higher education marketing unicorn

Universities across the nation continue to struggle with declining enrollments, a consistent—and growing—trend over the past decade. According to the National Student Clearninghouse Research Center, from fall 2015 to fall 2017, enrollment dropped nearly half a million across all sectors. That’s about a -1.5% decline—a number that, though seemingly small, is relatively significant given the US’s large college student population.   


Four-year private universities are among the hardest hit. The Center found that 69,000 fewer students enrolled in private institutions this fall—a 7.1 percent drop that builds on years of even larger declines. 


So, what can universities—especially private ones—do to proactively address this issue? And how can they not only ensure steady enrollment, but enrollment growth?   


According to Katya Popova, Director of Strategic Communications at American University’s Kogod School of Business, it’s all about how an institution interacts with applicants. “Each audience needs a different mode of communication, and a different message,” she says.   



And needs to be thoroughly researched. In an age where, by some estimates, the average adult consumer is exposed to around 4,000 advertisements daily, tailored messaging is key. “Understanding your audience is essential—you have to get your students’ motivations,” Popova says. “It’s more important now than ever.” 


For Popova, marketing automation software offers an all-encompassing solution. The technology allows her to track each move a lead makes—like how long they’re spending on a program’s landing page. She can then gauge their level and area of interest, ensuring that, when she contacts them, the right lead gets the right attention.  


She can also hone her messaging through smart list segmentation. The software allows her to strategically customize her e-mail lists based on criteria like age, gender, interests and behavior. “This allows us to be clever about how we’re generating demand for our programs,” Popova says.  


What marketing automation is most effective in addressing, however, is what Popova calls “the unicorn of every marketing professional:” attribution. 

 Attribution, as defined by NG Data, is the science of determining what media or marketing drives revenue. It’s the bridge between marketing data and sales data—the analysis that tells you if what you’re doing is working.  


“Until you’re able to meaningfully attribute your user experience success to a particular effort, you’ll never be able to target the proper audience at the proper time,” Popova says.  


With marketing automation software, she receives real-time landing page reports so she can see which source is generating the best conversions. Reports are stored within the automation software, offering an organized and efficient analysis platform. 


Popova is also able to analyze and improve her drip marketing campaigns by using advanced e-mail analytics. She can then personalize campaigns based on the data, and deliver them at the time of her choosing. 


“Marketing automation allows you to speak to possible constituents in a way that resonates with them. It’s about getting to know people on a larger scale so you can have a meaningful conversation,” Popova says.  


And, with the right message at the right time, battle the continued decline in student enrollment. Strategic communication means smarter recruiting—a connection that also means more deposits.  


As Popova puts it, “it’s a matter of investment in technology.”  


A study reveals that calling a web lead within 5 minutes increases their likelihood to convert 9 times. But do all companies call back within this time period? There are various challenges that might stop them from doing so. They may be getting leads that do not belong in their geography or area of expertise, or they may be getting so many leads that they wouldn’t know which one to prioritize first.

How do you solve this problem? That’s where Lead distribution comes into the picture.

How does Lead Distribution work?

lead distribution - banner

Ebook: 10 Effective Ways to Close Quality Leads (Download Free)

A good lead distribution system will allow a business to easily assign its leads to its sales team. This could be done either manually or automatically. Typically, a business may have a number of sources from which leads are captured. These could be through chat, website, phone, social media, events, partner websites, emails, inbound phone calls or ‘n’ number of different sources. The system should be able to capture all of these leads without any leakage.

Once the leads are captured, the lead distribution system should then check the quality of the lead. If the lead matches the prerequisites for a good lead (defined by the business), then it will be classified as high-quality and high-priority, and a high lead score will be automatically assigned to it. Here’s an example:

lead distribution - example

These leads will then have to be automatically distributed to the sales or tele-calling team. This could be based on criteria like geography, product, industry or level of expertise.

lead distribution - infographic

Lead Distribution Features:

While purchasing a lead distribution system for your business, don’t forget to look out for these features in your tool.

