How to Integrate External Variables Into Your Survey

imageExternal variables are useful tools that will make your survey even more powerful. Specifically, the variables are additional information about your customers or survey respondents that is then integrated within the survey. This can result in even more accurate responses.

QuestionPro makes it easy to include external (or custom, as it is also known) variables into your survey creation. Lets take a look at custom variables and how they are best used.

External variables may be used in the Questions / Answer Options on the survey as well as within the email invitation to take the survey. Within the QuestionPro system, the external variables are stored with the Respondents Response. You can upload the information from an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file with up to 255 custom variables with up to 128 characters each.

How to Insert External Variables

When you use the QuestionPro Email Management tool, you can upload the variables with each person’s email address. If you are not using our email management program, you can still use external variables. You will simply correspond the information via the survey URL.

How External Variables Used for Analysis

You can conduct survey analysis with external variables using the Grouping option. For example if you have uploaded the department as an external variable. Once that is done, you can set up groups for each department and run analysis for the various departments. The advantage of this is the ability to hone the results and test specific categories for data patterns.

How External Variables Work with Dynamic Replacement

QuestionPro’s Dynamic Replacement option allows you to replace random text with dynamic data. How does this relate to external variables? The variables/data stored in the External Variables can be used for the dynamic replacement and pre-population.

Limitations of External Variables

Like many components of survey research, there are some limitations to external variables. First, each variable can only store up to 64 characters. Second, multi-lingual characters may not be saved in external variable fields. Therefore it’s probably best to stick with English characters. Third, only alphanumeric characters work as variable fields. As such, the pound or hash symbol (#) cannot be used. We also recommend you not use commas and quotation marks as variables.

External variables are another tool that can be used to better segment your data and give you meaningful online survey results. QuestionPro’s survey software allows you to easily insert these variables into the survey as well as your email template. Yet another tool to ensure you get the most out of your online survey process.