KISSmetrics vs Mixpanel

While trying to decide on KISSmetrics or Mixpanel, I decided to write a blog post about it since I’m guessing other people are asking the same question. I am not in any way affiliated to either of them.

Analytics Impact is all about converting data into actionable insights. Though in order to order to find good insights you need to have the right data and be able to easily slice and dice the data as needed.

Google analytics can usually give you 90% of the “right data” for most sites, but it has a few major shortcomings that truly limit it when trying to use it to gain insight for a SaaS site.

  • It does not allow you to track data down to the individual visitor across visits
  • It doesn’t have time based cohort analysis

As I am now in charge of a SaaS site, I found myself needing answers to questions Google Analytics just couldn’t answer. I know there are free add-ons and work-arounds that could handle most of my needs just with Google Analytics, but I would rather pay a reasonable monthly fee than spend hours gluing everything together, and even then I wouldn’t have an easy to use reporting solution. I know because I’ve done it in the past.

What I need is a system to fully understand what visitors are doing on my website and then continue to track them when they sign up for a free account and ultimately become customers. Once they are customers I need to understand how they are using my SaaS site (what features they are or aren’t using) and why we lose customers.

I’ve been using web analytics for a while (even before Urchin became Google Analytics) so I already knew what my shortlist was for my needs:

KISSmetrics or Mixpanel

Let me start by saying that both of them are excellent choices. Neither is “better” in the absolute sense, but I need to decide on one or the other so I started looking deeper into which one would better meet my needs.

I found an excellent blog posting on this exact topic by Sacha Greif http://sachagreif.com/analytics-showdown-kissmetrics-vs-mixpanel/

A great read but with one major problem. It’s from March 2012. I know that’s just 8 months ago, but a lot has changed since then.

Here’s a request for both KISSmetrics and Mixpanel. Please provide a simple “changes.txt” type page that easily shows me what’s changed over time. That way if I read an old product review (like this one will be in a year) I’ll be able to easily see what’s changed. Mixpanel kinda has something like this for major changes on their about page.

Back to the comparison. I personally don’t need real-time data so I’m fine with KISSmetrics not being real time (though debugging can be a pain).

Since I really need to easily be able to look at individual user history I was originally leaning towards KISSmetrics as I thought Mixpanel doesn’t support this feature. I shortly found they do but only introduced the feature in July 2012 as a paid add-on.

I wonder why the “people feature”  https://mixpanel.com/people/ isn’t linked from the main site. If anything it makes the pricing page a bit confusing since they talk about the people plan add-on but don’t provide any further details.

As an ex-coder I must say the online documentation for KISSmetrics seems more comprehensive than the Mixpanel documentation. I was also surprised that Mixpanel doesn’t even link to their documentation from the main site (it’s at https://mixpanel.com/docs/ ). KISSmetrics has it linked from the footer at http://support.kissmetrics.com/

Next I wanted to look more into revenue reporting. I’m guessing that you can store revenue just like any other number in Mixpanel, though I’m a bit concerned that revenue isn’t mentioned anywhere on their site or their docs (I searched).

KISSmetrics on the other hand talks about lifetime value on their homepage and even has a revenue report as I found in their docs.

At this point I was just about to go with KISSmetrics when I stumbled across Mixpanel’s new Engage feature: http://blog.mixpanel.com/2012/10/19/insights-are-just-the-start/ Basically you can now send targeted emails or notifications with Mixpanel’s targeting criteria.

This is the kind of feature that was science fiction (for an analytics service) a few years ago. It’s interesting to see analytics and marketing automation services like Marketo or Eloqua really start to overlap.

I’m betting than in a few years we’ll see content targeting as an additional feature so you’ll also be able to easily show dynamic based on user behavior (though this has existed for a while as stand-alone products)

BTW, I came across https://www.klaviyo.com/ which seems to be very similar to Mixpanel and KISSmetrics though it heavily promotes their email integration as one of the main features (rightfully so). They are pretty new (April 2012) but I’d keep an eye on them.

I also wanted to mention http://customer.io/ which seems like a no-brainer if all you want is very smartly targeted emails.

UPDATE:

I just wanted to include some other services that look interesting and worth looking into for SaaS based analytics:

http://totango.com looks interesting as well. It’s laser focused on SaaS sites which I like. Very strong in natively identifying the type of real world data I’d want to look at (ie customers at risk of leaving). It does seem a bit behind in terms of reporting (I didn’t see any time based cohort analysis). Also no pricing info on their site though they were very responsive when I contacted them (a good indicator that they value good customer service).

I’d love to hear your thoughts – KISSmetrics or Mixpanel and why!

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About Ophir Prusak

Web Analytics and Optimization Expert

22 Responses to “KISSmetrics vs Mixpanel”

  1. Great article and timely for us at MODX. Have you looked at http://www.getvero.com/ yet?

  2. Thank you – excellent post. I’m still trying to decide on whether to use Mixpanel or Kissmetrics (and before stumbling upon this, I also noticed Klavyio and customer.io). So many tools, so little time, right? :)

    Both KM and MP has some powerful feature and for now I’ve decided to give them both a go. I might even add Klavyio to the mix :)

  3. Hi Ophir,

    Hopefully both companies will read & take on board the +/- ‘s contained within the article. One really important additional element between these two that has not been mentioned is the level of Customer Support. Having been through a similar evaluation process a few months ago, one of these vendors went the extra mile to ensure successful adoption. This is potentially an area of further investigation for interested parties and potential customers. Thanks for the post, they always make great reading.

