Losing Respondent Tracking from Contact List Surveys

When you send a survey invitation out via the email tool, then one of the valuable features this gives you is the ability to see which respondents have completed the survey, and which have not.

Occasionally, we get contacted by clients asking for support where this has gone wrong, and a respondent has not been tagged as completing a survey when they have.

While we make every effort to ensure that SmartSurvey’s features are robust and reliable, there are some ways that users and respondents can interact with it to cause issue such as this to occur.

So, if you have a respondent who has not been tagged as completing a survey when they say that they have, perhaps the respondent has received a reminder in error, then this guide should explain the common ways in which this can occur.

Errors Caused by Respondent Activity:

Sharing Links

One of the most common ways this happens is when a respondent shares their invitation email with someone else. If person A completes a survey that they accessed using a link originally sent to person B, then person A won’t be tagged as completing the survey in the invitation and reminder system. In addition, person B will not be able to complete the survey as they will be tagged as having already completed it.

Editing Links

Sometimes, a respondent will delete the tracking information part of the link before accessing the survey (Bolded in this example: www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/acbdef?m=123klnju). They may do this because they want extra privacy, or because they've been shared a link that's already been completed by another respondent and therefore can't be loaded. When this has happened, the response will appear without any contact information included. This can be prevented by creating a unique tracking link when the invitation is created, which will make the survey inaccessible if a valid tracking code is not present. For more information, see the guide to creating and sending an invitation.

Multiple Routes into Survey

If a survey has multiple ways to access it, and person A, who is sent an email invitation, accesses the survey via a different link, then the invitation and reminder system won’t know this and will still be awaiting a response completed via the link that was sent to them.

Multiple email addresses in the same list

Sometimes a respondent might have more than one address that feeds into the same mailbox. If both of these are in a contact list, they will probably receive two invites. Not all email clients will make this immediately clear, and instead show both invites under the same heading. This means a respondent can respond to one, but still can get reminded for the other invitation.

Errors Caused by Survey Distributors:

Deleting the invite record

Every invitation uses a number of “invite records”. Each of these has the data for a particular respondent for that invitation, containing the address, the link they were sent, and the completion status. It’s possible to delete an individual invite record after an invitation is sent (this is because it allows a means for an email address to be re-added to an invitation in the event something goes wrong and a user wants to re-send the invitation to that respondent.

If the invite record for a respondent is deleted after send, but before the respondent completes the survey, that respondent will still be able to complete the survey, but their completion won’t be logged.

Clearing the Contact List

If the contact list is cleared (not deleted) after the invitation is sent, then response tracking will be lost from any respondents who completed the response before the list was cleared.

Some users do this because they want to re-use a contact list, or the invitation attached to it, for extra respondents. We don’t recommend users do this, and instead if you want to add new respondents to an existing invitation, simply add the new respondents to the list and you will be prompted with the option to send the invitation to the new respondents.

If you do need to remove someone from a contact list , then the best procedure is to do that individually from the contact list. The removed respondents will still appear in the list of invite records on the invitation as “removed”.

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