Scenario #1: Matt Lively works as the Director of International Student Recruitment at the Mountain View University. He supervises a team of five student recruitment officers. One of his major duties is to send generic acceptance letters to selected students for admission. This step must be completed as soon as they hear decisions from the admission committee so the students can start preparing for student visas in advance. Later, personalized admission letters are sent to each of them via email. However, this morning, Matt found out that a generic acceptance letter was sent to a group of students who were not selected for admission! The situation escalated further when few of those students started their visa application process and contacted the International Education Centre for further guidance…
Scenario #2: Trish Oakland is working for Lake Tacoma College as a Recruitment Officer. She answers inquiries from prospective students and pursues them to fill out a sign-up form. The details are stored in an online spreadsheet. Later, Trish copies and pastes all the details to another master spreadsheet. After every two or three days, she sends a generic follow-up email to all the students, calls them, and updates the spreadsheet. However, with each spreadsheet containing thousands of students, it has become too cumbersome for her to send dedicated communication messages to a specific group of students. As a result, she is now being forced to send a generic content to both prospects and marketing qualified leads…
The abovementioned scenarios are two of the many struggles faced by higher education marketers and recruitment teams. When you are dealing with a couple of hundred prospective students, you can somehow manage the whole marketing process manually. But, when the volume is measured in thousands, good luck if you’re still using spreadsheets and marking rows in colors to track prospective students and leads!
Just a slight mistake can initiate a sequence of errors that can potentially collapse your entire higher education marketing process! Just think about scenario one! The damage is irreversible! In the case of sequence two, a similar type of damage is just around the corner!
So, what’s the solution? It’s quite simple: find a tool that will allow you to automatically gather relevant contact data in a centralized system that allows you to be more selective with targeted messaging and persuading prospects.
In the world of marketing automation, we call it a Contact Relationship Management tool. In short: CRM.
What is CRM Software?
Simply put: CRM software is a tool that helps a sales team keep their customers and leads organized and compartmentalized, using unique tags, scoring, and many other identifiers, while the marketing team is able to see if their campaigns are working out.
Usually, a good CRM tool has the following features:
Lead Nurturing: Allow users to track a prospect’s or lead’s behavior and communicate with them according to their status.
View Lead Data: Present the leads in different formats to find relevant insights.
Create Tasks: Update interactions with leads and assign tasks for team member(s) to pursue the leads.
Group Leads: Allow users to segregate leads in different groups for more personalized communication.
Manage Pipelines: Allow users to view and manage leads in different stages of a sales pipeline.
There are tons of other features in a good CRM including individual contact reporting, list processing support, searching and filtering leads, etc., but these are the main features every CRM must-have.
How can these features benefit higher education marketing teams with their recruitment strategy? Let’s explore those in the next section.
Benefits of Using a CRM Software in Higher Education Marketing
CRM Software Benefit #1:
Storing all your prospective students in a central database automatically
Imagine you are running multiple campaigns that are collecting prospective student leads from different sources. In a campaign, you are asking high school students to sign up a via an online form. In a campus tour, you are asking prospective graduate students to scan a QR code and fill out another form. In a seminar, you are collecting information of prospective MBA students via another form. These are quite common scenarios in higher education marketing. Now, all this data is being stored in spreadsheets, which means someone needs to copy and paste them manually (sometimes one by one) in a central database. However, if you are using a CRM and connect the CRM with a digital form, all student data will be stored in one master contact list in the CRM, getting rid of all those manual copy and pastes!
You must be wondering about finding out which student belongs to which group. No worries, we have that covered, too!
CRM Software Benefit #2:
Filtering prospective students into groups to ensure more personalized communication
When all data is stored in a centralized system, you can filter your prospective students based on the data you have collected. You can filter them out based on their gender, education level, programs they are interested in, what they prioritize on campus, post grad work opportunities, etc. This feature allows you to put prospective students in different groups and send relevant, personalized communication to each of those groups. For instance, prospective MBA students are highly unlikely to show interest in sports; instead, they are mostly interested in placement opportunities.
Filtering this group out and sending them a few endorsements from successful alumni can work like magic. Similarly, high school students who showed interest in the university gym and athletic club can be persuaded by sending them brochures/videos/flyers related to sports and recreation opportunities on campus.
