Why marketers should choose Mixpanel over Google Analytics 4 (GA4) - Mixpanel
Why marketers should choose Mixpanel over Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
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Why marketers should choose Mixpanel over Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

Last edited: May 11, 2023 Published: May 8, 2023
Neha Nathan Product Manager @ Mixpanel

Growing a digital product and company is a multi-team sport. For marketing teams focused on getting more user traffic and signups, Google Analytics has been the tool of choice. But with customers spending more time researching and buying online, websites and product experiences are converging to accommodate customer needs, and the scope of analysis for most marketers is increasing.

This is why we launched Mixpanel Marketing Analytics.

Mixpanel has long been the most powerful and easy-to-use event analytics tool to help you understand customer behavior so you can build better user experiences and drive higher conversions. With the new features of Mixpanel Marketing Analytics, we’re adding to that foundation to offer marketing and growth teams a more intuitive and powerful analysis tool than Google Analytics 4 (GA4). It’s a tight integration of the top of the funnel (awareness and campaign and website engagement) with the bottom of the funnel (product engagement, conversion, and retention) that enables better measuring of what valuable acquisition really looks like.

Change is hard, but we’re here to help

Google is in the middle of sunsetting its Universal Analytics suite in favor of GA4, which means most marketing teams are being faced with a pretty big change. What’s worse, migrating from GAU to GA4 is a long process that’s capped off by having to learn a new, more complex user interface.

Mixpanel is just as easy for marketing teams to move to (or implement fresh) as it is to get sophisticated growth and product insights out of, making now the perfect time to consider switching.

Read on to learn about the powerful and scalable analysis, cross-team collaboration possibilities, and long-term success marketers and growth teams can get when they choose Mixpanel over GA4.

If you want to skip right to seeing for yourself how Mixpanel Marketing Analytics works, you can play around with our public Board here.

Powerful analysis that’s customizable and scalable

Get even more insights from your website traffic

In Mixpanel, you can track quintessential metrics like daily website visits, unique visitors, top website pages, session bounce rate, and average time per session by simply auto-tracking page views as events. But you can also go beyond with session definition customization to unlock advanced website behavior analysis.

  • Define what a session is for your site based on specific event start, timeout, or sending session IDs according to how you’ve defined it in another tool.
  • Choose which properties should be associated with a session beyond acquisition channels.

Aside from bucketing sources into the typical direct, organic, paid, and referral categories, you can use Mixpanel’s custom properties to break them down further or differently. Custom properties are reusable and retroactive, and they offer the flexibility to set any number of complex rules to define acquisition channels, sub-channels, and other meaningful groups.

Delve into understanding your traffic better, as well, by segmenting them by user demographics like country, city, age, and device. Most of these are collected as default Mixpanel properties, so no setup is required.

How does this compare to GA4 GA4 only offers timeout-based sessions. GA4 also pre-defines which metrics get computed as a session dimension, and there is only limited flexibility in defining acquisition channels.

Measure the full value of marketing campaigns and acquisition channels

The core value prop of analyzing marketing performance is understanding which channels or campaigns are delivering a high or low ROAS (return on ad spend). Mixpanel allows marketers to compute this in dynamic ways—and with the added input of down-funnel product metrics.

Multi-touch attribution in Mixpanel (now in beta) helps you decide how much credit to give the various channels a user interacts with on their journey to conversion (and hopefully retention) after they sign up for your product. You can also not only look at this distribution of credit based on one model; you can see how it compares to several other models (first-touch, last-touch, linear, participation, etc.) by plotting multiple attribution models side-by-side in our tables.

Mixpanel also supports the ingestion of ad-network data from any and all platforms (for example: Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, and Linkedin Ads), bringing in clicks, impressions, ad spend by campaign, and channel levels to enable computing ROAS along with performance marketing metrics like CPC (cost-per-click) and CPM (cost-per-1000-impressions).

How does this compare to GA4? Attribution analysis in GA4 only allows for the comparison of two models across the whole project. In a report, you can only look at attribution for pre-defined conversions and only for marketing dimensions (utm parameters). Further, Google has recently announced GA4 is moving towards only supporting data-driven and last-touch models, taking away marketers’ abilities to choose the models most apt for their use cases. GA4 also mainly focuses on ad-network data ingestion from Google Ads. While you can ingest from other sources, it’s not as seamless. 

A step-by-step funnel in Mixpanel
See a Mixpanel Marketing Analytics Board in action by clicking the image above.

