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The best CRMs for Colleges and Universities

CRM/College and University

Why do colleges and universities need a Customer Relationship management system?

Universities and colleges must find a way to communicate more effectively with students and staff and understand who their audience is and how they behave. For that, CRM software is the tool that has worked the most to help these institutions.

Any institution that doesn't adapt to new technologies is guaranteed to be forgotten among competitors at the top of the trends in Artificial Intelligence and management software. 

For this reason, we see how institutions such as Penn State University are paying more attention to data collection from students, staff and other factors within their institution to solve the decline in enrollment of 2.7%. 

Education leaders have focused more on the importance of technology, having 66% in data requests since they have perceived that having this information is essential to solve any problem with students or faculty.

Seeing the great utility of this technology and its growing popularity, you may be wondering which is the right one for your university or college. Well, today at Codedesign, we will give you a list of the best CRM software so that you can implement it once and for all.

But first, we must answer.

Why do Colleges and Universities need a CRM?

Perhaps the most important reason to implement a CRM in your university is that students and your staff want a way to communicate effectively with the institution without the need for so much bureaucracy.

With this technology, you can collect, maintain, and analyze data about prospective, current, and past students.

This is important since, as we mentioned in our article "5 Digital Marketing Tips for Universities and Colleges", you must have a well-defined definition of your ideal student. With the help of this database, you will be able to build all those buyer personas that will enter your classrooms.

In addition, the CRM allows your teachers or other staff to improve their communication internally and externally since the data available is visible between departments, allowing them to see each student's holistic experience.

Then the CRM allows you to place a series of touchpoints throughout the student's life cycle, from their entrance to graduation. 

In conclusion, CRM gives you a 360-degree perspective on all the data of interest about your institution as a business.

Customer Relationship Management


Before we move one: Quick tips for students 

We are almost there when a student can ask AI " do my assignment for me". Repetitive tasks should not be the focus of the qualified people. Dedicate your time to other, more critical tasks but be mindful of the quality of the content produced. 

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Benefits of Using a CRM System in Colleges and Universities

Okay, we already stipulated that the most common reasons to adopt a CRM are the centralization of data and having information about your students and how they behave. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg regarding this technology's benefits, which is why we will explain in more depth what you will get when you start using it.

Centralize all the Data in 1 single place.

Old-fashioned colleges use out-of-date strategies to manage interactions with their student body. That is why we can see how some university institutes use almost 35 applications to manage stages of the student's life cycle, such as managing recruiting, enrollment, engagement, job placement, and alums and donor engagement. This is cumbersome for your staff and makes students feel the experience is impersonal.

Therefore, when you adopt one of these in your workplace, you will see how all the processes are facilitated by connecting insights across recruitment & admissions, student experience, advancement and marketing into 1 single place.

With all these insights in your hands, you can turn them into practical actions to improve the student experience, making them feel more comfortable on your campus.

Reduce Ownership Costs

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is simple math. If instead of having 35 different platforms, we only have one, the benefit is crystal clear: we save much money in the process. 

A study from Forrester Total Impact shows that the CRM in RM higher education technology averages $2.4 million in total legacy cost savings. The study showed that companies using Salesforce (a CRM system we'll talk about later) drove a 195% ROI with just a 7-month payback period.

The reason behind these significant savings is that companies skip the part of training team members, adopt outdated strategies and don't waste time updating the legacy systems.

CRM Improves the University Experience

With the data in your hands, you can personalize the experiences of your students, staff, and even parents, anticipating their needs or enhancing those aspects that they most enjoy in your home of studies.

Communication becomes even more effective since, with the use of chatbots, you can speed up the questions or doubts of your audience automatically, and now, if it does not resolve, pass them on to a customer experience representative who finishes solving them, the problem at once. In any case, the software allows you to follow up on every issue to evaluate how it's going until it's finally solved.

CRM for Colleges and Universities

Automate all the Repetitive and Annoying Work.

Automation isn't something new. Because of this, we would be worried if there are institutions that think that it is easier to archive data in obsolete offices or databases than to be able to have them all at hand with a single click.

The CRM made our lives easier, and with its transparency, any entity or department can access the document or information they want to search for in a matter of seconds.

In the same way, when it comes to sending messages or alerts, the machines already do everything for us automatically. So the only task for your team will be to program the content and then sit back and let the machines finish sending all those messages.

So, now that we read about all the benefits of this outstanding technology, the article's highlight is the best CRM platform for your university or college. Let's take a look!

Best CRMs for Colleges and Universities

Salesforce (Salesforce Education Cloud)

As previously mentioned in this article, Salesforce comes with a tool made specifically for colleges and universities. With this educational cloud, users can transform processes and transfer them to a mobile or streamlined cloud-based platform.

