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  • Writer's pictureYogesh Jain

What is Mixpanel? 4 Best Practices and 5 Alternatives

Updated: Mar 26

Measuring and analyzing metrics is the only way to achieve marketing success, one that requires a lot of patience and skill. However, number crunching is no longer a prerequisite to studying metrics with the help of Mixpanel. While Google Analytics is the popular option for analytics, Mixpanel is a newer platform that performs well on the limitations that Google Analytics has.

Google Analytics works on page-view statistics while Mixpanel has carved out a space for itself with its event tracking (action a user takes) functionalities. Mixpanel has proved to be an innovation with its visual metric analysis and user-defined events. The platform also lets you communicate with your users via a notification (email and in-app).

Mixpanel is not only a powerful tool, but it also lets you see data in real-time and provides metrics in a visual format that is easy to understand and study. It aids in customer retention and helps boost product engagement. 

While Mixpanel is effective in bringing tremendous impact to your business, it can be a spot difficult to use initially. There are so many functionalities and tools, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and confused.

Mixpanel App Analytics Dashboard

Here are 4 best practices of Mixpanel that will help you become an expert in no time.

1. Start small:

Mixpanel has hundreds of properties and functionalities. That can get overwhelming, ‌easily and quickly. Start with implementing a few metrics on your dashboard. The platform packs a powerful punch with its visualization of data, hence using a few metrics, in the beginning, can pay off. Another plus point of having just a few metrics is that you can focus on learning about the various services and functionalities the platform provides. And monitor important metrics without getting distracted by unimportant data.

Having a few metrics means that you can easily manage your numbers and analysis. You can start deciding on actions that pertain to your business from the get-go without spending too much time getting the hang of the platform. This way Mixpanel provides values from the start and improves on it the more you use other functionalities.

You can start small by adding an important or frequently used process. Like sign-ups, downloads, subscriptions to newsletters, etc. This way, you can monitor for any discrepancies and fix them as they come before you scale up to include all your processes. If all goes well in the first few steps, then it becomes easy for you to add other business processes to the platform. 

2. Use properties:

Properties are the attributes of an event. Simply put, they are the details that pertain to the event. Mixpanel records all properties or attributes of an event. For example, if a user were to make a purchase on the brand app. The details of the purchase (revenue, product) and details about the user (age, sex, geographical area) get recorded in a database.

Mixpanel segregates its recorded properties into three categories:

  1. Event-specific properties (revenue generated, products purchased, sign-ups)

  2. User-specific (age, sex, location)

  3. Profile specific (individual user and group profiles)

All user-specific data is stored on the user's mobile/laptop or the web (cookies). Whereas, all event-specific data is stored in the Mixpanel database. With these datasets, you can analyze different intersected segments of various events. Reporting and analyzing may become a little complex. However, if you use it correctly, you can bring a tremendous impact to your analytics.

Event properties can also include Super Properties. Super Properties are a type of event property that is automatically linked to an event after registration. For example, if the software allots a user a referral ID, you can track the action that led them to sign up. Over time, you can see what actions were the tipping point for a segment of the demographic. Be careful when defining super properties so that you don't compromise performance since the user data is saved in the user's cookies (cookies may become too large).

3. Be cautious when naming:

You need to define events and properties in Mixpanel, so you will also name them. The platform won't allow you to use the same name for different events or properties, so as not to get confused between different events in different processes. For example, you have two sign-up events: sign-up for a newsletter event and sign-up for a service event. You can't name both of them as “sign-up” for very obvious reasons.

When you are testing running the platform with few metrics, you will need to name them carefully. Your testing metrics and product metrics can not have the same name. You can name the test metrics as “1Service_test'' and the actual product metric as “1Service_Product''. This way, there is no confusion between test data and actual data.

Use easy-to-read and understand names for your events and properties so that anyone can easily uncertain them. You can use spaces instead of underscores, and text instead of numbers. The platform also allows the usage of assign symbols and numbers, however, it will take your team members time to memorize the numerical id for an event. By assigning text names to events and properties, it becomes easier to remember them.

4. Unique IDs and tracking:

The platform assigns each user a distinct_id, which tracks all the actions across devices that are performed by a user and links them to the Mixpanel database for analysis. Mixpanel treats the “distinct_id” as a property of an event on the platform, and each event has one.

It is one of the most important properties in Mixpanel and it lets you know the degree of uniqueness across all your reports. Each “distinct_id” is unique, and every event recorded by Mixpanel has the ID. 

You can change the name of this “distinct_id” on the platform, however, it can become cumbersome sometimes. Changes in username or email addresses do not affect the database that is assigned to “distinct_id”. 

There are two options for “distinct_id”. You can either let the platform handle the property for you or you can control the property yourself. You can set the property to the category you want to use using the identify method.

