Student Relationship Management systems provide universities and other education providers with the tools they need to engage with students across the learning lifecycle, track attainment and progress and create detailed reports and projections.
According to Capterra, 65 percent of companies adopt a CRM within their first five years of business. As a leader in higher education, you and your institution (including staff and students) can benefit from a specialised CRM for higher education.
What is a Student Relationship Management system?
A Student Relationship Management system is a software solution that enables universities and other higher education providers to streamline student data and automate interactions with enrolled students, as well as applicants and alumni.
You’ve probably heard of a CRM – it stands for Customer Relationship Management system. An SRM is a specialist CRM that is designed for the education industry.
SRMs are designed to facilitate data management and effective communication across the entire student lifecycle
CRMs are primarily used by businesses to manage their relationship with customers, allowing them, for instance, to identify where customers are at in the sales pipeline and market to them accordingly. An SRM behaves in a similar way.
If you work in admissions, you can use your integrated admissions and SRM system to automate communications, including emails, to applicants in line with where they’re at in the application process. But it’s not just applicants who benefit from this technology.
SRMs are designed to facilitate data management and effective communication across the entire student lifecycle. Here’s what a good SRM will enable you to achieve:
Key capabilities of an SRM
An SRM has functionality to fit the specific needs of an educational institution, meaning that it allows for university marketing, admissions management, student lifecycle, and more. Here are some of the key capabilities of these systems:
» Manage the student lifecycle, from applicant to alumni
An SRM acts as an operational hub. It allows you to store student information in a secure way, update it automatically and segment it for marketing and reporting purposes.
» Personalise communications across email and social media
Email is a powerful tool when it comes to engaging students.
Using your SRM, you can send relevant and time-sensitive emails to applicants, students and alumni based on their own personal needs, interests and circumstances.
» Eliminate the need for spreadsheets and multiple systems
The more disparate the process and approach, the higher the risk.
Working across different spreadsheets doesn’t allow for transparent collaboration and can lead to manual errors. An SRM allows you to manage everything in one place and collaborate across teams.
» Manage enquiries and promote on-campus or virtual events
SRMs make handling enquiries a lot easier; an individual’s basic information enters the system upon their very first interaction with your brand (e.g. downloading a prospectus).
As well as nurturing prospective students through the application funnel with support and tips, you can use your SRM to send out event invitations, alerts and reminders.
» Reporting and analytics
An SRM’s inbuilt reporting and analytics capabilities enable you to track engagement and application submissions in real-time.
You can use these insights to build reports on a range of topics, from the number of applications YoY for a specific programme to how many students engaged with your seasonal email campaign.
CRM vs SRM – which is better?
If you’re a university or education provider, an SRM is undoubtedly preferable because it's: a) built with students in mind, and; b) designed to cater specifically for your needs.
A CRM, on the other hand, is consumer-focused, making it harder for you to manage your relationship with university stakeholders effectively.
Getting a CRM’s workflows working for your needs is also difficult because you’ll have to learn how to customise the platform.
Customisation requires time, money and expertise.
Fortunately, an SRM already has pre-built workflows that require minimal customisation. You can create landing pages and enquiry forms and track how engaged your students are with your application content, events and email campaigns.
What’s more, some SRM vendors provide ongoing support and troubleshooting as part of their monthly subscription service, meaning you don’t have to hire new IT staff or spend money training existing employees.
Introducing your team to new software systems can be a challenge at the best of times. Implementing a solution that isn’t built to simplify their tasks is only going to complicate matters even further, and lead to low engagement and adoption rates.
Because an SRM is intuitive to use and intended to streamline everyday processes across different departments, it encourages transparency and collaboration across teams.
Main benefits of a Student Relationship Management (SRM) suite
SRMs are solely designed for the unique requirements of the higher education industry. Here are a few of the things you can expect to benefit from after implementation.
SRM Benefit #1: Attracting new students
An SRM allows you to create targeted marketing campaigns and customised landing pages that will attract candidates to your institution.
