Custom fields are primarily used with email launches but you can also attach custom fields to responses by appending them to the survey web URL.

This feature provides you the flexibility to use the same survey to capture multiple responses with different custom field values from the same respondent. Or you can use a custom field to append the location of your survey link if you want to compare responses captured on your website vs. those captured from Facebook or Twitter, for example. You can also program a website or other application to automatically append values to the survey URL for analysis purposes.

(For more information on custom fields, including how to use them in email launches or segmenting or filtering your results, visit our separate help article on Using Custom Fields in SurveyMethods)

To use this feature, you’ll first need to locate the survey web URL, which can be obtained by launching the survey with the web URL deployment method. If you’ve already launched your survey by email, you can find the generic web URL in the survey settings menu (at the bottom of the page), the manage survey menu (at the bottom of the page), or by clicking the launch button and choosing Web URL deployment.

Appending Custom Fields to the Survey Web URL

As an example, let’s say we want to store the following information about a respondent as our custom field 1 through 5 values:

  • First Name: Betty [Custom Field 1]
  • Last Name: Sue [Custom Field 2]
  • Zip Code: 99999 [Custom Field 3]
  • Phone: 800-222-5151 [Custom Field 4]
  • Gender: Female [Custom Field 5]

SurveyMethods allows you to append the URL using “&1=” and then the custom field 1 value, “&2=” and the custom field 2 value, and so on.

You would append these values as: &1=Betty&2=Sue&3=99999&4=800-222-5151&5=Female

The appended URL would look like the following: (custom field values underlined).

** Important note: if you are using a Custom URL for your survey, you will need to use a question mark (?) prior to the first custom field value, rather than an ampersand (&). Using the same sample custom field values, this is what an example custom URL would look like with custom field values appended: 1=Betty&2=Sue&3=99999&4=800-222-5151&5=Female

Similarly, if you are using the short URL, you can append custom URL values but you also need to prepend the first custom field value with a question mark (?):

Viewing Custom Field Values

When a respondent clicks on the above URL to take the survey, all 5 values will be imported into the custom field values along with the response. You can use these custom field values in your analysis. For example, you can view the custom field values on the individual response:

These will also be included in the Excel file when the data is exported.

Important Notes

  • The following characters are allowed in custom field values:
    • Numbers (0-9)
    • Letters (A-Z, a-z)
    • Hyphen (-)
    • Single quote (‘)
    • Comma (,)
    • Brackets (), {}, []
    • Period (.)
  • Characters with umlaut (ä, ë) are not supported in custom field values.
  • A single space is allowed between two words within a single custom field (labels or values).
  • Each custom field label should contain a minimum of 1 character. E.g. &1=Betty is valid, but &=Betty is not valid.
  • Each custom field label or value can contain a maximum of 30 characters.
  • If you want to use custom fields in your survey invitation email, web greetings, completion messages, event registration confirmation emails, reminder emails, or as a part of your survey data analysis, launch your survey using the Email Deployment Method with Advanced Email List Management.
  • If you want to limit responses to a single response per survey link, the Single Take Per Unique Value setting will have to be checked in the Settings section of your survey. This feature restricts the survey to be taken only once for each Custom Field 1 Value.