April 23, 2020 Lauri Stone

The Benefits of Managing a College Student’s Lifecycle Using CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a software platform that has been used by sales professionals for years because it very effectively converts leads into contacts, contacts into sales,  and sales into profits.  The software uses data to track and store how and when to interact with a current or prospective customer. A CRM system links and stores all of these data points, which then flows between operational systems (like sales and inventory) and also analytical systems that sort through these records for patterns, creating prompt actions and timely responses that ultimately strengthen relationships. A good CRM has been vital to any forward-moving sales organization and the same holds true for higher education.


Photo credit: Pinterest

Utilizing A CRM to manage the lifecycle of a student and being able to manage massive amounts of data and being able to direct the student down the right educational path at the right moment is invaluable. The typical student to alumni lifespan is very involved, with detailed layers of processes and actions needed during the entire journey. Each phase holds specific goals that drive successful relationship between a college and its students and alumni.





Benefits of a CRM System in Higher Education:

Universities would benefit the same ways businesses have, using this highly effective tool through each of these critical phases:

Recruiting >> Applications >> Admissions >> Advising >> Registration >> Retention >> Graduation

Essentially, the software would enable the higher ed marketing departments to:

  • Target new and current student

    Photo credit: Medium

  • Track student interactions with the university
  • Measure department and student performance
  • Create a single storehouse for data
  • Create greater visibility into admissions, retention, and other processes
  • Help optimize student and alumni communications
  • Shorten recruitment cycles
  • Improve student retention
  • Help colleges and universities understand and address the needs of their student
  • Increase student satisfaction
  • Automate tasks
  • Increase operational efficiency
  • Free up staff to focus on other tasks


The sheer volume of data a CRM can track of each individual user is what makes this tool  perfect for the job of managing the long lifecycle of a student. The lifecycle that is content-heavy and robust with needs and actions needed all along the way from being a prospective student to an alumni.  But which CRM software is right for your college or university? There are many different types of CRM systems and it is not always a one-size-fits-all solution.


Whether you are looking to implement a CRM for the first time or explore something else that may better suit your needs, it’s important to understand the differences between the three main types to consider.

Additional Benefits of a CRM Software

Improving Operational Efficiency

Assists colleges in managing their day-to-day marketing, outreach, and student service operations. The software uses automation to give a complete profile of each student’s experience or journey. Marketing and service automation is the biggest component of any CRM and can take care of predictable tasks, manage your pipeline, nurture new leads, acquire new contacts, onboard with ease, and provide a higher level of customer service.

Providing Deeper Analytics

Analyzes contact’s data and identifies patterns. Makes it easier to manage the processes of contact acquisition and retention, and keep track of each of the contact’s details. The CRM provides the data you need to develop unique ways to reach your prospects and address their needs specifically, thereby building stronger communication and relationships toward greater retention and revenue.

Enabling Collaborative Communication

The CRM software not only improves student engagement but also streamlines the communication between departments and internal/external stakeholders. This CRM allows tracking and sharing data with everyone from recruiters, to parents, to advisors, to marketing and so on.


A Few Popular CRM Systems in Higher Education

Deciding which CRM is right for your college or university can make a considerable difference in how well your recruitment efforts go to enjoying a smooth enrollment and on boarding process.

Many CRM systems have been designed for specific uses, e.g. Pipedrive is focused on sales and there are others specific to certain industries such as finance.  CRM products like Salesforce, Zoho, and Hubspot are ideal for use across industries and functions.  However, there are a number of CRM software platforms specific to the needs of higher education.

Ascend Software

This company creates a variety of CRM platforms that can be used across a number of industries including higher ed. With simple and easy to use interfaces and the right design, you can lower your operation costs by effectively automating processes and tasks.

Maestro SIS

Designed to accommodate the needs of small to large institutions that need an easy platform for students, parents, instructors, and administrators. This software gets high marks for customization and ease of use. The company also offers training webinars, live online help, and plenty of documentation. The program automates time-consuming tasks, provides reporting tools that help the institution assess and evaluate their approach to recruitment and retention, and make improvements accordingly.


This software focuses on effectively recruiting and retaining students who are most likely to succeed at the institution based on their interests and behaviors. Automated workflows enable counselors to zero in on specific applicants while also being provided a user-friendly dashboard where reports and progress can be viewed and updated.


Highly comprehensive CRM where you can choose from a wide variety of customizable solutions to fit your needs. This platform is an over-achiever and can handle every aspect of a higher education institution with many features like sending bulk SMS alerts to automated tools like handling notices and online payments, high security/protecting private information, and many other functions that make this CRM among the highest performing.

Embark Campus

A highly flexible solution that can accommodate a variety of needs among different size institutions. Whether you need a simple solution or a more complex program, this software is easy to use, users love the dashboard and the fact that this software can be fully integrated with existing websites that simplify onboarding. The software boasts powerful reporting and analytics for better recruitment and a stronger student body.


A web-based CRM platform that stored data safely and securely in the cloud eliminating the need to maintain and update in-house servers. This program has a unique feature that speeds up the review of thousands of application essays and identifies the best students by providing online/offline essay reading and scoring that can be used by multiple users simultaneously. They also have an easily accessible customer support team.


There is no right or wrong choice among the above software systems, it ultimately depends on what your goals are, how are your current processes structured and how open are you to change your processes to reap bigger benefits etc? Answers to these discovery questions will help you choose among the leading CRMs like Salesforce, Ellucian and others. The upshot is that viewing students as customers and utilizing a CRM to enhance and build that relationship can help gain an edge in the saturated, highly competitive higher ed arenas.

Investing in the right CRM system that fits the needs of your institution is a thoughtful process with many factors to consider. If you would like to learn more about which CRM is right for your institution, reach out to Sanmita for a courtesy consultation.


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Lauri Stone

Lauri Stone is Director of Client Relations at Sanmita, Inc., a web design and development firm offering strategy, design, and technology services to higher education, government, and nonprofit entities. She comes to Sanmita with over 25 years of experience in media marketing and advertising and is located in Los Angeles, California.