You can optimise the user journey to maximise conversions and collect useful information about how leads are interacting with your content.
Data is stored on the cloud, so you and your team can access it remotely when working from different locations.
SRM Benefit #2: Qualifying the best candidates
To help you identify the most suitable candidates, your SRM has inbuilt analytics tools that enable you to target specific groups when advertising your programmes.
Focusing your time and effort on qualified candidates will boost enrolment rates while minimising running costs.
SRM analytics can also be used to track student engagement on campus and throughout students’ academic journey with you.
SRMs make it easy to track grades, missed assignments and attendance – you can even see how students interact with resources such as the university library service.
SRM Benefit #3: Streamlining processes and preventing silos
Streamlining the admissions and enrolment process significantly reduces costs.
Some universities are still using a system to store contact details, another for managing recruitment events, yet another for reporting...the list goes on!
An SRM unifies all the functions of these disparate systems – and improves them – so that you can coordinate every project and process from one place. This eliminates the risk of errors caused by siloes and data mismanagement.
We often hear that registering students is one of the most time-consuming tasks for admissions departments. Your SRM will also automate that process, saving valuable time that can be reallocated to more value-added work.
SRM Benefit #4: Nurturing relationships and building trust
Communication between your institution and students doesn’t stop at enrolment.
With an SRM, you can keep students informed and engaged throughout their journey with you. Social media integrations make posting easier, and creating and automating personalised email campaigns, reminders and social media content is easy.
You can also monitor how individuals are engaging with your communication strategy on a granular level using analytics and use these behavioural insights to improve it.
It’s not just about building trust with students either.
It’s likely that several higher education professionals across different departments will be involved in a project at any given time. A good SRM tool allows you to include everyone, creating transparency across teams and facilitating collaboration.
SRM Benefit #5: Tracking results and implement changes
SRMs provide you with an insight into how engaged individuals are with your institution. But they can also show you the bigger picture.
For example, you can track which programmes have experienced a drop in applications and which have seen a boost – then start to question why.
Did the programme with more applicants implement a more effective email marketing workflow? Which social media platform do your target applicants spend most time on, and would it be worth experimenting with social ads?
Insights like these are displayed on simple dashboards; you can download digestible charts and graphs to use in your reports.
How are SRMs transforming university admissions?
When it comes to SRM ROI, some universities are knocking it out of the park. Take The Lisbon MBA, a business school that operates in an overcrowded marketplace and competes against institutions with large marketing budgets for the best candidates.
Before adopting a specialist SRM, they were using a legacy CRM which lacked the functionality and capacity they required to run a streamlined admissions campaign.
This left them grappling with different spreadsheets for tracking interactions with students, managing applications and forecasting enrolment rates.
As a result of relying on disparate tools, their data set was fragmented and it failed to provide them with valuable, actionable insights.
Their inability to track interactions across initiatives meant they were unable to see what worked well in order to improve their yield.
So, The Lisbon MBA decided to transition to a Student Relationship Management platform. Now they are able to handle the entire student lifecycle using one unified platform and can create detailed reports and predictions in minutes.
The results speak for themselves. In the academic year following the implementation of their SRM, the business school experienced an 18% increase in enrolled domestic students and a 27% increase in international students.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is student relationship management?
A student relationship management system is one that automates and synchronises various processes in order to streamline the user (student) journey. When used properly, an SRM can boost enrolment rates, reduce dropouts and improve overall efficiency.
What do you mean by relationship management?
Relationship management refers to the practice of nurturing engagement with your audience, i.e. students, applicants, faculty, funders and alumni. It focuses on building partnerships as opposed to purely transactional relationships.
What is relationship management and why is it so important?
Ultimately, an SRM helps higher education institutions to nurture relationships with their key stakeholders. This can lead to higher retention rates and increased profits for the university.
What is a CRM example?
CRMs are popular in the world of business. Examples of CRM functions include the ability to implement an automated marketing strategy and analyse customer interactions with the brand to improve the customer experience and ultimately, the business’ bottom line.