If you’re in education marketing, you know the majority of prospective students are researching schools and applying for programmes online—whether they are looking for a global MBA or want to learn how to code.
While you need a solid marketing strategy to get their attention, the essential foundation of any digital student recruitment effort is a good customer relationship management system (CRM).
To understand the importance of CRM systems for education marketing, you need to recognise the value good customer data can add. Here are 5 key ways your CRM can make all the difference in your education marketing and recruitment efforts.
1. Understanding the decision making and enrolment journey
The “customer lifecycle” is a familiar term for most marketing professionals.
This refers to the decision making process and relevant steps that a customer goes through before buying a product.
In education, your customer is your student.
And the decision making process for a student is understandably longer and more complex than it is for someone shopping for a coffee maker.
Choosing a school or course is a big decision.
An effective CRM system allows you to understand every step of the journey:
- What was a prospect’s first point of contact with your institution?
- Have they ever engaged with social media ads?
- Which emails have they read?
- What stage are they at with their application?
- What have their conversations been like with your team?
If your student CRM system is well-set-up, you’ll have the answers.
2. Identifying bottlenecks
When your CRM allows you to have the full picture of a student’s journey, you can track their progress along every touchpoint.
And—crucially—you can identify stages where their progress might be lagging and they need an extra nudge. Is that first email actually getting their attention? Is that retargeting campaign on Facebook working? Were they keen after they last spoke to your team?
If you can identify behaviour patterns and spot any potential bottlenecks, you can make the journey go more smoothly—not only for students, but also for your team.
3. Segmenting your audience
It’s impossible to overstate the value of data-led decision making when it comes to digital recruitment. And a well-set-up CRM system is a goldmine of useful, actionable data to direct your efforts.
It will help you to categorize leads based on things like their lifecycle stage, location, demographic, program of interest and much more. It’s possible to get very granular with your segmentation data. And the more detailed you can be, the better.
For example, you could create audience segments based on prospective students who opened—and didn’t open—your last email.
Or students who haven’t made any progress on their application since their last conversation with an academic advisor.
Or perhaps prospects who sign up for webinars online but never read their emails.
4. Crafting timely, targeted messaging
Granular audience segmentation means maximum ROI on your time, effort and marketing budget. Why? Because the more you know about a prospect and the way they’ve engaged so far, the more strategic you can be in your future messaging to them.
For the leads who opened your last email—great! You’ve found a good way to reach them. Depending on where they’re at on their journey, perhaps it’s time to follow up.
For the leads who didn’t open that email, maybe you need to try a different approach with your next subject line.
Or, if they’re regularly ignoring their emails, you might need to try a different platform all together, with a paid retargeting campaign on Facebook and Instagram.
What about the prospects who engage with your emails and website but haven’t started an application? Maybe serving ads that link to an article about the importance of higher education could be the nudge they need?
If you have this data to hand thanks to your CRM, your advertising will reach the right audience at the right time with the most compelling message.
And when you say the right thing at the right time, you’ll see the payoff in your lead-to-application conversion rates.
5. Streamlining the student experience
A good CRM is the one-stop shop for everything related to a single student—from their first click on an ad, to a submitted application and beyond to their time in class and as an alum. Using a single, streamlined database allows not only your recruitment team but also your academic and alumni teams to engage personally with each student.
It’s that personalised communication and understanding that turns a lead into a student, and ultimately into an ambassador for your school.