Guide to Mixpanel Basics

Welcome to Mixpanel! Your journey to getting insightful and actionable analytics begins with the Mixpanel Basics. This guide has been designed to surface the fundamental knowledge and resources necessary to succeed with Mixpanel. These core concepts are paramount to working with Mixpanel and will be assumed knowledge in all other training material.

In this guide we will cover:

  • What is Mixpanel? - An introduction to Mixpanel and what it can do.
  • The Data Model - How Mixpanel data is structured.
  • Your Account - Overview of your individual account settings in Mixpanel.
  • You Mixpanel Data - Where to look for information on your Mixpanel data.
  • Wrap-up - Tailored suggestions on where to go for continued learning and review of key terms in this guide.

Additional Resource Links

As you work your way through this guide (and other Mixpanel training guides), you will come across green callout boxes such as this. We will use these boxes to highlight additional resources to further develop your understanding of Mixpanel. These resources often go into much more depth of detail than what is covered in the guides, so we highly recommend that you check them out!

  What is Mixpanel?

Mixpanel is a user analytics tool that allows you to track how users interact with your Internet-connected application. Data is sent from a user’s device or your server to Mixpanel, where it can be analyzed in real-time to better identify trends and understand user behavior.  Mixpanel also allows you to use your behavioral analytics data to precisely target users with various types of messages and experiments to help drive maximum engagement and adoption.

Introduction to Mixpanel Course

For a more visual and holistic overview of Mixpanel, check out the Introduction to Mixpanel course which contains 45 minutes of video lessons covering the fundamentals of working with Mixpanel. We highly recommend this course to all new users as we have found that viewers of this course gain much more immediate value out of Mixpanel. And how do we know this? We use Mixpanel to track and analyze this, of course!

The Data Model

Unlike some other analytics tools which are limited to tracking pre-defined measures of engagement, such as page views and browser sessions, Mixpanel employs an event-based user-centric model that tracks the specific actions that individual users take within your product.

This event-based approach to analytics captures a deeper understanding of user engagement, which allows for more granular analysis and effective targeting of messages and experiments.

As for the actual structure of the Mixpanel data model, it is built on three key concepts: events, properties, and user profiles. Let's quickly discuss each of these components.

Events

An event is a meaningful action that a user performs in an application or on a website.

Events can be a wide range of actions. For example, a music service might track a new user signing up for an account or a user playing a song as events.

It is important to determine which user actions are important to collect and later analyze. Those actions should be tracked as events.

Event Properties

An event property is a detail about an event.

To elaborate, event properties are descriptive key-value pairs associated with an event, either describing the event itself or the user who performed that event.

When determining which events to collect, it is important to specify which details about that event should also be collected. Event properties are incredibly important, as they provide the necessary context about events to ensure valuable analytics. Properties also facilitate the dissection of data, allowing for more detailed insight into event-driven data.

When a new user signing up is tracked as an event, the type of plan they signed up with can be collected as a property of the sign-up event. If a user plays a song, the title of the song can be collected as a property of the song play event.

Mixpanel_Core__Event___Properties2.png

Once tracked, events and their properties are immutable, meaning they cannot be changed.

User Profiles

A user profile is a collection of information about an individual user.

Like events, user profiles have properties that describe the profile. Unlike events, however, user profiles and their properties constantly change to reflect the most recent information about a user.

A user property could be a static value, such as first name, or be something likely to change, such as the date of last login or the number of times the user has purchased a song.

Mixpanel_Core__User_Profile_2.png

Different Mixpanel Properties

Still have questions about the different types of properties?  Check out this article for more examples and additional detail on property types.

Your Account

Before looking at your individual Mixpanel account, we need to take a quick look at the Mixpanel admin system.  Your Mixpanel account will be part of at least one organization and any number of the projects owned by the organization.  An organization is the entity that connects Mixpanel plans, projects, and accounts together.  Projects can be thought of as containers for your Mixpanel data which are often separated by some logical criteria, testing (dev) vs production data for example.

