How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

How to choose the right CRM for your university

A survey conducted by StudyPortals and iE&D Solutions revealed that in 2015, 104 (59%) out of 176 universities respondents did not use a CRM system. So what exactly are these institutions missing out on?

A survey conducted by StudyPortals and iE&D Solutions revealed that in 2015, 104 (59%) out of 176 universities respondents did not use a CRM system. So what exactly are these institutions missing out on?

Higher education institutions are changing the way they interact with their stakeholders and a modern CRM for higher education is a must-have asset for establishments who want to get the most out of their digital admissions and marketing strategy. Without one, departments are at risk of becoming disorganised; both time and money are also inevitably wasted on surplus administrative tasks that could be easily avoided with the right technology.

A CRM for higher education can act as a catalyst for the following three things:

Increased ROI:

Automating communications and using data segmentation to personalise messages leads to increased student engagement and in turn, higher enrollment and retention rates. Relationships are nurtured throughout the student lifecycle and beyond, increasing alumni and donor engagement.

Synergy between departments:

The streamlined nature of a CRM enables departments (marketing and Admissions, for instance) to collaborate on projects easily. A centralised system also makes lead tracking and pulling reports quick and easy - in short, everybody's working with the same system towards the same goal.

Brand recognition:

If ‘Content is King’, Communication is Queen, and in order to compete in a digitalised world, institutions need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to both their online content and the way in which they are getting it out there. CRMs enable universities to reach their audience in targeted, creative ways and most importantly, get people talking, sharing and hashtagging.

Which CRM should I go for?

With dozens of education-specific CRMs on the market, each vying for your custom, which should you choose? No CRM is identical; each has their own focus, specialism and way of operating. These five suggestions will set you on the right track to selecting the best offering for your institution.

Consider what you need your CRM to do

Don’t invest in a CRM without considering why your university needs it - how will it benefit from the software and what functionalities should it have? For instance, your priority might be automating marketing campaigns to attract more prospects, tracking the individual throughout their student life cycle, pulling reports on progress - or all three! Remember to think about what works well already and where the operational gaps are, as well as your institution’s long-term plans.


A converged CRM allows for seamless tracking and reporting.

Create an implementation timeline

Factor in when you want your new CRM to be up and running. If you need it quickly, you might decide to opt for a cloud-based CRM which requires less time to implement and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. On the other hand, an on-site bespoke solution might be a better choice for your institution, in which case you can spend a little more time researching and testing different options.

Think about mobility

Imagine you or one of your teaching staff are in a seminar situation and a student enquires about their academic progress. Instead of having to pull up a spreadsheet or dig out a paper mark sheet, a CRM for higher education that is compatible with mobile and tablets will enable you to retrieve the information instantly.

Ensure your team are involved

Talk to your team during the research period to gain the insight and ideas - after all, they will be the ones using the CRM on a daily basis. Utilise their knowledge during the testing period too. A good quality CRM should be easy to use and accessible for all.

Compare the options

Different types of CRM are available and one size doesn’t fit all.

Unified & Integrated

This type of CRM is not ‘uniform’ in its approach - it often seems as if the different elements have been stuck together in one package and often lack consistency. Although they can be tailored for the institution, they can be complex to use.


A converged CRM offers an ‘all in one’ solution, bringing all the features together in one neat package. This means student recruitment, admissions and marketing systems are integrated into a single streamlined program. A converged CRM also offers consistency in terms of usability and design, making them easier to implement and operate.



This article was inspired by an article by ClickTime.


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Kate Tattersfield

Kate Tattersfield is a former teacher turned content creator at FULL FABRIC, specialising in writing for the education sector.

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Five ways a modern CRM can help your university