Don’t you ever get curious and ask:
What’s going on with our business?
I’m sure you wonder a lot: whether your business is doing good and your products and services are successful.
I also have no doubt that you are constantly looking for points to improve in your product, too.
And I’d like to ask you, what analytics product are you using to do all that?
Web and Product analytics tools help you track the right metrics and gather the data you need in order to measure your success and find places to improve.
Basically acts as a compass that shows you where to go.
In this article, I’ll go over 4 product and web analytics tools:
- Google Analytics
I have used each of these tools for long periods of time here at UserGuiding, and I’ll try to give you an idea of what they do and how they can help you.
I’ve also gathered all my analytics experience to help you become a smarter What is a product manager? A product manager is the person who’s job is to ensure a product’s overall success and leads the teams related to the product. This title… in my article: Product Analytics 101.
Now let’s start with the dominant player of the analytics game:
1- Google Analytics
There are few people with any level of digital literacy that haven’t heard of Google Analytics.
It is Google’s analytics platform and is as easy to set up on a website as it is to create a Gmail account. Even someone who has created their own blog at home that gets less than 50 hits a month probably has Google Analytics set up for their website.
Google estimates that more than three million businesses are using their analytics platform to better understand how their digital products are performing.
Google Analytics dominates the market because it is free, familiar, and easy to use.
Core Use Case
The first thing that Google Analytics does is track acquisitions.
Because of the way that Google is plugged into the rest of the world wide web, unlike pretty much all other analytics tools, it can tell you where users are coming from.
- Are they clicking on paid ads?
- Have they been referred by another website (and which one) or social media?
- Are they finding you through organic search, and if so, what search words are they using?
This is not only vital information for anyone who works in marketing, but it can also provide valuable insight into why people are engaging with your product.
Their starting point or keywords reveals a lot about motivation.
Once the user enters the product, Google Analytics tracks sessions. So you get to know where the person entered, which pages they moved through in what order and how long they spent in various locations.
This data provides great overview information in terms of how successful your site is, through visitor numbers and time spent, and also which pages are the most popular.
But it can’t dig down into more detail about why a page is working or not, as it doesn’t tell you what the individual user is doing on that page.
Pricing and Premium Features
Google Analytics is basically a free platform. You don’t need to pay a cent unless you are getting more than ten million hits a month.
To put that in perspective, it is estimated that Amazon only gets around 20 million hits per month.
The premium version of Google Analytics is called 360 and comes with a mind-shattering price tag of $150,000 per year.
But this really is meant for the big hitters. It comes with some additional features, but these are things like being able to run your data through Google’s big query platform.
Pros and Cons
Pro: It’s easy to use
One of the best things about Google Analytics is that it is incredibly easy to use.
Follow some simple instructions for putting a verification code into your HTML, and you are up and running. Anyone who uses any other Google products will also probably find the interface pretty straightforward to use, and there is a lot of help out there if you do need support.
Con: It is difficult to customize
Google Analytics is very much an out of the box solution, you get what Google gives you.
Customization is possible, but it takes the technical knowledge of a superuser. And if you speak to that superuser, they will probably suggest that there is a better product out there for whatever complicated additional tracking you are trying to achieve with Google Analytics.
Cookies only last for about a month, the data they produce is often inaccurate, and, as we all know thanks to ubiquitous pop-ups, you can opt-out of cookies at any time.
Con: It’s slow
Regardless of what the marketing might say, Google Analytics is slow.
There is a lag time of about 24 hours before data filters down into reports. If you want to know what is happening on your website or within your product right now, Google Analytics can’t tell you.
Con: Not ideal for apps or What is SaaS? SaaS is the abbreviation of Software as a Service, and refers to a software licensing model based on user subscription with monthly or annually payments. The model… products
While you can use Google Analytics with apps and software, it is primarily designed to work with websites, so it misses a few things.
You can now integrate Google Analytics with UserGuiding to achieve the best results:
UserGuiding is a What is user onboarding? User onboarding is the crucial process that starts from the first login of a new user and ends up in their aha moment, and usually beyond…. software that helps you create What is UX? UX is the abbreviation of User Experience and refers to an individual’s thoughts and feelings when using a specific product or a service. It aims to heal… elements without coding.
Product walkthroughs, in-app messages, checklists, and many other onboarding elements can be easily created by UserGuiding. It also has a built-in Analytics feature that lets you briefly analyze how guides and individual elements are performing.
