Mixpanel vs Heap: Which One Is Better In 2022?

Mixpanel and Heap are two popular product analytics tools. They both track and collect data on user behavior, reveal your product’s most used features, and provide dashboards and reports to help you easily visualize data. Although they have a lot of common features, there are also some key differences between them.

While Mixpanel differentiates itself with its design, data model, and self-serve analytics, Heap provides automatic data capture and retroactive analysis and requires minimal engineering. To decide which tool is better for your business, you should compare important aspects of each, including the setup, features, and reviews.

This article will go through each of these tools to help you choose the better fit for your SaaS.

Mixpanel

In 2009, during the Great Recession, Suhail Doshi and Tim Trefren dropped out of college and raised capital to establish Mixpanel. It’s now one of the most well-known product analytics tools used around the world. 

While most analytics tools focus on engagement in the form of page views and browser sessions, Mixpanel’s tracking is event-based, which is a deeper behavior analysis model. It also offers funnel utilization and trends alongside event-based tracking to help you better understand your users. 

The event-based model focuses on three key concepts: events, users, and properties. An event indicates an action the user performs, such as a purchase. A user is an individual behind the interaction, and properties are attributes that describe the actions that users perform.

The reports offered by Mixpanel enable users to view the user and event data and break it down using the properties feature. 

With the features offered by Mixpanel, users can:

  • Find out their most active users and the features they use the most
  • Find out the biggest site referrals
  • Maintain user interaction for longer periods of time
  • Understand where users are dropping-off in the sales funnel
  • Increase acquisition flow

Heap

Heap is younger than Mixpanel. It was founded in 2013 by Matin Movassate, the Chairman today. Heap is one of the top product analytics tools that help you understand why and how users interact with your product or website. 

The main feature of Heap is its auto-capture of data. Unlike some other analytics tools, Heap automatically captures all user interaction data from the very beginning.

This data includes how users interact with your product, the most important user segments, and how different groups use certain features. The user can also access the data tracked later at any point in time. This feature of Heap makes event tracking easier and simplifies the setup process.

Heap Connect is another key feature that allows users to pipe data automatically into their data warehouse with a managed ETL. 

With the features offered by Heap, users can:

  • Increase conversions across different platforms and channels
  • Make analytics customized for product teams with minimal engineering
  • Tailor in-app experience for users in a better way
  • Access complete and historical data from the start
  • Increase customer engagement of their product
  • Monitor and increase key actions in the user journey, including acquisition, activation, and retention

Mixpanel vs Heap: Pricing

There’s no straightforward answer to how much you’ll pay for either tool since there are many things to consider when it comes to pricing. These include the pricing model of the tool and the size of your business.

Mixpanel and Heap have different pricing models, so the affordability of each depends on different factors. Mixpanel’s pricing is based on the number of monthly users tracked, while the pricing of Heap is based on the number of sessions. Neither model is better than the other since both have their downsides.

For Mixpanel, there are three pricing plans. It has a Free plan that tracks up to 100K users. But as soon as you start to scale and choose to track more users, it gets expensive. With the Growth plan, you can select your monthly tracked users and get more features. For 100K users, you pay a minimum of $9,999 annually. For anything more, you should get in touch with sales.

Heap has four pricing plans. The free version tracks up to 10K sessions/month, the Growth plan tracks up to 500K sessions/year, and the Pro plan has custom sessions. The Premier plan is customizable for larger organizations.

For example, if you choose to track 500K sessions/year, you’ll pay $9,000 annually. You should contact the sales team for anything more than that, starting at 1 million sessions/year.

The issue with Heap’s pricing model is that you will be paying a lot if your pages have many sessions, even if those visitors aren’t actually performing many actions or events on the pages.

Both Mixpanel and Heap offer free trials. For Heap, you can sign up to get a 14-day free trial. With Mixpanel, you need to contact a sales representative first.

Mixpanel vs Heap: Setting Up

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Implementing a new analytics tool can be challenging, especially if it needs a lot of engineering work. Heap and Mixpanel have different setups:

With Mixpanel, you need to do manual instrumentation for each event, which ramps up the dev hours. You need to choose your events wisely and then hand them over to an engineer to configure them. If you change your mind later about the events you want to track, then the whole thing needs to be set up all over again, which comes with the risk of inconsistent data.

You also need to manually instrument user information such as name, email, and user ID. Because setting even a single event takes about 30 mins, the total dev hours that it will take your engineering team to set up the whole tool will range between 10-30 hours, or 1-3 weeks, which is a lot.

On the other hand, Heap starts collecting data as soon as you add the snippet of tracking code to your site. This auto-capture feature gets rid of the manual event tracking problem of Mixpanel. Once you add the code, you can create the events, choose the metrics you want to track, and begin using the tool. Like Mixpanel, for capturing user information, it must be instrumented manually. 

