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Distribution Automation

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About Distribution Automations

Distribution automations regularly send out survey invitations to a list of contacts. You can set these up in the Automations tab of the Directories page.

Tab that says Automations between Distributions and Directory Settings

Users often wish to import contacts from a hosted daily file drop, and then schedule survey distributions for those contacts, all under the most safe and secure transfer methods. If a distribution automation is linked to a contact import automation job, only the contacts imported from the most recent import automation run will be sent invitations.

Qtip: Although it is generally easier to select the survey by name, automations will often give you the option to identify your choice using IDs. For information on finding Qualtrics IDs, see the linked support page.
Qtip: Each user can create up to 100 automations. There is no limit to the total amount of automations your brand can have.

Step 1: Creating a Distribution Automation

  1. Go to the Automations tab.
    Tabs as described
  2. Click New Automation. 
  3. Under Survey Distribution Automation, name your automation.
    Creating a survey distribution automation
  4. Click Create Automation.

Step 2: Linking to a Contact Import Automation

Automations support the ability to send multiple distributions from a single contact import. This is accomplished by linking a survey distribution automation to a contact import automation. Linked distribution automations will send survey invitations based on the distribution automation’s settings as soon as the contact import automation finishes.

Attention: This step is required to associate the contacts with the correct responses and survey invitations. If you are using contact import automations and distribution automations in the same survey, you must link them.

You can only add one contact import automation to a survey distribution automation.

  1. Navigate to the Link Distributions section of the automation.
    Very first section of automation you can edit
  2. Select Yes if you’d like to link to a contact automation or No if you would not.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Either select to create a new contact import automation, or select from existing automations.
    Selecting an existing contact automation
  5. Once a contact import automation is added, you can choose to Navigate to Automation (saving your current distribution automation to edit the contact import automation) or Remove it (unlinking the automations).
    contact automation added. option to view or remove
  6. Click Continue.

Step 3: Scheduling the Distribution & Selecting Recipients

  1. Decide how frequently you want this distribution to send out.

    Qtip: If this automation is linked to a contact import automation, then the distribution automation will run immediately after contact imports.
  2. Choose the time of day and / or day it will be sent.
  3. This button will vary based on whether the distribution is daily, weekly, or monthly.
    • Daily: Click Add Another Time to add an additional time of day for this distribution to be sent.
    • Weekly: Click Add Another Day to add another day of the week that the distribution should be sent.
    • Monthly: Click Add Another Day to select between the first and last day of the month, and then determine the time of day the distribution is sent.
    Qtip: All automations are scheduled based on UTC and therefore do not observe daylight savings time.
  4. Decide on the date you want the first distribution in the automation to be sent.
  5. Decide when you want the automation to stop sending distributions.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Select the mailing list or segment to be sent the invites.
    Selecting participants

    Qtip: If this automation is linked to a contact import automation, the invitations will only be sent to the contacts imported in the most recent import automation run.
  8. Click Continue.
  9. Choose whether to send to all contacts in the mailing list, or only ones who meet certain criteria.

    Qtip: When you select Filter contacts for distribution, you will be able to set the conditions a contact has to meet to receive the distribution. For example, you may only want to contact people from a certain office. These conditions are set up similarly to filtering contacts in your directory.
    Qtip: You may have up to 10 conditions. Below your conditions you’ll see a tally of how many conditions you have remaining.
    image of the conditions editor for choosing which contacts will receive the distribution. Below the condition editor, a message warning how many conditions are used and are remaining is visible and highlighted.
    Attention: Segments are not compatible with Filter contacts for distribution.
    Warning: If you filter for a field that does not exist in your directory and use the does not contain condition, the automation will fail when it runs.
  10. Click Continue.
  11. Choose whether you’d like to distribute to all contacts that meet your criteria, or if you’d like to sample a limited selection of them.
    choosing to limit how many people receive the distribution
  12. If you chose to take a sample of contacts, select how you’d like to create the sample:
    • Number of contacts: Enter the number of recipients you’d like to receive the survey. This number cannot exceed the number of contacts in your list.
      Example: If you have a list of 1,000 contacts but only want to survey half of them, then enter 500.
    • Percentage of source mailing list: Enter the percentage of recipients you’d like to receive the survey.
      Example: If you have a list of 1,000 contacts and enter 75%, then 750 contacts will receive the survey.
  13. Click Continue.

Step 4: Selecting the Survey

  1. Choose the survey that will be sent out with the distribution.
    Selecting the survey
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Decide when the survey invitation link expires. You can set it for as many days into the future as you desire.
    Attention: Survey link expiration will not apply to SMS invitations or SMS surveys sent through the XM Directory.

