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The goal of this article is to describe specific aspects regarding the use of e-marketing tools as a factor influencing the perception of the image of a higher education institution among its target groups. The article draws on primary data acquired through surveying respondents with the use of a questionnaire. More specifically, the analysis is based on 400 responses given by students at the Faculty of management - University of Prešov in Prešov. The crux of the article consists in examining the opinions of the respondents, concentrating on selected website elements such as design, clarity, content quality, inclusion of social elements and on selected e-marketing tools such as a Blog, Microsite, Q&A / FAQ portal, E-mail newsletter, Wiki, Online publications / eBooks, Live chat, and Mobile application. The research results have shown that there is a significant correlation between the perception of the overall image of the faculty and the evaluation of individual elements of the faculty website. The hypothesis that there is a significant correlation between the students’ attitude towards the necessity to use new e-marketing tools and the expressed evaluation of the faculty’s image has not been confirmed.
It is quite a common occurrence that the quality of faculties and universities is not sufficiently expressed in their marketing and promotion, and all the more so, in our opinion, in the Internet environment. In this respect, we concur with the opinion expressed by Štefko (2003), that research increasingly points to the fact that a respected university of high quality is predominantly a product of good management, which is not afraid to change the routine stereotypes, and which views the educational institution as a subject that must behave in an effective marketing way in the market environment.
This analysis has shown that the students at FM PU in Prešov have a positive attitude towards the website of an educational institution as a relevant tool for the construction of a positive image of the organisation, and at the same time a tool that has an influence on the perception and evaluation of a university faculty from the perspective of university applicants in relation to competing faculties. This finding reflects the fact that in the set of examined elements of the faculty website, the students were the most critical about its clarity; this, on the other hand, as part of the evaluation of perceived importance was viewed by the students as the second most important element of the website out of all the examined elements. The results have shown that when it comes to constructing a positive image of the organisation, the students show a greater preference for practical information – information about the courses rather than information relating to current events or articles about faculty news. This fact can be called a “need” for information related to the study programme itself, which is reflected in the e-marketing tools we have examined.
It should be stressed that the topic of e-marketing in the environment of higher education institutions is a relatively new but at the same time a wide sphere of knowledge, which is constantly growing hand in hand with the technological development in online technologies. These facts can be considered significant from the perspective of future scientific trends in this area. Based on our analysis, we have identified other possible research areas – problem areas: more specifically, we refer to further exploration of the possibilities of using online social networks as another e-marketing tool in the higher education setting, especially as a direct online communication channel between the organisation and its target audiences, and as a cost-effective promotion tool.