Episode 016

Breaking Down The Benefits Of CRMs With A 20 Year Veteran Of Higher Education

Today’s education marketers have wildly different responsibilities than generations past.

Simply put, the job has become more important, and therefore requires the use of more advanced tools. One of the most sought-after tools in education marketing is CRM platforms. We know that CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management.” But what do these platforms actually do for education organizations? How can you choose the right option for your team? Before purchasing a subscription, you must first ascertain which additional resources you’ll need to reap the intended benefits of CRM platforms.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • What are the main purposes of CRM platforms?
  • What is the CRM on-boarding process like?
  • Which CRM platforms are used by top education marketers?

This week, I spoke to Adam Stoltz, who is the Director of Enrollment Marketing at the University of Idaho. Throughout his 20-year career in higher education, Adam has worked with private and state colleges of all sizes and assumed a myriad of roles in admissions and enrollment management. As the task of enrollment growth became more challenging, Adam realized that he would have to look beyond the education space for help. He quickly discovered that one of the few marketing tools used by virtually every big company was CRM platforms.

What are the main purposes of CRM platforms?

Since education organizations technically don’t have “customers,” Adam associates the “C” in CRM with “Constituent” instead. This makes sense because education marketers must build connections with parents as well as students. The “Relationship” part is about connecting the dots between a prospective student’s interests and an appropriate major or program. Students don’t just want basic information about potential schools. They want to know what they will actually be doing in the classroom, and how many clubs and organizations relate to their interests.

Lastly, “Management” refers to the use of analytics to improve the entire digital experience. This data is particularly helpful in making it easier for students to access critical information and complete applications. “Without CRMs,” Adam said, “you’re just going on gut feelings.” In other words, it’s very difficult to detect the flaws of a school’s website and marketing materials without extensive analytics.

What is the CRM on-boarding process like?

CRMs are supposed to increase the efficiency of the enrollment marketing process. But this is only possible if the school has enough staff members to oversee the wealth of analytics and performance data CRMs have to offer. For example, the staff member who focuses on email campaigns will certainly not have the time to focus on admissions processing.

Adam has seen many schools make the mistake of leaving just one or two people in charge of their CRM platform. You can tell a school doesn’t have enough CRM staff when one person is attempting to look at five computer monitors, he said. And even with an appropriately-sized team, the CRM on-boarding process is not short. The ideal time frame is nine months to a whole year, and that’s just to get the platform fully integrated into the day-to-day routine.

Which CRM platforms are used by top education marketers?

As far as specific CRM platforms, Adam personally recommends Salesforce Target X and Slate. Target X is the largest CRM on the market and is reportedly used by a great deal of Fortune 500 companies. This is primarily due to its cutting edge technology, and marketers are all about staying ahead of the curve. It’s also very easy to integrate Target X with Google AdWords. This allows schools to immediately begin optimizing based on applications and starts, rather than cold leads.

While Slate is not as robust as Target X, Adam says it’s definitely the most user-friendly. For this reason, he often suggests Slate to schools that don’t have the resources for Target X. Besides, Slate initially gained traction within the Ivy League system and was perfected based on the needs of these legendary universities.

CRMs won’t be very helpful without a team

While CRMs are an essential tool for any education marketer, they may end up doing more harm than good if your school isn’t prepared for the on-boarding process. Enrollment growth has become too challenging to be left in the hands of just a small group of people. The best digital services for your school depends on a variety of circumstances. But regardless of these factors, every marketing department needs a team.

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