The great thing about Heap is that anyone can start tracking events and metrics right away, even without coding knowledge.

So when it comes to implementation, Heap is quicker and more convenient than Mixpanel.

Mixpanel vs Heap: A/B Testing

A/B testing is a method of comparing two or more versions of a variable for a website. These versions are shown to visitors of a site to determine which one performs better. It’s an essential feature that can help you personalize your CTA (call-to-action) buttons, choose the best pricing model, and find out the ideal number of form fields.

While Mixpanel has A/B testing, Heap does not.

With Heap, the only way to test your experiment data is through an integration like Google Optimize or VMO. On Heap’s webpage, you can find information on performing A/B testing for testing to increase feature usage and testing homepage taglines.

You can do Mixpanel’s standard A/B test through the Funnel Analysis. Some variables you can do testing for are email, CTA buttons, form fields, and offers. Mixpanel also has notifications like in-app messages, SMS, and push notifications, and it offers testing on mobile apps. Another important feature is the Tests feature, which shows how changes you make to one element of your site affect all the different user interactions associated with it.

Mixpanel vs Heap: Funnels

Funnels can give lots of insights. They show you the conversion rate, where users are dropping-off, how many users who visit your site convert, and how long it takes on average for a user to convert. 

How to (correctly) use paid social to grow your SaaS Business - SaaStock
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Both Mixpanel and Heap have effective funnels.

With Heap’s funnels, you can set your events and add different segments that you prefer. The funnel results are retroactive and show you the top events performed after a particular step and how many users converted after completing an optional step. Heap also has a period-over-period analysis that allows you to compare recent periods with previous ones. 

Besides the standard funnels, Heap also offers Journey maps. This feature was built when they discovered that funnels sometimes miss interactions or fail to track alternative paths to conversion. Journey maps come with step suggestions, group suggestions, effort analysis, and pageview suggestions that give quick insights and help you track more effectively.

With Mixpanel, you can build different funnels depending on the type of actions you want users to take, such as signing up or making a purchase. Mixpanel also has a custom event feature that allows you to merge different actions into a single event. By looking at the results, you can see how users go through the funnel and where they’re dropping off.

You can also find out about the journey of your paying users and the best referring sources to your site. You can choose from various charts that make it easy for anyone to interpret the data.

Mixpanel vs Heap: Retroactive Tracking

In order to get data, you can implement the tracking code, then wait for the data to come in, and repeat the process, which comes with a high cost. Auto capture fastens this process by automatically capturing all user interactions that you can access retroactively at any time.

You can track data retroactively on both Mixpanel and Heap. Initially, this was the prominent feature of Heap that brought it fame which it still presents today as a key feature.

As I mentioned above, Heap auto-captures data when you add the snippet to your site. So even without making any configurations, you can retroactively analyze events such as clicks, page views, and sessions. You can access the historical data at any time and use it to run experiments and make better decisions.

Mixpanel didn’t have retroactive analysis when released, but they added it later. Similar to Heap, Mixpanel collects data once you install the script. Even when you define events later on, your data will still contain retroactive data since you already installed the script on the site. However, with Mixpanel, historical data is isolated and limited to events selected manually.

Mixpanel vs Heap: Reviews

Positive reviews of Mixpanel:

“MixPanel makes it easy to get up and running with event logging and product metrics. Once the events are flowing in, it’s simple to whip up a battery of reports or a concise dashboard for a given question, which is huge for a startup team without a dedicated analytics engineer. The data lexicon makes for clean post-processing and data maintenance as things change over time. There’s a built-in backside funnel for sending the events to a data warehouse, so we own our event data (not MixPanel). We used a completely custom implementation and spent not one minute of our time figuring out how to get MixPanel to work with it. It just worked.”

“Simple visualisations and very friendly understandable interface, really easy to generate useful and beautiful graphs and visualisatons. Not only that but I can find information that aids our companies development, and fun stats, quirks and info about the userbase that is really intresting. Extracting the data with the Raw export API in conjunction with SQLite has been incredibly powerful for me as a data scientist. This application is highly underrated. The dashboard can be shared with a wider group at one’s company and thus presenting and sharing analytics between different departments is effortless.”

Negative reviews of Mixpanel:

“I think considering most of their money would come from enterprises, in a weird way they make it so easy to use their advanced features yet so hard to use simple features. For instance, if you create a funnel, and want to view people who completed (or didnt complete) a certain step…you can’t really do so without creating a cohort then going to cohorts and run your analyses there. When all I really wanted was to preview a simple list of my users that I can export.”

