How to Set Up a Conditional Form Notification Email Based on a User’s Answer

Conditional Notifications allow a form owner to choose when to receive an email notification based on the value of a field or other conditions on the answer the user provides on a form.

Let’s see how we can benefit from this feature in practice with two examples.

First, consider a questionnaire where we ask customers to rate and give feedback about their experience with various aspects of a service. We’re going to send out invitations for customers to take part in the survey and collect their responses on the cloud. When the survey period is over, we’ll generate an Excel report with the aggregated answers of all participants for analysis. In this scenario, there is clearly no point in sending an email for each and every form submission.

Send form notification email based on answers on the form

But we wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to talk to a customer promptly if they indicate on the form they have unfulfilled needs or concerns to address. This is where Conditional Notifications come handy: we want to send an email notification to the Customer Support team only when a customer indicates they need to speak to someone.

Email notification conditional to field value

We can define the Conditional Notification rule to send an email if a specific checkbox is checked as illustrated above, or when at least one aspect of the service is rated ‘Bad’.

When Should You Use Conditional Notification?

Online forms typically support one of two workflows:

  1. Form responses are collected “unsupervised” then the aggregated data set is processed or analyzed: this workflow relies on FormSmarts’ Excel report feature to generate a spreadsheet, it doesn’t involve email notifications
  2. Someone needs to attend to each and every form response, which is time-sensitive, must be processed individually and for which a reply must be sent to the submitter.

Conditional Notification allows FormSmarts members to add an exception to the first workflow by specifying a set of situations where a notification is sent, providing a bridge to the second workflow.

Rules can apply to any properties of a form response: value of input fields, type of form control (e.g. ‘radio button’), field ID, etc and may include logic operators, conditions, boolean operations,… to support a wide range of use-cases.

Second Example: A Screening Questionnaire

In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, an employee screening questionnaire provides us with another practical example of a situation where we can use a Conditional Notification to help screen employees prior to returning to work.

The screening questionnaire lists a number of questions describing COVID-19 symptoms to which employees have to reply by ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. All employees have to submit a screen questionnaire, but the sponsor of the questionnaire should only by notified by email if an employee replies ‘Yes’ to any of the screening questions.

When an employee submits their screening questionnaire, the Conditional Notification rule checks the value of all radio buttons on the form and sends a notification if at least one has the value ‘Yes’.

How to Set Up a Conditional Notification

To set up a Conditional Notification:

  1. Define a Rule: Conditional Notification rules are defined with a formal language for which there is currently no visual rules builder. Until we provide such a tool, contact Support with details of the precise conditions under which you want to receive an email notification so we set up the conditional notification rule for you. Please remember to provide us with the URL of the form.
  2. Enable conditional notifications: Once we’ve set up the rule for you, edit the form and tap Update email routing policy in the Submit Actions tab of the form builder. Select the Conditional Notification routing policy and save.

Set up a conditional notification rule

Other Email Routing Policies

By default, all destination emails you’ve set up for a form get a copy of every form response. You can change this behavior by setting a different email Routing Policy.

FormSmarts currently has the following Routing Policies:

  • Multicast: Every email subscriber gets a copy of every form entry (default).
  • User-Selected Recipient: User selects the recipient on the form. Typical use: sending customer inquiries to the relevant person or department.
  • Round-Robin: Each subscriber receives form entries in turn. Typical use: sharing workload between collaborators.
  • Conditional Notification: Only send a notification if conditions you’ve set on form data are satisfied.

How to Limit Who Can Submit a Form

Online forms are public and can be submitted by anyone by default, but FormSmarts offers a number of options to restrict and control who can submit them.

This article outlines different approaches to limit who can submit a form that are suitable for a number of situations, from restricting a form within a loosely defined group of users at large to sharing a form with team members within the confines of your FormSmarts account. We even show you how a user can share an individual form with someone else so they can complete it together.

Open a Form to Members of an Informal Group

In this first example, we exclusively open a form to staff within a company or a specific group within an organization, like students or staff at a university. User will have to provide their corporate or university-provided email address on the form.

Email Address Verification

To ensure individuals submit their own email address (and to verify their identity), we take advantage of a FormSmarts option that requires someone submitting a form to verify their email address or mobile phone number before they can proceed. FormSmarts verifies an email address or phone number by sending a one-time password (OTP) that the person then has to enter on the form.

Online form verifies the phone number or email when the form is submitted

Please try this email verification demo.

