Google Analytics Vs MixPanel: Who is the Winner?

There is a lot of discussions around Google Analytics vs Mixpanel. Different marketers have different opinions. I also have extensive experience using both of the analytical platforms and here is my opinion:

Planning: Google Analytics vs Mixpanel

Google Analytics

Google Analytics needs almost zero to little planning in terms of basic implementation. However, when it comes to enhanced e-commerce implementation or when we are trying to leverage the advanced features of Google Analytics such as custom dimension or metrics, custom channeling, view settings, sub-domain tracking and other settings along with GTM, it needs a matured planning as well.

Google Analytics admin settings

Some of the advanced GA settings in Admin Panel

MixPanel

Since Mixpanel is an event-based analytics platform, implementation of Mixpanel needs a lot of pre-planning such as brainstorming events flow, User funnel, etc. In short, the implementor should be aware of the entire main events flow of the website. Also, planning takes around 1-2 week followed by implementation and QA takes around another 1-2 weeks.


Google Analytics Vs Mixpanel Tracking

Google Analytics

Google Analytics tracking implementation is pretty quick with just a single snippet of Javascript. Also, Google Analytics Tracking method is more leaned towards tacking based on pageviews based on browser cookies & session ID. It makes Google Analytics a right tool to measure the marketing effort on traffic coming to the website. In one word, Google Analytics is a better tool to analyze data before conversion such as acquisition channels, on-site behavior, Audience, etc.

Also Read:   Create Remarketing Audience Based on Event Clicks & Goals in Google Analytics

MixPanel Tracking

An Event in Mixpanel

An Event snippet in Mixpanel

MixPanel comes with a set of core library where each event is defined using javascript functions such as button click, video play, doc download, etc. We can say that Mixpanel starts where Google Analytics leaves off. Mixpanel is the right tool to analyze data after conversion such as retention rate, purchasing audience behavior, etc. You can even connect CRM with Mixpanel and track individual user behavior which Google Analytics does not allow.


Web Vs Product Use Case

Google Analytics Web Analytics

If most of the actions happen on your website then, Google Analytics is the right tool for you. For example, for an eCommerce business, Google Analytics is the right tool as you can measure your online marketing effort across channels and study the audience interaction and purchasing behavior easily. You can also easily study product performance and product group performance in Google Analytics.

Mixpanel Product Analytics

If you are SAAS company or you have a product to market then Mixpanel might be the right platform for you. Using Mixpanel in this case, you can make a lot of post-conversion data-driven decisions.

Post conversion events view in Mixpanel

Post conversion events view in Mixpanel


Dynamic Funnel

Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, you cannot define a funnel on the fly. Each time you have to define a funnel through a goal. It even becomes harder to define event-based funnel in Google Analytics since Google Analytics’ basic tracking is based on tracking page views. If you want to iterate different steps in the funnel at different positions, you have to redefine the funnel again.

Mixpanel Funnel

Mixpanel provides funnel on the fly functionality. Since all the events have already been defined while MixPanel implementation, you simply need to select the subsequent events in the sequence in order to create a funnel and analyze the performance. There could be multiple funnels in this case. For example, sign-ups to free trial, free trial to free 15 days trial, the free trial to one month paid and a lot more complexity can be easily tackled in Mixpanel to study the behavior of the lead compared to Google Analytics.

Defining a funnel in MixPanel is much easier

Defining a funnel in MixPanel is much easier


Cross-Platform Tracking

Google Analytics Cookies

All the online Google properties including Google Analytics and Google Ads remarketing tag uses browser cookies to create a unique client ID. Thus, Google Analytics often fails in cross-device tracking when a user switches a device from desktop to mobile. Also, Google Analytics offers you the option of User Explorer but you cannot know more about the individual behavior of a user.

User Explorer Google Analytics

User Explorer Google Analytics

MixPanel User ID

Mixpanel’s tracking is also user-centric so you can track the user behavior cross-device better with Mixpanel compared to Google Analytics.

Also Read:   SubDomain Tracking Implementation in Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager

Cohorts: MixPanel vs Google Analytics

MixPanel Retention

MixPanel Beats Google Analytics very badly in terms of Retention analysis. Some of the features which are available in the MixPanel for Retention or Cohort analysis but not available in Google Analytics are

  • Retention analysis based on hundreds of events
  • Retention analysis of users based on their time of visit such as returning, most engaging or first-timers, etc.
  • Retention calculation over a period of time
MixPanel Cohort Analysis screenshot

MixPanel Cohort Analysis screenshot

Google Analytics Cohort

Google Analytics offers only four attributes based on which you can do the Cohort analysis. On top of that, Google Analytics Cohort analysis is still in the Beta mode in Google Analytics.

  • Cohort Type: Acquisition date
  • Cohort size: Sample audience size by day/ week/ month
  • Metric: Retention, Revenue, Users, Transactions, etc.
  • Date Range
GA Cohort Analysis Attributes

GA Cohort Analysis Attributes


Conversion Attribution Modelling

Google Analytics Attribution

If you are an E-commerce company or small business and you want to measure the impact of your all-around marketing effort, Google analytics is the right platform in attributing your marketing effort to different channels. On top of that Google Analytics also offers,
  • Assisted conversion analysis based on different interaction types
  • attribution modeling based on custom channel definition
  • Multi-Channel Funnel Path Analysis
  • Source & Medium Analysis etc.
Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnel Analysis

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnel Analysis

MixPanel Attribution

MixPanel is also capable of attribution modeling but its capacity is very limited. Most of the marketing efforts are based on events and every marketing effort needs to be tagged in terms of events which makes it kind of fuzzy to track the entire attribution effort.

Also Read:   Track Wordpress Author Stats: Implement Custom Dimension in GA using GTM

Data Segmentation

Google Analytics

There are a lot of ways in which data can be segmented in Google Analytics. However, most of the segmented data are pre-conversion data such as segments available in Google Analytics are

  • Demographics
  • Technology
  • Behavior
  • Source
  • ECommerce Behaviour etc.

If you want to segment post-conversion data, you might have to define those actions as events and maybe, further as a goal in Google Analytics in order to create as many segments.

MixPanel Segmentation

Mixpanel offers on-the-fly segmentation. It is easy to create segments in Mixpanel compared to Google Analytics where the steps are really lengthy. Also, post-conversion segments are easier in MixPanel compared to Google Analytics.


User Flow: GA vs MixPanel

Google Analytics User Flow

Google Analytics user flow is based on page views. You can see the user interactions with respect to page views. Like I said before, Google Analytics is a good tool to know more about your pre-conversion data. And in case of user flow, you can study the user flow based on acquisition, demographics, geographics and other behavioral attributes.

User Flow in Google Analytics based on Browser

User Flow in Google Analytics based on Browser

Flows in MixPanel

You can define Flows in MixPanel based on events. You can easily select a segment and time frame to analyze the users’ behavior.

Flows in MixPanel

Flows in MixPanel


Who is the Winner?

If you have the option of selecting between Google Analytics vs Mixpanel then,

Choose Google Analytics if

  • You are a small business
  • You want to know more about your marketing effort
  • You are interested in website traffic and other acquisition attributes
  • You do not want the advanced analysis of your data

Choose MixPanel if

  • You are a SAAS company or a Product company or a company with a product/ service with multiple funnels and conversion steps
  • You have a developer capacity to implement MixPanel across the site
  • You are interested in knowing about your leads behavior post-conversion

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