More than 68,862 companies use Mixpanel as the analytics tool, while more than 28.1 Million websites use Google Analytics. However, it doesn’t mean you should follow them and use Google Analytics in your case. The fact that Google has recently announced that Universal Analytics is going away can make you wonder if it’s right to select Google Analytics 4 as your primary analytics solution. Therefore, the question is, What is better? Google Analytics 4 or Mixpanel?
Disclaimer: I will share my experience using these two tools for SaaS companies (website + product) as the data analyst. It doesn’t mean everything will apply to your specific case, but it will strengthen your decision on what tool you should choose.
Ok, let’s get started.
Measurement models: Event-based
Almost everyone knows the measurement model was the main difference between Universal Analytics and Mixpanel. While Universal Analytics used a session-based model, Mixpanel always used an event-based model. However, it is not true since Google released GA4.
Google Analytics 4 uses an event-based model entirely the same as Mixpanel’s. All the data you send in both tools are converted into events; no more sessions, pageviews, social hits, etc. Also, It means that you can use Google Analytics 4 for both acquisition and product analytics cases.
It was the critical difference that made SaaS companies use both tools for two different cases (acquisition and product analytics), and I offered this solution for a while, but now, it doesn’t make sense anymore. Google Analytics 4 can answer the questions the same way as Mixpanel.
Google dominates the search world market with a leading 86-96% market share. That means using the tools that Google provides (Google Analytics 4) for acquisition purposes, such as traffic attribution, will help you understand the website traffic better and react faster to the changes Google introduces, for instance, Search Engine Optimisation releases.
Besides, Google Analytics 4 has native integration with tools such as Google Search Console, Google Ads, Ad Manager, and Search Ads 360 Links. You won’t get it with Mixpanel. For the last ten years of working with Mixpanel, I always needed to combine data from multiple sources (in Google Sheets or Data Warehouse) to answer questions. When you have everything in one place, you can avoid spending vast amounts of time and budgets on data pipelines or lakes you won’t need.
Moreover, you can use the Data-Driven Attribution Model in Google Analytics 4, guiding you on where to invest your marketing budget. Mixpanel doesn’t have it.
A user-friendly interface was also one of the key differentiators that helped Mixpanel onboard more and more companies worldwide. Universal Analytics was not so visually appealing, and understanding how to use it and use it successfully required time. Many people got stuck with that and paused using it.
Mixpanel allows you to build charts, apply different visualisations, and create funnels and flows. All of that was possible to do in Universal Analytics but not easy. However, Google has changed it in Google Analytics 4!
You can select dimensions and metrics. You can choose dates. And you can decide whether you want to use a bar chart or a line one. It became so flexible and easy to use.
We measure key performance indicators daily, weekly and monthly. We compare year-to-date stats with the previous same-time stats.
Mixpanel allows you to create dashboards easily; you build a report (funnel, insight, flow) and add it to the dashboard. You can decide how many visualisations you want on your dashboard, and you can also apply the type of visualisations. You can see the example of the Mixpanel dashboard below.
Google Analytics 4 doesn’t have so many opportunities to replicate Mixpanel dashboard features. It allows you to create dashboards, but the features are currently limited (October 2022).
However, Google offers Looker Studio (Google Data Studio previously). Looker Studio can help you to create dashboards using data from multiple sources, not only Google Analytics 4, but also from Google Ads, Google Search Console, Google BigQuery, SQL database, Facebook, TikTok, etc.
You can do many cool things with Google products that Mixpanel won’t allow. Likewise, among many products that Google offers, Looker Studio comes for free and has a set of templates that you can use to create your dashboard fast. Is it not a competitive advantage?
Google Analytics 4
up to 8 hours delay
Real-time data is a vital aspect of choosing the tool for some companies. Therefore, Mixpanel promotes itself as a real-time analytics tool. Google Analytics 4, unfortunately, doesn’t offer it.
GA4 has the same limitations as Universal Analytics in terms of data delay. Although GA4 offers a real-time report for troubleshooting issues, it is also worth mentioning that GA4 Explore and other standard reports don’t allow you to use today’s data. There is only one possibility to get real-time reporting in GA4 is to connect GA4 with BigQuery.
However, I didn’t find real-time reports so essential in my career to use paid tools instead of free ones, but if your business depends on it, you should select Mixpanel.
Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 + BigQuery
When you analyse your website traffic or specific product usage, it’s essential to see a total amount of data, not a sample one.
