< Design a Survey
Pre-Populate Participant's Known Data
Why ask people to tell you things you already know? Data pre-population makes the survey data more accurate, streamlines survey completion, and gives you more analytical power.
When you already have information about the people you ask to respond to a survey, there is no reason to ask the respondent to re-enter it. SoGoSurvey Pro includes a powerful feature called data pre-population (sometimes called pre-filled data population or auto data population) that can minimize the number of questions to ask, improve data accuracy, and improve response rates.
The bottom line: Data pre-population saves participants’ time and effort by pre-populating the survey with information you already know about them, such as name, address, and gender.
- Data pre-population makes surveys shorter, so participants are more likely to complete the survey.
- Your database records are sometimes more accurate than respondents’ faulty memory (e.g. company sales records about a purchase date). Result: Better data accuracy.
- Pre-populated data can be used for survey branching and data piping, improving relevancy.
- You can hide or display pre-filled information. Hidden information is displayed in reports, where you can use it for data filtering or cross-tabulation.
If that’s enough to get you started, you can create your first survey right away!
Want to know more about its benefits? You can get an in-depth explanation in How Data Pre-Population Can Improve Your Surveys.
Here, we give you an overview of how pre-population works in SoGoSurvey. As you’ll see, it’s really easy!
It’s easiest to follow the process with an example. Let’s say you held an event, and you are ready to conduct a conference follow-up to learn what mattered to the attendees. Your event registration form collected each person’s name, address, and other contact information, along with the extra-cost hands-on sessions for which he preregistered.
Design your survey “as usual,” including the fields that you plan to pre-populate.
The process begins in the usual way: Define the questions you want to answer. In this case, you just so happen to already have answers to some of those questions.
Okay, here’s where the magic starts.
From the question manager screen, choose the drop-down next to the question number, and choose “Data Population.”
You have three choices. These control whether the data is displayed to the respondent. If it’s visible, the data can be displayed as read-only (for instance, you know the conference attendee signed up for that conference session; he can’t change it after-the-fact) or it may be editable (so the respondent can update his home address).
Do this for every question where the data will be pre-populated.
Any type of question may be used for data pre-population, and there are no limits on the number of questions that can be marked in this manner. (However, there are practical limits; don’t collect data that doesn’t help you. The survey should pick up the data that helps you analyze the results; you don’t have to use everything.)
When you make a question hidden, you see it in the question design process, but it does not display in the survey preview.
If it makes sense to do so, create survey branches and skip logic based on pre-populated questions-and-answers, just as you would if the data were manually entered. If the registration data says the attendee signed up for an embroidery class, you can show her a question only displayed to those students – and you don’t have to ask about the class signup explicitly. (See more about creating survey branches and skip logic.)
You can also use the pre-populated data with data piping to personalize the questions. For instance, if the hands-on conference sessions included “embroidery” and “jewelry making,” you can pre-code the question to ask, “How satisfied were you with the [conference session name]?” (Learn more about SoGoSurvey’s piping features.)
Then go through the rest of the design process to get your survey ready to launch. Take care of making it pretty, adding answer piping, and so on, just as you would for any other SoGoSurvey.
Create the recipient list, and tie to the existing data set
You manage the datasets through Contact lists. From the top bar, choose Launch a Survey, then Contact Manager. Give the list a name. (So far, it’s nothing unusual.)
The data pre-population starts on the next screen, in which you define additional fields. Common data fields are provided, but you can add more.
You can import the data into the contact list from Excel or a CSV file; you can also add the data manually or import it from a previous survey.
Importing the data from a previous survey is meaningful if, say, you had used SoGoSurvey for the event registration in the first place. (Enterprise subscription only)
Control who’s invited to participate
When you’re ready to send out the survey, choose Publish via email, which creates a one-time participation link tied to that recipient.
This ensures that only one person responds to this survey. (While SoGoSurvey also makes it easy for you to share surveys widely, that’s not what you want, here.)
Select the email template as you would for any survey you’d distribute, and edit the text and graphics in the usual manner. The email message can, optionally, include data from the existing data set as well (“Dear FirstName”).
Choose the contact list you created earlier to be the recipients to this survey. SoGoSurvey has powerful survey distribution customizations that let you control which subset (if any) to use, including ensuring that people on your lists are not asked too often to answer surveys.
Choose “Yes” to pre-populate the survey
The distribution process includes an option to pre-populate the survey based on the fields in the file and in the survey design. Match the list field to each survey question, so “LastName” is connected to “Attendee’s last name,” or however you described it in the survey.
And then the survey process proceeds as usual.
The pre-populated data works in reporting just like “regular” responses
When it comes time to evaluate the survey results, the pre-populated data works just like any other information you collected. Even if you marked a field as hidden, it’s there for you to use in data filtering or cross-tabulations. For instance, you could evaluate attendee ratings for each hands-on session even if you didn’t show the survey respondent the class he’d attended.
This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive explanation of every nuance of the data pre-population feature. There’s plenty more! But it should give you a taste of what’s available. If you want to know more, feel free to ask for help. Or why not try it out yourself?