Compare top CRM providers for the education industry and learn how a CRM system can supercharge the way your university operates
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are transforming the way universities go about their day-to-day business.
From optimising recruitment and streamlining enrolment to nurturing relationships with students and staff, CRM has brought about a level of change not seen since the advent of the internet.
In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know to choose the right CRM system for your university, and we’ll help you compare leading suppliers.
What's on this page?
A CRM system allows you to track applications with a simple dashboard
Top CRM systems for higher education
We compared leading CRM providers for the education industry so you don’t have to. We looked at core features, variety of tools, and ease of use. And these are the five that came out on top.
These are the top five CRM systems for higher education:
|Providers at a glance|
|Provider||We like:||Free trial||Pricing|
|The Integrated cross platform marketing and contact management functions.||✔||Contact supplier|
|The crystal clear reporting and analytics tools and clean, user-friendly interface.||✔||Contact supplier|
|The clear pricing information readily available on their website. It means no nasty surprises.||✔||£35/per user/per month|
|The two way text messaging app for engaging students and responding to queries. Fast.||✗||Contact supplier|
|That it's 100% free, forever. You can add unlimited users for no cost, either – and get a whole suite of powerful CRM features to boot.||✔||Free|
|Dedicated student engagement tools such as the personalised study plans.||✗||Contact supplier|
Salesforce for Higher Education
Best for integration
Salesforce is a giant of the CRM world. The company’s cloud-based CRM for higher education features everything you need to establish, maintain and grow relationships with students, staff and alumni. The software interface is clearly laid out, and all the information that matters to you — social feeds, dashboards, messages — is pushed to you on the homepage. You can easily integrate your higher education module with other products from the Salesforce range for better collaboration across finance and HR departments.
- Excellent customer service and support
- User-friendly and intuitive CRM software
- Might outprice smaller schools
Best for flexibility
FullFabric is a dedicated higher education solutions and technology company offering a choice of three, feature rich CRM packages. The first, Origin, is a dedicated recruitment platform which promises to help you attract more students and streamline enrolment. The second, Core, is all about building relationships with students through marketing and communications. And the third, Connector, helps you to manage relationships with alumni and donors.
- Easy to use interface
- London-based; understands the needs of UK universities
- Reporting tools lack depth
Best for ease of use
Easy-to-use and affordable, Maximizer software is an all-in-one CRM solution available with options for both cloud-based and on-premises deployment. Despite not being a dedicated CRM for higher education, Maximizer offers a range of tools to help you streamline workflow processes, manage contacts and optimise marketing communications across email and social media. Though it lacks some of the dedicated university-specific features offered by providers such as Salesforce, Maximizer CRM is available on a free trial — so why not give it a go? If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Simple.
- Excellent email integration
- Attractive interface
- Can be prone to lagging and freezes
Radius by Campus Management
Best for communication
As you can probably tell by the name, Campus Management’s sole aim as a company is to produce the best CRM for higher education. They don’t concern themselves with sales. Or with finance. They just do some of the best damn higher education software in the business. As well as all the usual tools for contact management, reporting and analytics, and multichannel marketing, Radius has a neat two-way web chat feature which helps you to deal with student queries swiftly and efficiently.
- Great for small businesses
- Ideal for teams that work remotely
- Can be tricky to get set up
Best for schools
Hubspot is perfect for schools and smaller educational institutes looking for a quick, clean, and simple way into the world of CRM. Why? Well, not only is it completely free, but you can have an unlimited amount of users operating the software. Whether it's teachers, office staff, or even students, you'll get all the CRM access you need – with none of the cost. But that doesn't mean you're skimping on functionality. Hubspot is packed to the brim with integrations and intuitive contact management features that will help your school thrive. And it's free, so… what have you got to lose?
- Stores up to a million contacts and companies
- Email integration with Gmail, Outlook, and G Suite
- Completely free, forever
- Poor online customer approval ratings on Trustpilot
Best for value for money
“We are a no hype company that keeps its promises and goes above and beyond to earn customer satisfaction.” That’s what Maestro CEO Sue Diesker says. And it’s hard to argue with that claim. Maestro SIS has over 14 years experience of CRM in the education sector, and during that time they’ve cultivated a loyal following of universities the world over. Why? Because Maestro CRM offers great value for money, a full range of features, and over 300 customisable parameters — so it can be tailored to meet you specific needs.
