Amplitude vs. Mixpanel Use Cases
We regularly recommend either Amplitude or Mixpanel to our clients at McGaw.io. For a solution with robust data controls, we often recommend Amplitude. Mixpanel is great for teams that need a tool that’s easy to integrate and use.
Real Thread is a custom apparel printing company based out of Florida. They approached us with the idea to get more net new customers.
When we took a deeper look at their business, we saw that they were not making the most of their leads because their marketing and sales tools were not properly communicating with each other.
By recommending Amplitude’s free tier, they enabled different tools to talk to each other, and turned hundreds of leads per month into marketing qualified leads (MQL).
For UTM.io, a UTM builder and data governance tool — and our sister company — we use Mixpanel. We already have data instrumentation in place. What we needed was a marketing automation tool that brought data from various tools in the tech stack to one platform.
Mountain Goat Software
Mountain Goat Software is an education company providing certified scrum master and agile training. A large share of their customers’ user path was happening across devices.
We recommended Amplitude because we prefer their identity resolution between anonymous and logged-in user states.
BitFountain grew from 0 to almost $2M in less than 2 years. They had a lot of traffic but were having conversion problems.
We recommended that they use Mixpanel to make data-driven marketing decisions. With Mixpanel, we were able to uncover data that led to a change in brand messaging. We also identified that Facebook was best for nurturing customers and Twitter was best for gaining new users.
Comparing Mixpanel and Amplitude Features
Both Amplitude and Mixpanel are powerful software solutions that have some similar features.
Self-serve Product Analytics Platform
Mixpanel and Amplitude make product analytics available to anyone in the organization. As self-served tools, they give every user real visibility in real time. They’re democratizing data which means anyone who needs insights — whether they’re data analysts or not — will be able to find them without waiting on another person to analyze the data for them.
Both Mixpanel and Amplitude are based on event-based analytics. Unlike Google Analytics (GA), which is session-based, Amplitude and Mixpanel track the actions that individuals take as they engage with your product.
Amplitude’s event-based data structure enriches data using user, user properties, events, event properties, groups, and group properties. The user is the person. The events are the actions that the person takes. Event properties provide more context about events and user properties provide information about the user and/or their device. Groups segment a set of users based on common characteristics which is then enhanced using group properties to help you understand how the group behaves.
Mixpanel’s data structure uses events, user profiles, group profiles, and lookup tables as the foundation for their data analysis. Events are the actions users take. User profiles are details about the user, like their phone number. Group profiles are events applied to an entire group of users. And a lookup table is a unique feature that allows you to enrich event and profile properties with additional data from outside of Mixpanel.
Looking to see how GA4 compares to Amplitude? Read our Amplitude vs. GA4 Comparison: Tracking, UX, Integrations & Pricing article.
User Unification via Identity Resolution
Identity resolution is a key feature in many product analytics platforms. With people accessing your product with various devices, you want to be able to identify a person as one and the same no matter what device they’re using — or even if they’re browsing anonymously.
Below is a diagram of Mixpanel’s identity resolution. Unique IDs are generated multiple times for the same user. When it gathers enough data, Mixpanel runs an algorithm to see if all these data points can be merged to identify one user.
Amplitude’s identity resolution follows the same pattern except they track users using three different IDs: device ID, user ID, and Amplitude ID — a unique ID generated after gathering the device and user IDs. Using these three, they then infer whether a person can be merged into one user based on the activities recorded in these IDs.
At McGaw.io, we prefer Amplitude’s data resolution model as it’s better at merging IDs retroactively. However, Mixpanel is planning to release tool updates in the coming year. It will be interesting to see how their performance compares in the future.
To ensure high-quality data, both platforms have built-in features for data governance — the process of ensuring consistency and data validity by keeping it clean and simple for everyone to understand.
Mixpanel uses an interface called Lexicon. With Lexicon, any person with the right permissions can add and edit events, annotate, or make changes to any property without having a developer do it for them. With Lexicon, you can drop and hide events, as well as merge and tag reports. It also has a data audit feature that suggests changes you can make to optimize data governance.
Amplitude takes data governance seriously. As Ibrahim Bashir, Amplitude’s Vice President for Product Management says, “We fundamentally believe spending time on data management is a job that has to be done. If you don’t want to spend any time thinking about what’s worth tracking and why you’re tracking it, we think that’s a mistake.”
Unlike Mixpanel, Amplitude does not support updating or changing old events. That’s why data instrumentation is central to their philosophy — as it is to us at McGaw.io.
