3 years of HubGem: Insights into CRM in the education space

As we celebrate 3 years of HubGem Marketing, CEO and founder Gemma Price reflects on the impact of CRM in the education sector.

CRM in education

November 2022 marks 3 years since the launch of HubGem Marketing!  In that time, we've worked with dozens of schools, colleges, universities and other training providers around the world . In this article, HubGem CEO and Founder, Gemma Price, reflects on insights from across the sector.

"In the world of digital marketing, things always move fast; in a post-pandemic world, the need for connected digital systems has never been so important and CRM is hot topic in 2022.

I was working in my previous role as Director of Marketing and Admissions in a UK-based independent school when I first came across HubSpot. I was determined to reduce the school's reliance on spreadsheets and manual processes for admissions and, coming from a marketing background, I wanted to see important metrics on the impact of my marketing efforts on conversions. With so many disjointed systems, a small and stretched team, and more spreadsheets than I care to admit, it was a real challenge and I knew I needed a CRM.

I implemented HubSpot for the school, initially for marketing and then also for admissions and I was so impressed with the tool and the impact it had on our day-to-day operations. Before long, other schools were asking about HubSpot and were looking for a CRM - and I realised that we were one of the 'first to the party' at least within the UK independent school sector. I was being contacted multiple times a week by schools (and colleges) around the world wanting to know about my experience of using the tools in the education space.

I launched HubGem Marketing with one clear goal - to help schools and colleges implement HubSpot to improve their marketing and admissions efforts. Back in 2019, CRM was very much the 'new kid on the block' in education marketing, and with sector-specific software giving marketing and admissions teams a headache, we have seen a huge surge in demand for HubSpot and for our services as sector specialists.

Below are some of the key themes I have seen throughout the past 3 years of working with CRM in the education space:

Admissions teams are frustrated by software that is not designed for their needs

We have spoken to hundreds of admissions teams - some using their wider student management software for admissions, some using point-solutions or dedicated 'admissions platforms', and many still using spreadsheets alongside these. We find that some key functions are delivered effectively by these solutions, but still teams are frustrated by:

  • Communication tools that are outdated or limited
  • No integrations with core office software (Office 365 / Google Suite)
  • No 360-degree view of prospects and difficulty aligning marketing with admissions
  • Manual tasks and laborious reporting processes

HubSpot is offering admissions teams flexibility, far superior reporting capabilities, and an easy-to-use (and learn!) interface.

Marketing teams are struggling with getting data on which leads converted and which of their efforts are working best

Many education marketers that we speak to are trying their hardest to work out what events, content, and campaigns are working for them, but are battling with systems that do not speak to each other.

We often speak to marketers who are using lots of separate systems like Mailchimp, Hootsuite and Google Analytics but who do not have insight into which contacts are engaging with their campaigns or who goes on to enroll.

When we show marketing teams the tools in HubSpot - specifically reporting, lists, campaigns and automation - we often hear 'Oh at last! A tool that can do all of this!'

Senior Leaders are embracing technology more than ever

Management teams need to be able to see important metrics such as prospective student numbers, conversion rates, and forecasted revenue amounts. They need to be able to access these reports as efficiently as possible and often need to feed this type of data back to governors or trustees at short notice. 

Teams across education are looking for better ways to report - you should not need to export data into a spreadsheet in order to then manually generate reports (only to find that they are out of date the second that the data is extracted!). 

When we show management teams what is possible in HubSpot reporting they are often excited to embrace new ways of working, some senior leaders will want full access to the tools themselves, and with custom-built dashboards this makes data much more accessible. Other managers simply want the HubSpot reports to automatically appear in an email in their inbox daily/weekly/monthly so that they can check the figures easily on the move.

Spreadsheets are no longer preferred by admissions teams

Often when we start working with new clients in the education space we get some sheepish looks from teams when we start asking about spreadsheets. If you have a suspicion that there are spreadsheets holding admissions data then It may be a good idea to  hold a spreadsheet amnesty to avoid missing any!

Spreadsheets definitely have their place of course, but we are firm believers in the right tool for the job and if you are manually inputting each time you communicate with a prospect (or an agent, or alumn) then there is a smarter way to work. 

Admissions are looking for better ways to handle data and communications, and by choosing a CRM you can not only eliminate data risks presented by holding personal data in spreadsheets but also can save hours of time for your teams who will be entering data manually.

To summarise...

In the three years of HubGem, we have worked with around 75 education and non-profit organisations across 14 countries - these have ranged from independent schools to colleges, universities to education agents and charities to membership organisations and software providers. We are proud to partner with like-minded organisations who also serve the education sector as we help to transform the world of marketing and admissions using HubSpot CRM. 

It's clear to me that demand is growing for CRM across the sector and in an increasingly digital world, effective streamlined communication is essential. HubSpot CRM gives education providers all of the tools they need to handle personalised, relevant and timely communications at scale and delight the audiences they engage with."

A few resources...

We are proud leaders of the HubSpot User Group for Education (UK) which is a community of people across the education sector who are using HubSpot CRM. We host regular sector-specific webinars that are free to attend, you can find out more about our HUG and sign up here.

If you would like to learn more about HubSpot and see for yourself how the tools can be used in the education sector, then we recommend you sign up for one of our sector-specific webinars using the button below. 

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Book a demo!

Gemma Price

Gemma Price

Gemma is CEO & Founder of HubGem. Gemma is an expert in HubSpot CRM implementation for schools and non-profits and has experienced first hand the the benefits of using HubSpot within an Independent school.

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