15 Best Higher Education CRM 2022

Sandra Petrova
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According to the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, up to 40% of prospective students drop out before school starts because of difficulties with the admissions process.

On a similar note, two-thirds of high school students report that social media communications impact their decision on where to enroll in college. In other words, if an institution is not actively leveraging social media for admissions, it’s missing out on a pool of potential recruits.

Apart from potential students, alumni are another powerful tool that every institution must keep in its court. Why? Because alumni are crucial when it comes to fundraising opportunities, marketing, and brand awareness. 

Luckily, there's a tool that can help institutions improve their recruitment, enrolment, admission, and retention efforts. 

Four words: Higher education CRM software.

 

 

In a nutshell, higher education Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have one goal: to create more valuable customer relationships. The best higher education CRM systems help institutions maintain relationships with their current students and create valuable relationships with their future students.

Whether your institution is large or small, private or public, arts-focused or research-driven, we've created this article that covers everything you need to know to choose the best CRM solution for your needs. 

Let’s go!

 

Benefits of Using CRM for Higher Education

Let's take a school administration software that many institutions rely on. This type of software operates in a relatively black-and-white context where it tracks activities such as:

  • Is a student enrolled or not?

  • Is a bill paid or not?

  • Are classes attended or not? 

On the other hand, a CRM system for higher education operates in a broader context and helps schools in the following areas:

  • Attracting new students.

  • Improving alumni relations.

  • Improving the student experience. 

  • Automating the admissions process.

  • Insight on organizational processes.

  • Security and data protection.

Engagement with Prospects 

Prospects seek valuable information, and first impressions are important. By using a CRM, you'll be able to capture a prospect's name, email, geographic location, previous education, and more. This type of information is highly valuable as it can be then used to tailor future promotions and campaigns to their interest. 

Marketing Through Automation 

Marketing automation can immensely benefit colleges and universities. The best higher education CRM systems will help you streamline your student lead management and follow-up processes and ultimately improve your operations' efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Gain Insights on Organizational Processes 

Once upon a time, higher education institutions gained insights on their organizational processes by keeping pen-and-paper records or complicated spreadsheets, all filled with redundant or outdated data. Today, thanks to CMS platforms, gathering data is quite simple. These CMSs have built-in reporting and analytics features that let users add, manage, and access information. Thanks to powerful features like these, higher-ed institutions can arrive at better decisions and develop more effective growth strategies. 

Manage Budget & Resource Allocation 

CRM systems come equipped with tools that collect all kinds of valuable, granular data on your audience. That data is nicely structured into detailed reports that can enable smarter budget and resource allocation management.

Security & Data Protection 

Your CRM will contain heavy personal information such as applicants' and students' names, date of birth, email address, phone numbers, and more. Meaning, safeguarding this highly personal and sensitive data is essential. Luckily, the best CRM systems come with a range of security features, including user authentication, authorization, encryption, data security filters, and more. 

 

Key Features of Higher Education CRM

 

Manage Institution Events

Event planning is a significant aspect of fundraising, recruitment, and student engagement. With a CRM, you can manage all of your event-related tasks and keep track of relevant data, all from one central system. Most CRMs come with powerful event management tools that you can use to inform your event planning strategy. 

You can use your CRM's event management tools to:

  • Create a strategic guest list.

  • Design intuitive registration forms.

  • Set personalized ticket prices.

  • Set up recurring event registration.

  • Send pre- and post-event surveys.

  • Create custom event reports.

Manage Inquiries

Back in the day, the only way to receive an inquiry was through phone; today, it's a slightly different story. Inquiries can come from multiple channels, such as phone, email, social media, and website chat, to name a few. To ensure no inquiries fall through the crack, you need to capture and keep them all in one central place. In addition, you need to reach out fast. According to statistics, the odds of converting a lead to a customer decrease by a dramatic 80% after 5 minutes! As luck would have it, most CRM systems offer all the tools you would need to act upon new inquiries rapidly and maintain communication. Even better, with some more advanced features, you can make sure the leads go to the relevant admission officer based on zip code, city, course choice, and more. 

Streamline Admission & Evaluation Process

Higher education CRMs let you streamline the entire admissions process from lead, applicant, student, enrollment, and payment. You can track your leads' status and pinpoint which processes need more investment based on detailed reports. In addition, many of these CRM systems have a built-in document management system for uploading, viewing, and printing of student documentation as part of the admissions process.

Manage Accounting & Invoicing Systems 

If there's something every higher education institution needs, it's a practical accounting and invoicing system to smoothly run finance operations. The best CRM platforms let you securely process payments, track payment history, and create financial reports. Moreover, CRMs can integrate with external payment gateways to allow online payments for tuition and other school fees.

Integrate with Institution's Website & Social Media Channels

Your website is the powerhouse of your recruitment efforts. That's the place where prospects go to find relevant information, ask questions, and see pictures of life at your campus. By integrating your website with a CRM system, you can quickly manage your leads and convert them into students. Information will go from your website to your CRM instantly, updating in real-time. 

