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FeatureFriday: Token management – decide who your survey participants are

Author: Stuart Kondziella | Feature Friday | August 25, 2017

    What are tokens and in which way are they beneficial?

    Surveys can basically be conducted in two different ways: either openly for the general public to access or closed by enabling only specific people to participate. The latter can be achieved in LimeSurvey by using token management to provide individual participation codes, so-called tokens, per respondent. However, these tokens don’t just determine who gets to participate in the survey, it also offers other benefits, such as:
    • Importing a list of names and email addresses of those allowed to participate
    • Generating a unique token per participant
    • Sending email invitations to all participants
    • Sending email reminders to those who haven’t participated yet
    • Tracking response statuses
    • Preventing repeated survey participation as well as unauthorized public participation
    • Editing details in participant list
    • Creating templates for email invitations and reminders
    Conclusion: the use of tokens gives the survey creator much more control over the targeted selection of participants which directly benefits the results and the overall goal of the survey.

    Getting started with token management

    There are two ways to get started using tokens:
    1. By clicking Activate this survey in the top left corner of the admin interface, the survey is then published by choosing Save & activate survey.

    Activating Survey

    Activating Survey
    Once done, the option Switch to closed-access mode can be selected to change the default open-access mode to the token-based participation mode.

    Closed-Access Mode

    Closed-Access Mode
    Subsequently, the token participant list is automatically created.

    Token Table

    Token Table
    2. If the survey is published in open-access mode without setting it to closed-access mode as undertaken in step 1, tokens can be activated by clicking Survey participants on the main admin page which will redirect straight to the option of initialising the token table. Moreover, previous token tables can be restored here if available.

    Restoring Previous Token Table

    Restoring Previous Token Table
    The admin interface then displays a summary of the token table that contains the total number of records, with no unique token, invitations set, opted out, screened out and surveys completed.

    Token Table Summary

    Token Table Summary
    In order to fill a token table with participants, several different approaches can be selected: add participants and their details manually, auto-create masses of dummy tokens or import participant lists from CSV (comma-separated values) files or LDAP (lightweight directory access protocol) queries.

    Creating Participant List

    Creating Participant List
    When adding participants manually, all the necessary details such as name, email address, validity date range etc. need to be provided.

    Adding Participants

    Adding Survey Participants
    Creating dummy participants enables the mass-production of tokens at once. Details such as name, email address and language will remain identical for every token generated in the process. The number of tokens as well as the length of tokens can be defined as required.

    Dummy Participants

    Dummy Participants
    When uploading participant data from a CSV file, certain settings can be adjusted according to the formatting of the file. For example, separators used, email filters and duplicate handling can be changed.

    CSV File Participant Import

    CSV File Participant Import
    If participant data is obtained from a LDAP query, this can be done by the system administrator in the config-Idap.php file.
    The buttons Display participants and View in CPDB (central participant database) lead to participant overviews and provide valuable insights on the status of survey participants as well as offer options to edit participant details.

    Token Table Overview

    Token Table Overview
    Advanced Tip: if you want to test if your token management is working smoothly on LimeSurvey, simply create a spreadsheet to import and add fake email addresses as well as fake names. Once imported and working correctly, you ought to receive tokens for these fake positions. Conclusion: LimeSurvey provides great flexibility when it comes to creating token lists. This leads to a more user-friendly participant management system in terms of ease of use as well as personal preference for survey creators.

    Things worth knowing about when working with LimeSurvey tokens

    If neither a fully closed-access mode nor an open-access mode is desired, LimeSurvey also offers a hybrid access mode which allows the survey to be taken by the general public, but with the addition of requiring a token to participate. All that has to be done in this case is to turn on the option Allow public registration in the main survey settings.

    Open-Access Mode With Tokens

    Open-Access Mode With Tokens
    Tokens can be used both for anonymous and non-anonymous surveys. This is determined when creating a survey. If a survey is not anonymous (or 'tracked'), then the token list can be used to find the responses that a participant has submitted. If the survey is anonymous, then there is no link available between the token table and the participants’ responses.
    When all is taken care of, the survey can be sent out to participants. LimeSurvey supplies all options necessary to send out survey invitations.

    Invitations & Reminders

    Invitations & Reminders
    Upon clicking Send email invitation, the (default) email template is provided in all languages selected for the survey and can be sent out to the participant list.

    Invitation Email

    Invitation Email
    Analogous to the latter, Send email reminder offers the same interface, but adds the option to set minimum and maximum days between reminders.
    Advanced Tip: you don’t necessarily have to settle for our default email templates. You may compose your own by using all the formatting functionalities that are available when creating survey questions. Hereby, you can build templates for all your participant emails, e.g. invitation, reminder, confirmation, registration as well as admin notification emails. Visit our manual to find out more about all valid email placeholders that can be used to successfully write your email templates.
    Important to consider when sending out emails to participants is to take care of bounce settings in case emails can’t be delivered successfully. Certain details, such as survey bounce email address, server information and encryption type need to be determined by the survey creator. Our manual contains more detailed information on how to fill out the fields.

    Email Bouncing

    Email Bouncing

    Leverage the powerful token feature in your own surveys

    LimeSurvey offers all features to paid subscriptions as well as free users. The token management function is no exception here. Give it a try and set up your participant list with LimeSurvey! Simply click here to get started. If you want to learn more about tokens in LimeSurvey, visit our LimeSurvey manual.

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