A Guide to CRM for Education [Benefits, Cost, Trends, Top 9]

  • Home
  • Blog
  • A Guide to CRM for Education [Benefits, Cost, Trends, Top 9]

Table of Contents

CRM for education.

This might sound odd, as you probably know that CRM stands for “customer relationship management” and students aren’t exactly customers.

But for all intents and purposes, they really are. They drive your business, your processes, and school retention rates and enrollment rates are the education industry’s version of customer loyalty and client retention metrics.

And let’s face it, disinterested and confused students are killing your system. More than 60% of higher education leaders say their biggest concern is competition between universities, because if students don’t like the way you do things - there are so many other fish in the sea.

And this isn’t even getting into staff and faculty. If they aren’t clearly communicating with each other and their students there will be uncertainty and chaos.



But wait - calm down. There’s a great solution.

School CRM software can steer you on an organized path with solid teaching programs, great communications, and cutting-edge educational analytics.

And that’s just the start, so get your thinking cap on, and don't forget to take notes. We may or may not quiz you on what you've learned.

Introduction to CRM for Education Sector

crm for education sector

You might know what a CRM is…you may have your CRM best practices down pat.

But what is a CRM for the education industry?

School CRM software is a customer-centered program designed to help education professionals foster relationships with prospects, improve enrollment rates, use data and analytics to visualize progress towards goals, and improve efficiency and productivity by making admissions and marketing smooth like Skippy.



You can imagine the benefits are numerous.

  • Increased admissions
  • Higher retention rates
  • Better communication and visibility across campus structures
  • Improve relationships between students and teachers
  • Enhance enrollment strategy
  • Help monitor student progress
  • Coordinate activities and events
  • …and more

CRMs boost relationships with potential students and make your educational system more appealing, thus increasing overall admissions and enrollment. This dominoes into improving student retention.

And only 63% of students aiming for a bachelor’s degree complete it at the same school they started at. So retention is important.

school transfer


Real-time reporting and analytics help you monitor this retention, as well as enrollment, marketing successes, and failures. It also helps expand your marketing scope by showing you new opportunities, because knowing what works and what doesn’t is crucial when it comes to attracting new students.

In addition to making marketing more efficient, it can also be automated using a CRM.

The education industry is loving CRM software for streamlined, automated marketing combined with analytics, data, and graphs to show you who’s interested in your school. It has never been so easy to find out that an unexpectedly high number of prospects from Peru were checking out your school.

Automation extends to communication and workflow, making sure you never forget about follow-ups with prospects and inquiries. Or task automation, so that the right member of staff is tasked with a job right when the job is needed.

Student requests campus calendar. Automation kicks in. Staff receives a message to send a campus calendar.

It’s like hiring a super-intelligent robot butler to help you manage all the miscellaneous but important tasks needed to run a top-notch school.

What is School CRM Software?

crm software

Okay, so we’ve piqued your interest.

But although you already know what a CRM is, maybe you aren’t clear on exactly what a CRM in the education sector does.

What’s the difference? Aren’t they only designed for business and sales?

What can it do for your school?

Maybe you’ve heard of Slate CRM higher education or Dynamics CRM education, but before we talk about any specific programs let’s take it back to the basics.

There’s a lot a CRM can do for education, but they generally have:

  • Contact management
  • Team management
  • Communication tools
  • Reporting and analytics

Let’s compare how these things help a standard sales team vs what they can do for your school:


Contact management

Team management




Client management

Sales rep management

Quotas, call times, idle times

Meetings, prospect calls


Enrollee management

Faculty management

Exams passed, test results, enrollment rates

Classes, seminars

See how easily the two relate? You don’t need a lot of imagination to see how a CRM can be used for higher education.

This isn’t the only area that CRMs have branched out into, as the CRM service industry is already booming.

The CRM for Education Industry vs. College Admissions Software

college admission software

“Isn’t a CRM for the education industry just college admissions software?” we hear you ask.

Err…no, not exactly.

