Amplitude vs Mixpanel: Understand the Pros and Cons of Each Tool

One of the most common questions I get from readers and clients are my thoughts on the whole Amplitude vs Mixpanel debate.

Companies struggle to choose between them because they appear to be quite similar. Unless you spend a lot of time using both of them, it can be hard to understand the subtle differences and consequences of choosing wrongly.

Lucky for you, I have spent the last 4 years helping companies set up these two tools (and other ones) and I understand the pros and cons of each one.

In this post, I’ll give you a breakdown of what each tool can do in terms of features and how you can use them in your business.

I’ll also walk you through a few scenarios that can determine which tool is a better fit depending on how much data you’re planning on tracking, what features do you need and what other tools you might already have in your stack.

Finally, I included two individual updates for how Mixpanel and Amplitude are performing in 2020. Each update is around 10 minutes long and will give you a good idea as to what each tool has added and where they are going in the future. Look for the “Amplitude & Mixpanel in 2020” link below.

Let’s dive right in…

Video Walkthrough of Mixpanel vs Amplitude

This is a video walkthrough I recorded in 2018 where I show what the actual reports look like and cover a few use cases where each tool would be a better fit.

If you want an in-depth and step by step comparison of each tool, then this video is perfect for you. Otherwise, you can jump around in this post and find the relevant section for you.

Comparing Fundamental Reports (Segmentation, Funnel, and Retention)

When it comes to reporting, I like to categorize them into two major categories: fundamental and advanced. You need to master the fundamentals reports before you can make the most out of advanced options.

The fundamental reports in both of these tools are:

  • Segmentation or Insights
  • Funnels
  • Retention

Before we jump into each report, I’ll spoil the findings. Both of these tools are quite similar when it comes to fundamentals reports. If this is what you’ll be primarily using, you’ll be fine using either tool.

Let’s now look at what each report looks like in both tools and the minor differences among them.

Segmentation or Insights

In this report, you’ll be segmenting your data by relevant event or user properties. You’ll be basically slicing your data to see trends and get answers to basic questions.

Let’s look at a simple example.

You want to see what is the breakdown of pricing plans that users are selecting when they become paid subscribers.

You’ll take the event that tracks when a user becomes a subscriber and segment it by pricing plan.

This is what this would look like in Mixpanel:

Mixpanel Insights Report

And this is what it would look like in Amplitude:

Amplitude Segmentation Report

You can see this data in different formats like bar, trends, and tables. You can also filter this data by user attributes, cohorts, and other properties. Both Mixpanel and Amplitude offer roughly the same functionality in this report.

However, Amplitude gets a slight edge here. They have built-in minor improvements in how you can analyze your data such as easily running calculations like summing or finding averages:

Amplitude Handy Table Calculations
Amplitude Handy Table Calculations

Funnels

The second fundamental report is Funnels. You’ll use this report to understand where users are dropping off in your product. Common flows include onboarding, checkout, and other product flows.

Both tools let you build funnels on the fly and see the conversion rate in between steps. Here are the funnels in Mixpanel:

Mixpanel Funnels

Here are the funnels in Amplitude:

Amplitude Funnels

You can easily filter steps to only include certain users such as only iOS users or Canadian users.

The major difference here is that Amplitude lets you look at ordered and unordered funnels. Ordered funnels must be completed in the exact sequence while unordered funnels can be completed in any order.

Retention

The third and final fundamental report is Retention which uses cohort analysis to group users into buckets (or cohorts) and lets you analyze user retention.

This is what Retention reports look like in Mixpanel:

Mixpanel Retention Report

This is what Retention reports look like in Amplitude:

Amplitude Retention Report

Once again, both reports are pretty similar but Amplitude a few extra options around how to calculate retention. They have written an extensive guide on Product Analysis and Retention and they have built these ideas into their product. If you don’t use them, then these extra features are irrelevant to you.

Advanced Reporting in Both Tools

Once we move beyond the fundamentals, we can start to see a drastic difference between Mixpanel and Amplitude.

Note that most of these reports will not work well unless you’re already capturing significant data.

This is a common mistake that I see companies make all the time. They are seduced by one of these advanced reports but they barely have any data. Assume that most of these reports will not be useful to you unless you’re at least tracking 25,000+ users on a regular basis.