One of its top features is the Education Data Architecture (EDA), which allows you to stay connected with students throughout all their lifecycle. The CRM comes with tools for:

  • Recruitment
  • Admission
  • Advancement
  • Alumni Engagement
  • Student Retention
  • Success

 In this platform, you'll have a 360-degree look at all the information you need from prospects, students and graduates.

Salesforce has a unique feature called Einstein Analytics that offers you predictive modelling, mobile-friendly dashboards and an AI-enabled engagement, automated scoring.


With the capability of accommodating unlimited users, Hubspot CRM is an excellent option in your college. With a free version, this customer relationship management tool provides a comprehensive system to manage your university, allowing data and up to 1 million contacts with no expiration date.

If you decide to use it, you'll have access to:

  • Live chat tools
  • Schedule meetings 
  • Track any prospect you want
  • Track your emails and notifications

The platform also has a Premium Option; nevertheless, reviews show that the free one has all the capabilities to provide real-time customer data and reporting visibility.

Codedesign is a HubSpot partner specializing in cutting-edge digital marketing services. We understand the unique needs of the higher education sector and believe that our services can help you reach your goals.  Our team of experienced professionals will work with you to craft a tailored strategy that meets your needs. We offer various services, from website design and development to SEO, PPC, content creation, and social media management. With our expertise, your school can have a top-notch website and optimized digital presence to attract more qualified leads, engage current students and alumni, and help you reach your enrollment goals. 

We understand that universities have unique needs and goals, and we are prepared to ensure you get the best possible service. We will work with you to understand your goals and make sure that we create a customized strategy that works best for you. We look forward to helping you achieve your objectives.


This CRM is designed specifically for higher education and comes with a completely customizable platform with mobile access for iOS and Android devices.

The CRM can help you with all the aspects of University Management; nevertheless, its main focus is boosting enrollment by streamlining the process for parents and students.

Maybe the only downside of this platform is its price, as you'll have to pay USD 3,000 as the base price for this software. Nevertheless, reviews say that the platform offers valuable features like acquisition source tracking, status changes for new and incoming alums, agile communications and many more.

Hero, the integrated system that helps you evaluate student behaviour, and School Finder, a tool that allows customers and families to find different programs and schools, are some of its most exciting tools.

Source: YouTube.

Full Fabric.

Another CRM system designed for higher education, this software comes with feature CRM packages for you to choose from:

  • Origin: A recruitment platform that will help bring more students to your place and streamline your enrolment process.
  • Core: This option will help you build stronger relationships with students and market your institution better.
  • Connector: This option will empower you to grow your relationships with users.

Underpinned by "Foundation," these packages will allow you to monitor and track your interactions with students. This system will let you take charge of all this process through the student's lifecycle, from lead capture to prospect approbation.

Source: YouTube.


Anthology came from three education service providers: Campus Labs, iModules and Campus Management.

The platform offers a dynamic solution for universities offering marketing automation tools and the opportunity to personalize your student's journey, making it easy to follow through each step.

Later in 2021, the company announced a merge with Blackboard, a leading ed-tech platform, and it is expected that it will become the most prominent education technology ecosystem.

OK, so can a CRM help bring more students to a college?

Absolutely yes! It's a critical tool to optimize your sales process and inbound strategies:

1. Use the CRM to create targeted marketing campaigns. You can use the CRM to organize current student data and build targeted campaigns to attract new students. This can include targeted emails, social media ads, and targeted search engine optimization campaigns.

2. Leverage student data to create personalized messages. Many CRM systems can help you create personalized messages for individual students and track their interactions with the college. This can help you create more effective campaigns to attract new students.

3. Utilize social media to spread the word. Utilize the CRM to create and manage social media campaigns for the college. You can share news, events, and other information about the college on relevant social media sites. This can help you reach a wider audience and increase your chances of attracting new students.

4. Keep track of inquiries and leads. Use the CRM to track inquiries and leads. This can help you monitor prospective students’ interest in the college and follow up with them in a timely manner.

5. Connect with students on a personal level. Use the CRM to connect with current students and alumni. This can help you build relationships and strengthen the college’s reputation. It can also help attract more students by providing them a more personal and engaging experience.

How to convince a university dean to use a CRM?

To change any structure, we will need the commitment of the management team to enforce a vision. CRMs are not different. Here are a few tips on how to bring them on board for a CRM in a college:

1. Explain the benefits of a CRM: A CRM is an invaluable tool for universities, allowing for data storage and access quickly and easily. This can dramatically improve communication, efficiency, and collaboration between departments and faculty, saving time and resources. Additionally, a CRM can automate processes and streamline workflows, reducing the time and effort required to complete tasks. This can help to free up resources to focus on more critical initiatives.

2. Present case studies: Showing the dean how other universities have successfully implemented CRM solutions can be a powerful way to demonstrate the potential of a CRM. Presenting case studies of universities that have seen improvements in communication, efficiency, and collaboration can be valuable in convincing the dean to invest in a CRM.

