A Guide to Choosing the Best Education CRM

by Abhishek Ballabh | Jun 16, 2022 | ExtraaEdge’s Blog
If you ever wondered what CRM systems are & how to choose the best to meet your Admission NEEDS – this article is for you.


Every industry needs CRM technology specific to their needs, CRMs for higher education enable universities & higher education institutes to streamline their communications and track and report on an individual’s admission journey within the institution. This leads to a more engaged prospect student and a nurtured funnel, better understanding across admission teams and, eventually, increased ROI on admissions. Yet, with so many options out there, what do those responsible for selecting the best Education CRM need to look out for prior to implementation?

CRM helps you to understand your prospects & potential prospects, which helps in the nurturing process to build successful relationships. It is a system which helps organizations to manage leads from multiple places in a single place & automate communications with those leads. 

Most industries nowadays are keeping up with emerging technology trends, education industries too are moving to these trends and leaving behind their traditional practices.

In 2022, an admission CRM is acting like a strong pillar in many of the institutes when it comes to managing student admission efforts. This is because of its ability to provide data-driven reports which help you to set your admission process in motion, saving a massive amount of time and increasing the productivity of your team.

If you are new to the whole educational CRM & want to switch to it from your traditional spreadsheets, you can do it easily with us 




Higher Education has been a sector where the adoption of CRM especially in developing countries like India took its time. However, the need for the PREFERRED CRM SOLUTION IS VERY CRITICAL. But any solution can be only deemed best when the product takes into account changes that are happening with the industry, user & buyer personas & how courses are being advertised, bought & chosen today.

Primarily due to 3 reasons :

  • Industry Marketing Spent & Lead Generation trend: Education marketing moved slowly from conventional Print, PR, TV, and Banners to digital i.e. Adwords, Publishers, Facebook, Websites very drastically in the last 10 years. A few major key mediums to engage with your prospects have emerged in recent years that have changed the marketing dynamics in the education industry.  
  • Rise of millennials tipped in 2018-20: There was a demographic shift in the student population i.e. millennials born around the ’90s who just entered the higher education scene in around 2018-20. They do not follow herd mentality & need to be acquired, branded & nurtured on online & social platforms. Out of 400M WhatsApp messages sent in India daily around 200M are being sent by the age group of 18-26.
  • A new age admission user & buyer: With the education technology boom in India e.g. Byju’s, Toppr, and Unacademy of the world a richer pool of education marketers are joining education admission teams & making the buying decision to digitise admissions. They not only choose the best but also choose what’s right for them. For e.g. SalesForce is the best CRM in the world but Zenoti, and PipeDrive are themselves multi-million dollar companies for different industries.


One of the core tenets that CRM providers should consider while building the product is seamless integration with third-party vendors, marketing automation, calling capabilities, and conversational tools. However, they should not miss out on the impacts of AI and technology in the field of admissions as targeted marketing is the backbone of the new age enrolment process. 




Customer relationship management (CRM) is a type of software that acts as a communication aid for teams and individuals. At higher education institutions, a CRM stores data and organizes it in a way that enables users to streamline admissions, target their marketing campaigns, and track results at the other end.

CRM systems for Education contain all that is to be known of a prospective student through deep integrations. It gives out all the information that helps you plan your approach towards that particular prospect from 1st touchpoint enquiry to admissions.

Students nowadays have low patience & high expectations when it comes to institutes engaging with them. This doesn’t come as a surprise, according to Communications Market Report 2016 – Bitesize people between the age group of 16-24 spend around 2 hours & 26 minutes engaging on social media daily.
Competition is increasing year on year, to get ahead & stand out of the competition institutes need to engage prospects at a personal level, they need to send out the right communication at the right time if they want to properly nurture & convert the prospect.

An educational CRM can come to your rescue at this important juncture, it helps to automate communication at every step with that personal touch.
A study by Ovum said that 90% of the education institutes have claimed to use a CRM (that was in 2013, and that number is obviously greater in 2020). Unlike traditional excel sheets CRM helps you track your student lifecycle journey & communication seamlessly at any point of your admission season, which makes collaborations with the team easier.




Any CRM initiative needs to focus on end objectives which should be linked to the goals of the admissions team. When it comes to selecting the right CRM, it needs to precisely keep the below benefits in mind, especially for the Head of Admissions or Head of Marketing.

System of Records – Consolidation

A quality CRM for higher education will enable the university to streamline their communication efforts across the entire student lifecycle through easy data segmentation and automation, saving on time-consuming administrative and operational tasks. In other words, a CRM acts as a single source of truth, containing both contact details and engagement history.


Decision Analytics – Reporting

Historically, gathering data and inputting it into a report comprising multiple excel sheets was something of an arduous and time-consuming task. Inbuilt reporting systems mean individuals and departments can do away with spreadsheets and access reports instantaneously. This will allow them to make informed & strategic decisions more quickly.


Operational Efficiency – Saving time

The time freed up on admin tasks can be channelled into directly talking to the prospective students moreover creating targeted and meaningful content. Automated email marketing campaigns can do wonders to boost engagement. They can be scheduled for different stages of the admissions process and segmented according to things like academic subjects and level of study.


Engagement Consistency – The winning recipe

Meaningful messages in the form of emails and SMS delivered in a consistent, timely way can help universities to drive academic results as well as admissions. Regular communication helps the university to establish itself at the forefront of the stakeholder’s mind, pre and post-graduation! It builds brand trust in the mind space of the parents & students.