1. Automatic process:

When a lead enters the system, the manager should not have to look at the lead, check its quality, and then figure out who it should be assigned to. Not only is this process very long, it’s impractical, especially when there are thousands of leads pouring in a day. To eliminate this, your tool should be able to automatically assign leads based on pre-defined criteria.

For example, take an insurance company that sells health and life insurance in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. So, when a lead from Mumbai signs up for health insurance, then the system should automatically assign it to the person responsible for it in Mumbai.

2. Availability-based distribution:

But sometimes, the person the lead is assigned to, may not be in the office or he may have gone on vacation. Which means, that the lead may not be followed up on immediately, and the 5-minute target may not be met. That is why the system should be able to check whether the user is available or not. This way only people who are available and able to take the call immediately will be assigned new leads.

[Also read: What is Lead Routing & How it Reduces Response Time?]

3. Quality-based distribution:

But what if a lead, that’s is going to bring in a lot of business is assigned to the rookie in the office? This is not an ideal situation as the person will not be able to handle the client as well as, say a person with 5 years of experience.

This is why the tool should be able to check the quality of the lead and assign it to the right salesperson. Not just the lead, but the quality of the salesperson should also be taken into account while distributing leads.

4. Zip-based distributions:

This is probably the most common distribution criteria. You may have sales team located around the country or even around the globe. A lead from India being assigned to someone from the US sales team would simply be a waste of time and resources. Hence, your lead distribution system should allow for geography-based distribution as well.

lead distribution - zip based

5. Instant notifications:

If the lead gets assigned then the lead should know about it. Which is why the tool should send notifications as soon as a new lead is assigned to them. They will then not miss out on the new lead and follow-up them as soon as possible. This is especially important for enterprise business with a large lead inflow.

6. Complete lead tracking:

But a lead’s journey doesn’t end with just assignment. You need to look at how the lead moves along the sales funnel. You should have access to every information on the lead right from where the lead entered the system, the pages they view on your website, the communication he has with your sales team and the lead stage he is in. This will help the lead be prepared for their first call.

7. Detailed reports:

These reports are more useful to the managers as this allows them to get an idea of how their team is handling the leads assigned to them. They can know how quickly the follow up has happened, how many of the follow ups have been closed and how much revenue each salesperson has brought in.

8. Completely customizable:

If the lead distribution comes with pre-built templates, then that might not be good news. For some businesses, like an automobile seller, geographical distribution is important. But for an insurance business, getting in touch with the customer is more important. So, availability based distribution will be an essential feature. Which is why your distribution software should be customizable to suit your business’ needs.

lead conversion strategies

Benefits of a lead distribution system:

  • Reduced turn around time: Because of instant distribution, the time it takes for the salesperson to make the first call is reduced. This means instant responses and increased prospect satisfaction
  • Increased transparency: Since the entire process is automated, there will be no confusion in terms of the leads assigned. There will be a clear view of who the lead owner is and how many leads were assigned to him.
  • Better lead quality: Only qualified leads are distributed to the leads. Which means that there is no necessity for the salesperson to spend time nurturing the lead until they are sales-ready.
  • More accurate targeting: Leads that belong to a particular bucket are assigned to the respective salesperson. As they would have some amount of expertise with that lead’s requirements, it becomes easier to sell to him.
  • Increased sales efficiency: As the process becomes simpler and straightforward, this directly affects how efficient the salespeople are in terms of closing the deals.
  • Accurate revenue attribution: There is now no room for confusion as to whose lead brought in the most revenue. Since everything is mapped together, this makes for precise attribution.
  • No room for manual errors: When manual distribution happens, chances of missing out on leads or assigning the same leads to multiple people is possible. This can be eliminated with a lead distribution software. 

So, does your company have a distribution system in place? Or do you still manually assign leads to your team? If you do, then you should consider getting one to make your and your team’s lives much simpler. Take a look at LeadSquared which combines the features of a CRM and a lead distribution system to make for an awesome sales execution platform.

Did you know that 47% of consumers will take their business to the competitor because of poor customer service? This little number is enough to convince anyone of the importance of using a call center CRM for their business. Enhanced customer service, prompt responses and the aspect of human interaction make implementing a call center necessary.

But, is just a call center software enough?

