Why you need a student recruitment CRM in Higher Education

Posted by Charlotte Boaden

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is software used to manage and automate marketing campaigns utilising customer data, engagement, and insights.

When adapted for Higher Education, CRM systems can be used to supercharge student recruitment as it provides a platform for the entire campaign, including data collection, communication, and reporting. A CRM system’s strength lies in the automation of workflows, freeing up internal resources to focus on other elements of student recruitment. 

A student recruitment CRM offers a collective space in which you can manage a variety of recruitment campaigns delivered through multiple channels - such as emails, social media, websites, and text messages - allowing them to run simultaneously. The systems help trace and manage the journey from enquiry to enrolment, monitoring and improving this journey for future prospective students.  

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Recruiting the right students is a challenge in a busy market. However, a student recruitment CRM can give institutions a competitive edge, streamlining manual processes and introducing accurate performance monitoring and measuring. It can also help to improve any goal-oriented recruitment campaign, whether you’re aiming to improve the conversion rates of enquiries or the open rate of campaign emails.  

This guide from Tribal explores why you need a student recruitment CRM, including the benefits they bring and how to make the most out of them once deployed. 


What is a CRM for student recruitment? 

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a platform that centralises customer data and communications in one place. They’re incredibly popular across different industries for managing complex marketing and communication campaigns. CRM systems are powerful tools because they centralise communication and responses and capture different data points to measure campaign success. CRM systems for education are used throughout the student lifecycle but are incredibly effective at supercharging student recruitment. 

Student recruitment CRM systems are increasingly used across higher education institutions that need to do more with less. They’re often used to automate multiple workflows simultaneously, such as the delivery of campaign material. These workflows can be personalised and targeted, streamlining complex campaigns but maintaining effectiveness across multi-channel communications. 

A student recruitment CRM will be designed with third-party integration in mind, for example taking data points from event planning software or feeding data into student information systems. It can provide an on-demand view of the insight data, enabling more insight-led decisions across the organisation. Institutions can use this information to understand the different touchpoints on a prospective student's journey from application to enrolment. 

A student recruitment CRM is a platform that can be used to: 

  1. Manage and report on open days and events, whether virtual or in-person. 
  2. Provide personalised, automated communication and enquiry management, turning enquiries into prospective students. 
  3. Improve response times and measure engagement with prospective students.  
  4. Monitor marketing and recruitment campaigns across different channels and platforms. 
  5. Provide reports and insights on demand, collating different performance measurements. 

See how The University of Waikato plans to streamline their student recruitment with Tribal solution

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Five ways to get the most out of your student recruitment CRM 

Embedding a student recruitment CRM can be a complex task. It often involves the centralisation of potentially wide-ranging approaches to student recruitment. To get the most out of a student recruitment CRM, the challenge begins way ahead of deployment.  

Early work needs to be done to prepare and plan so that the student recruitment CRM is a success from the beginning. This includes gaining buy-in from the various stakeholders that might manage student recruitment across your institution. The different workflows that make up your campaigns should also be identified and mapped because this will make the integration within a CRM that much easier. 

Five ways to get the most out of a student recruitment CRM include: 

  1. Prepare for change 
  2. Choose a CRM built for education 
  3. Automate manual processes and workflows 
  4. Embed a data-led approach 
  5. Define clear goals and long term aims  

Download our FREE guide to get the most out of your CRM in Higher Education 

CRM guide for higher education


Prepare for change 

Change management can be the most challenging part of getting the most out of your student recruitment CRM. You’ll likely be centralising many approaches to student recruitment from different departments. Each may have a unique method of recording, measuring, and reporting on campaigns. 

Preparing from the ground up for a successful student recruitment CRM means gaining stakeholder buy-in. There can be resistance to attempts to centralise or improve processes, so extra care should be taken to engage with individual stakeholders. Position the student recruitment CRM as part of the solution, by identifying problems and requirements at an early stage. 


Choose a CRM built for Higher Education 

There are a range of CRM systems in use across different sectors, typically used to manage and report on digital marketing or communication campaigns. Choosing a CRM built specifically for higher education is an important step to getting the most out of your CRM, as it will come with bespoke features designed specifically for your education setting. 

Selecting a student recruitment CRM built for education also means easy integration and system alignment as compatibility with common education systems is vital to gaining centralised data reporting and insights. In-built reports and workflows that reflect the reality of student recruitment are also a bonus.  


Automate manual processes and workflows 

A major strength of a student recruitment CRM platform is the automation of manual processes and workflows. An example could be generating automatic responses to prospective student enquiries and emailing out campaign materials on demand. Streamlining and automating these existing processes whenever possible equals a more efficient approach to recruitment. Manual processes are often time-consuming and resource-intensive, whereas student recruitment automation means these resources can be better spent elsewhere.  


Embed a data-led approach 

A student recruitment CRM offers centralised access to reporting and insights. If the CRM is cloud-based, users will be able to access dashboards and bespoke insights on demand from different devices. Student recruitment campaigns will typically be delivered across a variety of channels such as email, social media or phone calls. But regardless of the number of platforms utilised, an organisation’s ability to report on these campaigns shouldn’t be fragmented. Combining these complex campaigns in one platform greatly improves the ability to take a holistic view of performance and this improved access means data-led decisions become normalised within your organisation. 

