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.
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!