Though they do a lot of the same things, such as:

  1. Provide powerful analytics
  2. Build personalized communications
  3. Help admissions teams find and enroll more students
  4. Manage and organize documents and paperwork
  5. Scheduling and curriculum management
  6. Improve the overall experience for prospective students

They’re similar but one is crafted specifically for use in schools and one is more general and all-in-one. The features of college admissions software are going to be a little more fixed. School CRM software is going to have more flexibility.

There’s also the price.

Generally, a low-cost CRM used for education is also going to be worlds cheaper than college admissions software, which can be anywhere from $20k to $1 million per year. Whoa.

Why don’t we do a quick comparison between an average college admissions software vs CRM for education:


College Admissions Software

CRM for Education

Application Management



Forms Management



Candidate Management






Marketing Automation



Lead Scoring






Maybe a couple of those don’t seem beneficial in a school situation, but let’s talk about that.

Benefits of CRM in the Education Sector

So what are the pros of the CRM education industry?

We suppose it wouldn’t be good enough to just say “there are no cons”, huh?

Well, let’s talk about lead scoring, which is typically a term associated with sales. Giving a prospect a “lead score” helps you determine their progress in your educational pipeline. Lead scoring allows you to rank prospects based on certain factors, like if they’ve filled out a contact form on your website or emailed your support with questions.

This will give each prospect a score for you to determine how high priority they are to your system. A prospect who’s emailed and called your admissions team would have a pretty high lead score. But one that’s just visited the website and nothing else is kind of a cold fish.

And we’ve already mentioned how marketing automation helps your enrollment procedures and touched on educational workflow being your own personal robot-butler. Do we need to mention it again?

robot butler



In fact, adopting a CRM in the education sector was found to have an 80% increase in staff productivity, plus an overall increase in alumni, funds, and donor involvement.

Here are the deets on how an education CRM makes that happen:

  • Maximize conversion rates
  • Increase admission and enrollment
  • Improve student relationships with the institution
  • Store documents
  • Send reminders
  • Real-time data and analytics
  • Maintain course and university details

Additionally, email integration can further help you manage questions, inquiries, and information from potential students.

Wow. A CRM is so much better than class VHS tapes (if any of you reading this actually had those in school…).

vhs tape


Top 9 Trends Observed in CRM for Education Industry

What about the trends of CRM in the education sector? What’s hot? What’s worth noting? Scroll through these stats and try not to let your mouth hang open the whole time.

You may just get drool on the carpet.

1. The education software market is about to double

School CRM software is hitting the market hard and fast, and steadily increasing its market presence.

In 2019 the education software market reached $3244.4 million. And it’s projected to reach $6735.9 million by 2026.

The market doubling in a few years shows you how serious businesses and schools alike are taking education software. Smart companies realize the growing importance of the CRM education industry.

2. Digital classrooms are growing not going

digital classroom

School CRM software is becoming more and more necessary now that so many classrooms are remote and virtual…and eLearning isn’t slowing down any time soon.

80% of schools have purchased or are preparing to purchase additional technology for students to meet this growing need for distance learning. It isn’t just a COVID thing anymore.

Many industries expect to keep eLearning around as a solid tool in their arsenal even after the need for social distancing diminishes. In fact, the remote learning market is expected to grow 62% between 2021 - 2026.

3. Retention rates of 25 - 60%

Most learners agree that online education is more fun, easier to understand, and easier to fit into their own personal lifestyles. Which gives eLearning retention rates that are 25 - 60% vs. traditional classrooms whose rates are 8 - 10%.

This shows an appreciation, aptitude, and enthusiasm towards distance learning and education technology that correlates heavily with the CRM industry. School CRM software helps organize and engage students to keep them interested and in one place.

4. Quality education software makes or breaks a deal

15% of students say their main concern when choosing a learning option is quality of instruction and academic support, with another 14% saying theirs is adapting to an online or remote learning environment.

You can address both of these concerns at once with the right CRM, facilitating academic support, streamlining instruction, and making a remote learning environment approachable with a low learning curve.