3. Discuss the cost savings: A CRM can reduce overall costs, including the cost of software, hardware, and maintenance. By implementing a CRM, universities can save money on software and hardware costs and the costs associated with managing and maintaining the system. Additionally, a CRM can help reduce the manual labor required for data entry and other tasks, resulting in cost savings.

4. Emphasize security: Security is always a top priority for universities, and a CRM can help to protect the university’s data and sensitive information. A CRM can provide the necessary safeguards to ensure data is secure, and that any unauthorized access is prevented. Explaining the security capabilities of a CRM can help to demonstrate its value to the university.

5. Offer personalized training: It is important to ensure that faculty and staff understand how to use the CRM and take advantage of its features. Offering one-on-one training sessions and online tutorials can be a great way to ensure everyone is comfortable using the system and understands how to get the most out of it.

6. Offer support: CRMs require ongoing maintenance and support to ensure they are working properly and any issues are addressed quickly. By offering ongoing support and maintenance, universities can ensure that their CRM works as intended and that any problems are resolved quickly. This can help maximize the system's value and ensure that it is providing the desired benefits.

The above list of CRM's is great but Universities struggle sometimes with cost control. Are there any open source CRM's universities could use?

Best 10 CRM open sources for Universities

1. SuiteCRM: SuiteCRM is an open source CRM software that is highly configurable, feature-rich, and scalable. It is an excellent choice for organizations of all sizes and can be used for sales, marketing, customer service, project management, and more. It is also available in multiple languages and can be used on both Linux and Windows. https://www.suitecrm.com/

2. Vtiger CRM: Vtiger CRM is an open source CRM solution that helps businesses manage customers, leads, and sales. It is highly customizable and can be used for sales, customer management, and customer support. It also offers a wide range of features such as contact management, lead management, and more. https://www.vtiger.com/

3. Odoo CRM: Odoo CRM is an open source customer relationship management system. It offers various features, such as lead management, quotes, and invoicing. It also comes with an easy to use interface and is highly customizable. https://www.odoo.com/

4. Salesforce CRM: Salesforce CRM is a popular open source CRM system. It is highly customizable and offers many features, such as marketing automation, customer service, and analytics. It is also integrated with third-party applications, making it highly versatile. https://www.salesforce.com/

5. SugarCRM: SugarCRM is a powerful open-source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers various features such as lead management, campaign management, and more. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.sugarcrm.com/

6. Zoho CRM: Zoho CRM is an open source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers a wide range of features, such as lead management, marketing automation, and customer service. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.zoho.com/

7. Mautic CRM: Mautic CRM is an open source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers various features such as lead management, marketing automation, and customer service. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.mautic.org/

8. EspoCRM: EspoCRM is an open-source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers various features such as lead management, marketing automation, and customer service. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.espocrm.com/

9. OroCRM: OroCRM is an open source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers various features such as lead management, marketing automation, and customer service. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.orocrm.com/

10. SplendidCRM: SplendidCRM is an open source CRM system that helps businesses manage customer relationships. It offers various features such as lead management, marketing automation, and customer service. It also comes with powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. https://www.splendidcrm.com/

Final Thoughts

The higher education market is quite competitive, and if you stay behind in technological advancements, your opponents will take you far ahead. Hence, the best thing you can do is take action and start modernizing your institution with all the current implements that offer you artificial intelligence.

Customer Relationship Management will be an exceptional database for your educational institute that will allow you to be aware of the smallest detail regarding the functioning and attitudes of the students towards the institution.

Among the recommendations and data on this technology, we can take it as supreme importance that your students want to be treated as individuals and need a personalized experience. So this technology will be your best ally to provide them with what they wish, enriching their experience at your university for their learning.

At Codedesign, we have years of experience and a team of professionals capable of managing CRM teams for your institute. If you want to enhance the capabilities of your institution, do not hesitate to contact us to take it to the next educational level!

About Bruno Gavino

Bruno Gavino is the CEO and partner of Codedesign, a digital marketing agency with a strong international presence. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, with offices in Boston, Singapore, and Manchester (UK) Codedesign has been recognized as one of the top interactive agencies and eCommerce agencies. Awarded Top B2B Company in Europe and Top B2C company in retail, Codedesign aims to foster personal relationships with clients and create a positive work environment for its team.  

He emphasizes the need for digital agencies to focus on data optimization and performance to meet the increasingly results-driven demands of clients. His experience in digital marketing, combined with a unique background that includes engineering and data, contributes to his effective and multifaceted leadership style.

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About Codedesign

Codedesign is a digital marketing agency with a strong multicultural and international presence, offering expert services in digital marketing. Our digital agency in Lisbon, Boston, and Manchester enables us to provide market-ready strategies that suit a wide range of clients across the globe (both B2B and B2C). We specialize in creating impactful online experiences, focusing on making your digital presence strong and efficient. Our approach is straightforward and effective, ensuring that every client receives a personalized service that truly meets their needs.

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