you define its quality?
And don’t worry you want to be looking into the future to how you can improve but don’t forget to be realistic!
Our next blog will highlight some things to look for when choosing CRM for Higher Education and, importantly, how to measure success.