Call center CRM - banner

What is Call center CRM?

Many confuse call center CRM and a contact center software.  This is not surprising considering that the functions can overlap. But there is a difference, and this can help you make the most of your call center team.

A call center software is basically an enabler, that helps you to make the calls, receive calls, track the number of calls being made and generate IVR responses. And that’s where it ends.

And now a call center CRM steps in. In addition to doing everything that a call center software does, it also allows them to get a 360 degree view of the lead/customers interests. Additionally, before you pick up the phone, you know exactly what your lead wants which lets your team deliver personalized service.

Instead of purchasing a separate call center suite and another CRM suite, implementing a CRM which comes with a call center integration would make the best sense for your business and its needs.

10 features that your call center CRM should have:

call center CRM - infographic

1. Integrate with other business tools:

When you run a business, you will use a lot of tools for your business. This could be platforms for running ads like AdWords or Facebook, chat tools, or integrations with your customer support tools. Your call center CRM should be able to integrate with these multiple systems to enable all your business tools to work together as one system.

2. Connected desktop application:

For many businesses, the tele calling team works out of an office. In some cases, they alternate between the field and the floor. Which means your call center should work both on the mobile and desktop. Additionally, both the versions of the tool should be in sync with each other, allowing the agent to stay up to date of what is going on with his customers.

3. Automated call capture:

Whenever a new incoming call is coming into the system, there should be no need of entering it manually. By automating call capture, you ensure that none of the calls are missed out. This way you rule out manual errors where the agent may forget to log in the incoming calls that he gets in a day.

4. Transparent telephonic processes:

When a manager wants to take a look at the performance of his sales team, he should be able to attribute revenue to his call center team accurately. Your call center CRM should be able to show how many calls an agent makes in a day, how many calls have resulted in a demo or a positive sales action, the content of these calls that he makes and the size of the deal that his calls have brought the business. This way you can map results accurately and also weed out poor performers.

5. Detailed customer history:

Making calls without knowing about the customer is equivalent to stabbing in the dark. Which is why your CRM should be able to show you what your lead actually wants and what his previous purchases have been like (in the case of an existing customer). With this information, you will only improve your customer satisfaction by offering them a more customized experience.

6. IVR integration:

One of the functions of a call center that eats up a lot of your cost is routine queries. This could be inquiries regarding investments plans or available courses. Not only will they cost more manpower but could also eat away the time of your agents. Instead, by using an IVR integration, you solve this problem.

7. Availability and Quality based distribution:

A good call center CRM will automatically distribute calls to the agents. But, would just a random assignment of calls make sense? There may be times when some of the users may not be available or when the caller requires an agent with some expertise in his requirement.

Your CRM should be able to check which users are online and assign leads to them. It should also be able to check the requirements of the lead and assign it to the relevant call center agent. For example, if you get an inquiry asking for a car loan, then you send it to the agent handling car loans.

8. Activity-based call prioritization:

A typical call agent may have hundreds of calls coming his way on an average day. Prioritizing these leads is what will make them smart workers. Your CRM should help your agents to classify them based on the activities they perform. For example, a lead visits the pricing page and submitted a form, then he’d be priority one. But, a lead just browsed on a product page and didn’t perform any action, then he’d be priority three.

Your agents can also set tasks and reminders or auto-dialing the leads so that they don’t miss out on any of the leads that come in.

9. Missed call and voicemail tracking:

Not just incoming and outgoing calls, your CRM should also be able to capture your missed calls and voicemails. It can then automatically assign the leads to the relevant tele-calling agent.

[Also read: 25 super-effective voicemail greetings for your business]

10. Real-time and historical reporting:

Your CRM should provide real-time data such as the average call time, average wait time and the average response time of their agents. This real-time data helps managers keep a check on the performance of the team.

Additionally, it should also give you historical information such as the number of calls an agent has made in a given time period, the number of deals he has closed or the number of tickets he has solved. It can also give information such as the best performing lead source, geography or agent.  This will give the management an idea of the ongoing trends. They can then make strategic decisions for the growth of the company.

Benefits of implementing a call center CRM:

As John Russell says, “The more you engage your customers, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.