To help you dig even further into your onboarding and other creations with UserGuiding, you can integrate it with Google Analytics and you will be able to have UserGuiding as a source that sends event-related content data to GA.
Not using UserGuiding yet? Start FREE.
Amplitude, a San Francisco based tech company, is the second biggest digital analytics provider out there, but it is only estimated to be installed on about 40,000 digital products.
But that doesn’t say anything about the product’s quality, it just confirms the dominance of Google Analytics.
Core Use Case
The data provided by Amplitude starts when the user enters your product, and the platform can not provide anywhere near the same level of detailed information about the acquisition as Google Analytics.
Once the user enters the product, rather than tracking how the user moves through the various pages, Amplitude tracks “events”.
That is when the user plays a video, scrolls, clicks on an expand arrow to read more information, or clicks on a call to action.
This helps you track what exactly it is that makes a user continue, and go from a curious browser to a valued customer.
Was it scrolling through the online text or watching a video that encouraged them to “download the app”, and was it the professional photos, the celebrity Instagram shots, or the real customer reviews that encouraged them to put something in their basket, you will know.
At the same time, it can help you identify if there is something that you consider integral to the user journey that users are not engaging with, or what exactly the roadblock seems to be on the page where people tend to abandon.
So, while Google Analytics is telling you where people are coming from and why, and giving you a nice straightforward overview of the general performance of your product, Amplitude lets you understand how people are using your product, what elements of the user workflow are, and aren’t working, and where improvements can be made.
Pricing and Premium Features
Amplitude also works on a freemium basis, allowing you to track up to ten million sessions on your product per month before paying a cent.
Growth and Enterprise packages are then calculated on a case by case basis. This means that pricing is unclear, but many people report that it is in the thousands per month.
However, many features that could take Amplitude from being a valuable tool to something truly special are only unlocked at the Growth level. For example:
- Amplitude is not only capable of telling you what has happened but also producing predictive reports, available only with Growth and Enterprise plans.
- If you want to use Amplitude’s collaborative functionality, such as shared reports, SSO, and custom roles and permissions, you need to pay.
- Amplitude also offers an “engage” add-on which allows you to segment users based on their activity, and then send them targeted in-product messaging to deepen engagement. But again, this add-on costs extra.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Ease of use
Amplitude is also easy to use.
Though a bit more complicated than Google Analytics, compared to similar platforms that offer event tracking functionality, the learning curve is significantly lower.
Pro: Visualization and Charts
One thing that stands out about Amplitude is the quality of the visualizations and charts that are automatically produced.
This is ideal when you need to use what you learn in order to advocate within your company and tell stories to others that are not as invested in the data as you are.
Con: Premium features
I’ve already said this one, but it is worth stating again.
While Amplitude’s basic free service is pretty good, a lot of the additional functionality that you get with paid packages is amazing. But, if you want those features, you are going to have to pay for them.
Mixpanel is a smaller San Francisco based company that’s becoming a hit on the market.
Their analytics tool is currently used by 30 percent of Fortune 100 SaaS companies.
Core Use Case
Mixpanel is significantly less useful when it comes to seeing where your traffic came from, too.
And like Amplitude, it provides a completely different perspective on what the user is doing on your website as it tracks “events” rather than page views.
It can give you details on button clicks, scrolling, and navigation to give a clearer idea of what exactly the user is doing on each page.
Mixpanel also lets you assign individual users unique IDs that allow you to track them across more than one website or digital platform, something that you can’t do with Google Analytics.
This means that if you have a suite of websites and digital tools, you can understand how users interact with your entire ecosystem.
Mixpanel also has the added benefit of letting you communicate with your users. If you have the premium version of Mixpanel, you can send messages to individuals or groups based on what exactly they are doing within your product.
Pricing and Premium Features
Mixpanel also works on a freemium model, but you can only track up to 1,000 users per month.
To move up to 25,000 monthly users you will pay $89 per month, and there is also custom pricing for enterprise packages.
Some features, such as in-app messaging, are only unlocked when you upgrade to a paid plan.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Track users across platforms
With Mixpanel, you can track individual users across different platforms, so you can monitor their engagement with you on your social media accounts, on your website, and on your mobile app, and tie that data together to create a complete picture.
Pro: You can engage with your users
Mixpanel isn’t just about monitoring users, you can also engage with them, sending in-app messages to give them valuable information that can help you retain them as a customer and deepen their engagement with you and your product.
Con: Limited attribution tracking
Mixpanel is all about your site, rather than your site within the context of the world wide web.
