I was back with a startup I’m advising this past weekend discussing the importance of metrics. Or rather, more specifically, what you get with event tracking apps like MixPanel vs. Google Analytics.
So let’s start with an example from my office – tours at Atlanta Tech Village.
You’ve taken the tour before, but you’re here with 2 friends who have never been. Meanwhile, there are seven other tour guests to which two say they’ve taken the tour again, but they loved it so much they’re doing it again.
The tour starts downstairs in the lobby before entering the rec room with game consoles, a ping pong table, shuffle board, and a kitchen.
Then, the tour goes through the “hot desk” area before re-entering the lobby and going up a flight of stairs to the second floor with dedicated desks and some smaller offices.
The group then goes up to one of 3rd, 4th, or 5th floors to see the larger office spaces. The tour guide is showing the group the kitchen as well as maybe an introduction to a startup who happens to have a door open.
Then, the group goes up the roof to check out the sweet rooftop patio.
The group may also then head all the way to the basement where the gym is. Then, the tour ends going back to the first floor – lobby.
Got the flow? Awesome. Let’s talk about this from Google Analytics and event-tracking with MixPanel (for example).
If tour visitors were tracked in a Google Analytics-like way:
- You + the two other visitors who said they’ve taken the tour before would be Returning Visitors while the other seven are New Visitors.
- How everyone came to take the tour – maybe referral from a friend like me, by an ad people saw at Farm Burger, or maybe they just walked by Piedmont Road.
- What floors and rooms the group visited.
- Great at telling you that most everyone came in through the lobby floor – the front door or the parking garage door. It can tell you some high level flows of how you traversed the building.
- Perhaps a couple tour members got side-tracked and skipped a floor and met back up with the group. Or maybe a couple of them left mid-way through – exits.
Event-tracking with MixPanel would show you…
- Three of us tour members are returning.
- I’ve been to ATV dozens of times, and I took the tour three times.
- I am Daryl and give you some contact information because I filled out some user information the first time I entered building.
- Each room we enter (like Google Analytics).
- Four of us on the tour played ping pong for 3 minutes before going to the next room. This is more detailed than Google Analytics may say we were in the ROOM for 5 minutes by telling you what four of us did in the room.
- When we got to the second floor, two of us stopped to talk to a startup, and we also grabbed a couple drinks from the kitchen. Perhaps we also sat in a room so we could test out what it’d feel like to be a startup at ATV.
- Two people who left the tour mid-way stopped by the bathroom for two seconds, and left the tour. (Maybe the bathroom was horrendously dirty.)
- It was my friend, John, who hit the elevator button before we all went down to the gym.
… are you starting to see what event-tracking is? In this case, MixPanel is telling me more details of what happened on the tour – events. MixPanel is able to tie in user data because a few of us signed in from the beginning.
Google Analytics is able to quickly and automatically track much about our tour group’s visit. However, it’s still pretty high-level, and though it can be exhaustively tweaked to track a lot of events, it would take a lot of work to get the data and make sense of it all. Event-tracking apps like MixPanel are made for this stuff.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that does a lot out of the box, and should be one tool for marketing insights. An app like MixPanel allows far greater insights for customer engagement, product roadmap, and yes, marketing.
Ah and another difference between Google Analytics and MixPanel… Google Analytics relies on cookies to associate site visitors as new or returning. However, if I stayed silent at the beginning of the tour and didn’t say anything, that’s like me hiding or starting a new “cookie” session. Google Analytics would count me as a new visitor. MixPanel could recognize me as a returning visitor in the system because I would sign back in as part of the tour.
Google Analytics. Easy set-up. Automatic high-level aggregate tracking. Insights via cookies.
MixPanel. Much more work to set up. Tracks the details (events) of visits and engagement at the individual level. Easier to build and determine funnels (drop-offs) of users as they move.
Hope this was helpful. Get trackin’!