This FormSmarts feature allows a FormSmarts account administrator to restrict verification emails to addresses on a specific domain or sub-domain, so we can for example selectively open a form to:

  • Students at a university or college with an email address on the sub-domain students.example.edu
  • Staff at a university with an email address on example.edu
  • Staff with a corporate email address on example.com

For help settings this up, contact FormSmarts Support.

Email or Phone Verification on a Registration Form

Although not the subject of this article, FormSmarts members can also use email address or phone number verification to create a signup form for a site or online service.

By Invitation Only: Authorize Each Form Submission

FormSmarts lets you define how to authenticate a form user with their email address or phone number and who is allowed to submit a form.

FormSmarts members can also set the precise rules to authorize or reject users based on their email or mobile number. This is the most flexible option, but requires basic coding skills (we can help if needed).

  • When someone submits a form, FormSmarts sends a request to a cloud function or script on your website (webhook)
  • The request contains the person's email or phone number and a one-time password (OTP)
  • The script or cloud function checks the email or phone number against a list of users authorized to submit the form and sends the OTP to the person so they may complete the form submission.
  • It can alternatively automatically authorize the form submission to proceed with a call to FormSmarts API

Please try our this phone verification and custom authorization demos. The custom authorization demo only requires a phone number to be verified the first time it is used on a form.

For help settings this up, contact FormSmarts Support.

Private Form

Make a form private when you want to restrict who can submit it to your teammates.

Private Forms work best in teams and organizations that share a FormSmarts account and each team member has their own FormSmarts sub-user. Learn more about Private Forms.

  • A Private Form can only be viewed and submitted by sub-users (invited users) within a FormSmarts account
  • The user must be logged in to FormSmarts in order to submit a Private Form
  • A Private Form response is associated with the user who submitted it
  • The identity of the user who submitted a form entry is visible in email notifications and in reports

Please try this demo with the account alias, username and password given here.

Sharing a Form Submission

Finally, FormSmarts allows an individual submitting a form to share it with someone else — so the second person can, for example, review the information entered and co-sign it.

This is typically useful in application forms.

How to Edit Submissions Made on Your Forms

There are occasionally situations when you need to amend the information submitted on a form:

  • A customer reaches out after submitting a form, realizing they had entered incorrect information
  • Some time after they registered for an event via one of your forms, an individual contacts you saying they had moved or changed phone numbers

Update field value and see change history

Instead of asking the customer to submit the form again, find the reference number of the form submission and view it online, then use the Edit and Revision History buttons illustrated above to update the relevant data fields.

If you’re viewing the form entry on a mobile device, the Edit and Revision History buttons may be hidden to avoid cluttering the page. Tap Show Editing in the main menu to show the buttons.

Editing & Revision History

When you update a data field, the new value will show online, in PDF documents and in Excel reports. But it's important to understand that the original value submitted and all changes are kept on FormSmarts and can be viewed in the Revision History.

In the example below, we've changed the email address associated with a form entry where Sheryl was mistyped as Sherly, making the address invalid. The characters removed (crossed out with red background) and added (underlined with green background) are clearly visible.

Update Submission Made on Your Form

Built for Teams

Each modification made to a form entry is associated with the FormSmarts user (account admin or invited user) who made it, allowing all users to know who made each change. In the example above, the amendment was made by the user viewing the changes, noted as Me. Other users would see that person’s name.

Regulatory & Compliance Considerations

Auditing and Compliance

When an individual submits an online form, they may be under contractual obligation to provide accurate information — or need to certify that the information submitted is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.

Although FormSmarts allow members to alter the information originally submitted on a form, changes are made in such a way that we preserve the original value submitted and all changes made.

  • Changes are append-only, they cannot be undone or retracted
  • The precise change is preserved
  • Each revision is associated with the user who made it
  • A timestamp is kept for auditing

GDPR

If you are processing information about individuals in the European Union, use this feature to allow users to exercise their legal right to rectification (right to have inaccurate personal data rectified) under the GDPR regulation.

How to Make a Booking Form

A booking form allows FormSmarts members to offer a fixed number of tickets for booking on a form, like on this demo.

A booking form

To make a booking form, first create an event on FormSmarts with a preset number of slots (i.e. tickets, seats), then make a standard form with the form builder and add a booking field to it.