The libraries that contain client-side operations perform this assigning of a distinct_id. It happens automatically when a user uses a website or an app that is integrated with Mixpanel. It helps keep track of the user through various channels and actions performed by that user on every platform that has Mixpanel.

If a user does not have a distinct_id (for any reason), the platform uses "ip" property. The value of “ip” will ‌determine uniqueness in the absence of a distinct_id.

Mixpanel Alternatives

It is a customer retention platform that includes functionalities like action tracking and product usage analysis. Mixpanel's main selling point is that it integrates app analytics with marketing to help you boost engagement by altering your marketing strategies with insights into customer behaviors. It lets you track data across different channels for insights into user behavior so that you can improve your customer retention strategies for specific demographic segments.

It tracks users' data with user behavior like sign-ups, videos played or products lurched and provides teams with the data for monitoring of online behaviors of customers with just a few clicks. The platform also includes notifications across emails, in-app platforms, and social media, among many other platforms. This makes it easy to push notifications across channels simultaneously.

CleverTap uses berries and SDKs to collect customer data for your product and you will have to create a plan for it. While most marketing functionalities don't require a lot of code after their implementation, you will need SDK installed quickly. With the employment of SDK, you can set personalized campaigns based on events that your customers trigger. This can improve customer retention and engagement.

2. Adjust:

With Adjust, you can define events that work for your conversion goals. You can create unlimited events and apply filters over various parameters to dive into user behavior and actions. With cohort analysis, you can zero in on trends and patterns and identify specific user behavior for certain segments. With KPIs in cohort analysis, you can easily understand key facets of user interaction, customer retention, and event conversion. These KPIs aid in complete product analysis and help in providing insight into the complex questions asked.

Since retention is important for any business, Adjust automatically calculates LTV for each customer in each cohort. This helps you optimize for user experience, retention rates, and conversion. The platform uses an “engagement lifespan” metric that tracks actions made by the user that provides insight into user trends. You can use this information to improve your app and its interface and functions.

Such metrics can help highlight hotspots in your app and the place where users stop using your product. This lets you know where you are losing engagement and users, letting you know of common issues in your products. Adjust has a Fraud Prevention Suit that actively blocks all fraudulent activity to safeguard your product and Unbotify that secures your bot activity from fraud.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is by far the most popular analytics platform, used by all the big names in most industries. There are a lot of plus points that work for Google Analytics, a few of them are:

  1. It's free (with a paid version)

  2. It provides real-time data

  3. It is very easy to set up and use

  4. You can customize your reports

  5. It is an industry standard and updates regularly 

Google Analytics is a reporting platform that has powerful tools that can shape the way to understand your users and their interactions with your product. You can filter for parameters and decide what metrics you see. This makes it easier to track important numbers and identify trends and patterns in your data.

You can use Google Analytics across various channels like the web and mobile applications. The platform allows you to link user behavior on the mobile app and websites to your marketing data to identify where your customers are coming from and what action they are performing. With Google Analytics, you can get a complete overview of your user segment and your marketing strategies across devices and channels.

To make the most of Google Analytics, you will need to have intermediate knowledge of analytics. Learning the platform is time-consuming and difficult, especially for a rookie user. Because of the sheer number of functionalities, it is very easy to get overwhelmed with the tools and functions.

4. Piwik Pro

This is an analytics platform that is open source and free (with an enterprise paid version available). Piwik tracks user actions across pay forms and analyzes the data. The platform provides information efficiently that is easy to read and understand. It provides insight into how successful certain tactics and strategies are.

Piwik provides insight into how your users interact with your products, what geographic area they are from, the source (websites, social media, etc.), what actions they took on that platform, and the duration of the visions (among a few).

The dashboard is customizable and you can add or remove metrics according to what goals you have. It displays all data visually with charts and graphs, making it easy for you to get an overview of your data as a glimpse.

It's a privacy-centric alternative to Google Analytics, and it is much easier to use compared to Google Analytics. The platform has a ‌straightforward intricate that is easy to understand and use. They store all data in compliance with EU and US data protection laws. Piwik also supports a plethora of languages: German, English, and French.

5. Heap

Heap is a visual analytics tool that has a low-code implementation, removing any need for engineers or analysts. It enables event tracking across platforms, websites, and mobile apps. The platform records every touchpoint a user goes through and every action a user performs across various channels to provide a complete data set on the user's journey with no tracking code or user tag.

Heap provides insight into every page visit, duration of page visit, sign up, and tracks all actions taken by a user automatically with no additional code. The platform has a very simple user interface that you can navigate with a few clicks. Heap defines all active users and user segments so that you can analyze all the data in categories. You can access individual users' journeys through your platforms and analyze how they interact with them. The platform applies a defined action ex post facto. Meaning that if you define an event (say “like a blog”) today, you will view the past years' data for the same event.

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