Lead Generation at (Online) Events - What Does Data Protection Say?

In the B2B sector, lead generation is an important point that should not be neglected in any marketing concept. Events play an important role in this.

In addition to traditional events such as trade fairs and workshops, more and more online events are also being held. Webinars and virtual events are also good starting points for lead generation.  

However, there is one pitfall: the much-feared Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this article, you'll learn why hybrid events in particular will have the edge in lead generation in the future and what you need to keep in mind when it comes to the GDPR regulations.  

Event marketing: Typical (virtual) B2B events

When it comes to generating leads, many marketers think directly of typical B2B events. This is where important faces of the industry gather, with whom you can make important contacts. So if you want to generate leads, an event is the place to be.  

But not all events are the same. There are many different events nowadays: These are distinguished by different characteristics. This means that different people can also be found here. Now you can find out which B2B events might be interesting for you. 

Trade fairs and conferences 

Trade fairs are particularly popular for lead generation. They have the advantage that they are held on neutral ground and are industry-specific. This makes a lot of work easier because most of the visitors are probably already interested in your product or company anyway. The same is true for conferences.  

While trade shows are usually (but not exclusively) tied to a specific location, conferences can nowadays conveniently take place online. 

Workshops  

Workshops often consist of informative presentations paired with hands-on exercises. The nature of such an event is very conducive to lead generation: One automatically gets into conversation with the other participants and exchanges ideas. The focus here is on personal contact. This is ideal for forging relationships and expanding your network. 

Webinars 

A webinar is a typical virtual event. Lead generation has long ceased to be a face-to-face activity. Web events are much less costly than analog events. There is no long journey and an overnight stay is not necessary. Webinars should end with a chat or a concluding conversation with each participant. This is how lead generation becomes digital. 

Social Events 

Nowadays, there are also many more informal B2B events. These can be casual startup breakfasts or even startup roundtables. Barbecues with important participants from certain industries are also possible.  

Such social events have a significant advantage: they are rather informal and usually take place in a pleasant atmosphere. This makes lead generation much easier, especially for inexperienced people.  

Advantages and disadvantages for lead generation at (digital) events

Events, whether analog or digital, are an important marketing channel. Each type of event has its own advantages and disadvantages that you can use for your success. 

Analog events: personal contact with a lot of effort 

At analog events, there is one very clear advantage: personal contact with other participants. This makes it easier to stay in the memory of the person you are talking to and to respond directly to that person. To strengthen relationships, the personal exchange is still considered the most successful option. Perfect for lead generation. 

The disadvantage of analog events, on the other hand, is that they involve a lot of effort. They have to be planned and organized long in advance. As a result, the costs are naturally higher than for a purely digital event. 

Digital events: Uncomplicated contact at a distance 

Digital events score points because they are uncomplicated to attend. Only a small time window needs to be kept free. The best thing about it is that you can follow the event from anywhere, be it in the office, at home on the sofa or on the train. There is hardly anything to organize and the costs are manageable. Sometimes there are fees. 

At the same time, this keeps you at a distance from the other event visitors. Initial contact, in particular, is difficult if no personal conversation is possible. Digital events must therefore offer opportunities for interaction.  

Hybrid events: communication on two levels 

Hybrid events are usually analog events that are supplemented by an online area. How extensive this depends on the event itself. Organizers have a wide range of options for making the event as attractive as possible for participants. Flexibility is an important keyword here, which also has a positive effect on lead generation. 

It can be said that hybrid events focus on the needs of the participants - precisely what executives want, who often don't have the time to travel to a trade fair in person

virtual event platform sessions
Sweap's Virtual Event Platform offers the ideal venue for virtual and hybrid events.

GDPR-compliant lead generation: 5 important rules

Before you start generating leads, you should first familiarize yourself with the regulations of the GDPR, so that you as an entrepreneur know how to deal with personal data. 

First of all, it is important to know that there are different tasks and guidelines. A distinction is made between the data processor and the data controller. The data controller determines the purpose for which data is used and where it is stored. These are then passed on to the data processor, who is responsible for the subsequent use of the data.  

This means that the GDPR also applies to lead generation. These five general rules will help you generate leads in compliance with the GDPR. 

