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How HubSpot and Slate Compare as Higher Ed CRMs

Robert Gonzalez

HubSpot and Slate are both incredibly powerful technology platforms that serve higher education marketers and enrollment managers.

HubSpot’s marketing automation tools, data

analytics, and marketing attribution capabilities are unmatched in this space, while Slate’s application management, event organization tools, and queries tool, are equally impressive.

Either HubSpot (a CRM/CMS/marketing automation platform) or Slate (a CRM) on its own can enable you to accomplish most higher ed marketing and student recruitment tasks, but to truly create a robust prospective student funnel, both platforms are necessary. 

In this article we will discuss: 

  1. The strengths of each platform
  2. How those strengths can complement each other (and account for each other's weaknesses).
  3. And finally, how these tools can be brought together in order to take advantage of the best of both platforms (Introducing a HubSpot and Slate integration).

Let’s dive in.

How does HubSpot stack up?

HubSpot’s main superpower comes from its ability to effectively capture contextual information on prospective students very early on in their journey to enrollment.

HubSpot’s content strategy and digital advertising tools, for example, help enrollment marketers understand the organic keywords that new inquiries are coming from and what these new inquiries do after converting on an Instagram or LinkedIn lead ad campaign.

Whether it’s through paid ads, social media, email marketing, or a simple Google search, any and all traffic to your HubSpot pages is effectively tracked and sourced so you can track a prospect’s full journey and evaluate the marketing materials, campaigns, and channels that are most effective and efficient at nurturing prospects to enrollment.

Writing compelling, well-researched content is your best ally here, but once those efforts result in a conversion, the real power of the platform can be unleashed. (Read more about how content plays a key role in an effective marketing strategy for student recruitment).

HubSpot tracks a myriad of behavioral events coming from each individual user. Brace yourself for a long list but this includes things like…

  • Which pages are visited
  • The number of pages visited
  • Which forms are filled out
  • How many forms are filled out
  • Which paid ads or social media posts have been interacted with
  • Which emails have been received/opened/clicked
  • How many emails have been received/opened/clicked
  • Lots of other contact properties including…
    • Program of interest
    • Demographic data
    • When conversions occur
    • Their original source
  • And a heck of a lot more

All of this information can be assessed in countless ways to determine a prospect’s level of interest and to then tailor the content they receive to meet them at their current stage on the applicant journey.

The best part is that all of this can be done automatically

By setting up a variety of automated emails, smart lists, and workflows, the second a prospect meets certain requirements through their actions, they can immediately receive new, relevant communications through email and/or text. They can also be removed from specific mailing lists for the type of content that no longer fits their needs or yours.

As a prospect progresses through the applicant journey, HubSpot also has excellent lead management tools to help you directly track and nurture those individuals.

HubSpot’s calendar tool allows you to quickly and easily schedule meetings with prospects — all of that information is logged in an individual contact timeline. 

You can also directly send email, text messages, and make phone calls to prospects all from within HubSpot. These interactions are automatically logged as well.  Any notes, tickets, documents, lists and more can also be attached to each individual prospect so all information is in one place and can easily be accessed to inform future conversations. 

Tools such as the deals pipeline can even allow you to create a visual representation of the entire applicant journey through which you can move and organize those prospects manually, or automatically through workflows. 

HubSpot is an amazingly capable tool and what I’ve mentioned only scratches the surface. Slate does contain some similar tools but none are as beautiful, easy to use, and most importantly as POWERFUL as HubSpot’s marketing automation tools in this regard. 

Nor are its data gathering tools able to extract nearly as much useful information as HubSpot.

However, there are some areas in which HubSpot lacks some of the finer tools tailored specifically for higher education institutions, and that is where Slate comes in.

How does Slate compare to HubSpot?

As mentioned, Slate does have some tools that are similar to HubSpot’s. 

Slate’s Forms tool, for example, is actually most commensurate with HubSpot’s landing page tool (which includes the ability to add forms), although it pales in comparison. 

HubSpot’s page building and editing experience is much more streamlined and easy to use; with a little legwork, it allows you to create far more beautiful and interactive pages than Slate ever could.

Plus the HubSpot community is constantly creating new and interesting modules that can easily be plucked from the marketplace and added to your pages instantly to add a unique element or extra feature. Whole themes and template packs even exist that can help get you off the ground in just a few hours.

Slate Mailings and Campaigns on the other hand are comparable to HubSpot’s Email and Workflows tools respectively. Such tools are most effectively used together so that email communications can be automatically sent out via workflows (or Slate campaigns) when certain conditions are met. 

