Top 5 MTurk Survey Participant Recruitment Alternatives: Prolific, Pollfish, Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, and Cint

If you‘re looking for alternatives to Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) for recruiting high-quality survey respondents, the top options include Prolific, Pollfish, Qualtrics Panel, SurveyMonkey Audience, and Cint. Each platform provides access to large, specialized participant pools with advanced targeting and quality assurance capabilities that exceed Mechanical Turk‘s offerings.

In this post, we‘ll compare the pros and cons of these 5 MTurk alternatives for your survey research.

First, let‘s recap the potential challenges with using MTurk that alternative panels can help overcome:

  • Up to 10% of responses could be low-quality or fraudulent
  • Many workers are professional survey takers, introducing bias
  • Can‘t screen on detailed demographic/psychographic criteria
  • Completion rates typically only 75% vs. 85-95% on other panels
  • Lack of mobile respondent options

Now let‘s dive into how the top 5 alternatives stack up.

Prolific – Robust Targeting and High Data Quality

Prolific is an online survey panel built specifically for academic research. Some of the key benefits:

  • 100,000+ active prescreened participants available globally
  • Average 90% survey completion rate, higher than MTurk‘s 75%
  • Can screen and target participants based on 100+ demographic criteria
  • Enforces a minimum pay rate of $6.50/hr for ethical compensation
  • Offers features like attention/comprehension checks for data quality

This Results in higher quality, more valid survey data:

Chart showing Prolific has higher data quality than MTurk

Data quality benchmarking – source: Peer et al. (2012)

Prolific also has a mobile app, which MTurk lacks. The detailed targeting and quality assurance measures ensure you get reliable insights from motivated respondents.

Downsides are that costs can be higher, and respondents skewed towards Europe. But for rigorous survey research, Prolific is hard to beat.

Pollfish – Access Responsive Mobile Users

Pollfish delivers surveys via mobile apps, letting you easily reach smartphone/tablet users.

  • 11M+ global survey takers
  • Average 70%+ completion rates
  • Target by basic demographics and mobile behavior signals
  • Sophisticated fraud detection analyses 400+ data points

Pollfish is great for reaching mobile-first audiences like millennials and Gen Z:

Chart showing Pollfish's mobile audience skews young

Pollfish user demographics – source: Pollfish

The mobile rewards-based approach also boosts motivation and engagement levels. Just keep in mind the audience less likely to take surveys on computers.

Qualtrics – Deep Profiling for Precise Targeting

Qualtrics offers both do-it-yourself survey building and managed survey panels. Their panel offering gives you access to:

  • 20M+ global panelists
  • 95%+ completion rates
  • Real-time access to respondents
  • Target by deep psychographics like personality traits and values

This enables precise targeting and insights. For example, you could target respondents who are:

  • Early tech adopters
  • Environmentally conscious
  • Price sensitive
  • And 100s of other trait combinations

Qualtrics panels do come at a premium price point given the depth of profiling data available. But for advanced targeting needs, it‘s unmatched.

SurveyMonkey – Charitable Participants for Cost Savings

The SurveyMonkey Audience panel attracts participants by donating to charity each time they complete a survey. This results in:

  • 75M+ panelists
  • Lower costs than premium panels
  • More altruistic respondent base

It‘s best for basic surveys where you just need general population feedback vs. hard-to-reach audiences. Limits are fewer profiling options and lack of mobile support. But for affordable, fast feedback the charitable reward model works well.

Cint – Massive Global Reach and Expert Support

Cint consolidates many panel providers into a 100M+ respondent pool spanning 100+ countries.

  • Highest quality respondents
  • Blocks participants from re-taking surveys
  • Managed end-to-end by analytics specialists

Cint offers enterprise-grade capabilities like translation services for global research:

Cint's panel reach spans the globe

Cint‘s global panel footprint – source: Cint

As a premium solution, costs are higher. But for enterprise survey research across borders, Cint is extremely powerful.

When Does MTurk Still Make Sense?

Despite the perks of alternatives, MTurk can still be a viable survey source for:

  • Very short, simple surveys
  • Tight budget constraints
  • Need participants instantly
  • Don‘t require hard-to-find audiences

Just be sure to combine it with quality checks. MTurk works best when speed and cost trump all else. But for most robust research needs, the 5 alternatives above will yield cleaner insights.

Find the Right Blend of Participant Sources

Every survey panel comes with advantages and limitations around cost, targeting, response quality and more. The best approach is blending panels to capitalize on the strengths of each based on your study needs. MTurk can still fill a role – when used carefully. But the 5 alternatives highlighted provide access to more profiled, engaged respondents to drive higher quality outcomes.

With the right survey sources and validation measures in place, you can feel confident in the insights and business decisions driven by your research. Reach out if we can help advise on the best participant recruitment strategy for your next survey project.

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