This is exactly what a call center CRM does. If you still doubt what I say, then here are some tangible benefits that you will realize from using a call center CRM.

  1.  A complete view of the customer: Know every interaction that your customer has had with your business. With this data, you can deliver a much better solution to their issue or you can sell them a product/service better suited to their needs.
  2. Increased accountability: A CRM helps you distribute, manage and prioritize your leads and calls effectively. Which gives your team no room for excuses anymore! :)
  3. Reduced turnaround time: By automating the process and setting constant reminders, you can reduce the time it takes to call a lead/customer back.
  4. Better efficiency: As a CRM reduces the need for manual work, you can now improve your efficiency. Your team can focus more on selling the product/service or solving the problem of the lead instead of routine tasks.
  5. Lower costs: Automating your tele calling team will ultimately reduce the amount of labor required and save money in the long run. Since you are using two tools in one, you will be able to cut costs there as well.
  6. Better customer experience: With so much going on, your customer is bound to notice, and you will see their satisfaction levels rise by leaps and bounds.

Have I convinced you about the merits of using a call center CRM? If yes, then you should check out LeadSquared which comes with every single feature that I have mentioned. They have also recently released a universal telephony connector which allows you to integrate multiple contact center solutions. Head on down and take a demo!

The number of annual college applications is on the rise—and doesn’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon. In 2017 alone, many universities saw record numbers of applicants, with UCLA becoming the first to receive over 100,000 in a single year. Duke and Boston University also hit personal records, with each breaking over 30,000 and 60,000 applications, respectively.

Admission crm challenge

With so many new potential students to consider, how are universities coping? And, for admission officers specifically—the “front-line” staff who interface with students—what can they do to ensure each applicant receives the attention they need?

According to Stevens VanDuzer, director of graduate recruiting at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, it’s all about strategy and efficiency. “One of the biggest challenges my office faces is the level of new work,” says VanDuzer. “It’s like we’re juggling and more and more balls are added as we go. It requires an increasing level of skill and support.”

For VanDuzer—who, like many admission directors, can’t afford to expand his staff—marketing automation and CRM software is his solution. The digital program helps manage the influx of applications, categorizing student data such as geographic location, test scores and degree program of interest.

This not only helps manage large volumes of information—it allows him to strategically choose how to interact with each student. “With a larger applicant pool, it can be tough to create the meaningful connections we want,” VanDuzer says. “Marketing automation gives us an in-depth understanding of each individual’s experience so that we can meet this goal.”

Jason Garner, an admission director at American University in Washington, DC, agrees. “Having student data easily accessible allows admission teams to have a much more informed conversation with applicants.”

The fact that the college applicant’s profile is shifting is an added challenge. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) notes that Generation Z, born between 1995-2010, is quickly replacing millennials on college campuses. For this new population, a personalized and tech-savvy approach isn’t just preferred—it’s essential.

NACAC describes Generation Z as wanting “instant answers to their questions” and needing “one-on-one communication.” These students expect their experience “to evolve based on their engagement.”

VanDuzer and his team have stayed ahead of this trend through CRM software. They’re able to score each lead based on criteria, like level of interaction, so they know how frequently to contact a student. The team is alerted if an applicant shows positive intent—like if they’re on a program’s webpage for several minutes—so someone can reach out immediately.

The admission team can also manage data mobile-ly through an app, allowing them to send messages even when they’re on-the-go. And they’re encouraged to text applicants—Generation Z’s preferred method of communication.

“This type of technology helps admission offices be actionable with applicants’ needs,” Garner says.

This action-oriented approach could make the difference between an enrolled student and one who chooses another school, Garner continues. Utilizing CRM software that both helps manage the volume of applications and addresses Generation Z’s needs is critical.

At Robinson School of Busiess, VanDuzer endeavors to continue honing his data collection and communication strategy with applicants. And, despite the heavy work load and high expectations, with marketing automation and CRM software, he’s able to.

“We can make sure students get information about our programs and engage with the school, even before someone reaches out to address questions,” VanDuzer says. “[It allows us] to improve the student experience, which is what we’re here for.”