  4. Click Continue.
  5. Choose how soon after the automation run begins that the invitations should be sent.
    Deciding when the invitation goes out

    Qtip: The distribution is scheduled based on the start time of the automation run. For example, if you schedule an automation to run at 9am and delay the invitations to be sent five days later, the distribution will begin five days later at 9am. If this automation is linked to a contact import automation, the distribution is scheduled based on the start time of the import automation run.
  6. Click Continue.

Step 5: Choosing the Distribution Type

Automations can send distributions in three different formats: Email Invitations, SMS Invitations (links sent over text), and Two-way SMS (survey is sent and answered over text).

This page goes over how to set each up with a survey distribution automation. For more on how these distributions work aside from the steps covered in the automation, see Email Survey Invitations and SMS Surveys.

Attention: Survey link expiration will not apply to SMS invitations or SMS surveys sent through the XM Directory.

Email Invitation

This option emails the survey invitation to the contact list.

  1. Choose Email Invitation.
    Selecting "email invitation" from the options presented
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Enter the From Email for the survey invite distribution.

    Qtip: You will only be able to select email domains that your Brand Administrator has set for your organization. See the Custom From Address page for more information.
  4. Enter the From Name for the survey invite distribution.
  5. Enter the Reply-to Email for the survey invite distribution. This is the email that will receive replies should any of the contacts respond to the invitation.
    Qtip: Contact Qualtrics Support if you’d like to use an email domain that isn’t available in the reply-to domain dropdown.
  6. Enter the Subject for the survey invite distribution. You can choose from a previously saved subject line, or you can click Type the subject line to type a subject line.
  7. Choose a survey invitation you’ve saved to your library that will be sent as the email message.
  8. Click Continue.

SMS Invitation

An SMS invitation is when a link to a Qualtrics survey is sent as a text message. The recipient then opens the survey in their mobile device’s browser.

The text will be sent to the number in the Phone column of the contact import. When uploading recipient phone numbers, make sure you follow the correct formatting and adhere to country restrictions.

  1. Choose Text link to survey (1 way SMS).
    Image of option described in step
  2. Click Continue.
  3. Select a message to be sent with your distribution.
    Image of dropdown labeled "message"

    Qtip: You can create an SMS invitation in your messages library. Make sure the message is saved as an SMS Invite and not as a general message or email.
  4. Click Continue.

Two-way SMS

Two-way SMS is when the survey questions are texted to the recipient, and the recipient responds through text. Make sure your survey is compatible with SMS before relying on this option.

The texts will be sent to the number in the Phone column of the contact import. When uploading recipient phone numbers, make sure you follow the correct formatting and adhere to country restrictions.

Once you’ve selected Direct text replies (2 way SMS), you don’t need to choose a message because the survey will be texted directly to the recipient. Click Continue to proceed with the next steps of your automation.

Image of 2-way SMS option selected, with info tooltip expanded that says ""Send your questions individually with text messages and allow direct replies"

Qtip: Reminders are incompatible with two-way SMS.

Step 6: Setting Reminders

Qtip: Reminders are incompatible with two-way SMS.

You can add reminders to your automation so your recipients don’t forget to take the survey. Reminders only go to recipients who didn’t start their surveys, or who started their surveys but didn’t finish. You can add more than one reminder, or skip this step altogether.

  1. Click Add a Reminder.
    Add a reminder button
  2. Choose whether the reminder should be sent a certain number of days or hours after the initial invitation.
    Timeframe options
  3. Enter the From Email for the survey invite distribution.

    Qtip: You will only be able to select email domains that your Brand Administrator has set for your organization. See the Custom From Address page for more information.
  4. Enter the From Name for the survey invite distribution.
  5. Enter the Reply-to Email for the survey invite distribution. This is the email that will receive replies should any of the contacts respond to the invitation.
  6. Enter the Subject for the survey invite distribution. You can choose from a previously saved subject line, or you can click Type the subject line to type a subject line.
  7. Choose a survey invitation you’ve saved to your library that will be sent as the email message.
  8. You can add more reminders, or click Continue to move onto the next steps of the automation.
Qtip: For a one-way SMS reminder, all you will have to do is select a message from your library. Make sure the message type is SMS Reminder, not SMS Invite.

Step 7: Sending Run Reports & Enabling the Automation

The final steps of a survey distribution automation include determining who is emailed when an automation runs, and then enabling the automation. This encompasses the Run Summary Recipients and Review portions of the automation.

  1. Determine who will alerted with an email when the automation runs. Use the plus signs ( + ) or the Add Recipient Email button to add additional recipients.
    Choosing run summary recipients
  2. If you do not want to email a report when there wasn’t any work done to report on, check the box.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. Review the information. Click Edit next to any section to edit the fields.
  5. Click Enable Automation to start your automation or Finish without enabling to save the automation but not start it.

Creating Additional Automations

Once you have created automations, you can add more by clicking New Automation in the upper-right.

New automation button