Heap vs Mixpanel: A Deeper Dive
Heap and Mixpanel are both event-based analytics tools used by thousands of websites and mobile apps today. Both tools are real-time, have advanced conversion funnels, segmentation analysis, and other ways of analyzing data that are important to modern apps.
Beyond that, however, there are significant differences. Mixpanel requires you to manually write custom tracking code for each event you care about. Heap, however, offers automatic event tracking, where user interactions are captured automatically without any code.
Automatic Event Tracking
One of Heap's main features is its ability to track events on your website or mobile app automatically. On web, Heap tracks every pageview, click, form submission and more without any work on your part. On mobile, Heap automatically tracks every touch, swipe, tap, and other gesture events. Mixpanel, on the other hand, requires manual instrumentation for each and every event you want to track, using the Mixpanel
track method. As a result, with Heap, you can start generating conversion funnels after a 1 minute installation. Mixpanel can take weeks to properly instrument for complex apps, and requires significant ongoing maintenance.
Mixpanel's approach is an all-in-one suite that offers basic analytics, notifications, surveys, and A/B testing. Heap, however, focuses on data collection and analytics, and integrates with best-in-class third-party tools. Heap automates data collection across every part of the user journey–not just your website or mobile app–by bringing in data from tools like Salesforce and Marketo. Heap also frees your data to power insights in SQL via Amazon Redshift, or in BI tools like Tableau or Looker. Explore dozens of data-in and data-out integrations with these tools as well as Optimizely, Mailchimp, Stripe, and more.
Complete User Histories
Heap offers the ability to drill down into individual users. The List view offers individual user histories, which show a comprehensive picture of every single thing a given user has done on your website or mobile app. With Mixpanel, however, you must separately purchase the Mixpanel People add-on to view user-level reports. Additionally, Mixpanel will only display actions for each user that you've explicitly chosen to track.
All events defined in Heap are applied retroactively. If you've only defined a "Like Article" event today, but have had Heap installed for the past five months, then you'll view the past five months of data on this interaction instantly. This allows you the flexibility to define events and run queries whenever they're needed, rather than accounting for every possibility from the outset. Mixpanel's events only begin tracking data once you've written tracking code and deployed it live.
Heap and Mixpanel have different ways of dealing with user-level data. The
heap.identify function allows Heap to tie together a user's activity across different computers or devices. If the same user logs into your mobile app and your website, Heap treats them as the same user. In addition, when a user is identified, Heap automatically includes the data they generated before being identified. This is useful for accurate top-of-the-funnel conversion analysis. By contrast, Mixpanel treats a single user on separate devices as different users. Also, Mixpanel is unable to associate events with a user's identity if they happened prior to the user authenticating.
Heap provides a simple, point-and-click interface that allows people to create events without knowing any code. Product managers, marketers, designers, and anyone else can setup conversion funnels or do segmentation analysis in seconds. By contrast, Mixpanel requires custom development work for each event you need to track. (In case it's necessary, Heap still offers the ability to manually track events in much the same way as
When Should I Use Mixpanel?
Mixpanel doesn't offer Heap's event-tracking capabilities, but does offer several value-add, non-analytics features. Mixpanel offers add-on features like Surveys that many of their customers use. Additionally, Mixpanel is a better fit for companies without a web/mobile presence that need purely server-side tracking.
When Should I Use Heap?
Heap is well-suited for any product manager, marketer, engineer, or data analyst that wants to better understand their users without spending engineering time on implementation. The automatic event tracking in Heap eliminates work for engineering work, plays well with constantly changing apps, and enables retroactive analysis. Additionally, Heap excels with an ecosystem of integrations with best-in-class third-party tools. The Event Visualizer makes analytics more accessible to anyone in a business than Mixpanel's approach.