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Distributions Basic Overview

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Opening the Distributions Tab

Select the Distributions tab to:

the distributions tab of a survey

Qtip: If you do not have the Distributions tab available to you and the survey has been shared with you, contact the survey owner to request that they give you permission to distribute the survey. If you own the survey and don’t have the tab available, contact your Brand Administrator so they can enable the permission on your account.

Channels & Methods

As the Distributions tab first opens, you’ll need to pick a distribution channel and a method within that channel to start collecting survey responses.

Four icons for how to distribute survey: Email, Web, Social, an Mobile

  1. Channels: Choose from Email, Web, Social, or Mobile.
  2. Methods: Pick from the available invitation options (e.g., email invites can be sent via the Qualtrics mailer or through your own email system). The options available here will change depending on the channel you have selected.
Qtip: You can use several distribution methods for the same project.

Visit the collecting responses page for step-by-step instructions on how to distribute your survey and to start gathering responses.

Distribution Summary Basics

After you select your initial channel and method, Qualtrics will reveal a distribution summary so you can track your response metrics.

Distribution Summary page showing Recent Responses Graph and All Responses Table

The distribution summary will show you, in real time, all of the responses that have been collected. Responses are broken down by channel with an interactive graph and a table displaying your response trends.

These metrics can help you spot troubles early and adjust quickly to keep your research on track. The summary can also help you decide if you have sufficient data to stop collecting data.

Qtip: To learn more, visit the distribution summary page.

Stages of Response Collection

To protect your project’s response data, a survey passes through stages:

  • New: You are still creating your survey. No data is being collected.
  • Active: You have selected your distribution channels and methods.
  • Paused: You have paused or halted survey collection because you:
    • Have completed your data collection.
    • Need to make corrections or add additional questions.
      Warning: If you are not careful, some changes may invalidate parts of your data. To identify the types of changes that may affect reliability and validity, visit the testing/editing active surveys page.
  • Resume: You have decided to resume response collection.
  • Expired & Closed: You have set a survey availability date and time. At that instant, survey collection ends and the survey is closed to any additional responses. Even after you’ve passed your availability date, you can:
    • Restart your data collection. You will need to remove the availability from before resuming data collection.
    • Recycle a survey by making a copy.
    • Delete all of the current responses and redistribute the survey again.
Qtip: Read the collecting responses page to learn more about pausing and resuming response collection.

Pausing Collection & Incomplete Survey Responses

You will decide when your response collection will come to an end, either by:

  • Pre-setting an availability date.
  • Manually clicking Pause response collection.
    the pause response collection button at the top of the distributions tab

Ending response collection will lead you to a number of decision points:

Pause Response Collection menu with radio buttons

  • What do you wish to do with respondents in the middle of taking the survey?
  • How can you inform invited latecomers that the survey is now closed?
  • Do you want to accept incomplete or partial survey responses? Will that data negatively or positively skew your results?
Qtip: Read the collecting responses page to learn how to set survey availability dates. Learn about incomplete surveys by reading the Incomplete Survey Responses page. Visit the Editing the End of the Survey page to learn more about communicating with latecomers and with those that have completed your survey.

About Email Distributions

Email distribution uses either the Qualtrics mailer or your own email system to send custom survey invitations.
Emails page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

If you choose the Qualtrics mailer method, unique individual links are sent to the members on your contact list. Individual links record identifying respondent information that you can use in future reports or as embedded data.

Qtip: Click here to learn how to create a contact list.

Emailing Anonymous vs. Personal Links

Researchers who use their own mail systems will generally use reusable anonymous links, which do not record identifying respondent information. (Essentially, everyone gets the same link.)

However, if you use a third-party mail system, but still need to track the responses belonging to specific recipients, you can generate personal links. The links are downloaded to your computer in a CSV file which can then be merged into your contact list.

Qtip: The data stored in a CSV (comma-separated values) file can be uploaded to a relational database or spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. CSV is a common format used to transfer large amounts of data between applications.

Personal Links page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

Email Management

Qualtrics provides detailed metrics of your email distributions, keeping track of emails sent, failed, finished, and bounced. Learn more in the email distribution management page.

Download History option found in dropdown to right of a distribution

Email distributions also let you schedule and manage reminders and thank you messages, as explained on the reminder & thank you emails support page.

Schedule reminder button to the bottom-left beneath the distribution

Troubleshooting Emails

You never want to see error messages, but when you do, refer to the email distribution error messages page for specific details. Errors may occur by:

  • Exceeding email limits
  • Mismatching email addresses (SPF check fails)
  • Lacking a survey link
  • Not including an opt-out link

Error message reading: Your email distribution cannot be sent at this time. You are currently allowed to send 1 emails per week. Please contact your account representative to increase this limit.

Spam plagues the Internet. And the security systems designed to prevent spam may get in the way of your data collection efforts. Visit the avoid being marked as spam page for tips and tricks to avoid having your messages tossed into the spam folder of your recipients.

Email deliverability rates may also improve by using Qualtrics “From” addresses, which will help messages avoid the trap of being tagged as fraudulent. To give Qualtrics permission to send emails as if they are from your own domain, you’ll need to set up a custom FROM domain, complete with a DKIM and MX record established by your IT team.

