The last time when mankind experienced the crisis similar to the current one was a hundred years ago. The world went through a lot of changes at that time. According to Professor A.A. Auzan («Bringing Closer the Future», November, 25, 2020), within less than a year of the pandemic we went through 10 years of digitalization. He called this phenomenon a «forced digitalization». Therefore, we should not expect the usual business processes to get back to square one and the world view to be restored. Those who can adapt to new conditions on time, win.
The pandemic has become a kind of test for the flexibility and adaptability of organizational structures, including universities. Closed borders, quarantine measures, the transition to distance learning — these and other factors of the coronavirus crisis forced international services to revise their usual business processes and look for new ways to develop internationalization. It was necessary not only to master online forms of international cooperation and strengthen the university's image in the foreign online space but also to overcome organizational resistance to digital innovations. In other words, all forms of internationalization — external, internal, and electronic — have faced with digital transformation.
In business, digital transformation refers to the revision of business strategy, models, operations, products, marketing approach, etc. It means changing not the form of delivery of business processes from offline to online, but the formats of the organization operations, its products, services, and the ways of communication.
Transferring classical management of international operations to the Online, we may miss those necessary processes of digital marketing, without which it cannot be successful digital transformation. In addition, competition in the digital environment occurs not only due to content but also due to formats. Merely digitizing familiar offline processes does not ensure the competitiveness of digital products. Professor A. A. Auzan compares Russian online education to «theater filmed with an outdated movie camera». Digital transformation requires new formats of both educational services and marketing communications.
Digital transformation of the international activities of universities gives rise to a new type of professional activity — international digital marketing management, which lies at the junction of two development vectors: internationalization and digitalization.
If we talk about strategic digital marketing, we mean the development of a digital business strategy, the use of analytics and digital technologies in management decisions, product-oriented digital marketing, and market analysis in a digital environment, key business metrics, team management, and work with external contractors on a remote basis, digital personal brand and organization brand, business process automation, and more.
Tactical digital marketing includes management of digital media, digital brand positioning, target audience analysis, competitor analysis, analysis of the information field, working with customer journey map, tuning of customer focus, product analysis, content marketing, trigger communications, work with the website and SMM, targeted, contextual and media advertising, SEO-promotion, media planning, reputational marketing, copywriting, and more.
New challenges of the international digital marketing cause the need to update the existing material and technical base and competencies of managers and employees of international services. However, the most part of Russian universities are not ready to either outsource international digital marketing (as is customary in the United States and European countries) or hire expensive marketers. At the same time, we are lagging far behind foreign universities in our digital international brands.
The normal practice of leading foreign universities is the development and implementation of an international marketing strategy, where the digitalization vector is fundamental. In addition, international marketing management is usually the responsibility of one of the vice-rectors. As a result, we see a high level of online branding of foreign competitors in the international educational space: the structure and content of web-sites correspond to the latest trends in digital marketing, and SMM communications comply with the principles of transmedia, personification, and social responsibility. And this poses another challenge to Russian universities, initially raising the bar for the quality of marketing activities.