At Usabilla, we recommend you to connect the feedback that your users provide to information that you have available elsewhere as much as possible. Usabilla's custom variables allow you to do just that. In this article we aim to provide a basic explanation of custom variables as well as links to the implementation guides for each Usabilla product.
What are custom variables?
Custom variables are little bits of data that you can include when a user leaves feedback through Usabilla. They can derive from other 3rd party tools or from your own website. Custom variables are used to add extra information about your user or the website, email or mobile app about which the user left feedback. Custom variables are structured in "key-value pairs", which means that they will be structured as demonstrated by the following examples:
- Username: Sophie Usabilla
- Subscription: Enterprise
- Tier: Gold
- Current_shopping_basket_value: €49.95
- Previous page: https://www.google.com
Once implemented, custom variables will be available in your Usabilla account for each feedback item to which they were added. Usabilla only stores custom variables when the user submits a response.
Every product in the Usabilla product suite allows you to utilize custom variables. However, the implementation, the way they are displayed and the analysis options differ for each product.
Why do I need custom variables?
Connecting user feedback to data from other sources helps you to:
- add context to your feedback
- quantify your user feedback
- use feedback to understand your quantitative data
Custom variables allow you to enrich your feedback with data from other sources by passing these on data along with the feedback item. This means that you can add extra information such as usernames, customer types or A/B test variables to your feedback. Having these data in the same place as your feedback, will help you to connect the dots and analyze your feedback quicker and more extensively.
Besides enriching your feedback with more information, custom variables can also be used to very accurately target users with a Usabilla survey. For example, if you want to survey users that are between 25 and 40 years old and have purchased a specific product in the past, this is possible through custom variables. See this article for more details.
Which data can be used included in custom variables?
Custom variables can include any sort of data, provided that:
- you already collected these data
- the data are available for Usabilla
- your company's privacy policies allow you to send these data to Usabilla
Furthermore, we also encourage you to only send data to Usabilla if you are actually planning to use them. This will help you to keep your feedback clean and to the point. Also, this will help you to meet data privacy requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Tip: In case you would like to add data which could potentially be used to identify individuals (e.g. user IDs or usernames), you could consider including a hashed or encrypted version of the data. This way you will be able to recognize the user that left feedback, but no one outside your organization will be able to do so.
Lastly, we recommend you to keep the custom variables short and comprehensive. Keep in mind that custom variables can be used to filter and categorize your feedback when analyzing it.
How can I add custom variables?
Adding custom variables will require you to change a bit of code for most Usabilla products. Therefore we recommend you to already start thinking about custom variables during the initial implementation of the Usabilla. Implementation guides for the different products are available here:
- Usabilla for Websites
- Usabilla for Websites - standalone surveys
- Usabilla In-Page
- Usabilla for Email
- Usabilla for Apps - iOS and Android
Since custom variables allow for a lot of freedom, there are many things you can do through the usage of custom variables. Potential next steps are:
- Connecting Usabilla and your data layer
- Create a survey for users that come from one specific page
- Collect feedback on your Zendesk customer support emails and connect it directly to the support agent in question
More ideas or questions about custom variables? Don't hesitate to reach out to our friendly support team.