Integrating Marketing Automation into CRMs to Revolutionize Student Outreach

In this recent blog, we discussed the growing and evolving use of CRMs for enrollment management over the years. Now, let’s talk about the increased importance of integrating marketing automation technologies into CRM platforms. This potent one-two punch has the potential to revolutionize outreach for colleges and universities.

With near real-time data synchronization, the goal for a marketing automation integration is to ensure your CRM is the “system of truth” that admissions counselors can access to have the most up-to-date information — to offer a unified view of the student journey, with both platforms collecting data on student interactions, from website visits to email clicks and application progress.

The idea is to offer a complete picture of student engagement with key insights for optimizing recruitment campaigns.

Speaking Directly and Relevantly to Students

The combination can provide a treasure trove of student data — clicks, interests, aspirations — feeding into an intelligent communication engine and offering an understanding of each student’s unique journey.

  • Emails showcase scholarships the student has eyed.  
  • Popup ads on relevant web pages highlight virtual tours of programs for which they have shown interest.  
  • A digital ad might remind them of an application deadline.  

The possibilities go on and on. But personalization is not just about content. It is about timing.  

Marketing Automation

Personalization is also about timing.

Automated workflows can nurture leads with timely nudges to complete enrollment steps or follow ups based on engagement behaviors. This data-driven approach translates to better engagement. Clicks and inquiries increase … and are more meaningful.  

The benefits go beyond numbers. Students will feel valued, not just another statistic. This builds trust, affinity and eventually loyalty. In a world of online noise, universities that combine their CRM with marketing automation will speak directly to their prospective students, forging genuine connections that resonate.  

With CRM and marketing automation working in concert, marketers and recruiters can also segment prospective students based on various criteria like demographics, program interest, and engagement level. This allows for targeted campaigns with hyper-relevant messaging, making communication more effective and appealing. 

A Personal Note About Personalization

Personalized outreach is the reason I changed my career path eight years ago to become a marketing operations specialist after working in sales positions for several years. 

What was the catalyst that caused this switch?

I was a business development representative at a small, SaaS company selling HR and Payroll Software. My instructions for selling were to “call and ask if they have a payroll provider and if they are looking to switch.” I will tell you, I was HORRIBLE at that job. After a week of failed cold call attempts (raise your hand if you love cold calling 🙋‍♀️), I knew I was more suited for another role.

In a world of online noise, universities that combine their CRM with marketing automation will speak directly to their prospective students, forging genuine connections that resonate.

That’s when I worked with my manager to implement a more robust CRM platform for the organization and selected which marketing automation system we would pair with our CRM. Let me tell you … it was a game-changing decision. I was able to fuel the sales team with leads that were engaging with our company through emails, webinars, website visits, etc.

Understanding the needs of our prospects allowed us to offer the right solutions that would make a difference for that organization. And that’s the combined power of Marketing Automation and CRM at work. It’s a beautiful thing.

A Leaner, More Effective Admissions Machine

Another potential and crucial advantage universities will see with integrating marketing automation with their CRM comes from cost-cutting and improved efficiency. Counselors are no longer bogged down with spreadsheets as they chase leads through emails.  

A marketing automation platform is built to smoothly capture prospects, nurturing them with personalized campaigns, and automatically scoring their interest. It takes over repetitive tasks like sending leads cold emails, texts, or social media messages, freeing staff to focus on high-touch interactions and building relationships.

The result is a leaner, more effective admissions machine, churning out qualified leads with less legwork. 

Marketing automation lets universities laser-target their outreach, eliminating wasteful blanket mailers and irrelevant online ads. Data from the CRM fuels these campaigns, ensuring every dollar reaches the right prospective student. The upshot is reduced marketing spending, maximized ROI, and staying on budget.

By Emma Brown, Senior Marketing Manager, Capture Higher Ed