  4. unbiased product evaluation based on business requirements is probably the better option :)

  5. Thanks for the write-up Ophir. We are definitely keeping track of your feedback and appreciate it.

    Anyone considering us should really give us a try. We try to make our sign up process as simple as possible so anyone can just jump in and experience the product first-hand. Not to mention you can keep using us for free by adding a badge: https://mixpanel.com/free/

    Best,

    Aaron
    Marketing @ Mixpanel

  6. Hey Ophir, Colin from Customer.io here. We’re flattered you mentioned our little company. Not sure when you checked us out but we just rolled some support to manage transactional email and send targeted newsletters. People are really enjoying all the new stuff they can do.

    One other thing to mention is Analytics.js, a cool package by our friends at Segment.io http://segmentio.github.com/analytics.js/ . It makes it easier to try out different services after doing a single integration.

  7. Pedro Gairifo Santos Reply February 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Ophir,

    I’m a huge fan of Kissmetrics but the email integration is missing so I’ve looked around for services that can add that feature in and come across this one: http://www.kissfollowup.com . Customer.io also seems a cool tool. Will check it out.

    Best

    • Hi Pedro,

      Kissfollowup.com sounds interesting. I just checked out the URL and the page seems a bit broken (I’m guessing it’s still early beta). Do you have any relationship to them?

      • Hi Ophir,

        At the time I wrote the comment, I had no relation with kissfollowup but since then my company took over development for it as it was still in early beta and the (then) team stopped developing it. It’s now much more advanced and we changed the name to userfollowup (by Kissmetrics request). You can now go to userfollowup.com and test it out. It would be great to have your opinion on it.

  8. Ophir,

    Have you had experience of services like Eloqua? What’s the difference between that and services like KissMetrics or Mixpanel. It seems to me that if Kissmetrics is the bigger more functional brother of Analytics, then Eloqua is the biggest brother? or am I totally off base?

    Thanks

    • Hi Gavin

      There is a bit of overlap, but you’re talking about totally different animals.

      KISSmetrics and Mixpanel are mostly about:
      MEASURING what your users are DOING

      Think of it as Google Analytics, but instead of just just “visitors” who get to see who is actually doing what.
      For example, how many people who signed up for my free trial actually used feature X, and then feature Y and then converted to a paid customer (and who are they).

      Eloqua (and Marketo / Pardot / Hubspot, etc) are mostly about:
      Converting visitors to leads and leads to customers.

      They are also called marketing automation software. Basically, it helps you create rules which can automate your communication with potential customers.

      For example, send an email to everyone who signed up for last months webinar and didn’t do X with a special promo offer.

      Mixpanel does now have some automated messaging capabilities which makes them a bit of a hybrid.

      Also, pricing is drastically different.
      KISSmetrics starts at $49 a month.
      Eloqua start at $1,000 (I think).

      Thanks
      Ophir

  9. What would you recommend for an Ecommerce business? More specifically niche Ecomm. Why I mention that is these are fairly “unique” purchases. What we need help with is nudging a customer to purchase after an initial visit. Lastly, we rarely get repeat customers (because of the “uniqueness”), but do have similar products on different niche sites that may be relevant. For examples, a store that sells hiking boots, a different store that sells running shows, and another store that sells sandals.

  10. Great article. Would you be interested in doing a review of NudgeSpot.com?

  11. Hi Ophir – it’s been years since we talked and I just came across your post while trying to decide between KISSmetrics and MixPanel to use on BitsDuJour.com. Interesting read!

  12. Which company has a landing page that converts better – KISSmetrics or Mixpanel?
    http://www.skillsin.com/blog/?p=394

  13. Which one did you end up going with?

  14. Great article. We are currently considering changing from KISSmetrics to MixPanel or another service and are currently trying to weigh the options. KISSmetrics has kind of disappointed us. The two of the main complaints we have about it is that for most of the easy reusable analytics such as funnels you don’t have much control over customizing the options. For example if you want to have a funnel where two different events qualify users to enter the funnel you have to have two different funnels or rework the events to be the same. MixPanel looks like it offers more of a mysql style options but, I’m not sure how universal that is for every feature. MixPanel’s api processing also seems very useful where for kissmetrics if you want to use the data you have to export it as json strings on a daily basis where for mixpanel it seems you can make api calls.

    • Hi Ryan,

      I too are considering Mixpanel or Kissmetrics. Can I ask… do you have a Kissmetrics account that includes power reports?

      Thanks, Kylie

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Saas Foundry | Should you stick with Google Analytics for your SaaS? - October 15, 2013

    […] Kissmetrics’s most direct competitor. You’ll most likely compare Mixpanel VS Kissmetrics, so check out these blog posts: Analytics showdown Kissmetrics VS Mixpanel by Sacha Greif, and Kissmetrics VS Mixpanel from Analytics Impact. […]

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