University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 7654-7663
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1541
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Digitalization is the latest norm. Small businesses, corporations, education institutions, and even entire countries are turning their physical archives (medical, financial records) into digital format. Even our hobbies are becoming more digital. In a world that is constantly updating itself, especially in terms of digitalization, the public higher education institutions have to also adapt their ways, from their administrative structures to their promotional methods. In this sea of academic options, universities have to find the most efficient means to reach their prospective students. Marketing has always been about connecting with your clients at the right time and in the right place. Now that almost all of the young people are online, universities need to connect with prospective students exactly where they spend most of their time. As indicated by a 2016 study from Eurostat, regarding internet usage in Europe, 91% of young people (age 16-29) were using the internet on a daily basis; and noticing the tendency of the previous years, the percentage seems to continue to increase every year. As a consequence, young people are growing accustomed to using the internet as their primary research tool. They will use it to explore their academic options. They will check out all the important factors that will help them decide on which university they want to attend. These factors can be location, study programs, student life, career opportunities, and more. The current pandemic context strongly sustains this behaviour. Therefore, it is imperative for universities to increase their efforts to reach this demographic on social media by having a solid online presence to make sure students are finding their university online.

This paper proposes an efficient, low-cost digital marketing strategy for public higher education institutions. The strategy resulted from a thorough empirical study of the current digital marketing strategy of an engineering faculty from Eastern Europe.The paper presents three perspectives that provide valuable insights on the subject: the communication between the faculty and the university by exploring the general communication between the university and important bodies of its environment; the students’ perspective on the current digital promotion of the faculty; and social media statistics.

To collect the most relevant information, the research methodology was adapted to each of the three perspectives. For the communication part, online interviews were conducted with representatives of important structures of the university: faculties, student organizations, and Erasmus+ programs. Insights on the students’ perspective were acquired by sending surveys to current students of the faculty to which they answered anonymously, thus obtaining the most honest remarks and concerns, and also effective solutions for the concerns raised. The tool used for social media statistics was Facebook Insights, a free tool that offers information on reach and engagement, page views, actions on page, posts, and people, among other categories. The results of the analysis divided the strategy into four pillars: research and overview, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content marketing, and social media marketing.

This study is significant due to the general nature of its structure and the fact that it can be adapted and expanded to other public higher education institutions to help them promote themselves in an up-to-date, cost-efficient way.
Public HEI, digitalization, digital marketing strategy, social media, financial challenges.