Webinars have become the new event format that many agencies have embraced to engage with customers in a remote world. Thousands of webinars took place last year and it opened brands up to a wider audience than previously possible, having attendees from all over the world take part. The B2B webinar platform BrightTalk reported a 76% increase in webinars and virtual events from March to June 2020 and ON24 saw a 167% increase in monthly usage. 

Webinars are a powerful tool for showcasing thought leadership and increasing brand visibility. On average, webinars can secure anywhere between 400-800 registrants and marketing webinars have a general rate of attendance in the 44% region. Whilst the high attendance rates are great in terms of leads and building a database of contacts for future promotional activities, it does however present some challenges in terms of data privacy. 

Agencies need to assess how they are running their new remote events and understand where weak spots are in terms of privacy. Firms need to be preventative and think of risk limitation measures to prevent any breaches.

Creating a privacy-enhanced webinar

  1. Consent – Whilst you may not need consent of registered attendees to process their data, if you plan to market to them in the future you will. Therefore, it is important to have opt-in boxes on the registration form, so that you have their permission to send marketing materials. 
  2. Recording Events – If you plan to record the event where attendees are able to join in and ask questions, you need to ensure you have informed them beforehand. 
  3. Storing Data – You need to ensure all data is stored in a secure location, preferably in a central CRM system that is privacy-enhanced and automatically updates with any changes to contacts eg, ‘the right to be forgotten’, to avoid other staff members contacting them in the future. Furthermore, try not to hoard old data, although data protection legislation doesn’t state an exact maximum period, it refers to deleting contacts that are no longer needed.
  4. Promoting Events – Obviously, firms want to get as many attendees to their event as possible, but that should not come at the cost of guest’s privacy. Firms must ensure to only send promotional emails to those who have previously consented to receiving marketing content. Don’t just mass e-mail, refine the database down to those who have consented but also have reasonable expectation to be contacted on the particular subject matter and don’t forget the cardinal rule be sure to never contact those who have unsubscribed! Generally speaking, try not to consistently email guests as there is a greater chance they will opt-out and create more risks. 

It doesn’t stop there

When reviewing data advocacy for your events, firms can use this as an opportunity to review their entire process as data protection should be holistic across your operations, and remote working has thrown some spanners in the works when it comes to maintaining control. Employees can access data on non-secure systems, or leave documents containing personal information out. These errors can leave companies susceptible to data breaches, hacks and potentially even fines for those regulated sectors.

As the shift to remote working happened thick and fast, privacy and data protection may have taken a backseat in comparison to the constant supply of problems that were coming their way. It is now the time to really evaluate how hosting events can implicate your data protection processes and make adjustments to ensure you remain compliant. 

Non-compliance with data protection laws can result in large fines and serious reputational damage. We are able to review any businesses data protection processes and ensure it is up to standard and compliant to help mitigate the chance of breaches and non-compliance. Our expert advice is tailored to your business, so you can understand the personal data issues that are most integral in your line of work. We are able to draft policies, privacy notices and contracts, alongside practical advice on how to run your business in a compliant manner. 

For specialist legal advice, get in touch with one of our team members today.