There are a lot of different analytics platforms out there. Yet despite their multitudes, one analytics platform is best known and most dominant. In case the headline of this post didn’t give it away, we’re talking about Google Analytics. Right now, over 25 million websites and 80 percent of companies on chief.io use Google Analytics to assess their performance.
So why, exactly, is that the case? What does Google Analytics have that competitors lack?
Well, for one, it’s free. And since most companies are budget-conscious, Google Analytics gives them the numbers they need without dipping into the business account.
And of course, there’s that ever-important name recognition. In 2019, you’d have to actively try not to know of Google. The tech titan basically controls the Internet, and using their platform may just seem simpler to a lot of companies.
However, with great power comes… a lot of kinks in the system. Different departments depend on different data, and though Google Analytics is still popular among and adequate enough for marketers, it’s not quite doing it for product managers. Luckily, smart people have been building platforms specifically designed to smooth out said kinks. Here are some of the best alternatives to Google Analytics, and why you’d want to convert.
Heap Analytics - autotracking
Back when they were founded in 2012, Heap Analytics was ahead of the curve. At the time, website owners were undergoing the tedious process of manually logging funnel steps. Heap made things easier by logging every single button click and automatically tracked important metrics.
Though Google Analytics provides a lot of out-of-the-box features, most of those features are pretty basic.
Heap’s autotracking feature saves every click by every user on my platform
“Heap provides more advanced features,” says Guy Bar Ner, a longtime product manager based in Tel Aviv, Israel. “Heap’s autotracking feature saves every click by every user on my platform. With Google Analytics, I’d have to set that up myself.
Not to mention, seeking more detailed information with Google Analytics requires analysts and product managers to know what they’re looking for. But with Heap, they can sift for trends after the fact.
“Heap lets me look at historical data,” says Bar Ner. “So I can collect data then define events.”
Mode - seamless and easy to use.
Mode offers the same access to all the analytics and their underlying data tables. If you know SQL, you’ll easily be able to create dashboards in Mode — it’s as simple as writing a query and creating a chart.
it’s easier to learn than Google Analytics and displays data that Google doesn’t have
Plus, it’s easier to learn than Google Analytics and displays data that Google doesn’t have, like revenue and revenue per customer.
It’s important to bear in mind that Mode, like any analytics platform, doesn’t serve all roles equally.
For Gabriel Levine, a data analyst at the San Francisco-based startup, Mapbox, Mode proved to be a little too limited.
“Since Mode only shows one results set at a time, you can’t reference past results sets,” says Levine. “When you write a second query, it automatically overwrites your first results set.”
Still, he recognizes that Mode may be enough for a high-level look.
“Mode is better for product managers who want to quickly share something or create a quick visualization,” says Levine. “It’s good for a quick query, but not great when you need to do a deeper dive into the data.”
Amplitude - a granular view of each and every user.
This product analytics platform offers insights that Google Analytics just doesn’t have, like analysis of email engagement, user-level data, and user segmentation.
With Amplitude, we can look at each user and understand their interactions across different platforms.
“Google Analytics anonymizes everything at the user level,” says Tim Harsch, CEO and Co-Founder at San Mateo-based startup, Owler. “With Amplitude, we can look at each user and understand their interactions across different platforms.”
Plus, this makes it easy to look at users and their interactions with your website from various angles.
“When I look at funnels, Amplitude allows me to filter and segment users,” says Alon Wertheimer, VP Marketing at TrueBill. “That allows me to see how different segments of users navigate our product.”
And perhaps most importantly, Amplitude is easy to learn.
“They have a lot of graphing and visualizing capabilities, making analysis really easy for anyone,” Harsch says.
Mixpanel - a powerful free version.
Mixpanel offers more customization than Google Analytics and gives a better sense of your user experience.
“With Mixpanel, I can build funnels and segment users,” says Wertheimer.
However, several of the product managers I spoke with found Mixpanel to be severely lacking. Harsch’s company, Owler, started out using Mixpanel before switching over to Amplitude. Likewise, Wertheimer wasn’t too impressed with their dashboard.
“The interface isn’t friendly,” Wertheimer says. “If you want to look at something, you have to look at many different views.”
While many users are moving away from Mixpanel, it nonetheless has its advantages.
“I use Mixpanel to build complex funnels and understand user behavior,” says Alma Vilcov, Head of Customer Success at Tel Aviv-based Capitalise. “I can see things like if someone visited our site, and what percentage of users return over what period of time.”
Bar Ner is also happy with Mixpanel, particularly the price.
Their free version offers a lot of great features
“Their free version offers a lot of great features,” he says. “We even managed to use the unpaid platform at my last company, with almost 200 employees.
Of course, using a free version comes with constraints, and you might find it worth it to pay for the features you need. When that happens, Mixpanel’s costs get confusing.
“Their pricing is tricky,” says Vilcov. “It’ll say something like, ‘you’ll need to pay X for this feature, but when we pay X, it tells us that it costs Y. It’d be nice if it was more straightforward.”
Though the world’s most well-known analytics platform certainly has its perks, it’s not quite advanced enough when it comes to getting the important customer details. Companies solve that gap by using web and mobile analytics solutions like Heap Analytics, Mixpanel, Mode and Amplitude.