A great tool to generate insights and turn generic leads into marketing qualified leads!
CRM Software Benefit #3:
Obtaining a general snapshot of your student conversion status
One of the most prominent benefits of having a CRM is to check if your sales and marketing efforts are working out or not. That insight can be found in the CRM dashboard that displays an overview of your lead conversion process, including summaries of leads’ positions in the pipeline, density of each stage, revenues earned from leads, average time to convert, etc. This information is vital to restructure or boost your higher education marketing policy and recruitment process.
For instance, from your CRM, you have learned that despite having thousands of leads, you only have only five or six enrollments. This means either your leads have dropped out between the attraction and conversion phases or your leads were not good enough to start with. Based on further investigation, you might want to change your higher education marketing campaign or improve your student recruitment communication strategy. On the other hand, if you are seeing that you are landing 1,000 leads every semester, turning 200 of those into marketing qualified leads, and finally having 100 students enrolled, you know that you are have a healthy recruitment and marketing process. All you can do right now is to focus on improving the percentage of transforming generic leads to marketing qualified lead so you can yield a better result than what you have right now.
CRM Software Benefit #4:
Lead scoring and assigning tasks for specific recruiters
You have two student inquiries. One just emailed you asking a few questions about your university. The other student has decided to apply but he/she is not sure about the payment procedure. Are you going to put both in the same group based on their importance?
Here comes the concept of lead scoring and assigning tasks. Lead scoring means identifying a lead according to their level of importance and probability of them converting. Usually, different schools use different tags to score leads. However, generally, leads are often scored as visitors (who just casually visited your site), leads (who signed up for information), marketing qualified leads (who are interested), sales qualified leads (who are a few steps away from making a purchase decision), and customers. In the above example, the first prospective student is a visitor who checked your site and sent an email to get some generic info. On the other hand, the second prospective student is a sales qualified lead because he just needs to complete his payment.
A task assigning feature in a CRM is highly important and should be synchronous to scoring leads. Through the task assigning feature, recruitment team members can assign a specific task for another team member. That task is often linked to a prospective student. For instance, once a team member gets an inquiry from the second student (see example above) who wants to complete the payment process, he/she can score the student as a Sales Qualified Lead and assign the task to another team member to guide the student throughout the payment process. Through this feature, recruitment teams can stay organized and work collaboratively to achieve the same goal.
CRM Software Benefit #5:
Moving leads within pipeline stages
Ability to move leads within pipelines is a unique benefit offered by a CRM software. Let’s explain it by an example.
Imagine, you have a student recruitment pipeline including these stages: visitors, leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and customers. You gradually move prospective students through different stages in the pipeline as you contact them and pursue them. Now, suddenly, a few leads have decided to enroll in a program. At the same time, a few students who had already applied are now deciding to cancel their applications. These changes in leads’ statuses need to be reflected in the pipeline. So, using this feature, you can easily move the first group of students into the Sales Qualified Leads pipeline stage, and bring back the second group of students into the leads stage from the Sales Qualified Leads stage.
Now, apply this concept to a team of 10+ recruiters who deals with a couple of thousands of students every semester and they often need to move leads. Doing it in a CRM instead of jugging with spreadsheets — seems mouth-watering, doesn’t it?
Can you do it manually? Yes, you can! But the time and resources you would have to waste to collaboratively do it will turn into a nightmare!
If you are reading this, then I’m sure the mentioned benefits of a CRM in higher education marketing caught your attention and you are willing to give it a try.
Why not try the SimplyCast CRM? It covers all the features mentioned above and even more. With a SimplyCast CRM, you will enjoy the benefits of CRM alongside enjoying our marketing automation platform as well. For instance, once you filter out a group of students in SimplyCast’s CRM software, you can also contact them via SimplyCast’s email marketing Tool & SMS Marketing Tool. Just so you know, we have a online form Builder tool that you can connect directly to the CRM!
And, if you are using another CRM software already, don’t worry about the transition! If you store your important data with a third-party CRM, you can have your CRM solution integrated with the SimplyCast CRM. Integration allows you to provide your potential students with highly personalized campaigns based on their individual information.
Want to try it for yourself? Activate your 14-day free trial today by clicking the button below!