Data-Driven – Lifecycle Admission Campaigns

A consumer has to engage with your message at least 7 times before they commit to purchasing your product. In the case of education institutes the end result is the consumer enrolling in your institute.

To deliver that perfect messaging a CRM can come in handy. It can give out information about the prospects response to certain campaigns & emails, based on it prioritizing the right prospect becomes a lot simpler. This prioritization works in the favour of most of the admission teams as they can see quick conversions after the adoption.


Admission Motions – Candidate-focused

Once we can track student’s journey, we can engage them with meaningful brand touchpoints across email, SMS, social & website.

The ability to see academic and personal interests together with the engagement level of candidates, allows admissions teams to reach out with relevant content. This content will be directly in line with each candidate’s needs. As a result, the relationship with each individual becomes more personalized and a higher level of trust is built.


Key Insights – Intelligence in Marketing & Outreach

CRMs help institutes track how prospective students initially find them. Did they find them by visiting the website, a well-placed ad on Google or from a specific marketing campaign, social-media oriented or otherwise? This enables the marketing department to determine where the largest scope return on investment is and where there is room for improvement.




Institutions looking to adopt a CRM face a few challenges – 

To build a system in-house or purchase an off-the-shelf (SaaS) product from a software provider. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. It really depends on the university’s requirements and whether or not they have the know-how and manpower to build it themselves.
Universities that opt to build their own CRM often choose to do so as it allows them to customize features and functionalities according to their unique requirements. However, it’s important to note that further down the line the complexity of the software can present difficulties in terms of scope and development.
More often, the right decision will be to buy a license for a pre-built CRM. Different types of CRM systems are available on the market and given that each institution has its own unique identity, one size certainly doesn’t fit all. In order to be a discerning buyer, it helps to understand the vocabulary surrounding the market and to be able to distinguish between the different systems

To get you started, here are 5 key considerations as you decide whether to build or buy and narrow down your options between providers:  

Is it Deeply Integrated: Unified & Openly Integrated
Despite the verbiage, this type of CRM which is often not deeply integrated e.g. Open API’s etc. is typically not what you would call a ‘uniform’ offering. Different elements are developed separately and then joined together, which can be time-consuming and somewhat complex to build, maintain, and use. The end result can sometimes feel makeshift and lacking in consistency.

All in one converged: System of Records, Truth & Engagement
A converged CRM, on the other hand, offers an ‘all in one’ solution, tying all the features and functionalities together in one tidy software system. It encompasses system of admission records, system of engagement & then on the top system of truth. Student recruitment, admissions, marketing and communications systems are integrated into one streamlined program.
A converged CRM will also provide consistency in terms of usability and design, making it easy for teams to use and get to grips with.

Adaptability and cost-effectiveness
It can often be difficult for university IT departments to build software as complex as a SaaS application and it can be an incredibly time-consuming endeavour. In a lot of instances, home-grown solutions are comprised of open-source software components integrated together.
Although this can initially seem like a cost-effective approach, the end result runs the risk of lacking the depth and adaptability of a professional software system and may have to be replaced by one in the future.
You need to understand whether your IT team is capable of being dedicated full-time to such a project–otherwise, it may not reach your business goals on-time and on budget.
Those who choose to build a solution in-house have to start from scratch. SaaS providers, on the other hand, don’t have this problem. The SaaS provider’s product has been developed in line with the proposed requirements by a team of experienced professionals who will adapt it in line with any changes. Consider the cost of having a dedicated team that will design and maintain a custom solution for your university. You must also consider the cost of ownership, infrastructure costs, and opportunity costs of having your IT team unavailable for other projects. Compare this versus the turnkey cost of a SaaS CRM that will upgrade and incorporate the best practices from all higher education institutions they work with.

Maintenance – Adding new feature capacity and product management
SaaS providers already have the staff and project management expertise required to prepare a solution fit for purpose moreover keep on adding new relevant features. Universities will struggle to assemble a workforce as knowledgeable and experienced.
Even producing a project roadmap and managing complex databases can prove difficult for small, inexperienced teams, and countless other challenges will occur during the course of development.

Future Proofing Admission Technology  – Growth and scale
Universities evolve at rapid rates from both operational and marketing perspectives. The software they use needs to be adapted to fit such changes.
For in-house solutions, this presents more complexity in the development process. A common problem occurs when staff members who initially develop the solution move on and existing staff have to reverse-engineer the software. Conversely, SaaS providers are used to changing. As part of a license agreement, SaaS providers implement product updates with new features on a monthly or even weekly basis. Many are also open to customizing their product according to the users’ needs and openly welcome suggestions for future developments.
At the end of the day, every university operates in its own unique way. Choosing a CRM in line with the academic, recruitment, marketing and future goals of the institution is important.
Research is vital! It’s a good idea to read reviews, try demos, and speak with a consultant before making a final decision. Include multiple team members in the brainstorming, testing, and decision-making process, as they will be the ones ultimately using and improving it!


Closing Thoughts – CRM as a Competitive Advantage

Choosing a CRM is probably the most important investment a University or Institute will be making. This will make way for a digital process for Admission, Outreach & Engagement with the future prospects of your organizations. In the words of management guru & leader Jack Welch – An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage. Having an Education focused robust CRM may well be the killer competitive advantage of an institute.