Published on

January 3, 2024


MixPanel vs Google Analytics 4: Which Should You Choose in 2024?

MixPanel vs Google Analytics 4, which one is the right choice for your business? Let's dive into a comparison and enhance your analytics with AI.
Giorgio Barilla
Digital Marketing Specialist

Product and website analytics tools provide crucial insights into how users interact with digital products. Two of the most popular options are Mixpanel and Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

But how do you know which one is the right fit for your needs? This comprehensive guide compares Mixpanel and GA4 across key criteria to help you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Mixpanel excels at flexible, customizable analysis of granular user behaviors and product interactions. GA4 focuses more on acquisition and marketing attribution.
  • Mixpanel has powerful user segmentation, retention cohort tracking, and data governance capabilities. GA4 provides basic segmentation and its predictive capabilities are limited.
  • Implementing Mixpanel only requires adding tracking code. Google Analytics 4 requires more setup for companies coming from Universal Analytics
  • Both tools offer AI features. Mixpanel has Sparks, a genAI to create reports, and GA4 has predictive metrics. If you want a platform-agnostic tool for all-around predictions without coding, Akkio can automatically import your fresh data from GA4 and create predictions to deploy where you need them most.


Product analytics platforms are essential for understanding user behaviors and optimizing the customer experience. They track how users interact with websites, mobile apps, and other digital products, providing actionable data to guide business decisions.

Mixpanel and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) are two leading options with some important distinctions:

  • Mixpanel captures highly granular event data to power sophisticated behavioral analysis and product usage insights. It offers strong segmentation, funnel analysis, and retention tracking capabilities.
  • Google Analytics focuses heavily on acquisition and marketing performance, providing a wealth of referrer, campaign, geo-location, and technology data. It tracks user behaviors, but with more basic segmentation compared to Mixpanel.

Below we’ll explore Mixpanel vs Google Analytics 4 in-depth across key evaluation criteria:

  • Data collection and analysis features
  • Ease of implementation and use
  • Pricing and support
  • Ideal use cases and alternative tools to consider

Let’s dive in!

Feature Comparison

Data Collection and Tracking

When it comes to ingesting behavioral data, Mixpanel and GA4 take very different approaches.

Mixpanel’s Flexible Event Tracking

Copyright Mixpanel / Homepage

The foundation of Mixpanel’s platform is tracking custom events that align with how users interact with your product.

For example, media sites can track video plays, song downloads, votes, comments, and more. SaaS companies can track sign ups, API calls, in-app clicks, purchases, and beyond.

Developers add Mixpanel tracking code to send event data directly from the application front-end or backend servers. This takes more upfront implementation effort but provides significant flexibility to capture the product events teams care about.

Popular tracked events in Mixpanel include:

  • User sign ups
  • Video views
  • Downloads
  • In-app clicks and feature usage
  • Form submissions
  • Purchases/transactions

Mixpanel’s open-ended, custom event tracking approach means the platform can analyze product experiences at a very granular level. Product teams get a detailed understanding of exactly how users interact with each product feature.

Google Analytics 4's Auto-Collected Events

In contrast to Mixpanel’s flexible event tracking, Google Analytics takes a rules-based approach centered around auto-collected events.

Many common events – like clicks, video plays, downloads, external link clicks, and more – are captured automatically once GA4 is implemented. This streamlined data collection comes at the cost of less flexibility and customization.

For other events teams want to analyze, GA4 offers manual event tagging using Google Tag Manager (their free tag management system). But compared to Mixpanel, this piecemeal approach to custom events gives more limited insights.

Out-of-the-box, Google Analytics 4 provides great high-level acquisition and marketing data. But for granular product analytics, Mixpanel has superior capabilities for understanding detailed user behaviors.

User Segmentation

Copyright / Google Analytics - Path Analytics

Mixpanel and GA4 also differ when it comes to grouping users into segments for analysis. Both provide segmentation, but Mixpanel’s approach is much more powerful.

Custom Segmentation in Mixpanel

Mixpanel enables analysts to combine unlimited criteria based on:

  • User properties like email, role, plan type
  • Behavioral events like viewing pricing, clicking features, completing key transactions
  • Cohorts like sign up period, first interaction date, acquisition channel

Complex user segments can be built using “AND” and “OR” operators to target very specific groups. For example, identify users who signed up through a referral program AND watched an onboarding video AND clicked 5+ features in their first week.

This flexible segmentation powers very tailored analysis to answer all types of product questions.

GA4’s Segment Templates

GA4 takes a simpler approach to segmentation centered around templates. Out-of-the-box templates target groups like:

  • Site visitors from social media
  • Users from specific countries
  • Visitors referred from email campaigns
  • Ecommerce buyers

GA4 also provides a custom segment builder for analysts to define their own user groups. But segments can only combine up to 4 criteria, limiting the analysis possibilities compared to Mixpanel.