Unlike Google Analytics, it can’t tell you where your users are coming from.
Con: It’s expensive
Mixpanel is also a freemium tool, but you can only track up to 1,000 users per month before you need to pay.
Once you start paying, you are looking at a minimum of $89 per month, and the more successful you are – so the more users you have – the more you can expect to pay. Certain Mixpanel features, such as in-app messaging, also cost extra.
Con: Difficult to use
Unlike Google Analytics which has been designed to be quite intuitive and Amplitude, Mixpanel takes time and effort to understand.
You can also integrate Mixpanel with UserGuiding:
Mixpanel best performs when mixed with other tools.
So does UserGuiding.
UserGuiding’s latest integration includes Mixpanel and enables you to deeply analyze and target the user onboarding experience that you created with UserGuiding.
By setting up onboarding, activation, and What is retention? Retention refers to a customer continuing to use a business’ product or a service and to pay for the said product or service. It is a key… funnels in Mixpanel, you can also test and adjust your guides for these metrics.
Heap launched in 2012 looking to provide an alternative solution to Google Analytics, suggesting that the megalith, estimated to be used by more than three million companies around the world, doesn’t give the level of detail that modern businesses need.
They now have offices in San Francisco, New York, and London, and are used by around 6,000 companies. But their relatively small market share shouldn’t be taken as a particular indication of their quality.
Core Use Case
Although it is aimed to be an alternative to Google Analytics, Heap can’t tell you where people are coming from, but it can tell you what they are doing while they are in your product.
Heap, like Amplitude and Mixpanel, also tracks “events” including button clicks, video plays, scrolling, gallery views, and so forth.
This information is vital for understanding what is driving user action:
Is it reading the text or watching a film that pushes a user through to the next stage of their journey?
When a user spends five minutes on a page before putting a product in their basket, are they looking in-depth at one product, or are they comparing a variety and choosing the one that they prefer?
Similarly, are the majority of users not engaging with something that you consider essential to the user journey?
Are you investing a lot of money in 360-degree photographs of products that no one is using?
Heap gives you the detail to dig down into all these questions.
Unlike a lot of its event tracking competitors, you don’t need to decide which events you want to track when you set Heap up. It tracks everything.
You just create your reports as you decide what you want to know.
Pricing and Premium Features
Heap also works on a freemium model, but the numbers are low.
You only get 5,000 sessions per month on their free version, which is lifted to 50,000 per month if you put their logo on your website.
And if you are working with bigger numbers, you need a Growth or Enterprise package. Prices are custom, so it is unclear what exactly they are.
You also get a number of additional features when you upgrade. The most important among them include:
- Heap only retains three months of historical data on a free plan, a year on a Growth plan, and more on Enterprise.
- You only get one user license and one “project” on a free license, while you get ten user licenses and 5 projects on a Growth plan, which will allow you to track users across multiple products.
So while Heap has free options, as your enterprise grows, you can quickly outgrow its free version.
Pros and Cons
Pro: You can set up retractive reports
If you decide that you want to create a new report today, unlike with many platforms, you don’t then have to wait a few months for that data to be collected and pay off.
As we have already said, Heap collects everything from day one. So, when you create that report, Heap will retrospectively pull that data and show you the answers that you are looking for immediately.
Con: It stores a lot of data
Because Heap tracks everything that is happening within your product, it collects a lot of data, which requires space to store.
That can be a significant additional expense.
Pro: It’s pretty easy to use
Once Heap is set up, it is relatively easy to use.
You can do everything through the dashboard without coding.
Because it is tracking so much, it can be a little complex to navigate to exactly what product events you want, but if you aren’t a coder, this will be a small price to pay.
So, which one should you use?
If you are serious about growing your business with real data, then you should definitely use Google Analytics, and one of the other three products combined.
Yes, using Amplitude or Heap or Mixpanel will give you much detail about what a user does and collect much more actionable data, but only Google Analytics can tell you where exactly they’ve come from, which is essential if you want to know what their intentions are.
So, Google Analytics is definitely a pick, and about the other tool:
- Take Mixpanel if you operate on mobile devices and want to tie all the data together to turn them into reports so beautiful that they should be in an art gallery,
- Take Amplitude if you are a born-stalker that needs to see every little detail in a user’s journey,
- Take Heap if you are crazy about getting all the data in the history of mankind. Believe me, if it was possible, Heap would be the one to do it.
Each of the tools has their own advantages that could make them the perfect fit for your business.
Good luck in finding the one!