If Events are the pillars of your Mixpanel project that show what your users do, then Properties are the building blocks that make up those actions. They illustrate qualities of those Events and qualities of the people behind those Events.
Mixpanel’s client-side libraries collect some Properties by default (see a list of default Properties). There are also some special or reserved Mixpanel Properties to be aware of. But beyond those default and reserved Properties, the rest is up to you: you can define as many Properties as you want, and those Properties can be anything you want. What data types does Mixpanel accept as Properties?
Ideally, Properties you select will help you answer your key business questions. There are three types of Properties: Event Properties, Super Properties, and People Properties. Each is used in a slightly different case depending on what you’re describing and how you want to use that data. Super Properties and People Properties are often used in tandem, and though they’re similar, there are nuances between the two:
Event Properties are bits of extra information that you send along with your Events describing the details of that action. They are usually specific to the Event they’re describing and don’t apply universally to other Events. Leveraging Event Properties allows you to conduct deeper analysis to better understand user behavior for a specific action.
While Event Properties generally describe the Event itself, they can also describe a user’s actions in relation to that specific Event. For example, for a Video Played Event, you may want to include a Property that lets you know if the user firing that Event finished watching the entire video or played only part of the video.
Other examples of Events and Event Properties you might send with that Event:
Event: Page View; Property: Name of page viewed.
Event: Video Played; Properties: Length, Artist, Genre.
Event: Made Purchase; Properties: Item(s) purchased, Total, Did the user have a coupon or not.
Event: Leveled Up; Properties: Level, Time to level up, Hours user played before this level up.
Super Properties are a type of Event Property that you can set once to automatically attach to every Event you’re tracking. They are Event Properties that apply to all Events without having to manually include them in each mixpanel.track() call.
Because Super Properties send values associated with Events, they are useful for seeing Properties over time. For example, you could set a Super Property to indicate with all of your Events whether they were done by a free or a paid user. Then, if a user changes from free to paid, you can see over time which Events led up to that conversion and which specific Events they did as each type of user.
Other examples of Super Properties you might send with every Event:
Organization that a user belongs to or rolls up into
Account age or signup date
Referring user ID or invited date
Because Super Properties are stored in the user’s cookie or in local storage, you’ll want to be relatively discerning about what you set as a Super Property so that site or app performance is not compromised. What should I do if my cookies become too large?
Event Properties and Super Properties are associated with specific Events (i.e., they describe those Events or the user that did the Event at that time). But People Properties give you detail about a certain user overall. In other words, People Properties describe your users as they exist in this moment.
For example, while an Event Property or Super Property tells you whether a user had a paid or free account over time when a user did specific actions, a People Property would simply show you currently if they are paid or free.
Because of this slight nuance between Event/Super and People Properties, you may find it helpful to track some of the same things both as Event/Super properties and as People Properties. In general, Property values that may change over time and whose change is valuable data may be best tracked as both a People Property and a Super Property.
Other examples of People vs. Super Properties:
Not only will the two offer different insights and give you the most flexibility in reporting, but also there are certain sections of Mixpanel that only allow you to filter or target by People Properties, such as:
Using Properties in reports
In Properties dropdowns where you can select both People and Event properties, the two will be distinguished by icons to the right - in this example, the first three Properties are People Properties, and the last three are Event Properties:
Note that the Mixpanel UI does not differentiate between Event and Super Properties - both are represented by the same icon.
If I’m storing something as a People and Super Property, which do I choose for my report?
Whether you choose the People or Event Property in your reporting depends on what data you’re looking for.
For example, let’s say you have both an Event (Super) Property and People Property called “Total purchases made.” If you want to find out how people are progressing from making five purchases to 20 purchases, you’d want to use the Event Property, which will show progression over time. However, if you want to look at behavior of the cohort that has made 20 purchases, you’d use the People Property, which will show you the current users who have made 20 purchases.