Transformation of international activities management in Russian universities
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 Professor A. A. Auzan compares Russian online education to «theater filmed with an outdated movie camera».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.
What is the key to the success of the digital transformation of the international activities of Russian universities?

1. For a successful digital transformation of international activities, the full and peremptory support of the university leadership is required.
Many Russian universities lack systematic strategic marketing management. Often marketing services (if any) are responsible for positioning the university within the country and are not involved in the development of educational products or the deployment of digital services. This approach corresponds to the "sales" concept of marketing, when the focus is not on efforts to develop or adapt a product to the needs of the client (as is customary in the "market" concept), but on sales of an already produced product. It is important to appoint at the administration level an employee responsible for the strategic marketing of the university as a whole, who would develop and monitor international marketing strategy, strategic reports on web analytics, setting tasks for performers, and monitoring their implementation.

2. Forced digitalization has caused the effect of «digital chaos» in marketing communications, when any network user can learn a lot about the corporate culture of the university from reviews, blogs, and social networks.
An international marketing strategy will not work if a digital brand identity is not present, i. e. internal rules of online com- munications at all levels of the management hierarchy are not defined. In addition, it is a mistake to divide digital marketing management into domestic and international. Modern means of communication allow foreign applicants to easily read re- views about universities on Russian educational portals or enter into correspondence with students. Therefore, it is im- portant to involve students in digital communications with a foreign target audience (digital ambassadors), and not follow the path of placing artificially created reviews on landing pag- es for foreign applicants.

3. Electronic internationalization or marketing communications of a university with a foreign target audience cannot be centralized and «locked» into an international office.
It is important to define functions, rights, and responsibilities of all stakeholders of the University's digital communications at all levels of the hierarchy — and fix them in the rules of electronic internationalization. The functionality of every unit for which position and job descriptions were designed should include the Internet — communication indicating the channels, volumes, frequency, target groups, etc. In this case, you need to develop transparent rules (rules of work with the website and with social networks, «Red book» of online communications, rules of the brand book use, etc.). For example, it is recommended to keep closed the pages of university departments in social networks (and sometimes there are several dozens of them, often made in a different corporate style without linking to the master brand), as it is an interesting source of information about the corporate culture of the university.

4. One of the core functions of digital marketing management is strategic analysis.
Often universities focus their main efforts on creating online communication platforms (for example, a website or pages on social networks), not paying enough attention to attracting, engaging, and retaining the target audience. It is important to constantly monitor and systematically control the state of the university's digital brand and evaluate the metrics of online communications as well as monitor competitors' digital brands (for example, using business intelligence tools). And this should be done either by managers or by independent auditors, i. e. specialists who can cover the online positioning of the university in the Russian and foreign educational space with a "broad view".

5. It is important to improve the qualification of university employees in the field of digital marketing, web analytics, and copywriting, as well as to provide consulting and methodological support to educational and scientific structural units in the presentation of their results of their work on the Internet (for example, educational programs and scientific projects).
The transition to the principles of transmedia and personification of marketing communications increases requirements for the qualifications of employees of those departments that create and tell stories — about science, student life, and educational programs. It is also important to follow the "market", not the "sales" concept of marketing, creating content for the needs of the target audience.
Olga Bakumenko, Ph.D. in Economics, HSE — Saint-Petersburg. Expert on International Digital Marketing for Universities. Olga has been working in the field of administration of university's international activities since 2008. She got her degrees from leading Russian universities and international degree on international marketing, internationalization of universities, scientific journalism, and digital marketing. She is an author of courses on digital marketing for higher education and developer of digital international marketing for universities.