The same applies to your social media channels. These are your most crucial communications channels. Your social media channels are heavy with information that your team must process and manage. Integrating your social media channels into your CRM can save your team hours of going through data and responding to prospects' inquiries. You'll have the right strategy, tools, and support in place so your team can use social media to its full potential.

 

Maestro SIS

Features / Benefits 

  • Outstanding customer support. 

  • Highly-responsive customizable solution.

  • Ease of use.

  • Accessible from any device (phone, tablet, computer).

  • Suitable for scaling organizations. 

Drawbacks 

  • A bit of a learning curve.

  • Dated interface.    

Pricing

Although the starting price point is not provided by the vendor, there's a free trial available if you schedule a demo. 

Website: bocavox.com/ 

 

Radius by Campus Management

Features / Benefits 

  • Top-grade workflow automation.

  • Best for admissions management.

  • Entirely cloud-based.

  • Minimal IT setup is required.

  • Two-way web chat feature to deal with student inquiries quickly.

Drawbacks

  • Steep learning curve.

  • Not the best option for CRM beginners.

  • An outdated interface. 

Pricing

The vendor doesn't provide any info on pricing plans. Get in touch for more. 

Website: www.campusmanagement.com/products/radius-by-campus-management/ 

 

HubSpot CRM

Features / Benefits

  • Good free CRM version.

  • Intuitive user interface and flawless user experience. 

  • Automatically syncs with other HubSpot hubs.

  • Great pick for first-time CRM users.

  • Powerful lead generation tools.

Drawbacks

  • It can get pricey once you start adding paid features.

  • Limited customization options.

  • Lacks advanced functionalities. 

Pricing

HubSpot's core CRM platform is entirely free to use, for as long as you want, without breaking the bank. There's no end date for the free plan. You can add up to 1,000,000 contacts and unlimited users, as well as experiment with tools like email scheduling, live chat, tasks and activities, ad management, and email templates. 

Website: www.hubspot.com/products/crm 

 

FileInvite

Features / Benefits

  • Excellent customer service.

  • The software is easy to use and set up.

  • A great solution for document collection.

  • Solid security features. 

  • Helpful videos for an easy onboarding process.

Drawbacks

  • It can take a little while to upload files.

  • Lack of integrations. 

Pricing

You can choose between four paid plans, including:

  • Lite (from $12 per month)

  • Pro (POA)

  • Multi (POA)

  • Enterprise (POA)

There's also a 14-day free trial with unlimited functionality.

Website: www.fileinvite.com/ 

 

SchoolMint

Features / Benefits

  • Customizable software that provides end-to-end functionality.

  • User-friendly dashboard.

  • Easy to track and verify data.

  • Ease of communication via email and text.

  • Great way to keep track of applications, important documents, dates, and contacts. 

Drawbacks

  • Creating reports can be tedious and unintuitive.

  • The system glitches too frequently, leading to problems with data management.

Pricing 

The company doesn't provide a transparent pricing system. You will need to get in touch for a custom quote. 

Website: www.schoolmint.com/ 

 

NetSuite CRM

Features / Benefits 

  • Ideal for small to midsize educational institutions.

  • Unlocks a real-time, 360-degree view of your customers.

  • Seamlessly integrates with other applications to support your entire sales process and customer life cycle. 

  • Fully customizable to fit your needs. 

  • Simple, interactive, and responsive user interface. 

Drawbacks

  • They could use better documentation of certain processes and modules.

  • It can be particularly complex for users who aren't tech-savvy. 

  • It can be very challenging to create advanced reports or searches.

Pricing

The vendor doesn't provide info about its pricing plans. However, according to customer reviews, it's a very expensive solution with elaborate pro services and flexible usage. The costly add-on modules to gain functionality add up to the price. 

Website: www.netsuite.com/portal/products/crm.shtml 

 

Ellucian

Features / Benefits

  • Personalized communications and automated workflows.

  • Choose from SaaS, private cloud, and on-premise options.

  • Quick and easy integration with a wide range of solutions.  

  • Configurable search, reporting, and data sharing capabilities.

  • Track and manage fundraising from alumni and donors.

Drawbacks

  • Reporting capabilities are limited.

  • Navigation is not very user friendly.

  • Steep initial learning curve. 

Pricing

The company doesn't provide a transparent pricing system. You will need to get in touch for a custom quote. 

Website: www.ellucian.com/solutions/constituent-relationship-management 

 

Embark Campus

Features / Benefits

  • Send individual emails or scheduled automated emails.

  • Compatible with both smartphones and tablets.

  • Customize your application site with your own colors and branding.

  • Adapt the logic of your application form.

  • Group applications and assign reviewers.

Drawbacks

  • Issues with uploading materials. 

  • Not as intuitive to use as users would like. 

Pricing

You will have to request a custom quote.

Website: embark.com/admissions-crm   

 

FreeAgent CRM

Features / Benefits

  • Gain instant context into all of your customer relationships.

  • They are constantly updating features.