There are a few reports that both tools have and once again, they are quite similar. This includes reports like Flows/Pathfinder, Signal/Compass and User Cohorts.

Amplitude then has a handful of reports that Mixpanel doesn’t offer directly. You might be able to hack them into the platform (using something JQL) but it wouldn’t be a one to one replacement.

Personas

Amplitude Personas Report

Lifecycle

Amplitude Lifecycle Report

Impact

Amplitude Impact Report

Related: If you’re in charge of marketing or product at your company, be sure to check out the 6 Reports That You Should Be Running to increase the growth of your product and company.

Dashboard Support

Being able to create dashboards to summarize your most important KPIs is an easy way to get value out of both of these tools.

This is what dashboards look like in Mixpanel:

Mixpanel Dashboards

This is what dashboards look like in Amplitude:

Amplitude Dashboards

The functionality here is pretty similar again. You can make widgets different sizes, easily send email summaries to different people and create multiple dashboards.

I also see TV-friendly for those companies who like to display their dashboards throughout their office.

Taking Action Based on Data (Notifications, A/B Testing)

This is one of the areas where Mixpanel gets a clear edge over Amplitude. Mixpanel has the ability to send notifications to your users through email, SMS, push notifications and in-app.

This is something Amplitude doesn’t and instead relies on partners to handle.

If you’re looking for a tool that will do both, then Mixpanel is an easy choice. If you already have a tool for this (like Intercom), then this functionality won’t be relevant to you.

Mixpanel also offers the ability to run A/B tests on mobile apps (no web A/B testing available). This is useful if you are tracking mobile data in your apps.

Keeping Your Data Clean and Accurate

I wanted to a minute and take about data governance. This is one of the most underrated things that companies tend to ignore when it comes to analytics.

Both Mixpanel and Amplitude have added features to help you maintain the accuracy and structure of your data.

Mixpanel calls this Lexicon and looks like this:

Mixpanel Lexicon

Amplitude calls this Taxonomy:

Amplitude Taxonomy

In both of options, you can rename events, add descriptions so users understand what they do and hide any data that isn’t relevant or accurate. The functionality is quite similar across both tools and there aren’t enough differences to give either one an edge.

Related: If you’re in charge of marketing or product at your company, be sure to check out the 6 Reports That You Should Be Running to increase the growth of your product and company.

Technical Implementation Notes

Implementing Mixpanel or Amplitude requires roughly the same work.

You’ll be to plan out your implementation to figure out what events, event properties and user properties you want to track.

Regardless of which tool you choose, you should create a tracking plan before you ever write any code.

Your next choice will be around what SDKs you want to use to collect your data. Mixpanel and Amplitude both offer SDKs for Javascript (web tracking), iOS and Android.

These are client-side libraries which tend to be easier to get started with though backend libraries can offer more long term reliability.

Mixpanel then offers backend SDKs for popular languages like Ruby, Python, Node.js, Unity, etc. Amplitude also offers an HTTPs API for handling any backend events (Mixpanel also offers this).

Both tools use the same methods such as track(), identify(), etc. Their API documentation will pretty similar but Mixpanel does offer more SDK options which can save you time when setting up your tracking.

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, Mixpanel and Amplitude take a slightly different approach.

Amplitude gives you a free plan with 10M events per month (120M per year) and unlimited profiles. This plan includes all the fundamental reports I mentioned above and gives you lots of room to grow.

Amplitude Pricing 2019

If you need more events per month or advanced reports, then you need to talk to their sales team about their Growth or Enterprise plans.

Mixpanel, on the other hand, uses a combination of event and user plans. A plan with 10M events per year (not month) and 50,000 users will cost $150 each for a total of $300 per month ($3,600 per year).

Mixpanel Pricing 2019

This would include the fundamental reports I mentioned above. If you need advanced reports (like Flows and Cohorts), you would once again need to talk to their sales team.

Even though there is a clear difference in pricing, you need to remember that Mixpanel does offer notifications and A/B testing in their paid plans. This would be something that you would need to pay a second tool if you were to choose Amplitude.