So for targeted analysis of user behaviors, funnels, and product usage, Mixpanel has vastly superior segmentation powers. GA4 meets basic needs but lacks Mixpanel’s depth and customization abilities.

Funnel and Retention Analysis

Both Mixpanel and GA4 provide funnel analysis to evaluate how users progress through sign up flows, purchase processes, feature engagement journeys, and more.

They also track user retention over time to measure product stickiness and churn risks. But again there are important capability differences.

Mixpanel’s Funnel Features

Mixpanel’s flexible event tracking feeds extensive funnel and retention insights. Analysts can:

  • Track multi-step funnels with unlimited steps
  • Visualize detailed conversion rates and fallout at each funnel stage
  • Filter funnels by acquisition source, referrer, country, device, and other facets
  • Analyze retention by time period, user segment, behavior cohort, and more
  • Model expected lifetime value (LTV) based on retention projections

This rigorous analysis identifies exactly where conversion funnel and retention issues originate. Product and marketing teams can address leaks, boost efficiency, and improve experiences.

Funnel Exploration in GA4

Like Mixpanel, GA4 provides out-of-the-box sales and sign up funnel reports. Users can also build custom, multi-step funnels tracking how different user segments convert. It can be the first step of revenue forecasting.

However, GA4 funnels are much less customizable compared to Mixpanel. Key limitations include:

  • Funnels limited to 5 steps maximum
  • Less flexibility to analyze nuanced behavioral funnels
  • No retention rate modeling or LTV projections
  • Weaker segmentation compared to Mixpanel
  • User interactions and user segments are harder to implement
  • Using "Explore" and building your own funnel is the only reliable way to get granular results

So for comprehensive behavioral analysis – especially for B2B SaaS products – Mixpanel provides vastly more powerful funnel and retention tracking. Google Analytics 4 once again meets basic needs but lacks robustness compared to Mixpanel.

A/B Testing Capabilities

The final major analysis capability to compare is A/B testing – comparing different versions of product experiences to see which perform better.

Mixpanel’s Experiments

Copyright Mixpanel / Docs

Mixpanel’s visual editor makes it easy to set up A/B tests without any coding. Users can:

  • Target test groups based on filters like user properties, cohort dates, geographic locations, and more
  • Define the experiences for A and B groups
  • Measure click rates, conversions, retention impacts, and more

This eliminates guesswork to determine how changes impact metrics for different user segments.

Google Analytics doesn't provide A/B testing

GA4 doesn't provide A/B testing features, and require a connection to a third party tool. Google is also discontinuing Google Optimize in 2024, meaning businesses need to rely on VWO or other external companies to properly test their content assumptions

Predictive Analytics & AI Features

Forecasting in Akkio

Mixpanel and Google Analytics 4 both offer predictive analytics features. Mixpanel features "Spark", their own generative AI tool to create reports, while GA4 has light AI features in the search bar, showcasing quick results for users' queries, and deploy three predictive metrics.

The predictive metrics enable machine learning predictions for revenue, ROAS, and churn.

If you need more predictive analytics capabilities, take a look at Akkio and import your Google Analytics 4 data. You'll be able to predict based on a much larger set of metrics and get granular, fast insights inro your data.

Implementation and Ease of Use

Ease of implementation and use should factor significantly in choosing between Mixpanel vs GA4.

While their capabilities differ, how easily the platforms can be deployed and managed day-to-day is equally important.

Mixpanel’s Setup Process

The initial process of setting up Mixpanel tracking is straightforward:

1. Sign up for an account

2. Add Mixpanel tracking code in your web or mobile apps

3. Identify important events like signups, purchases, feature usage to track

And that’s it – Mixpanel automatically begins collecting user behavior analytics. More complex tracking like custom funnels or platform integrations can be added later.

So while Mixpanel requires upfront coding effort, implementation to start collecting basic event data is quick and simple.

Implementing GA4

GA4 introduces an entirely new tracking code and data structure. It does not migrate historical Google Analytics data either.

This means that switching to GA4 requires re-building custom dashboards, reports, and integrations: Existing analysis and scripts will break because GA4 has entirely new data parameters.

This makes migrating to GA4 extremely resource and cost intensive:

  • For large enterprises it can take 1 year to fully set up all conversions and goals in the new Google Analytics experience
  • Teams now lost ALL data collected with Universal Analytics. They can migrate it to a separate tool, but all historical data won't be carried over. For businesses where historical data is important, partially migrating to a separate platform like Plausible or SimpleAnalytics might be good;
  • Teams must overhaul analysis while maintaining continuity. Creating reports in Google Analytics 4 is significantly harder, and users need to import other Google products like Google Ads and Google Search Console in order to optimize data availability;

So Google Analytics 4’s implementation is vastly more painful compared to Mixpanel’s seamless onboarding. This requires serious consideration especially for existing GA users.

