Operating a CRM is like using a microphone: It amplifies and delivers your message to a larger audience. Have you ever held a mic in front of an audience and felt a moment of hesitation as you think, “What do I want to say?”
Knowing what to say to prospective students and how to say it to capture their attention is important. Admissions officers work daily to craft messages, either for automated, large-scale brand consumption or for small-scale, ad hoc relationship building. Fortunately, CRM technology offers powerful tools to help you match with the students who will be the best fit for your institution.
Whether you’re thinking about implementing a CRM or have been using one for years, it’s critical to establish a clear plan for success with your technology platform to help ensure that your institution’s messaging succeeds. Here are three important steps you can take to get started:
Set clear goals for your CRM.
There are many reasons for purchasing a CRM. Some institutions want to better shape their class by student type, location, ability, etc. Others want to increase the number of prospects or applicants or raise their yield rates from one stage to the next in their funnel. And there are those institutions that want to provide a consistent, professional customer-service experience during the admissions process.
Knowing what your enrollment priorities are will help ensure that proper goals are set for staff to achieve. Goals reflect your institution’s values, unify leadership, and establish criteria for staff to use in ongoing decision-making. (This resource is worth the read if you want to learn more about the importance of setting goals.)
Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your success.
Establishing clear goals and expectations for your CRM will allow you to identify KPIs to measure your success. A KPI is any activity that can be measured that will serve as your best evidence to indicate the effect of your efforts. When emailing, KPIs usually center on read rates and click-throughs. With recruitment events, KPIs could include student head count, applications received, or feedback collected by participants. Identifying KPIs early can help you connect all the dots during your CRM implementation.
Take action with smart strategies and best practices.
Once you have determined your goals and how you’ll measure success, you must tackle the most interesting and challenging task of all – establishing a strategy. Start by looking into what other institutions have done. Success stories from other institutions like yours can provide interesting models to learn from and to help you build a foundation for your own strategy.
However, simply mimicking others is not enough to make your institution stand out to students. Good CRM operators establish logical strategies based on both common best practices and informed positions regarding their own unique value propositions. Strategies usually aren’t complete successes or failures. Knowing the difference comes from looking over evidence collected via KPIs and comparing this evidence against your goals.
So before you pick up that mic or launch another CRM activity, stop and consider, “What is it that we want to say?” Establishing clear goals and a solid strategy before executing will help ensure your success.