A booking field with a Booking ID

Create an Event

To create an event, sign in to the API console and submit a POST request to the URL https://formsmarts.com/api/v1/events specifying:

  • An event label like Online Security Class
  • The number of slots available for booking
  • The date & time of the event and its timezone

We can for example create an Online Security Class event with 100 seats that takes place on June 12, 2020, 1pm Eastern time with the following Request Data:

label = Online Security Class
slots = 100
date = 2020-06-12 13:00:00
timezone = America/New_York

Add a Booking Field

Add a text box to the form, setting its Allowed Content property to Booking.

Guests should now be able to book tickets through a booking widget shown when they tap, click or move the form’s focus to the booking field.

A booking field only allows booking one ticket by default. You can configure the number of slots that can be booked and other settings with the Booking API.

Find Out More…

Read about how the booking system works and how to manage events, view the status of bookings or cancel a booking.

If you would like to create a booking form but your current FormSmarts package doesn’t support this feature, please ask us for a free trial.

We welcome your comments, questions and feedback.

How to Create a Bill

FormSmarts offers a really simple way to create bills that customers can pay online: just create a billing form like the one below, then use a tool on FormSmarts.com each time you want to generate a bill for a specific client and amount.
Online Bill Example

Make a Billing Form

We only need to create the billing form once, we’ll then reuse it each time we need to create an invoice.

Here our example has two main input fields: an email field to uniquely identify the customer and a text box for the amount we want to bill them for. You can view and test the billing form. We’ve also made a slightly more elaborate example that allows a client to add a gratuity with a second amount box.

Note how both the Email and Amount Due fields are fixed: the values preset in the pre-filled URL can’t be changed by the client. We’ll cover how to do this in the next section, for now I need to explain how to set up the Amount Due input field so FormSmarts recognizes it as a fee to be paid by the bill recipient.

Add an Amount Box

  1. Add a Text Box form control (widget)
  2. Name the input field Amount Due ($ USD). The ‘Amount Due’ label can be whatever you prefer, but you must stick to the same format and specify the currency as shown.
  3. Set its Allowed Content value to Positive Number
  4. If you’ve already configured PayPal integration, you’re all set. Otherwise your need to associate your PayPal account with FormSmarts.

Create a Pre-Filled Bill

When you need to create a new bill, sign in to FormSmarts’ API Console to generate a new Pre-Filled URL with a fixed email and amount. Send the URL to the client in an email or text as a bill.

  • Set the Method to POST (Create)
  • Set the API Endpoint to https://formsmarts.com/api/v1/forms/Form_ID/prefilled_url, replacing Form_ID with the ID of your form.
  • Enter the Request Data as illustrated below and described in the documentation, then submit.
The ID of a form is the alphanumeric string in its FormSmarts.com URL. For example, if a form’s URL is https://formsmarts.com/form/2301?mode=h5, its Form ID is 2301.

Generate a Pre-Filled Bill URL

Preset Values & Make Fields Read-Only

We enter the preset value of the email and amount fields under Request Data, and make sure those can’t be modified by the user:

  • Pre-fill the first input field on the form (pf_f1) with the value blackhole@syronex.com
  • Preset the second input field (pf_f2) to 187.59
  • Prevent the user from modifying either fields by making them read-only (pf_ro1=1, pf_ro2=2)
pf_f1=blackhole@syronex.com
pf_f2=187.59
pf_ro1=1
pf_ro2=2

Find out more about how to pre-fill your forms and how to automatically generate pre-filled URLs if you need to create too many bills to do it manually.

How Notes Can Help You Manage Form Entries

Notes help you keep track of what you need to do about a form entry. When you access an entry on FormSmarts, notes are listed alongside the information submitted.

Notes are especially useful for accounts with multiple users. A note is associated with the person who posted it and all users can see all notes, so notes allow a conversation between users centered around the form entry.

Note on a Form Entry

Who Can Benefit from Notes?

Customers who needs to process or review form responses one by one (e.g. application forms, order forms) can benefit from using notes to:

  • Record a decision that was made about an entry and keep track of how a decision was reached
  • Highlight elements that require further consideration
  • Record the status of an application (“Pending Ann’s agreement.”) or registration (“Paid check, deposited today.”)
  • Support a discussion between users about a form entry.

Even when form responses usually don’t need to be reviewed individually like with registration forms, notes can help document exceptions and incidents like “Chargeback after credit card was stolen. Paid by bank transfer.” or “Attendee changed to Jeanette Bowman”.

How to View Notes & Annotate a Form Entry

There are several ways to access a form entry online:

  • Click the View online & add notes link in the email notification FormSmarts sends you when a form is submitted
  • Use the links in the right-most column of Excel reports
  • Scan the QR code from a confirmation email or PDF receipt provided by a customer.