GA4 also faces lots of privacy concerns. Google switched to GA4 mostly due to the concerns from privacy regulators in Europe regarding data treatment in Universal Analytics.

Pricing and Support

Pricing also differs greatly between Mixpanel and Google Analytics:

Mixpanel’s Pricing Tiers

Mixpanel offers three pricing tiers depending on data volume and desired features:

Service Plans Comparison
Plan Base Price Key Details
Starter Free Unlimited data for very small sites; Explore basic features
Growth $20/month Core analysis capabilities for most customers; Up to 100 million data points/month
Enterprise $833/month For largest event volumes; Advanced controls and support

Most customers will sit in the Growth tier. Mixpanel offers volume discounts as consumption increases.

So Mixpanel adapts across customer sizes, but provides transparency into costs as usage scales up.

Cost Structure of GA4

GA4’s pricing follows Google’s common tactic of luring users with free access:

GA4 Plans Comparison
Plan Price Details
GA4 Free Free 10 million monthly events; Core reporting features
GA4 360 $150,000+/year For advanced enterprise capabilities and support

However GA4's free plan still comes with costs to funnel data to external systems for further analysis:

  • Funneling data into BigQuery for analysis incurs data storage and querying charges;
  • Data sampling in GA4 can impact your reports. By default, your explorations are limited to 2m of data, make sure you switch to 12m by default by following this guide and declaring it in your privacy policy;
  • Real time user data can be inaccurate due to anonymization.

So factoring in add-on costs, GA4 can become expensive for mid-large sites with significant traffic. Estimating total costs is also more difficult given consumption-based add-on fees.

Support Offered

Mixpanel and Google both provide standard online documentation and community forums for self-service support.

Phone and email support requires upgrading to enterprise/360 plans or purchasing premium services packages. So factor in costs here if direct support is desired.

Use Cases and Alternatives

Based on their respective strengths, Mixpanel and GA4 each align better for particular applications:

When Mixpanel is the Best Fit

Mixpanel’s breadth and depth of behavioral data make it ideal for product teams who want to:

Understand Exactly How Customers Use Products

  • Which features drive engagement, conversions, and retention?
  • Where in onboarding/activation do users struggle?
  • How can experiences be tailored to different user segments?
  • How's your user engagement, and what features are your users struggling with?

Continuously Optimize UX and Maximize Impact

  • Identify friction points causing fallout
  • Analyze micro-conversions for every step in key journeys
  • Run A/B tests to determine what changes boost KPIs

Predict Business Outcomes with User Analytics

  • Project revenue expansion and churn risks
  • Model expected lifetime value and payback periods
  • Quantify how changes to product and messaging influence user behaviors

So for product and growth teams wanting maximum behavioral insight, Mixpanel excels.

When GA4 is Better

GA4 clearly beats Mixpanel regarding digital marketing and advertising analytics:

Attribution Modeling and ROAS

  • Identify highest converting keywords, campaigns, referrers
  • Understand assist conversions across multiple touchpoints
  • Tie ad costs to acquisition volumes and sales revenue

Geo-Performance Tracking

  • Compare website engagement across locations
  • Localize on-site content and offers by country

Audience Segmentation

  • Analyze behavior variance across browsers, devices, tech configurations to understand user behavior and the performance of marketing campaigns

For marketers managing multi-channel programs, GA4 has unique strengths despite some gaps for product analytics.

Considering Other Product Analytics Tools

While Mixpanel and GA4 are both leaders, for some use cases a third-party product analytics tool like Amplitude, Pendo, or Heap may be preferable.

These provide Mixpanel-like event tracking and analysis without GA4’s focus on acquisition data. Benefits and key differences include:

  • More self-service features and simpler UI than Mixpanel
  • Unlimited data history compared to GA4’s sampling
  • Embedded qualitative feedback like NPS alongside usage data
  • Lower total cost of ownership for mid-size product teams

Carefully consider the use case, required integrations, and team skills when evaluating options. Don’t assume Mixpanel or GA4 provide the best fit.

Once your data is available, using a tool like Akkio to analyze it and make it actionable can improve your teams' output. Track marketing efforts without data scientists.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Mixpanel and Google Analytics 4 have distinct strengths making each better suited for particular applications:

Mixpanel powers sophisticated behavioral analysis to optimize digital product experiences. With highly flexible data tracking and segmentation, Mixpanel helps product teams understand user journeys and influence behaviors to drive business outcomes.

Google Analytics 4 focuses on the acquisition side – identifying visitor trends and quantifying marketing performance. With automatic tracking of ads, campaigns, geo-data, and technology profiles, GA4 provides attribution insights even if limited for granular product analytics.

If you want the benefit of both solutions, but also care about faster decision making, give predictive analytics a go. With Akkio, you can get started for free and import data from your Google Analytics 4.

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