5. Over two-thirds of companies use education software

education software

People are taking notice of the convenience, increase in productivity, and ROI of using education software.

77% of companies use eLearning for their educational programs. Even if it’s just training employees. They’ve also noticed that education software has boosted knowledge retention and reduced training time.

The majority of businesses now recognize that education software, including CRMs for education, helps make processes faster and smoother.

6. Distance learning takes 90% less energy

It takes a lot of energy to teach. And not just mental energy.

Consider the number of prospects, enrollees, and alumni the average school handles daily. Consider the travel, purchase, and use of materials, use of campus facilities…and that last one means lighting, heating, utilities in general, and supplies like food and coffee.

Education at a distance takes about 90% less energy than traditional education, which means the CRM education industry saves you money and energy - and you’re also helping the planet. Bonus.

7. Every dollar spent on online education makes back 30

According to a study done by IBM, every $1 spent on education software makes back $30 in productivity thanks to time-saved. Your automated follow-ups, even scheduling, and task-assigning isn’t just a nice convenience – they’re lining your pockets.

$30 dollars made back per $1 is outstanding ROI. Even more so if your CRM price isn’t crippling in the first place.

8. Multi-channel learning is feeding the fire of school CRM software

Thanks to the boom of multi-channel learning, even education that isn’t fully remote can utilize good education software. Education models like hybrid learning and blended learning benefit heavily from education software, even though they aren’t virtual only.

Even a mainly in-person educational system can get great results from using a CRM because it isn’t restrictive. Your typical face-to-face college is still going to utilize automation, scheduling, admissions management, and more.

9. The younger generations think CRM software is critical

crm software

A higher opinion of your institution means higher enrollment and retention rates. And younger generations think very highly of CRM software and the companies that use them.

28% of millennials think CRM software is critical in this day and age, compared to 18% of Gen X and 9% of Baby Boomers, which indicates that younger generations are placing greater value on building relationships than ever before.

8 Best CRM for Education

There’s a lot of CRM SaaS out there just waiting to help smooth out your work and boost enrollment and retention rates so you don’t need to settle for expensive college admissions software.

You just need a comprehensive list of them.

And would you look at that? We happen to have one.


Now, we don’t want to hear any sass out of you - there’s a reason why Ringy’s #1. We aren’t just the teacher’s pet.



With excellent lead scoring, real-time text messaging, simple and effective drip campaigns, and detailed data and analytics, it’s easy to see why Ringy is a great contender in the CRM education industry.

Check out these features:

  • Lead and contact management, including importing
  • Streamlined workflow
  • Multiple platform functions in one clean dashboard
  • Call management (take a call, forward a call) and click-to-call VoIP softphone
  • Ability to quickly and efficiently send SMS and email
  • Intuitive automation

And that’s for $99 / month. Earlier in this article, we mentioned college admissions software getting as high as $1 million / year…do we need to spell out the difference?

Plus, Ringy integrates with your calendar, so it not only makes your workflow accessible and customizable, but your prospects can schedule appointments themselves to suit their needs.

Everybody likes being catered to.


Slate CRM higher education is a free program for admissions and enrollment management, student advancement, and outreach and communications.



Developed solely for higher education, Slate’s a CRM focusing on communication, student retention, alumni and donor engagement, and application management.

It has some nice features (especially for being free!), such as scheduling, AI chatbots, organizing and hosting events, prospect research, and alumni directories.

Main complaints arise with the learning curve. It’s a bit confusing to get the hang of and although customization is appreciated, when you can do everything it’s hard to do anything. There are some things that users feel should be easy in theory – but it’s just a little too complicated for some folks.

Dynamics 365

dynamics 365


Microsoft’s gaining some attention with its Dynamics CRM education accelerator (an accelerator basically being an industry-specific add-on to Dynamics 365).

It contains features to aid in student engagement, pre-built entities and forms, event management, and tele-advising. You can also use it to track grades, attendance, and homework if you’re using it for K-12 education.