Go very deep with conversion funnels and retention

Mixpanel offers powerful and customizable conversion funnels.

  • We support any number of conversion steps, which can all be broken down by user segment.
  • Time-to-convert can be calculated through every step of the funnel and so can the frequency of an action taken prior to conversion.
  • We provide advanced capabilities like holding a property constant throughout the funnel and comparing funnel conversion rates with different events at the same step.
  • Mixpanel’s Flows report also lets you explore funnel drop-offs further to see what other paths users took.

Mixpanel can do advanced retention analysis.

  • Compare retention across custom cohorts—new users vs. power users vs. casual users, for example.
  • Adding advanced retention criteria let you look at unbounded retention—i.e., when a user returns anytime after signing up—and also choose between rolling and calendar interval grouping.
  • You can also visualize retention trends over time using frequency mode, which can answer questions like: “What percent of users performed an action on four days last week?”

How does this compare to GA4? While GA4, powered by an event-based data model similar to Mixpanel’s, is much better than its predecessor at approaching funnel and retention analysis, it still lacks even basic depth (forget advanced capabilities). The amount of user segmenting and the number of funnel steps you can use in your analysis are limited in GA4, and it doesn’t offer cohort comparisons in retention analysis.

Take action on insights with seamless third-party integrations

At Mixpanel, we believe in the best-in-breed tech stack approach. It’s why we’ve invested in integrations with engagement and experiment tools for years to expand Mixpanel’s power to turn data into action.

To enable audience targeting, we support pushing cohorts from Mixpanel to a long list of 20+ integrations, including ad networks like Facebook Ads and also engagement tools like Twilio and Braze. Further, we understand the tight relationship between performance analysis and experimentation and how the latter fuels better decision-making. For this reason, we’ve made sure Mixpanel works seamlessly with leading experimentation platforms like LaunchDarkly, ABTasty, and more.

How does this compare to GA4? Again, GA4 integrates tightly with Google Ads, but it doesn’t sync with other advertising networks or other third-party integrations as effectively. On experimentation integrations, GA4 does offer a broad number of options, but we at Mixpanel have spent more time perfecting our integrations (and we like to think it shows).

Lean on data governance features to ensure quality analysis

In Mixpanel we believe the quality of the data coming in drives the quality of insights generated. To that end, we enable editing and transforming data at any point—without impacting the underlying data and without necessitating re-implementation.

  • Through Lexicon, your data dictionary and data manager in Mixpanel, we offer the ability to hide and drop bad data, rename events and properties, group events, merge properties, and a lot more.
  • Mixpanel also provides an Events view to help debug your implementation. In it, you can even see an individual user profile view to look at a user’s complete history of event activity. 
  • Further, you can also supplement user attributes from your CRM system or data warehouse using lookup tables.

How does this compare to GA4? Beyond the debug view, GA4 doesn’t offer any true data governance features.

Go further with analytics built for scale

In order to make the most informed decisions, your data needs to be up to date, detailed, and cover a long enough historical period. Our data query system was purpose-built to deliver precisely this.

  • Mixpanel provides real-time, unsampled analysis. 
  • Data can also retroactively be modified at any time in Mixpanel.
  • Further, Mixpanel offers five years of historical data on all of our plans for free.
  • Mixpanel also supports high cardinality limits, letting you analyze up to 10,000 segments for each dimension.

How does this compare to GA4? GA4 has a minimum wait time of 4-8 hrs to process data, a 72 hr limit on backfilling data, and offers only 14 months of historical data on its free plan. And with GA4’s cardinality limits, its most powerful reports only support a maximum of five dimensions on 10 metrics, meaning large queries have to be outsourced to external data tools like BigQuery or Looker Studio.

User-friendly and built for collaboration

A self-serve analytics tool that encourages data exploration

Mixpanel prioritizes UI/UX and workflows as equally as power analysis. We want analytics to be accessible to all and for users to have fun exploring data. All you need to learn is just four core reports—insights, funnels, flows, and retention—to unlock all the analysis you might want to do. Even better, you can simply leverage our pre-populated templates with a couple of clicks if you just want to get started with standard metrics. We’ve long been the most intuitive analytics tool in the market—ask your product team colleagues 🙂

How does this compare to GA4? GA4 is great at displaying the standard metrics marketers want, but with its hard-to-learn UI, limited out-of-the-box reports and visualizations, and limited analysis power (described above), it puts the onus of figuring out analysis (i.e., showing what’s working and what’s not) heavily on the user. Data is already hard and scary and there certainly doesn’t need to be more friction added. 