Who Can Add Notes?

All users, both the account owner and invited users in the same account can add notes. If a forms was set up to send submissions to more than one person, a separate user should be created for each receiver so they can log in to FormSmarts and post comments.

  • The account owner can create notes, edit their own notes, and delete anyone’s notes
  • Invited users who were given access to individual entries pertaining to a given form can add notes and edit their own notes (and delete them provided they have write permission).

Closing Notes…

  • Notes have keyboard shortcuts: Create a note with Alt + C, save it in the editor with Shift + Enter.
  • If an entry is deleted, all notes associated with it are also removed.

Changing the Color of Form Buttons

The latest version of the Form Builder now allows FormSmarts members to change the color of buttons on their online forms.

Layout and Colors Tab of the Form Details Screen of the Form Builder

The Buttons Color setting only applies to forms embedded on customers websites. Standalone forms accessed via their FormSmarts.com or f8s.co URL use a standard color scheme.

The color of buttons can only be changed on the current version of our forms. If you’re still using the old one, you probably shouldn’t. The current version is more secure and offers a better user experience. Please update your site.

Like most customizations, this functionality requires at least a Starter account.

As part of this form builder update, we slightly reorganized how information is presented in the Form Details screen illustrated above. The form layout and color settings that were in the Basics tab in earlier versions have been moved to a new Layout & Colors tab.

When Should You Export Forms to Native Excel (XLSX) instead of CSV?

FormSmarts allows customers to collect online form submissions on the cloud and download aggregated entries in a format, CSV, which is supported by all spreadsheet applications (including Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers and Apache OpenOffice) and many other data analysis tools. We’ve recently added the option to export form responses to native Excel format (.xlsx or .xls) instead of the default CSV for Excel.

Export Form to Excel

The main reason we decided to support the new export format is to solve an issue with phone number fields that may not be displayed correctly when Excel opens a CSV file. The Excel XLSX format also has a few other benefits, but we expect most members to continue using the default CSV format in the foreseeable future. Please read on to find out if and when you would benefit from using the new format.

Benefits of the Excel .xlsx Format

Phone Number Fields

Provided you have set the Allowed Content (data type) of phone input fields to Phone Number, FormSmarts stores phone numbers as character strings rather than numbers to ensure any leading zero is not dropped from phone numbers. Unfortunately, Excel interprets character strings that only contain digits as numbers, thus removing leading zeros. Members who collect phone numbers on their forms, especially in locales where phone numbers may start with a zero (some US states and part of Asia & Europe), should set the Export Format to the Native Excel option in the Report Generator settings, as illustrated above.

If you find out when opening a CSV spreadsheet from FormSmarts that leading zeros were dropped from phone numbers, update the export format and create another report. Provided phone input fields were correctly created as phone number fields, the correct information, with any leading zeros, is stored on FormSmarts. No information was lost, any errors is due to the Excel import process and can be easily fixed by generating a new report after changing the export format.

All settings of the Report Generator but the timezone are kept in your browser, so as long as you use the same browser and allow FormSmarts to store information in your browser, your export preference will be saved from one session to the next.

Form Results with Data in a Non Western-European Language

When a spreadsheet contains data in a language other than English or another Western-European language, customers need to make sure when opening an Excel/CSV report from FormSmarts they select the UTF-8 (Unicode) encoding in Excel’s Import Wizard. The content of the spreadsheet may otherwise not be displayed properly. Alternatively, exporting form entries to a native Excel (.xlsx, .xls) spreadsheet removes the need to select the correct text encoding.

Note that FormSmarts stores data with a universal encoding (UTF-8) that supports all languages, so if you find out that a report appears corrupted when opening the spreadsheet, open the file again and select the UTF-8 encoding or switch the export format to Native Excel: no data was lost or corrupted.

Other Benefits

The native Excel format offers a few other benefits and we expect their number to grow in the future:

  • The URLs of form attachments are clickable links
  • The FormSmarts Reference Number (the penultimate column in the spreadsheet) links to the form response on FormSmarts. Use this link to add a note to a form submission, check where it was submitted from (IP address, approximate location), export it to PDF, print it, delete it and more. As we add more functionality to the page showing individual form responses (like the ability to tag and edit a form response), we expect more and more customers to rely on links in the spreadsheet as part of their workflow.

The native Excel format is supported with Business Plus accounts and above.