“I dislike how certain features require you to pay more money (e.g. flow reporting). I’d prefer it if we were given an a-la-carte price where we could avail of all the features. I’d also say that their account management isn’t very good – they’re not very proactive with managing client relationships (or at least they aren’t with us!). Every now and again they’ll talk about different pricing plans, but we’d prefer a stronger relationship around getting more out of the toolkit.”

Positive reviews of Heap:

It is easy to use and has features that help us to collect data and track the behavior of our audience in web and mobile applications, it provides valuable information about the behavior of your client, I like the function to add several statistics to a report and then several reports to a dashboard, I also love the approach to creating reports and integrations with other tools, I love the ability to quickly adjust my breakdown analysis within the tool, it also allows me to see in real time what my clients are doing, my tool Favorite is the information page, where we can analyze user activity.”

“I like that anyone in the company can go in and begin using Heap. Other tools require more dev work to set up events. This slows down the initial setup and creates friction for implementing analytics & measurement data into the product development process. With Heap we can start building out reports from day 1, and it’s pretty simple to use. Of course, there is a learning curve, and use cases vary. However, I believe the Heap team does an excellent job of engaging with and training folks to get the most from the product.”

Negative reviews of Heap:

It can be hard to define so many events (initial setup). I wish there were some quick ways to define all events within a dropdown. As an example, a ‘Sort’ dropdown with 12 options, I wish I could click Define Sort, and then have it define the 12 separate events within it. I also wish that the reporting capability was a bit beefier. For example stacked bar charts, area charts, bubble charts, scatter, gauges, etc. We often have to pull a lot of data into redshift, and then do custom visualizations there. The same goes with if there are limitations on how we can bucket or structure the data in the reporting view on Heap.”

If your frontend programmers are not completely aware of the impact their changes might have, it can be very easy for them to erase css classes and/or change the html structure, which can have a big impact on the events (and, consequently, dashboards) on Heap. On the long term, this hurts. Even though Heap has put in place warnings when events stop triggering, it is still hard to maintain if you don’t bring your developers on board to avoid making structural or class changes. The alternative might be to add IDs to every button, link, page, section, etc, so to ensure the events are kept alive, but that is also not a good option. If you don’t expect your webpage to change that much, then this is not a problem. The amount of configurations and customizations in the dashboards and reports is limited. There should be a more powerful reporting tool, with more (and more customizable) charts.

Mixpanel vs Heap: UI/UX

The importance of the UX/UI of a tool shouldn’t be underestimated. While releasing new features and fixing bugs is great, offering great UX/UI is equally important. 90% of users stop using an application due to poor usability.

Heap is pretty easy to use and integrate with your platform. It has a straightforward and intuitive UI that doesn’t take much time to pick up, which makes it ideal for use by not only analysts, but also product managers and UX designers.  

You can easily create graphs and reports, set up and track different funnels, and define events later on but still get retroactive data. The primary analytical features that come with the tool enable you to understand the product and feature usage and analyze the trends and patterns. 

However, for certain features, Heap still has a learning curve. You need basic knowledge of HTML tagging, and it can take time to learn how to configure and generate reports.

Like Heap, Mixpanel has a friendly and easy-to-use interface. You can easily create complex reports without any complicated onboarding. However, when you’re comparing the data you collected with the actual data, you will need the help of a developer. Also, many users state that the platform is complex at first and understanding how to use the features takes time. 

Both Mixpanel and Heap offer training resources like demos and courses on their web pages to help new users. 

Mixpanel vs Heap: Summary

Mixpanel and Heap both have their benefits and downsides. Both offer user-friendly interfaces, capture all data, and support funnels. 

For easy implementation, auto-capture of data, easy access to all historical data, and minimal engineering for various processes, you should go for Heap

For event-based tracking, A/B testing, push notifications and paying based on how many users you track monthly, you should go for Mixpanel.

Conclusion

Mixpanel and Heap are well-known analytics tools that offer various features such as dashboards, funnels, and reports to help you track users’ interactions and improve their experiences. Although they are competitors with many similar features, they have different approaches when it comes to tracking data. There are also differences in their implementation, pricing, and the common features that they provide.

Before deciding which tool is the most suitable for your SaaS, you should compare the various factors mentioned above. You might also consider signing up for their free trials to experience the tools firsthand.

FAQ

How much does Heap cost?

It has a free version of up to 10k sessions per month. If you want larger sessions, you need to contact them.

How does Heap store data?

Heap stores data in its warehouses, which are managed by Heap Connect. You can easily and seamlessly bring user data into warehouses and manage them automatically. In addition, these warehouses collect and store data retroactively, meaning that you have access to any type of data from day one. This helps you to organize your past data and control your future data.

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