Mixpanel offers you the complete data. So you don’t need to worry about making a mistake with sample data.
Universal Analytics always shows sample data, which Google maintains in Google Analytics 4.
However, Google Analytics 4 has a native integration with BigQuery that allows you to store upsampled data from GA4 and execute a SQL Query to understand your users’ behaviour correctly. Therefore, I can tell you there is no way to overcome this GA4 limitation. Almost the same thing happens with data preservation.
Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 + BigQuery
Mixpanel stores data for as much time as you need. You can analyse the five years ago data.
On the opposite side, GA4 stories historical data for 14 months. However, I don’t feel that this is a considerable limitation. If you enable BigQuery integration, you can return to this GA4 data in BigQuery even in 20 years. You can store GA4 data without additional expenditures because Google provides a free tier plan.
Integrations (GSC, Google Ads, Data Warehouses)
I already mentioned some native integrations that Google Analytics 4 has. Here is the complete list below:
- Google Ads
- Google Search Console
- Google Optimise
- Google BigQuery
- Ad Manager
- Display & Video 360
- Merchant Center
- Google Play
- Search Ads 360
- Google Data Studio
Mixpanel integrations include:
- Google Ads
- Amazon Web Services
- Google BigQuery
- Facebook Ads.
Unfortunately, most Mixpanel integrations require you to cooperate with their technical partner. It’s not so intuitive as just turning off / turning off native integration in Google Analytics. The native integrations Mixpanel has is only with data warehouses. Moreover, if we talk about traffic acquisition discussed in the “Traffic Attribution” section, GA4 is a leader.
MIxpanel is not such a cheap analytics solution, and looking at some of my clients that pay $1k – $3k monthly for essential features, it’s not the top bill you can get when you have many monthly active users (MAU) to track. Based on the Mixpanel pricing calculator, the price starts from $190 for 10K MTU (the same as MAU) and goes up to $1190 for 100K MTU. You should contact their sales team if you have more users to track. Apart from users, they also allow you to purchase add-ons, which cost ~$200 per month each.
That’s also worth mentioning that Mixpanel offers a free plan with limited features to track up to 10K MTU. Unfortunately, some features are minimal. For instance, you can create only one dashboard and save 5 reports. It doesn’t allow you to have a complete “barometer” of your business.
Google Analytics 4 is free. If you want to upgrade to Google Analytics 360, you will need to pay $50 000 for 25 million events. You should contact a Google representative to get the final price if you need more events.
Although GA4 looks expensive, most companies use free Google Analytics 4 property. The chances that you will need to buy GA4 360 are low. Moreover, if you grow to that level, you will have the budget to pay for that.
Final Word: Which tool should you select?
So what’s the best tool to choose? It depends on many aspects of your business. If you are a new company and you want to optimise your business without extraordinary costs in the first days, I would recommend looking at Google Analytics 4. It’s free, has everything you need, and you won’t pay huge bills after you grow. The drawback is that you will need to spend more time learning it than Mixpanel.
On the opposite side, if you find that the interface of Google Analytics 4 is not user-friendly, you will also be able to switch to Mixpanel. Mixpanel is a good tool for product analytics, but it’s not the best for traffic attribution and acquisition.
If I recommended you, I would suggest you look at GA4. Not tools make your company grow faster; intelligent and innovative people will make an impact. Thus, GA4 can be your choice.
You can read more about migrating from Universal Analytics to Google Analytics or setting up GA4 on your website or product. Are you still uncertain? Check my blog, where I compare Universal Analytics with Google Analytics 4.
In the end, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or use the contact form to message me.
It was better to use Universal Analytics for acquisition and Mixpanel for product analytics. It’s not the case anymore with Google Analytics 4. GA4 can replicate Mixpanel fully. I recommend using GA4 as your default analytics tool and Mixpanel as an additional tool for product analytics, but only if you need it.
GA4 can answer almost any question about your website visitors or product users. It can also detect anomalies in your data that couldn’t be seen easily with other tools. Apart from that, you can connect GA4 with such tools as Google Search Console, Google Ads, and Google Optimise.
The main advantage of using Mixpanel is the interface. Mixpanel is easy to use. You can start to get your first insights hours after the correct setup. It’s also an excellent tool to use for product analytics. However, it comes with costs you should take into account. GA4 can replicate Mixpanel and doesn’t have any costs associated with it.
It depends on what criteria you use. GA4 is a tool that can answer multiple questions about your website visitors and product users. It’s a must-have analytics tool for companies.