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Appending a Recipient List Using Import Data

Appending data allows you to include previously collected data in a new survey. Data imported into the survey can be used to append the report and data set, pipe in imported variables, or control the flow of respondents through the survey with logic conditions.

1:  About the Data List

You can import files in these formats:

  • Excel (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Text/.txt (comma-separated/csv, tab-delimited)

The importer reads the first line in the file and creates variables based on the content. The data file must contain a unique variable to identify and match to the respondents in the new survey and may contain additional variables to append.

In the example that follows, a recipient list uploaded to an email campaign is used, but keep in mind that any properly formatted data file can be appended to a survey. The email campaign manager in Decipher will automatically add the source variable which serves as the unique identifying variable.

2:  Example of Using the Import Data Method

The following example provides step-by-step instructions for appending data using the import data method.

2.1:  Step 1 - Exporting the Recipient List

Watch the Append Data Step 1 Video
Duration: 1 minute

Select “Email Campaigns” under the Distribute menu. This displays the Email Campaign Manager. Clicking a recipient list provides the option to export the selected recipient list as an Excel or Text file.

Below is an example of a data file in Excel (.xls or .xlsx) which contains the source variable created by the Email Campaign Manager and the additional variables of email, fname, lname, gender, age, phone, and service.


2.2: Step 2 - Appending Data

Watch the Append Data Step 2 Video
Duration: 2 minutes

Once the data file has been identified and exported, it is ready to be appended to the survey using the Import Data element.
In order to match imported data with respondents in the new survey, the sample source(s) in the new survey must be set up with a unique variable.

Select “Sample Sources” from the question tree and click “Add New Sample Source”.

This example uses a custom sample source. You can include an unique variable by selecting the custom sample source in the question tree and clicking “Add Variable” in the URL Variables section. Here, the unique variable source was included as a URL variable. This variable is used to identify and match respondents from the imported data file.


To append the data file to the new survey, add a new Import Data Element from the Structural tab of the Survey Elements menu.


Inserting an Import Data element provides the option to Upload Data File or Import Project Data.


Select “Upload Data File”, locate the data file on your computer, and then click “Upload”.

In this example, the recipient list exported from campaign manager in Step 1 is uploaded, as shown below.


After the data file is uploaded, it appears in the Datasources section of the Import Data menu. The Datasource Options section allows users to rename the Datasource, set Key Variables, and select additional variables to include.

In the below example, the Data source was named “Recipient List”. The key variable of source (the unique variable set up in the sample source) was matched with the imported source variable to identify respondents. Additional variables of fname, lname, and phone were included. The source variable is included automatically once it has been selected as the key variable.


After Datasource Options have been set, click “Apply Options” to update the Imported Data element in the survey. The appended data now appears in the new survey’s question tree and a summary of included variables are shown on the stage.

2.3:  Step 3 - Piping a Variable from Imported Data

Watch the Append Data Step 3 Video
Duration: 1 minute

Variables from the appended data can be piped into the new survey using the Piping Tool. The piping tool provides a list of options to pipe content from. In order for variables from the imported data to be available, the pipe must come after the imported data and be on a separate page.


For this example, the fname variable will be selected to pipe the respondent’s first name into the survey introduction. Once the desired variable is selected, click "Apply" to insert the variable into the pipe.


2.4:  Step 4 - Setting Logic Conditions with Imported Data

Watch the Append Data Step 4 Video
Duration: 1 minute

Logic conditions can be set based on the appended data. For example, you can include a Terminate element to terminate respondents who purchased Phone 2 or Phone 4, as indicated by the phone variable in the imported data file. To do so, a Terminate element must be inserted in the survey after the imported data and on a separate page.

Once the terminate is in the desired location, click "+New Condition" to set up the logic for the terminate. In the Logic Conditions Setup menu, select the desired variable from the imported data file and set the appropriate conditions.

Here, the phone variable was selected from the dropdown and “2, 4” was entered as the condition.


Respondents now terminate only if they have 2 or 4 listed under the phone variable in the imported data list.

2.5:  Step 5 - Testing the Appended Data

Watch the Append Data Step 5 Video
Duration: 1 minute

After data has been appended, the survey should be tested to ensure that imported variables are being piped in properly and logic conditions are working as intended. To do this, select a recipient from the data file that fits the conditions to be tested.

In the example below, the respondent’s first name (Robert) should be piped into the survey introduction. Additionally, this respondent should be terminated out of the survey after the screener questions because he has a Phone 2 listed under the phone variable.


To test an individual respondent, select Test Survey under the Test menu. This displays the Survey Test Environment menu. Check that the correct sample source is selected, then enter the unique identifying variable for the test respondent.

In this example, “Email Campaign” is selected as the sample source and  “ZaX8MXC8P3” is entered for the source variable. Notice that the survey URL has been updated to include the entered source variable.


Once the sample source and unique identifying variables are set, test the survey and click “Show Survey with Tools” to test that data is being imported properly. Using the Survey Testing Toolbar, check that QA Codes are turned on.


When the Import Data element is reached in the survey test, appended data should be populated in a hidden question.

In the example below, the fname variable is populated and matches the data file for the respondent, ensuring that the data file has been appended correctly.