Macomb Community College is a multi-campus college located in Warren, Michigan. It ranks in the top two percent in the country for the number of associate degrees awarded. The College also offers bachelor’s degree completion and graduate level programs. Overall, Macomb provides close to 200 degree and certificate programs. Macomb’s enrollment has grown to over 48,000 students annually. In 2009, the College joined Achieving the Dream, which is a national incentive to help community college students become successful in their academic and professional pursuits.
Prior to using Cascade CMS, Macomb Community College was running its website on Microsoft CMS (2005). The site was launched in 2008. By 2012, the product had reached its End of Life and was no longer supported by the vendor. As a result, Macomb needed to find a CMS that could grow and evolve over time and not become obsolete and unsupported. It was crucial to the College that the vendor of the selected CMS would stand behind and support their product for years to come. Another key requirement was that the CMS be easy to use for both advanced and novice users.
Since Macomb was going through a website redesign, including a new portal, the new CMS was part of the project. The design firm chosen by Macomb, Interact Communications, provided an extensive list of CMS platforms for the committee to consider, including several free or low cost options as well as the most widely used systems in higher education. While custom-built systems and free options were briefly considered, Macomb preferred Cascade CMS due to the large number of outside developers that could support it. In addition, many educational institutions were already using Cascade and recommended Hannon Hill as a partner. Macomb also appreciated the inclusion of Spectate, Hannon Hill’s content marketing tool that integrates with Cascade CMS.
Collaborating with Hannon Hill’s Professional Services team, Macomb rolled out their new main website as well as the Macomb Center and Lorenzo Cultural Center websites. The process of implementing the new design and migrating content into Cascade took approximately three months, including a rigorous content audit involving many different stakeholder groups. Macomb wanted to ensure that the web content represented the College in the most authentic way and that the content, design, and information architecture provided visitors with the best possible user experience. The strategic use of Calls to Action has improved conversion rates, and tracking those rates has enabled the College to continuously fine-tune the website.
One of the most positive outcomes of this project is that the Marketing and Communications staff can now manage their sites autonomously. Therefore, the go–to-market time for new content is much faster than before, even with the much more rigorous approval process that has been put in place.
“For a community college on a tight budget, the more we can do ourselves within Marketing to help out our IT department, the better for the entire college,” says Audrey Takacs, Macomb’s Director of Marketing and Communications.
Using Spectate, Macomb executes numerous digital marketing campaigns. Spectate allows the College to create unique landing pages for specific campaigns. This is very valuable as Macomb can now track and analyze campaign traffic and activity, thus empowering Marketing to become increasingly effective in their efforts. Examples of Spectate-powered Landing Pages are: 1) prospective student campaign for Winter enrollment - 2) Paid search program campaign - and 3) High school recruitment event.
Using the system, Macomb can create forms on the fly, convert site visitors into leads, gather pertinent data and analytics, and follow up with prospective students quickly and in a more personalized manner.
Future PlansMacomb Community College is currently planning the next iteration of the website. After three years, a redesign is on the horizon. Since the content is already housed in Cascade CMS, Macomb can focus completely on the new look and feel and provide site visitors with a great user experience.
Working with Hannon Hill
Audrey Takacs summarized Macomb Community College’s experience with Hannon Hill and Cascade CMS as follows:
“Our working relationship with Hannon Hill has enabled us to take the College’s website to the next level of interactivity,” says Takacs. “They have been responsive, supportive and technically savvy, and their annual user conference has been a valuable resource for our webmaster and the rest of the team. Because of our collaboration with Hannon Hill, we have achieved targeted results despite the constantly changing digital landscape. They have provided us with the competitive edge we need to stay ahead of the trends and avoid website obsolescence. We couldn’t have done it without them.”