Survey lengths can vary, and longer surveys have a direct correlation with high drop-out rates. Starting a survey over can be a nightmare for respondents and can guarantee a non-completion. We can increase completion rates by simply allowing respondents to resume where they left off.
There are two ways to do this within a Decipher survey - by tracking user sessions via Decipher cookie or URL variable keys. This article will explain the benefits and limitations of using both methods.
Please refer to our Data Retention policy for how long this data is available for your project.
1: Enabling the Survey Resume System
1.1: Using Decipher Cookies
To enable the survey resume system using cookies, select the “Remember Respondent's Place” setting within the survey Field Settings menu:
When checked, respondents can return to their place in the survey with the original survey link. They will also have the option to restart the survey.
1.1.1: Using Decipher Cookies Within XML
To enable the Survey Resume System using Decipher cookies within the XML editor, you will just need to add autosave=“1” to your survey tag:
Adding variable keys or enabling the Partial Recovery System will enable autosave by default; this means that if either of these methods are used, the autosave="1" element will be hidden from within the survey XML (although it will still function properly).
1.2: Using URL Variable Keys
A "key" can be used to require a unique variable in the URL, allowing them to go back to the survey from any machine or browser. To enable the survey resume system using URL variable keys, select the “Remember Respondent's Place” setting within the survey Field Settings menu and enter the variable in the “Key” field:
Multiple keys can be entered, but you will need to separate each "key" with a comma. Key variables are case sensitive, so you may also want to review the survey project summary page to ensure that the "key" matches the variable in the survey URL.
The default key value is “session”, which is a cookie. So if you specify a different key, the system will use the key you have specified as a first check, and if that value does not exist in the URL, then it will use the “session” value.
Click here to learn more about URL variables.
Once the system is enabled using either of the above methods and your project is no longer in the testing state, respondents will be able to close their browser window and resume the survey at a later time.
1.2.1: Using Variable Keys Within XML
To enable the Survey Resume System using variable keys within the XML editor, you will just need to add autosaveKey=“xxxx” to your survey tag, where “xxxx” is the URL key within your survey:
2: How It All Works
2.1: Using Decipher Cookies
Decipher automatically tracks each individual survey respondent by injecting a unique cookie into their browser. This cookie will store the respondent’s “state”, or last accessed page and initial browser information.
Once enabled, the Survey Resume system will verify the respondent’s cookie upon re-entering the survey and recall their “state” so that they will resume at the last question they saw.
NOTE: Decipher cookies are browser-specific, so one cookie will not work across multiple browsers or devices.
2.2: Using URL Variables
If your survey uses a unique URL variable, individual respondents are tracked using this variable. Similar to Decipher cookies, these variables will store and recall each respondent’s “state” once enabled.
This method is particularly useful for tracking respondents across multiple browsers and devices, as users’ URL variables will remain the same, regardless of which browser or device they use to access the survey.
3: Disabling Survey Resume System
4: Limitations & Unsupported Features
The survey resume system is not compatible with sql due to the complexity of these settings.
The Decipher cookie method is browser-specific, so it will allow tracking only through the browser in which respondents use to start their survey.
Any changes made to the survey page that gets recalled will not be applied if they were made after the respondent’s “state” was saved, so respondents will always resume on the original version of the last question they saw; however, any changes past this page should be applied as normal.
Respondent markers are only saved for 15 minutes and then reset within the system, so if quota limits are met before respondents resume their “state”, they will be counted as an oversample upon completion. Click here to learn more about how the quota element works.
All device information that is stored in a user’s “state” is saved from the moment they first entered the survey; this means that even if you are using URL variables to track users across browsers, their data will always show the device on which they originally entered the survey.
If you are using the URL variables method, variables across sample sources must be unique.
Here is a list of some frequently asked questions regarding our survey resume system:
Q: If I forgot the check the “Remember respondent’s place” box before fielding my survey, can I recall an individual respondent’s place in the survey?
A: No, if you want to allow users to exit the survey and come back later to complete, you must have this box selected before fielding.
Q: Can I reset respondent links so that they can start the survey over from the beginning?
A: Yes, there are two ways to reset links: 1) Uncheck the “Remember respondent’s place” box in the project field settings menu. 2) Delete the user’s ID from the survey data. Click here for more information on how to edit user data within Decipher.
Q: Can I add a “Come back later” button within the survey itself so that respondents are aware that they can leave and return later with their progress saved?
A: Yes, it is possible to add this button in the survey using html and CSS; you can create this button using XML styles.
Q: Will I be able to see my saved survey progress in “Testing” or “Dev” state?
A: No, the survey resume system will only work while the survey is in a “Live” state.
Q: If a respondent decides to re-start their survey from the beginning, can I recall their previous progress after they’ve re-started?
A: No, once a survey is re-started, all previous progress is overwritten for that user; this applies to both Decipher cookie and URL variable methods.
Q: Will a suspended user be able to re-enter the survey once the survey is closed?
A: No, once a survey is closed, the respondent will see the survey closed message upon re-entering using either method.