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3 Ways to Run ESM / EMA Studies Using Qualtrics

Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) studies are increasingly popular in behavioral and medical sciences. Typically, these studies require using proprietary platforms that are often unfamiliar, limited, and clunky.


In this guide, we'll explore three effective ways to conduct ESM studies directly from your Qualtrics account.


Text Message Links

The simplest way to initiate ESM or EMA studies via Qualtrics is to collect participants' phone numbers and send them WhatsApp messages with a link to your survey. You can generate unique links for each participant to simplify the process, ensuring they do not have to enter their participant ID each time.


  • Cost-effective: There is no additional cost involved if you already have access to participants' phone numbers and can send messages manually.


  • Labor-intensive: Managing this process manually is time-consuming.

  • Error-prone: Manual handling increases the likelihood of errors.

  • Limited tracking capabilities: Without complex setups, it's challenging to track exact response times.

  • One-way communication: Only the survey link is shared; no further information or feedback can be relayed easily.


Qualtrics SMS Notifications

Qualtrics offers an SMS notification feature that automates the sending of survey links via text messages. This feature simplifies the process by reducing the need for manual intervention.


  • Simplicity: Easy to set up within the Qualtrics platform.

  • Automation: Reduces the need for constant manual oversight and minimizes human error.


  • Cost: This is an add-on feature not included in the standard academic license and can become costly depending on the volume of SMS required.

  • Potential system limits: Qualtrics may block multiple daily requests if they are too frequent to prevent spamming respondents.

  • One-way communication: Similar to the first method, it lacks the capability to provide additional information or feedback through SMS.


MindSampler App Integration

MindSampler enhances Qualtrics ESM/EMA capabilities by integrating the survey experience within a dedicated app. This method not only simplifies data collection but also enriches the participant interaction with the study.


  • Ease of use: Automatically integrates data such as participant ID and response times into Qualtrics.

  • Advanced scheduling: Offers both fixed and random scheduling options along with customizable messages.

  • Two-way communication: Enables data flow both ways; participants receive real-time feedback and information.


  • Cost: MindSampler is a premium service, starting at $2,250 per year, which may be a significant investment for some research budgets.


Choosing the right method to run ESM/EMA studies using Qualtrics depends largely on your specific research needs, budget, and available resources. Each method offers distinct advantages and limitations. By considering these factors, you can select the most suitable approach to gather high-quality, real-time data from your participants, enhancing the overall effectiveness and richness of your research outcomes.

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