However, HubSpot’s email builder tool is much more elegant and easy to use and has the same support of the HubSpot community that landing pages do. The analytics gleaned from such emails are also more comprehensive and can be easily used to trigger more automatic communications. 

HubSpot’s workflow tool is similarly easy to use, but more importantly, the complexity allowed in the logic of HubSpot workflows is unmatched. 

Not only can a variety of contact properties be used to trigger workflow enrollment, but a myriad of additional actions are also available that makes this tool in HubSpot a true force. Obviously there is the ability to send automated emails but you can also…

  • Create many branching paths through IF ELSE statements
  • Trigger an internal email notification or assign a task
  • Set delays until a certain event occurs
  • Create new records
  • Set property values
  • Update lists
  • Manage subscriptions
  • And even enroll contacts in other workflows

Slate is able to achieve some of these actions with its tools but they aren’t as powerful and are more decentralized.

Slate also has prospect communication tools similar to HubSpot’s that allow for direct in-app communications with applicants through email, text, and phone. You also have the ability to assign tasks, attach additional documents, and properly route prospects to the right team member based on their degree of interest. Generally these tools are equal in their capabilities although HubSpot is a little more user-friendly.

There is also the Scheduler tool, which is similar to Hubspot’s Meetings tool. Both of these tools allow prospects to schedule meetings with admissions counselors all on their own, and even integrate with your email provider so that prospects can only schedule for a time when you are free.

Both platforms integrate with Outlook although only HubSpot currently supports Gmail. Hubspot’s meetings tool also directly integrates with their Chatflows tool, allowing for prospects to get help and schedule meetings all from within the chatbot itself (Intrigued? Dive into these tips for building a HubSpot chatbot). Recently, Slate just announced their own chatbots tool so we will have to wait and see how it stacks up!

Before we go any further, you may be wondering if HubSpot and Slate integrate so that you can combine all of the incredible features of both platforms. And we’re happy to share that we created a first-of-its-kind two-way integration — skip ahead to learn more.

Where does Slate excel for higher ed student recruitment?

While Slate tends to be outclassed by HubSpot overall, Slate’s strength comes from its tools that HubSpot lacks entirely or that are specifically tailored to those in the higher education space in ways that HubSpot simply isn’t.

Slate’s biggest strength is in its application management tools. While HubSpot is a good CRM for higher education, the Slate CRM is truly made with schools in mind.

Complex applications can be built and are stored in a separate unique object in Slate that is then attached to an individual prospect. These application forms are super flexible, able to automatically adjust their content and questions based on things like a user's demographics, location, or program of interest. Rules can also be set up to automatically move individuals through the application process once certain milestones have been reached. This can then trigger notifications to admissions counselors to do things like review and approve applications.

Multiple applications can also be submitted and attached to the same prospect. Prospective students are even able to create a unique login that allows them to start an application, save their progress, and then return to it later if they so choose.

Slate’s other big advantage is its event management tools. While users may be able to produce event landing pages and forms more easily in HubSpot, there’s no denying that as far as event management is concerned, HubSpot is the one who’s outclassed.

Interested in more tips for event marketing? Check out our post, “6 New Marketing Ideas for Student Recruitment Events.”

Through features like forms, smart lists, and custom properties you can achieve a rough event management system in HubSpot, but Slate’s system is far better. Events are also stored as separate objects in the same way applications are and can be attached to individual prospects, so their event information can easily be seen and tracked through time. 

This information can even be accessed through the same portal that applications are accessed through, so a prospect can see all the events they plan on attending. 

Each event has its own list of registrants, event time and location (including a Google maps plugin), and the ability to use this information to automatically send out event information. 

Things like confirmation emails, event reminders, post event follow ups, and more can all be automatically sent based on when the event occurs, whether or not it has passed, and whether or not a prospect actually attended. 

This brings us to the best part about the events tool and the area in which HubSpot lacks the most, which is event check-ins. 

During events, each individual registrant can be marked as attended, not attended, or canceled in Slate, enabling you to easily gauge their true interest in your school. Plus, that information can be easily used to send appropriate, targeted follow-ups to those prospects.

Event attendance is one of the highest, if not the highest quality action a prospect can take and Slate’s ability to easily manage, capture, and act upon the information gleaned from its events tool cannot be understated.

Finally, there is the Slate Queries tool. It is somewhat similar to HubSpot smart lists, but that comparison really does the Slate Queries tool a disservice. It is on another LEVEL!