  1. Enable incentives even without an advertising approach: Incentives, i.e. sweepstakes and similar incentives, are a good method of lead generation. However, winnings should not be tied to consent to the advertising approach, so that they comply with the GDPR. 

  1. Be transparent: Show transparency and provide your leads with concrete and clear information about what happens with their data. How to revoke advertising consent should also be communicated.

  1. Keep the number of sponsors low: Sponsors help with lead generation. The key here is not to have too many partners, as this quickly makes it confusing and could lead to unintentional violations.

  1. Keeping an eye on costs: The introduction of the GDPR has led to a significant increase in the cost of a lead. So it's best to send your leads exactly the content they need. There are differences in what information is needed at what time to get the most out of them.

  1. Focus on data management: A secure and transparent database is necessary for storing personal data. Proper data management is equally important. Only those who use and maintain a reliable and secure database system will act in compliance with the GDPR.

GDPR-compliant lead generation at events: What do I have to keep in mind?

So for your next analog or virtual event, you should follow the rules of the GDPR. But what does that mean in concrete terms? It's mainly about the consent of the contact, the processing and the transfer of the data.  

This all sounds very theoretical. However, you must not only know the regulations, but also be able to implement them. This is often the sticking point when it comes to lead generation. I'll now show you how to generate them in compliance with the GDPR.  

Data economy 

A crucial point is Art. 5 of the GDPR. The basic principle of the regulation is the so-called data economy. The background to this is that only the data that you actually need may be collected. Documenting phone numbers that are not needed for any actual reason is therefore not in compliance with the GDPR. However, data economy does not only include the amount of data, but also the storage period and the scope of processing.   

Consent to data collection 

There are various options for obtaining or documenting consent to data collection. 

One option for this is legitimate interest. This means that you can contact a person if he or she objectively has a legitimate interest in your offer. This can also be the case, for example, if a business card is given to you at a trade fair. It can be assumed that this also automatically implies consent to the further electronic processing of the data. 

But how can you keep track of this? It is a good idea to send the lead an automatic e-mail explaining the consent and revocation. Alternatively, you can also prepare a consent form directly and have it filled out. 

Another important topic in this context is photos. If you want to photograph a person at a trade fair, you need their consent. One exception is when people are not in focus. For example, if the person is at the edge of a photo and cannot be clearly seen, you do not need consent. 

Additional rules for virtual and hybrid events 

For virtual and hybrid events, it is important to pay close attention to the GDPR. Data minimization is also an issue here. It even means that you don't actually need the names of the participants.  

As a rule, an e-mail address should be sufficient for registration. Of course, there can be exceptions and special regulations - but you should still try to collect as little data as possible.  

Other important points are confidentiality and integrity. Personal data must be encrypted and may only be transmitted if this is the case. Current standards should be adhered to in any case. 

Care should also be taken with the tool that is used for virtual and hybrid events. Not all providers are GDPR-compliant and meet high requirements. Take a close look at where the data is stored and processed.

 

Conclusion: GDPR-compliant lead generation can be implemented with helpful tips

 

Events are already the most important marketing channel. Experts agree that they will become even more important for generating leads in the future. This offers you numerous opportunities and the chance to increase the success of your business. 

However, you must not forget the GDPR. This provides strict regulations for the collection and processing of personal data. It is not always easy to comply with these regulations. However, once you have dealt intensively with the topic, it will be easy for you to observe the decisive points.  

Are you looking for an event platform that is 100% GDPR-compliant? Then try out Sweap now.

  • Best Tools for Virtual Events and Conferences 2022

    • Virtual Events

    We will support you and show you which video conferencing tools we have tested and which one best suits your requirements best. Read all from the most important information the essential steps to set up a successful virtual event.

  • 5 Problems With Event Guest List Management and How to Solve Them

    • Guest Management

    Guest list management is the key to a successful event. Knowing your visitors and their needs is crucial to create memorable experiences. Find out about the 5 most common problems and how to solve them.

Article by Alexander Baetz
Alexander Baetz is a passionate internet nerd, works as a freelance web designer and deals with digital privacy on his blog PrivacyTutor.