Although you can’t update or change old events in Amplitude, it has a governance feature to help you maintain the integrity of your data. The feature lets you bulk delete or block events and properties, mark an event as active or inactive, or change its visibility. It also helps you make the data taxonomy more accessible to everyone.
Dashboards and Reporting
With just a few clicks, you can customize the dashboards in Mixpanel and Amplitude.
Amplitude’s dashboard is very flexible. You can make your own or modify someone else’s plus add robust filter customizations. You can either filter each widget in the dashboard or filter all widgets at the same time. Amplitude’s dashboard is primarily for showing metrics. If you want to tell a story out of this data, then you use Amplitude Notebooks.
Mixpanel’s dashboard is more than just a dashboard. It’s also a data storytelling interface — like a hybrid of Amplitude’s Notebooks and a dashboard. It’s customizable and allows you to visualize and present data in interesting ways. You can enrich the data with different charts, long-form text, pictures, or videos, so that individuals can convey reports and insights much better.
Integrations for Importing Data
You can start with all new data on both Mixpanel and Amplitude. And if you’ve already got some data from other platforms, that’s doable on both Amplitude and Mixpanel.
You can ingest data through SDK integration, from a CDP, through cloud ingestion, data pipelines, or other business applications.
Collaboration is central to both product analytics platforms.
Every user is given different permissions suitable to their respective roles. This allows individuals to easily share reports, annotate, tell a story, make their own dashboards, and more.
How long it takes to fully implement Mixpanel and Amplitude depends on your resources and the complexity of your product. If you already have a data strategy in place, then this can be quicker. But if you don’t, you’ll still need to plan what events you need to track.
Amplitude states that it typically takes from 1 day to 3 weeks from kickoff to send production data to Amplitude. The first step is data instrumentation training. Then you create the event taxonomy and learn data-tracking best practices. Only after this will you be able to send production data to Amplitude. When this is done, your team undertakes training to learn more about Amplitude’s different features.
Mixpanel states that it takes about 30 minutes to implement a single tracked event in your product but a full implementation can take up to 3 weeks. They also say that most of their clients have a clear roadmap on or before day 10 and are finished by day 40. Their onboarding goes through four phases: The implementation kickoff where you learn about Mixpanel; data planning where you make your tracking plan; the implementation when you send production data, and lastly training on how to make use of your data.
Mixpanel vs. Amplitude: A Few Distinct Differences
As similar as many of Mixpanel and Amplitude’s features are, there are also several key differences.
Both Mixpanel and Amplitude believe data instrumentation is necessary for accurate analysis in use cases such as churn and retention reporting.. However, they approach this in different ways.
For Amplitude, it’s the very foundation of product analytics. Much of their onboarding ensures that you get your data right at the very beginning so that you don’t find yourself working with messy data. They also have their own CDP and have acquired Iteratively for data pipeline development.
Mixpanel, on the other hand, believes this is something you can regulate when you’re already using the tool. You start with a tracking plan during the onboarding but you don’t have to bother with all the metadata at this point. You can correct, append, and modify data, events, and properties as you’re using it.
A/B Testing and Experimentation
Mixpanel’s A/B testing tool helps you test the impact of new features by testing different variants. The tool will help you identify which variant performs better and contributes more highly to an increase in the KPIs you’re tracking.
Amplitude’s Experiment does A/B testing like Mixpanel. And it’s also a feature flagging tool that helps product, engineering, and design teams collaborate in planning, tracking, and analyzing product changes.
Both Amplitude and Mixpanel have three pricing tiers. Each tier varies in cost and included features. Both also have free options as well as scholarship programs.
Mixpanel’s Growth plan starts at $25/month. For the enterprise plan with advanced features such as SAML-based SSO and a customer success manager, you’ll need to contact their sales team.
Their scholarship program gives $50,000 in credits towards the Growth plan for startups that have up to $8M in total funding and are less than 5 years old.
Lastly, although not reflected on their pricing page yet, part of Mixpanel’s roadmap is to be completely transparent with pricing so that you’ll know how much additional features cost without needing to contact sales or negotiate new deals.
Mixpanel and Amplitude are equally great tools. But before deciding which one to get, you’ll need to figure out what’s most important for your organization, and then identify which platform serves your needs the best.
At McGaw.io, that’s one of the things we often do. If you need help choosing between Amplitude or Mixpanel or your marketing tech stack in general — be sure to reach out.
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