event marketing cloud blog
“Free” Event Websites are a Bad Idea
By Lenos Editorial Staff
March 2015
A “free” event website tool can be enticing ---  a quick web search will result in a long list of companies offering these free apps. Why should you AVOID them for corporate programs? Once you sign up to these so-called “free” event website apps, you discover their many limitations and real costs.  A good rule of thumb is if you are not paying for it, then you are the product (i.e., you and your data).
Personally, you might not mind being the “product” (the sale of your data or remarketing to you and your registrants) of the software provider, but this is likely in violation of your corporate privacy policy and offensive to your registrants. There are Covert Costs for the web tracking of your registrants and remarketing to them without an express opt-in, you and  your company are exposed to possible violations of the European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).   
Your Data
Privacy Policies
Providers of “free” software need to make money to stay in business. Typically, they make money selling your email address, photos, posts on social media links, your computer’s IP address, or other personal and even corporate information to other companies. Their terms and conditions (which unfortunately not enough people read), may provide them total legal immunity.  
Annoying and Intrusive Advertisements
Most of these “free” apps are supported by advertisements. You create content and build your event website, but they get paid for the ads at the top and/or bottom of your site. Often these ads are distracting, intrusive, annoying and even sometimes inappropriate content.  Just imagine a savvy competitor exploiting this opportunity to advertise on your event website, and market to your clients, prospects, partners and employees.  
Provider Remarketing Their Software to Your Registrants
With covert web tracking, these “free” app providers may track and target your registrants for remarketing their products and/or services.  They may be sharing your data with other Third-Party Data Marts as well. For every program of say 100 people, you have now given them “free” access to those 100 registrants.  This quickly has a significant multiplier effect to build a “free” registration app’s business, and not necessarily your business.
Other Hidden Costs
Some of “free” app providers also charge for additional services like image hosting, email accounts, FTP access, website transfer, commissions of fees collected, etc., all of which can cost far more than an enterprise-class solution that is paid for by licensing fees.   
Threat of Malware and Vulnerable to Hacking Attempts
“Free” website services can be notorious for distributing malware. This could be due to their poor security, or they could be doing it for monetary benefits.  Due to poor security, “free” websites are also often more vulnerable to hacking attempts.
Limited Design and Registration Capabilities
Limited design choices
Unlike Lenos Software where you can create and clone your own account templates, or create from a blank canvas with any design layout you want, “free” apps offer limited design capabilities.  Typically, one or a few templates are included, but they seem to do no more than promote the “free” app provider.  In some cases, you can modify the templates to some small degree, but then you must know how to code.
Software Providers billboard on each page
Some “free” event website companies automatically generate web pages prominently displaying their logo and hyperlinks to their corporate website to promote their software to your registrants.  This is often confusing to registrants and makes your “free” site unprofessional.
Low credibility and untrustworthy
When your site is hosted on a “free” service, your registrants may feel less inclined to trust it. If registrants are not comfortable sharing their information, it may impact their interest in coming to your program.
Limited or no customer support
The providers of “free” websites offer little to no help. You will have to setup your site on your own with the help of very limited and/or poorly presented documentation. You are pretty much on your own if you cannot figure it out.
Data Management/Reports
A “free” app provider is primarily focused on collecting “users” to be sold with their data for advertising. This typically results in simple or incomplete reporting capabilities, as the primary purpose is collecting “users” and their data for advertising purposes.