January 5, 2021 Update:

Mixpanel has updated their pricing and they provided me with the following details:

Free plan pricing – we’ve made our free plan significantly more generous, with up to 100K monthly tracked users, unlimited data history & seats, access to ALL core reports, and ability to select US or EU data residency for privacy compliance. Read more here.
Mixpanel for Startups pricing – our Startups program offers one year for free to qualifying companies. That’s $50,000 in credits toward our Growth Plan which unlocks even more features. Read more here.

Scenario #1: You Need to Send Notifications (Email, SMS, Push, In-App)

In our client work, we research different and how they would apply to their specific situation. I’ll walk you through 4 common scenarios and how Mixpanel and Amplitude would stack under specific conditions.

In our first scenario, we’ll look at a company that wants basic analytics (mostly fundamental reports) and also want to send notifications to their users, ideally within the same tool.

Let’s start by showing you how we would compare these tools across pricing, key features and what assumptions we are making. The comparison would look like this:

Scenario 1: Giving More Weight to Notification Support
Scenario 1: Giving More Weight to Notification Support

As you can see, Mixpanel clearly outperforms Amplitude due to their built-in notification support. If you chose Amplitude, you would need a secondary tool like Intercom to fill in the gaps.

Scenario #2: You Want to Use Segment.com

In our second scenario, let’s imagine that you want to use Segment.com as your top layer for data collection. Besides that, you’re interested in basic analytics and integrating with other tools.

Here is our table comparison for scenario 2:

Scenario 2: Using Segment.com
Scenario 2: Using Segment.com

Both Mixpanel and Amplitude will integrate nicely with Segment.com but Amplitude will get a slight edge in their basic analytics reports. However, you can see that the overall difference is very much and you will likely be fine with either option.

Choosing Segment.com also means that you will be able to easily switch tools in the future.

Scenario #3: You’re a B2B Product and Use Account Based Marketing (ABM)

In our third scenario, we’ll look at a B2B company who is interested in measuring the performance of their ABM (Account Based Marketing) efforts.

This company needs to be able to see their users individually and as part of accounts (companies).

Here is our table comparison for scenario 3:

Scenario 3: B2B Products and Account Based Tracking
Scenario 3: B2B Products and Account Based Tracking

Amplitude has a special add on just for this called Accounts. Mixpanel could replicate part of this functionality but it isn’t as well designed as what Amplitude offers.

Scenario #4: You Need to Integrate With Your Existing Tools

In our fourth scenario, let’s look at a company that cares deeply about integrating with their existing stack of tools.

Here is our table comparison for scenario 4:

Scenario 4: Integrating with Existing Tools
Scenario 4: Integrating with Existing Tools

Both Mixpanel and Amplitude have native integrations but Mixpanel will get a slight edge here because of their support for Zapier. This opens up hundreds of potential integrations in just a few clicks.

Amplitude & Mixpanel in 2020

Both tools have continued to improve their product though Mixpanel has likely made the most improvement. They added several new reports and refreshed their entire interface. I recorded two individual updates which you can watch below to see some of the changes, where they are going in the future and how either of these tools fits into your overall data strategy.

Mixpanel in 2020:

Amplitude in 2020:

Conclusion

I hope you found this comparison useful.

If you want to dive deeper into each tool, then check our in-depth guides on Mixpanel and Amplitude. In these guides, I’ll go over each report in much more detail and cover other functionality that wasn’t relevant for this post.

What did you think of this post?

There’s more comparisons! Use the links below to keep exploring technology choices:


One more thing before you go! Do you know how to get more insights out of your data? 

All companies are sitting on a goldmine of data that they haven't fully explored. It's not about technology or capturing more data. The key is to learn how to make the most of your current data and convert it into actionable insights. This is the main idea behind my first book, The Data Miage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data

I'm excited to announce the release of the book through all major retailers. If you're interested, you can download the first chapter for free using the form below. You'll learn what the best data-driven companies do differently and how to make sure you're playing the right data game.

7 thoughts on “Amplitude vs Mixpanel: Understand the Pros and Cons of Each Tool”

  1. This truly deserves many many more comments! THANK YOU for saving me hours/days/weeks of research!

    Really appreciate the time you put into this and the clarity.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the detailed breakdown Ruben. I know Amplitude has the ability to send automated emailed dashboard reports. Does mix panel offer something similar?

    Reply

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