- Enthusiastic customer support
- Straightforward interface makes student data management simple
- Not as suitable for smaller educational institutes
Not convinced by any of our top CRM providers for higher education? Check out the top 5 CRM providers in the UK in 2020.
Verdict: the best CRM for higher education
Just like any business, universities operate in a highly competitive environment and the right CRM system can offer a real edge over the competition.
In particular, social CRM has proved a gamechanger for improving student engagement and attracting prospective students. For this reason, we recommend Salesforce as the best CRM for higher education because it integrates with just about every social media platform imaginable and groups posts in an easy-to-digest homepage feed. Well done Salesforce.
Next steps: getting a CRM system for your university
So now you know the benefits of CRM in higher education and you have a good idea which providers you like the sound of, what next? Well, getting a CRM system is as easy as 1, 2, 3…
Step 1: Click on one of the icons below and fill in our webform so we can get a better idea of your specific requirements. It’s completely free and the whole process takes less than a minute.
Step 2: We contact leading CRM providers on your behalf to get tailored quotes.
Step 3: You save money by comparing quotes. Simple!
What is a CRM system?
A CRM system is a software application used to store and manage contact information. In a university setting, a CRM will hold data on prospective candidates, students, parents, staff, alumni, and donors.
By bringing this information together in a single place, a CRM can help automate certain aspects of admin intensive processes such as enrolment, deliver targeted marketing through personalised emails and social media, and provide key data insight through detailed reports and analytics.
In broad terms, a CRM for universities will help you to:
- Effectively manage the student lifecycle, from application to graduation
- Personalise your interactions across email and social media
- Customise your workflow to improve efficiency
- Enable better collaboration between both staff and students
What are the benefits of CRM in higher education?
So, what are universities using CRM for? Here are five ways a CRM can help:
✔ Attract new students
Use targeted marketing to grow the reputation of your university and attract the best students. Create custom landing pages and use built-in forms to capture contact details. Once you have this information, a CRM system stores it securely on a cloud-based database, allowing it to be accessed from anywhere in the world, at any time.
✔ Qualify prospective leads
Not every student is right for your university. A CRM for higher education uses advanced profiling tools to build target demographics and help you identify the most suitable candidates. By only focusing your time and energy on pursuing qualified leads you can increase enrolment and reduce running costs.
✔ Reduce costs by streamlining enrolment
Universities will often use one application to store contact information, another for reporting, and yet another for managing enrolment and events. A dedicated CRM for higher education brings all of these functions together, saving you time and minimising the risk of error.
✔ Nurture relationships and build trust
Enrolment is only the beginning. A CRM helps you to nurture relationships with students across multiple platforms throughout the duration of their studies.
Dedicated social media tools make it easier than ever to post to sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Mass mail-outs are a breeze — and you can monitor engagement on a granular level, allowing you to tailor your marketing strategy according to the online behaviour of students.
✔ Track results and implement change from key learnings
The benefits of CRM software for universities extend way beyond engagement and contact management, though. Advanced analytics tools provide real-time insight into candidate behaviour and student preferences.
Do you want to know which courses have seen a drop off in applications? Or how many prospective students engaged with email marketing before applying? A CRM system will you show all this and more, and the results of these insights can be viewed on simple dashboards with easy-to-digest charts.
What questions should I ask providers?
To say that CRM competition is fierce in the education sector would be an understatement. And with so many providers out there, it’s easy to end up with a generic system that doesn’t meet your specific needs.
Here are three questions to ask yourself to ensure you’re choosing the right CRM system for your university:
- What do I want from a CRM system? Most CRM providers offer a basic package with optional add-ons. If you’re only interested in streamlining enrolment then you probably won’t need a marketing and social media module. Have a clear idea of your requirements to avoid being upsold to by providers.
- Cloud-based or on-premises? Cloud-based software is hosted by the provider and accessed via your web browser. On-premises CRM is installed on your university’s servers. In the long run, an on-premises solution often proves to be more cost effective as it usually only requires a one-off license fee — but after that you’re on your own in terms of set-up and maintenance. A cloud-based solution is charged on a monthly basis, and the provider handles all the technical stuff in the back end.
- How many licenses do I need? Almost all CRM is priced per user, per month. So to get an accurate idea of costs you need to know exactly how many people will need access to the system.