A platform built for cross-team collaboration around metrics

Data is only as powerful as the insights you derive from it, the meaningful discussions you have around it, and the actions your teams take on it. By being the central hub where both marketing and product teams gather their analysis, Mixpanel is a natural collaboration tool. But to lean into this, we also offer a suite of features that let team members do things like provide analysis context with text and media cards; set alerts on key metrics; embed key analysis in tools like Slack, Figma, and Notion; and even set dashboards as publicly viewable.

How does this compare to GA4? GA4 is primarily built for marketing teams, and it doesn’t offer many collaboration/productivity features. Even in terms of collaboration within marketing, most settings in GA4 are admin-only, rendering the majority of users as pure viewers. This all means teams have to go outside of the product to share, highlight, or build upon insights found in GA4. 

A Mixpanel Board featuring reports powered by Mixpanel Marketing Analytics
See a Mixpanel Marketing Analytics Board in action by clicking the image above.

Dedicated Success and Support teams ready to help

Data can be scary and powerful at the same time, and you’re not alone in this journey of untangling it. At Mixpanel, we’re dedicated to helping people learn from their data, and that goes further than delivering an easy-to-use analytics tool. We have a bunch of resources aside from our help and developer documentation, including our ever-growing Slack community and dedicated Customer Success and Support teams ready to jump in as required. Our Support team and Slack community are accessible to all our customers irrespective of which Mixpanel plan you’re on.

How does this compare to GA4? GA4 has email and live-chat support channels and basic support help docs but no first-party tutorials, how-to guides, user community, or success team to help you with setup or training when needed.

Data compliance that stays ahead of all the relevant regulations

Every day there are new regulations that come up to safeguard our end users’ data, and at Mixpanel we ensure we adhere to these. We are GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant. We also power all our analysis with first-party behavioral data vs. third-party cookies.

How does this compare to GA4? There’s been a lot of talk about Google Analytics and its compliance with GDPR. While GA4’s switch to relying on first-party data alleviates some of these concerns, Mixpanel has been a leader on this issue from day one. Third-party cookies have always been a poor solution for behavioral analytics, and one we’ve never integrated into our data model, so we’re happy to see GA and others catching up 😇

Pricing and plans that fit every team size

Earlier this year, we expanded our free plan, lowered the price of our Growth and Enterprise plans, and publicly published our full pricing scale to make analytics more accessible to companies of all sizes. One of our core pricing principles has been: “We only grow when you grow.” Additionally, we also have a very compelling Mixpanel for Startups Program to help founders start learning from their data ASAP to find product-market fit.

How does this compare to GA4? GA4’s free plan is attractive and tempting for any new startup, but it’s still limited and hard to scale in the longer term. And if you are choosing a paid plan, why not pay for more complete, more powerful features and a package that sets you up for success?

Get started with Mixpanel in minutes

Just embarking on your marketing analytics journey? Unlike GA4’s lengthy implementation process, we’ve made it possible to sign up and get running with Mixpanel for free in minutes. When it comes to deciding which tool is right for your team, there’s no substitute for trying it yourself. Our out-of-the-box templates (with either our demo data sets or your own data from a CSV file) make this possible.

How do you migrate to Mixpanel?

If you are a current Google Analytics user considering migrating to Mixpanel, there are two parts involved: getting the data in Mixpanel and building out the reports.

  • To get the data into Mixpanel, we have a guide that details the process depending on your current data stack and whether you’re still on Universal Analytics or you have a working implementation on GA4. If you are already using Google Tag Manager (GTM), the move should be super easy with our new GTM Template (built in partnership with Simo Ahava, a renowned Google Tag Manager Expert).
  • To get started with reports, we have four out-of-the-box Board templates to cover your most essential metrics, including Company KPIs and Marketing KPIs. Just choose two conversion events and get a set of pre-populated metrics. We’ve also built a public Board to help guide you as you set up your own metrics.

Of course, our Support, Success, and Partnerships teams are ever-ready to help with all of the above and more as you navigate through this period of getting started with marketing analytics or switching platforms. To get an expert’s help, please go here. Additionally, we’ll also be making our Mixpanel experts available during Marketing Analytics office hours every week for the next two months. You can register for the next session here.

Here’s to building better campaigns and full user journey experiences 📊

Gain insights into how best to convert, engage, and retain your users with Mixpanel’s powerful, self-serve analytics. Try it for free.

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