You can also set up a SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) Relay that will allow you to transfer Qualtrics emails to your own email server first and then send the messages to your recipients using your email domain. Learn more on the using a custom From address page.

About Web Distributions

The Web channel provides these key methods and tools:

  • Anonymous link
  • QR code™
  • Survey Director

Anonymous Links

Copy and paste anonymous links to email messages, social media sites, websites, or in-page pop-ups.

Anonymous Link page selected from the lefthand pane in the Distributions tab

Anonymous Links are easy to deploy, but they come with pros and cons:

  • They collect responses with no identifying information.
  • There is no limit to how many times a respondent can use the anonymous link.
    • To prevent multiple responses from the same person (a.k.a., preventing multiple submissions) consult the Security Survey Options page.
  • Survey progress is saved so respondents can close their window and return to the same computer and finish later. (See the Allow Responds to Finish Later support page.)
  • You can disable the anonymous link option by enabling By Invitation Only in the survey options. This is useful if you would like to convert your distribution method to individual links only.

QR Codes

A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a matrix barcode that can be printed on various media, like receipts and posters, or scanned from an online graphic in a PNG image format.

Your survey’s QR code is linked to an anonymous link so when the code is scanned, respondents will be immediately directed to your survey. QR code distributions do not track information identifying your respondents.
QR Code page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

Qtip: To learn more, visit the QR codes page.

Survey Director

The survey director simplifies multiple survey distributions based on conditions that you set. It does so by generating a static anonymous link that can distribute multiple surveys, one after the other, based on specified launch conditions.

For example, you can:

  • Change surveys based on quota attainment.
    • “After 1,000 responses, launch the next survey.”
  • Change surveys based on a date, day, or time.
    • “Send Survey A on Mondays and Survey B on Tuesdays.”
    • “Trigger a different survey every week, month, season, or year.”

Qtip: You may need to ask your Brand Administrator to turn on the survey director feature. Learn more on the survey director page.

About Mobile Distributions

The mobile distribution provides these efficient delivery methods:

  • SMS
  • Offline App


Send your surveys via SMS (Short Message Service, i.e., text message). Distribute SMS surveys in two ways:

SMS page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

Qtip: Learn, step-by-step, how to go mobile on the SMS surveys page.

Offline App

The Qualtrics Offline App lets you gather data on mobile devices, like iPads and smartphones, without an Internet connection. This can be very helpful in certain “in-the-field” situations.

Simply collect your data and upload your results later to your Qualtrics project for analysis, review, and reporting.

Offline App page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

There is a three-step process for setting up the Offline App:

  1. Generate an API token: Devices will download questions and upload data to-and-from your project using the Qualtrics API.
  2. Download the Qualtrics Offline App to your devices: Download the free app from the iTunes App Store (iPad or iPhone) or from the Google Play Store (for Android devices).
  3. Enter your account credentials: Your Brand Administrator can help you with the account information you may need and can also turn on the Use Offline Mobile App permission inside your account.
Qtip: For step-by-step instructions, visit the setting up the offline app page.

Collecting responses in the offline app is very simple and straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you will abandon all of the robustness of an online survey. For example:

  • You can work from a contact list.
  • If the survey gets interrupted, you can upload the data as an incomplete response.
  • You can allow respondents to complete a survey at a later time.
  • You can use and gather embedded data.
Qtip: For details on the ins-and-outs of data collection using the Offline App, review the collecting offline app responses page. If you encounter issues, visit the offline app compatibility features troubleshooting page.

About Social Media Distributions

Distributing on social media platforms is as easy as picking one of the available options (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest) and linking your survey to the sites.

Social Media page selected from the lefthand pane of of the Distributions tab

Okay, using social media links may be a little more complicated than that:

  • You will need to interact with social media site itself, which may require you to learn a little bit about their associations and naming conventions. (See the display name and survey description page for more info. These can be edited in your survey options.)
    Composed Facebook post with survey included prior to posting
  • The referring social media site will be recorded as embedded data. Therefore, you will need to add an embedded data field to your survey and name it Q_SocialSource.
  • When you post a survey on social media, a logo will appear with a description and a display name. See the social media distributions support page to learn more.
  • Qualtrics uses pop-ups to connect to social media platforms. If you’re having difficulty accessing these features, try enabling pop-ups on your browser.
Qtip: For step-by-step instructions, check out the social media distribution page.

Online Panels

Qtip: This feature is only available to users who’ve purchased a panel through our panels team.

Lists of potential respondents (a.k.a., survey participants) are often called panels. If you don’t have easy access to a desirable and meaningful panel of potential respondents, Qualtrics can help. Learn more here about about research panels.

Once you’ve purchased a panel from our panels team, you can use the online panels distribution method to send them your survey. Contact our panels team for a specialized quote for your research needs.
image of the online panel distribution screen

Qtip: For help distributing to your panel, check out the online panels page.
Qtip: If you haven’t purchased a panel, the button to distribute using online panels will be greyed out. Contact our panels team to purchase a panel. image of the create panel button greyed out due to not having purchased a panel


My Tasks

When you go to distribute a survey, you’ll notice a menu labeled My Tasks open on the right. This  task list is especially useful for users new to Qualtrics to learn the steps needed to launch a successful survey, but is also valuable as a checklist for experienced users to ensure they have not forgotten to do something.

See the my tasks page for more details.

QR Code is a registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.