Analytics · Mixpanel

Why ever go Mixpanel over Google Analytics?

Caleb Garling Writer

March 18th, 2015

Our tool lets users quickly publish content to the web and we want to analyze where in the creation process people drop off. So far I've found zero reasons why we'd use MixPanel over Google Analytics. Yet so many people talk about them! Are there MP fans out there that can explain why? I haven't found anything MP can do that GA can't -- and they're free. Just want to the best tool possible for analyzing dropoff points but need to understand what I'm missing

Valerie Lanard Senior Software Engineering Manager at Salesforce

March 18th, 2015

I am a huge Mixpanel fan!
Do you remember Microsoft Word/Excel like 10 years ago when you could find any item in a menu or toolbar right where you expected it to be, every time, versus now?

Mixpanel doesn't require a degree in rocket science because it isn't everything for everybody. The interface is clean, wonderful. The support is INCREDIBLE. I have never paid them a cent, yet they give 5-star service and attention whenever I have a question. They send me sample scripts for their APIs, which I use quite heavily to pull data.

I had previously used GA about 3.5 years ago and felt it was just not user friendly enough. I actually recently added it back, side by side with Mixpanel, and I'm very happy. GA has made some improvements to the UI. But it is still WAY too complicated. It's a burden and I always feel like I'm missing things in their UI because it's just too complicated.

I love the simplicity of Mixpanel. The funnel tracking is excellent. The way they let you add any arbitrary number of properties to any record then slice and dice by that. LOVE that. The People feature that lets you see historic data per user is fantastic.

I have different Mixpanel keys for different environments (one for dev, on for staging, one for production, etc) that automatically silo my data into different buckets in their system and UI. I never worry my test data will show up in production. With GA, all the data goes to one place and it's up to you to segment it out. Mixpanel also has a "Live" feed that is truly real-time. I check that probably the most of anything on their site. I'll check immediate effects of an ad, or an update I rolled out. Sometimes I'll use it to look for a downtime window to run a quick update on the server.

So why did I add GA? Because Mixpanel doesn't have everything. It doesn't automatically give some key metrics like visitor time on page, bounce rate, sample user queries. I got really far without these, but they are pretty critical as a piece of the puzzle.
I would recommend Mixpanel in a heartbeat.

Hope that's helpful. :-)

Caleb Garling Writer

March 18th, 2015

Thanks Rachel. That thread is two years old and products change.

Valerie, that was really helpful. Thank you! I think we're heading in the direction you're describing -- having both -- but just wanted to understand if folks had compelling reasons for just going with one or the other.

Matthew Himelstein I love to build teams and solve problems

March 19th, 2015

When I chose mixpanel, it was over flurry - Google still hadn't launched their mobile analytics offering yet.

At the core, mixpanel uses events vs. pageviews to understand the data you're getting. So for funnel conversion, this is slightly better since you are counting the click/tap events that take you to the next step, vs. looking at page A and page B and then deducing the conversion %. But not earth-shattering different. 

But what mixpanel does that I haven't seen anyone else do is have a "People" tab where I can see the data history of each registered user. Since we were dealing with real-money transactions, this was incredibly important. 

Hope that helps


Nurkan Kirkan co-founder | rakam (500 startups b21)

June 9th, 2017

Mixpanel is one of the first and probably the leading event analytics solution in the SaaS market. They collect data with their SDKs from your clients and allow you analyse your data with a simple user interface. We also have the similar flow for data ingestion, you can use our SDKs or API directly in order the send the event data and similar to Mixpanel, we provide segmentation (event explorer), funnel, retention, explore (user attribution) and insight (user drill down) features.

Mixpanel stores the data as you sent in their data warehouse and provides you a set of features to analye your data but we enrich your data, sanitize it depending on what you need and store it in your data warehouse for you and allow you to run both high level features similar to Mixpanel and also any kind of complex analytic queries on your event dataset.

Mixpanel released a feature that allows you to run your custom queries with Javascript and called the feature JQL. They have some arguments about using SQL and prefer Javascript as query language. Since most of their customers have small or medium data volume size and their data is unstructured, it may work just fine for them but for larger data-sets, we think that SQL is still the best solution for analytics queries.

Mixpanel uses their in-house database to store the event data. AFAIK, it’s JSON based and in-memory. Since JSON occupies much more space than columnar storage types and memory is expensive, their price is expensive even for other SaaS services and also it doesn’t do ETL, it stores the events you sent. Mixpanel doesn’t let you to visualize the data returned from your custom query in a chart that you want, it has pre-defined reports, allow you to change the parameters and it automatically updates the charts depending on the parameters you selected.

And you cant almost do none of them through Google Analytics as well as if you're not paying per year +150K to them :)