Doing a proper deep dive into everything this tool is capable of would take a book, but at a basic level, this tool allows you to put together a list of objects and their properties. These lists can be filtered down by nearly any property and then effectively sorted by the same or different properties. The properties can also be combined to create formulated properties and if you’re super technically proficient, you can even write your own custom SQL code to get even more granular.

Notice though that I specifically said a list of “objects”, because not only can you put together a list of simple contacts, but also Applications, Organizations, Forms, Relationships, Messages, Events, and more! These are called bases and they can even be used in something called “Configurable Joins” to effectively cross reference different bases to further filter down your lists and pull in extra information to get exactly what you want. 

Queries can also be set up with automatic exports, so that the data from any particular query can be sent out either via email or to a server on a regular schedule. This query can either be set to retrieve all objects that meet the criteria of the query, or only pull those who meet the criteria since the list was last run. This way you are only managing new data instead of having to potentially sift through thousands of unchanged records.

I’ll leave it at that for now but there is so much more to explore in Slate!

A side note on dynamic content…

One powerful feature of both platforms is the ability to utilize the data points of individual prospects to automatically customize email, landing pages, texts, workflows, campaigns, and more to match a prospect’s needs, interests, and current journey stage. While one version of a tool may be better in one platform over another, sometimes the platform you choose to achieve a certain task will be based on whether or not the information is available in said platform.

You might love your HubSpot landing pages, but if you need to provide a tailored experience based on late-stage application information, Slate might be your best move. The Slate Scheduler might be working perfectly, but if you want to be able to automatically funnel prospects to the proper admissions counselor based on degree of interest with easy to use chatbots, then HubSpot is the better choice.

However, this may not always be the case…

Do HubSpot and Slate integrate?

As mentioned at the top of this piece, both tools have their strengths and their weaknesses but no tool can do it all on their own.

The biggest issue with having two separate systems where prospect information lives however is that no matter where you go to retrieve said information, it will always be incomplete.

This could result in follow-ups being missed or inaccurate or inappropriate communications being sent. In the worst cases, it can prevent effective marketing automation from being conducted at all.

This lack of synergy also means a variety of marketing efforts might be duplicated across platforms, costing time and effort and potentially meaning missing out on a potential applicant. Not to mention the simple tedium of having to hop between platforms and perform constant exports/imports between the two CRMs.

But does this have to be the case?

Not anymore! Let me introduce you to our Slate to HubSpot integration, the first-of-its-kind two-way integration that will enable your team to better leverage HubSpot’s marketing automation software AND Slate’s enrollment and student success management tools. 

The integration provides an app that integrates the HubSpot and Slate platforms together, allowing for controlled, automatic syncing of prospective student information between both platforms.

The Slate <> HubSpot integration automatically pulls contact info from Slate queries and HubSpot’s database to share contact info across platforms.

The app enables tracking across the full prospective student journey — from initial point of contact to consideration all the way through decision and beyond.

No matter how your institution uses HubSpot or Slate, the integration will allow you to automatically:

  • Sync contacts and map contact fields between HubSpot and Slate, like name and contact info, application status, program of interest, decision status, and more.
  • Trigger targeted communications out of HubSpot based on information from Slate, such as a student’s application status or program of interest.
  • Nurture leads in HubSpot to attend an event, engage with blog posts or premium content, schedule a meeting with an admissions representative, and automatically remove leads from marketing communications as soon as they’ve started the application process in Slate.
  • Add, edit, or remove fields to be synced in one or both directions across Slate and HubSpot.
  • Use our 2-in-1 HubSpot + Slate event forms to properly collect ALL user and meta data for your events for proper source attribution in HubSpot while taking advantage of the Slate Events tool.

The HubSpot to Slate integration is a potent new tool that allows you to have the best of both worlds — providing the catalyst for optimizing your current tech stack. And the best part is we aren’t done with it yet. While the integration is currently only capable of syncing contact information, we soon hope to be able to sync event information, application data, and timeline events so that all information you might need on a prospect can be found in one place.

No one platform can achieve all of your needs but by bringing the strengths of HubSpot and Slate together, you will be able to take advantage of the advantages of both platforms and take your enrollment marketing efforts to new heights.

Want to learn more about the Slate to HubSpot integration? Sign up for a demo today! 

Due to an increase in product demand, we are limiting demos to 10 a week, so secure your spot soon!

Sign Up Now!

Topics: Attribution Reporting, How to Use HubSpot, Education Software and Technology

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