Its biggest downfall it has in common with Slate – it requires a lot of knowledge, time, and resources to take full advantage of. The learning curve is pretty steep and the customization is pretty confusing.

element 451

elements 451


element451 is an admissions marketing and enrollment CRM aimed at helping build relationships between teams and prospective students. They claim to be a student-centric CRM, emphasizing personalized outreach for prospects.

It has some common, solid features:

  • Marketing automation
  • Personalization
  • Easy applying
  • Mobile-friendly app
  • Event management with Zoom integration

Aside from a complicated interface and a few bugs and glitches, element451 is all around pretty solid. But’s it’s on the higher end price tag-wise at $20k per year.

Salesforce Education Cloud

Ah yes, you’ve definitely heard of Salesforce. But did you know that Salesforce has a specific CRM for the education industry?

education cloud for higher ed


This branch of Salesforce has a focus on either higher education or K-12 education, depending on the version you opt for. It has the usual features you’d look for in a CRM for education: admissions management, real-time insights, collaborative tools for helping staff connect with students, and marketing and recruitment management.

It seems pretty darn good in terms of scalability, integrations, and reporting and analytics – but that’s expected coming from such a well-established CRM business.

Although it’s a little disappointing how evasive they are with pricing. Nothing upfront on their website, you have to contact them to get any information.




Pipeliner, primarily a sales CRM, isn’t a bad choice for an education CRM. It has the expected features such as lead management, automation, reporting, data and insights, and a mobile app.

The neat thing about Pipeliner is that it features discounts for qualifying members of the education industry via their WE CARE program.

Limited email integration and automation are its biggest weak points. Plus, its most popular package is $115 per user per month with another tier above it.




Freshsales, formerly Freshworks, is a comprehensive CRM that starts freemium and goes up from there. Contact and account management, contact lifecycle stages, built-in chat, email, phone, and support come with the free version. But extra features like reports, pipeline visualization, insights, and workflows come with the paid upgrades.

They even actively advertise its use in the education industry, which is a nice little bonus! Although you really have to pay to get the most out of it, it isn’t exactly free.




Zendesk is a customer service-minded CRM that showcases its use as a solid school CRM software. It features the ability to build a knowledge base, FAQs, system setups, and announcements, open communication channels, and automations and workflows.

Though it has a lot of features, this actually is its downfall, as users say it’s overwhelming and confusing – one even saying “daunting and headache-inducing”.

But it’s fairly priced at $99 per month for its best tier, so it’s a pretty good option.

And if you’re still unsure about which CRM to choose, you could even try out a CRM online trial to find the best fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best CRM for schools?

Well, that’s kind of subjective. Take into consideration your goals, budget, the features your school needs, whether or not you need easy scalability for the future, and how tech-savvy your team is.

The CRM education industry is vast…there’s definitely a perfect CRM for you and your school.

Why do schools need a CRM?

A CRM helps streamline formerly-clunky processes, automate messages that used to require manual typing and were often forgotten, and basically be a (much, much, cheaper) administrative assistant with superpowers.

It’s just a smart business move.

Do schools and colleges use CRMs?

41% of universities said they use a CRM – and that was in 2015, so you know the number has skyrocketed by 2022. The ones that said they didn’t utilize a CRM claimed it was only a lack of knowledge about CRMs that stopped them from using them.

So the only reason people don’t have them is that they don’t know they exist yet. Sounds convincing to us!


crm for education

CRM in the education sector is huge right now. And it’s just about the smartest move a school or university can make.

It’s actually costing you time and money to not implement a CRM with the benefits it provides (and the fact that it saves on energy and extra staff).

  1. Increased retention rates
  2. Improved enrollment and admissions
  3. Improved student relationships with the school
  4. Every dollar spent earns back 30
  5. Smooth, automated processes increase productivity

The market for education software is only growing with each year and with it the demand for more digital and virtual education options. If you haven’t noticed, the future is digital and there ain’t no goin’ back.

You can easily request a demo with Ringy today and try a CRM for higher education. See the benefits up close and personal.