IPL Webinar: Low-Cost, Automated WhatsApp Surveys

Join IPL at Stanford and our partners from Mercy Corps and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service for a live webinar presenting a new way to use WhatsApp for surveys. 

We’ll introduce our WhatsApp survey methodology, along with a live demonstration of the experience for respondents as well as the researchers receiving the data. Presenters also will share results of WhatsApp panel surveys with 1,000 resettled refugees in the United States and 2,500 Venezuelan refugees in Colombia—at an average cost of $1.43 per completed 22-question survey. Participants will get early access to our how-to manual.

October 21, 8 am PT / 11 am ET
Register here:
WhatsApp Webinar Registration
Interested in a more technical, step-by-step guide to the process? We have another webinar for you.

Join us for an in-depth, how-to workshop on October 28, 8 am PT / 11 am ET

In this workshop, we’ll address best practices for setting up survey logic within WhatsApp, as well as data collection and monitoring systems. This session is recommended for practitioners and researchers who are interested in implementing this methodology, but please note that a technical background or prior survey experience is not a prerequisite to set up this survey approach. Prior experience with JSON is advantageous but not required. Please feel free to submit questions in advance that the research team can address during the workshop.

Register here for the technical workshop:
WhatsApp Technical Workshop Registration

Having trouble with the registration form? Please contact Amy Cui:

*We will send a sample WhatsApp survey two hours before each webinar. If you’d like to receive it and see what it’s like to complete a survey via WhatsApp, please provide your WhatsApp number. This is not a requirement for either webinar. 

About the Project

Surveys are an indispensable part of many research projects, whether the goal is academic knowledge or outreach to a business or nonprofit’s clients. But traditional survey methods can be expensive and time-consuming, and they don’t always deliver enough meaningful data. IPL researchers wanted a solution that would be budget-friendly, easy to deploy quickly, and reliable over time even when respondents move or travel between countries.

We found that solution in WhatsApp, which can deliver surveys to respondents’ mobile phones in the form of automated text messages. In partnership with Mercy Corps and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), IPL developed a new survey system that uses the WhatsApp Business API, Twilio (a web service API communications platform) and Google systems.

Contacting clients and research participants over WhatsApp provides benefits to both users and researchers. With more than 2 billion monthly users worldwide, the WhatsApp platform is already familiar to many participants, accessible over WiFi or cellular data, and can minimize respondent attrition, since WhatsApp numbers often stay the same even if they move to new places and change SIM cards.

Funding for this project was provided by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, awarded through Innovation for Poverty Action’s Peace & Recovery Program.





Jennifer Fei
Program Manager
Immigration Policy Lab


Jessica Wolff
Program Manager
Immigration Policy Lab


Beza Tesfaye
Director of Research and Learning, Migration and Climate Change
Mercy Corps


Laura Wagner
Program Manager for Integration
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service