  • Marketing automation workflows to save time.

  • Super intuitive, easy to navigate.

  • No steep learning curve and can be used by anyone with limited technical ability.

Drawbacks

  • Difficulty refining search parameters.

  • No bulk email functions.

Pricing

There are four paid plans to choose from depending on your needs, including:

  • Essentials ($25 per user per month) 

  • Professional ($75 per user per month)

  • Enterprise ($135 per user per month)

  • Unlimited ($250 per user per month)

The Essentials paid plan comes with a free trial, while the Professional offers a demo. 

Website: freeagentcrm.com/ 

 

Admitek

Features / Benefits

  • Integrated payment gateway to collect payments in a secure environment.

  • Customized solutions to fit your needs.

  • Admissions management. 

  • Counseling and interview management.

  • Customized reports by specifying parameters.

Drawbacks

  • No integration options.

  • Lack of online reviews. 

Pricing

Pricing starts at 42 500 INR ($576) per year, with full technical support included. Get in touch with the company for discounts. Software customization is possible and is billed separately.

Website: www.admitek.com/

 

Creatix Campus

Features / Benefits

  • Recruitment and alumni management. 

  • Online evaluation and assessment.

  • Manage and maintain attendance. 

  • Automated scheduling and curriculum management. 

  • Integration with more than 500+ applications, software, and tools.

Drawbacks

  • Users complain about customer service. 

  • The software is so complex that it can be difficult to perform simple tasks.

  • No financial module.

Pricing

Pricing is not provided by the vendor. You need to request a customized quote.

Website: www.creatrixcampus.com/ 

 

Slate

Features / Benefits

  • Multiple channels of communication.

  • Dynamic marketing automation.

  • Unlimited drag and drop forms.

  • Embedded statistics and analytics. 

  • Event management.

Drawbacks

  • A delayed release of requested features.

  • It can take a while to learn the different areas of the platform.

  • Could have some better reporting options.

Pricing

Pricing is not provided by the vendor. Get in touch to request a demo. 

Website: technolutions.com

 

Copper

Features / Benefits

  • Seamless integration with every G Suite app.

  • Automation takes care of tasks like logging calls, meetings, tasks, and activities.

  • The mobile version lets you do everything you need to do even when you're on the go. 

  • Automatically suggests recent contacts you’ve been emailing to be added to your list.

  • Lets you know where every lead is in your sales process. 

Drawbacks

  • Support seems to be hard to reach.

  • There's a steep learning curve for those who don't grasp basic coding principles.

  • You have to pay a lot more for the better features that complete the CRM.

Pricing

Although Copper CRM doesn't come with a free plan, it does offer a 14-day free trial. There are three separate paid plans to choose from, including: 

  • Basic ($19 per month)

  • Professional ($49 per month)

  • Business ($119 per month)

Website: www.copper.com/ 

 

Stars Campus Solutions

Features / Benefits

  • Keep track of your students’ academic progress with features like attendance alerts. 

  • A Student Portal where students can view their class schedules, each class’s start date, the instructor, the location of the class, etc.

  • Send out a mass text or email to the appropriate recipients.

  • Tools for an automated admissions process.

Drawbacks

  • Poor customer service. 

  • It can sometimes be difficult to find a report or function in the system.

  • Not very user friendly. 

Pricing

Pricing starts at $139 per school per month. There's a free demo available upon request. 

Website: starscampus.com/ 

 

Finalsite

Features / Benefits

  • A full website, marketing, and communications platform.  

  • Increase enrollment with powerful inbound marketing software.

  • Integrate your admissions platform and/or student information system with Finalsite.

  • Support for various payment gateways.

  • A digital platform where parents, students, and faculty staff can access information that’s just for them.

Drawbacks

  • Lack of customization.

  • Too expensive for smaller businesses. 

Pricing

Setup fees start at $15,000 and the annual subscription generally starts at $7,500 per year. 

Website: www.finalsite.com/ 

 

Conclusion 

Let’s recap!

Higher education CRM solutions have revolutionized the educational realm and have brought a level of change that institutions haven't seen since the advent of the internet. From streamlining admissions and managing events to nurturing relationships with alumni, using a higher education CRM is the foundation of running a competitive business. 

When it comes to choosing the right CRM for your organization, the choice will depend on the specific features your institution needs. 

Are you looking for a highly-responsive customizable solution that's ideal for scaling organizations? Consider going with Maestro SIS. SchoolMint is a great way to keep track of applications, important documents, dates, and contacts, while Ellucian is best for tracking and managing fundraising from alumni and donors.

However, if a seamless integration with every G Suite app means most to you, then you shouldn't look further than Copper. 

If all the above is merely irrelevant and you just want a platform that has an intuitive user interface and flawless user experience, pick HubSpot.

Each of these 15 vendors have a powerful set of features, so the choice is up to you. Hopefully, we have helped you narrow down your choices and one of these solutions have appealed to you while reding this roundup. 

Now it's time to take full advantage of the CRM and start managing your higher-ed institution like an expert!

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