Several University of Iowa colleges and units have already started using constituent relationship management (CRM) systems to enhance marketing, recruiting, and engagement.
CRM systems integrate data from different sources, track individual interests and behavior, and coordinate communication, helping to personalize interactions and deliver more meaningful messages.
The UI is now looking to use CRM on a broader scale as it investigates an enterprise-wide system that would unite pockets of data into a single platform and provide a more complete picture of individuals connected to the university.
Current CRM use
Tippie College of Business began using CRM over a decade ago and upgraded to a new, more robust CRM three years ago. Its system has reduced manual labor in admissions and allowed more targeted and strategic recruitment. The CRM integrates with other platforms, pulling in data from sources such as social media and web content-management systems.
“We’ve significantly improved our level of marketing sophistication,” says Brandelle Unkrich, administrator of the college’s CRM. “We can easily track emails and other touchpoints for insight into communication history. The system scores leads on prospective students, allowing recruiters to strategically target prospects, and customized dashboards help track progress toward enrollment goals.”
The UI Center for Advancement began using a CRM system in 2011 to store contact information for hundreds of thousands of alumni, friends, and fans of the UI. The centralized database is leveraged daily by the center and its campus partners to stay connected with alumni, donors, friends, and fans.
“The CRM is used for constituent mailings, reporting and analysis, event planning, and inviting constituents to volunteer their talents and resources—for example, by mentoring a student, hiring an intern, or speaking to a class,” says Tiffani Shaw, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Center for Advancement. “It also allows us to ask alumni and friends to support, through donations, areas of the university they care about most, and the highest priorities of the university.”
Taking CRM campus-wide
Interest in CRM continues to grow, and a proposal for an enterprise CRM system is being considered.
Currently information about the university’s constituents exists in disparate systems. An enterprise CRM would bring together and organize the data in a meaningful way and provide a central platform that colleges and other units could easily access. Communication and outreach could be better coordinated, and interactions could be tracked and analyzed for effectiveness.
Jayme Crawford, manager of alumni and constituent engagement in UI Health Care Marketing and Communications, has utilized various campus CRMs in outreach and engagement efforts, such as STEM events for K-12 students, community education programs, and alumni-centered engagements. She is excited about the possibility of bringing information together and potentially having access to more tools and reports to gauge impact and success.
“Our unit doesn’t own a CRM, but we have limited access through campus partners that helps us coordinate our outreach and engagement efforts and build relationships with multiple constituencies, from alumni to community members,” she says. “We would love to see an institution-wide CRM.”
Implementing an enterprise CRM would be a multi-year, phased process, building on current capabilities and expanding what’s possible. First steps include engaging campus leaders and other stakeholders, developing a vision, determining governance structures, securing funding, and reaching out to vendors.
“CRM is a powerful tool that is already providing value to some units on campus,” says Peter Matthes, senior advisor to the president and vice president for external relations. “We’re excited about the potential to build on this success by creating a campus-wide resource to individualize outreach and help the University of Iowa cultivate meaningful relationships with its many constituents.”