Getting the Most Value Out of Your CRM

Posted: February 27, 2020

Brandi Stocker Senior Director of Enrollment Strategy

What is a CRM?

In higher education marketing, your Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is your lifeline for enrollment growth. It filters the quality of your leads before they reach your admissions team. It automates your communications efforts. It tracks every step of the prospective student journey and provides insights that can fuel smarter marketing decisions and lead to stronger engagement results. The inventory of forms and functional versatility it offers can support database development priorities beyond marketing and admissions — from academic affairs and human resources to student success initiatives and special events. 

Next to websites, CRMs are one of the most significant investments that a higher education institution will ever make. And unfortunately, too many schools are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the most advanced solutions on the market, only to leave a vast majority of their features untouched. 

Technology Can’t Replace Humans

CRMs aren’t something that you can just put on cruise control. Regardless if you’re running on Slate, TargetX, Pardot or Salesforce, the common challenge is human capital. Institutions often lack the in-house expertise and/or bandwidth needed to take full advantage of their CRMs in the endless quest to grow enrollment. With more schools competing with less money for fewer students, it is crucial that your marketing strategy is anchored by the right CRM solution and more importantly, that your staff is equipped with ample knowledge to use the tool in reaching and engaging the right audiences at each stage of the enrollment funnel. 

Lead the Conversation

There is much more value that your CRM can offer beyond standard email drip campaigns and archived data that will collect dust in a silo. To get the most out of your CRM, commit to the consistent, ongoing training of your marketing staff to stay updated on the latest advancements in your platform’s capabilities. Leverage the technical support services available to you through your platform’s subscription. Consult with industry peers on which solution worked for their institution and how they adapted it to their needs and challenges. Collaborate with your leadership team on ways to induce wider buy-in and adoption of the technology across your campus community, so that every academic unit and division can reap the mutual benefits of your investment and can produce cross-organizational synergies. And be sure that your higher education agency has a dedicated CRM specialist on hand who can help you unlock the true power of your CRM and build a marketing automation infrastructure that sets your team up for success against your goals. 

Build Relationships  

Success in marketing boils down to the quality of the relationships that you build with your audiences. And as higher ed marketers are challenged to devise more sophisticated, data-driven strategies in response to the ever-changing higher ed climate, your CRM will be called to do more than act as a Rolodex of leads or a vehicle for sending emails en masse. It will be the game-changing tool you need to elevate your enrollment marketing efforts, mount more effective campaigns and maximize the return on every marketing dollar spent. If you take the necessary step back to master this tool, you will take many steps forward in reaching your brand marketing goals. 

VisionPoint Marketing is a full-service marketing agency with nearly two decades of experience helping higher education institutions achieve their goals. If you have questions or want to start a conversation about how we can help you use your CRM to its full potential, please visit our website or reach out to our team.