Customer Spotlight: Henderson State University

By Lauren Murray — Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at 11:00am

Henderson State University, a Cascade CMS customer since 2014, recently created a program to engage prospective students with an in-depth look at their academic programs. By showcasing the university’s educational excellence, influential faculty research, and notable alumni, the university is ultimately increasing their return on investment from recruitment marketing.

We recently spoke with Tonya Oaks Smith, Executive Director of the Office of Marketing and Communications, about the program. She highlights one of the things we love the most about Cascade CMS: it's flexibility and ability to empower content creators regardless of department. 

Overview of the Academic Program of the Week 

According to a 2016 Ruffalo Noel Levitz survey of prospective students, academic program data such as job statistics, alumni information, and faculty & student stories is extremely persuasive in the enrollment decision-making process. Our office instituted the Academic Program of the Week to showcase Henderson State University’s educational excellence, influential faculty research and notable alumni — ultimately increasing return on investment from recruitment marketing.

From web analytics, we learned that the main page for academic programs is always within the top 10 pages on our site. Our site is directed at marketing to prospective students, and they are always searching for information on academic programs. What’s more, they and their parents want to know about outcomes from earning a degree in a certain area.

After attending a conference focused on recruitment marketing – hosted by Ruffalo Noel Levitz — and hearing an excellent presentation from Matt Herzberger on unifying content on academic programs and creating a strategic approach to presenting that content, we decided to move forward with the Academic Program of the Week series.

The Process

After meetings with each of the college deans and department chairs, we began looking at web analytics to determine which of our academic programs were ranked highest for individual visitors (our analytics are set to exclude on-campus visitors). We ranked programs for each of our three colleges and then planned out a content calendar based on these rankings.

Two weeks before a program is set to be featured, we meet with the department chair and outline the program again. We obtain information on opportunities for graduates as well as the names of some notable alumni and faculty work. We spend the next two weeks working to put together information on a current student, a current faculty member and a graduate of the program. There is a questionnaire for each of these areas to make the information gathering uniform and painless for participants.

For the featured program, we will use several pieces of content, and they’re usually promoted in the same order — and all through promotion across channels. Monday, we release an updated webpage for the program featuring a current student in that program and a short URL
Customer Spotlight: Henderson State University
We will also release a short video teaser that focuses on the program’s selling points.
Customer Spotlight: Henderson State University

Tuesday and Wednesday, we will feature a Facebook Live broadcast of a basic class in the program curriculum and a faculty feature about one of the notable professors in the program.

Customer Spotlight: Henderson State University

Thursday, we will release a fact sheet about the program, and Friday we will feature an alumni profile.

Customer Spotlight: Henderson State University

We also asked our library to weigh in each week with information focused on library resources that apply to each major. Those can be an electronic database or special collection, or even a reference book with information on careers in a particular program. Adding Huie Library to the mix has helped focus on the resources our university makes available to students to ensure their success.

By delivering content in a variety of channels, the university has been able to showcase each program’s products for prospective students and provide opportunities for interaction and experience.

The Results

In the metrics that we can see in marketing, we have seen a 300 percent increase in requests for more information on our university. We think the program is helping introduce students into the funnel and give them some important information about our academic programs. In addition, the programs that engage with the content love the promotion.

A bonus from the promotion has been alumni engagement with the content. Research shows that having a strong alumni network is an important factor for prospective students when choosing their school. Our program promotion engages alumni by asking them to share information about their school. It also helps them to recall positive experiences on campus and allows them to participate in the recruitment process, in turn allowing them to become the best advocates for the university.

Working with Cascade CMS

The decentralized content model of Cascade CMS has helped make the Academic Program Promotion a success. Switching content simply from one template to another has made this easy for users who contribute within each department. 

If you'd like to be featured in a Hannon Hill Customer Spotlight blog post, please reach out to Lauren Murray at

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