A student recruitment CRM is also a platform for powerful data-led insights within your campaigns, such as audience segmentation. In practice, embedding a data-led approach requires training and communications during CRM launch, so that users have the skills and knowledge to make the most out of the CRM. The different metrics and data points also need to be mapped and embedded within the CRM in the planning phase. 


Define clear goals and long term aims 

CRM systems are powerful tools that can be used across the student journey and are most effective when used to achieve clear goals that should be set out early in the process. Examples may include improving the drop-off rate from applicants, automating specific manual processes, or improving the average open rate of recruitment campaigns. Focusing on known problem areas helps prove the value of the student recruitment CRM. 

Understand that getting the most out of a student recruitment CRM is a continuous process and doesn’t stop once the system is launched. Campaigns should be regularly reviewed and optimised, and different processes can be scrutinised and automated over time. Building a realistic roadmap for achieving long term aims means your student recruitment CRM will bring value year on year.  


Five benefits of using a student recruitment CRM

A dedicated student recruitment CRM will bring many benefits and improvements to the way your institution attracts students. Student recruitment is a highly competitive space, and a CRM will allow you to get the right messages in front of prospective students at the right time. A CRM helps as a platform to centralise and unify the different elements and processes that make a recruitment campaign a success. Bring your campaigns and recruitment approaches under one roof, with the ability to report on and monitor success.  

The five main benefits of using a student recruitment CRM include: 

  1. Centralising campaigns from different platforms 
  2. Managing and monitoring digital and physical events 
  3. Streamlining complex processes 
  4. Accessible reporting for campaign monitoring and measurement 
  5. Future-proofing your student recruitment 


1. Centralising campaigns from different platforms

Recruitment campaigns mean engaging with prospective students face-to-face and across a range of different digital platforms. Emails, social media, webchat, digital events, website,  and open days are some different ways prospective students might engage with your organisation. Without a CRM, these campaigns risk being addressed individual which can lead to siloed reporting. 

A student recruitment CRM will collate the metrics and data points from these different platforms. This will help you to understand the different touchpoints across the student recruitment journey and how students are responding to your outreach, helping to provide a 360° holistic view of your recruitment efforts.  

2. Managing and monitoring digital and physical events 

Digital open days and events became an integral part of student recruitment during the pandemic when face-to-face events became impossible. In a post-pandemic world, organisations are taking a hybrid approach to events and open days to engage prospective students. Student recruitment now features a mix of in-person campus open days, alongside digital events, and on-demand recordings. Often physical events will be covered in the digital space, furthering reach, and engagement. 

A student recruitment CRM helps to manage both digital and physical events in one place, including reporting and tracking the success of hybrid events. It will help your organisation understand the different ways a prospective student might engage on the journey to enrolment. 

3. Streamlining complex processes 

A successful student recruitment campaign is often complex, with many interlinking elements engaging prospective students. A student recruitment CRM helps to streamline this activity, bringing recruitment insights into one centralised system, making the complex process more manageable. 

Manual workflows and processes can be automated using a CRM system, such as responding to questions and queries. Efficiency savings are a clear benefit of automating processes which may previously have taken up many hours of work.  

4. Accessible reporting for campaign monitoring and measurement 

A student recruitment CRM means instant access to live data and insights, helping to understand the effectiveness of student recruitment campaigns and events. Whereas reporting may have been siloed previously, a CRM provides one place for reporting and measurements, providing a full picture for key stakeholders whenever they need it.  

Improved access also means a clearer sense of return on investment from student recruitment. It enables data-led decision-making at every level and the monitoring of impact in real-time. For example, Durham University introduced Tribal’s student recruitment CRM to transform their student recruitment and engagement, using the platform to realise ambitious recruitment targets. Previously, recruitment processes were managed through spreadsheets, so there were clear benefits of shifting to better campaign measurement. 

5. Future-proofing your student recruitment 

A CRM system is an important step towards future-proofing your institution’s student recruitment. Future trends in student recruitment include an explosion in the use of social media to engage with prospective students and an increasing reliance on data and analytics. Student recruitment is more competitive than ever, and a CRM is a sure-fire way to drive improvements and do more with less. 

A CRM offers the possibility of full integration of the student journey within one system, from recruitment and enrolment to graduation and beyond. A student recruitment CRM is the first step towards this end-to-end student management. 


How can Tribal’s student recruitment CRM help you? 

From initial engagement to recruitment, Tribal’s Student Marketing & Recruitment solution revolutionises the student recruitment process. Our platform will help you monitor, and measure return on investment, plan, and deliver campaigns with improved outcomes, and gain in-depth insights across every platform. 

Built on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, it’s designed to meet the education sector’s growing need for a powerful student recruitment CRM. With detailed audience segmentation and seamless automation, unify your student marketing and recruitment with Tribal.

Find our more about Tribal's Student Marketing & Recruitment solution