Personalize the Payment Confirmation Email

FormSmarts now allows customers1 to change the text part of the confirmation email we send to form users once their payment has been confirmed, as highlighted below.

If you use FormSmarts for online event registration forms, edit the confirmation message to remind attendees of the date and time of the event, provide information about the venue location, and ask them to print a copy of the message or have it ready for inspection on their phone on the date of the event.

A confirmation email (e-ticket) is sent upon payment

To edit the confirmation message, log in to the form builder and click/tap the pen icon corresponding to the form you would like to edit, then visit the Submit Actions tab.

You can emphasize a section of the text with bold or italics and you may include links and bullet points. The text can be formatted using the buttons provided or with the same Wiki-like syntax you can use elsewhere on your forms.

Use the Preview button to visualize the formatted output of the message.

As always, we value your feedback about this feature.

Note: If you have verified your site and uploaded the logo of your organization to FormSmarts, it will appear at the top of the message.

1 The confirmation email can only be customized with a Business Plus account or above.

How to Issue an Invoice or Support Check & Cash Payments

Your can allow form users to get an invoice by specifying prices, fees and quantities directly on a form. When FormSmarts detects an amount of money on a form, we compute the total amount and show it on the confirmation page, the PDF receipt, and in the confirmation email.

FormSmarts helps you generate invoices and manage check and cash payments by showing the total amount due on the printable Summary Page of a form and in the confirmation email and PDF receipt that users can get on that page.

  • Use this to generate an invoice when someone submits an order form
  • If you’re using our popular payment form feature to collect online payments on your membership and registration forms, chances are that some of your customers will want to pay by check, cash on site or by any other offline payment methods. Use this feature to offer an offline payment option for your online payment forms.

When a form is set up to show a Summary Page when submitted, users may:

  • Request a confirmation email
  • Download a PDF receipt
  • Print a copy of the information submitted with the form

Form's summary page, confirmation email and PDF receipt showing the total amount due

Fees and priced items must be formatted with the FormSmarts payment integration syntax.

As illustrated above, the printout, PDF receipt and confirmation message all include a QR code to help you process payments more reliably and effectively.

Check Payments

  1. Ask users to enclose a printout of the Summary Page with their check
  2. Scan the QR code with any phone or tablet to access the corresponding form entry on FormSmarts
  3. Update the form entry’s payment status with a tag and add a note to record the check number

Cash Payments on Site

The Summary Page can also help you manage cash payments by allowing guests to show their confirmation email or PDF receipt (a.k.a. e-ticket) on their phone (or their printed receipt), that staff can scan to update the registration on FormSmarts. Since the amount due also appears in form response notification emails and PDFs, check-in staff can also reconcile e-tickets with the list of notification emails or registration PDFs even if there is no network connectivity.

How to Make an Offline Payment Form

  1. Create an online payment form with fees formatted as documented
  2. When you’re satisfied with the result, make a copy of the form with the Duplicate Form button ( icon) in the Forms Tab of the form builder
  3. Rename the form and set On Submission to “Show summary with print, email & PDF options” in the Submit Actions tab of the Form Details screen.

The Summary Page supports the same payment-related features as payment forms (except those for recurring payments), including discounts and discount codes.

Can I Accept Online & Offline Payments on the Same Form?

One of the benefits of FormSmarts payment integration is that we won’t notify you until the person has paid so you don’t have to check this yourself each time. If you have a form allowing both online and offline payments, you won’t know which customers have paid online, so you’ll have to review each and every form response.

For this reason, we recommend that you create a copy of the form specifically for check payments and use the Summary Page setup described in the previous section, especially if there are several charges and fees on the form. You’ll then only have to track payments for entries pertaining to that form. You can make a copy of a form in a click with the Duplicate Form button in the upper right-hand corner of the form builder.

Offering a Check Payment Option on an Online Payment Form

If you are making a simple payment form that has a single payment option, you can alternatively include a check payment option on the form using radio buttons or a dropdown list with two options:

Registration Fee ($30 USD)
Registration Fee (pay by check)

If the user doesn’t select the online payment option, FormSmarts will skip the payment step and send you the form entry immediately.

Note that people paying by check won’t receive any confirmation email.

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About the Form Builder Blog

The Online Form Builder Blog is published by FormSmarts, a web form service providing all you need to create a form and publish it online in minutes. FormSmarts makes it easy to build a form and embed it on your site. You can then get form submissions by email or store them on FormSmarts and download an Excel report. Learn more about the many other benefits of FormSmarts.