Mixpanel_Core__Account_System__1_.png

Plans determine what features projects have access to in Mixpanel.  Access for specific accounts can be further limited by organization and project roles.  Your account will have one organization role for each organization and a project role for each project it is a part of.

2_Org_Diagram__1_.png 

Organization and Project Roles

The Organization Roles and Permissions article and the Project Roles and Permission article have more information on the respective roles and what each has access to in Mixpanel.  

In the upper left-hand corner of the Mixpanel page, you will see the current project you are in and your project role for that project.  You can see a list of projects you are part of by clicking on the project name (red box below). 

Basics_-_settings.png

In the upper right-hand corner (yellow box above), you will see your name with either the name of the organization or the number of organizations you are part of below.  Opening the menu here, you find your individual account settings by clicking Profile & Preferences under Account Settings.

Account Settings Overview

For complete details on the options available in your individual account settings check out this article.

The above covers the basic level of Mixpanel admin that all users should need.  If you are someone responsible for administering Mixpanel for your organization or a project, there are a few more things you should be aware of.  

Mixpanel Admin

If you are someone who will be responsible for administering Mixpanel for your organization, check out our Guide to Mixpanel Admin to learn a bit more about the Mixpanel system and the different ways to invite users and manage your account. 

Your Mixpanel Data

Mixpanel tracking is fully customizable, meaning you decide exactly what gets tracked in addition to how and when that happens.  This makes Mixpanel tracking extremely powerful but it means that some forethought is necessary for each implementation.

When jumping into Mixpanel you will find yourself in one of two places, a project already populated with data or a project without data that needs to implement Mixpanel.

Project Has Data

As a new user in an existing project, the first challenge you will be met with is familiarizing yourself with the data in Mixpanel.  Ideally, there are two resources available to help with this, an implementation spec and a filled out Lexicon.

An implementation spec is a document set up by your team that contains information on what events and properties are being tracked in a project and when they are triggered.  Lexicon is a Mixpanel data management tool where project owners and admins can, among other things, input event and property descriptions that will populate in different reports in Mixpanel.

Mixpanel_Core_Lexicon_Description.png

Users with any role can find and view the Lexicon under the Data Management tab in Mixpanel.

Project Needs Data

For those that still need to get data into their Mixpanel project, we recommend that you start by creating an implementation spec to guide you as you implement Mixpanel.  The details of how these are set up are outside the scope of Mixpanel Basics but for those interested, make sure to check out our Implementers guide in the Next Steps section below for a complete overview.

Wrap Up

Congratulations on completing the Mixpanel Basics!  By finishing this guide, you now have the basic knowledge necessary to begin diving deeper into Mixpanel.  

Next Steps

Where to go next with Mixpanel really depends on your role in regards to Mixpanel and where your companies implementation currently stands.

Guide to Mixpanel Implementation

The Guide to Mixpanel Implementation will walk you through the process of setting up Mixpanel tracking for your projects. Any users looking to set up tracking for a new project or re-implementing on an old project should start here.

If your project already has data, you should be ready to begin learning about the advanced analytics capabilities in Mixpanel.  

Guide to Mixpanel Analysis

Mixpanel offers a wide range of reports and analysis techniques for looking at your data.  The Guide to Mixpanel Analysis will introduce you to the different reports in Mixpanel, show you how to build them and provide some example use cases. 

Key Terms (Review)

Here we will define some of the key terms we discussed in Mixpanel Basics.

 Term Definition

 Event

A meaningful action that a user performs in an application or on a website.

 Event Property

Detail attributed to an event.  Structured as a key:value pair where key is the property name and value is the value given to that property.

 Implementation     Spec

An implementation spec helps make sure that what is tracked in a project is directly connected to your goals and performance indicators, optimizing your Mixpanel use case.  The document can serve as a guide for your Mixpanel implementation and is a valuable reference for new and returning users to a Mixpanel project.  You can find some examples of different implementation specs here.

 Lexicon

Data management tool in Mixpanel that allows users to add definitions to events and properties and merge or drop events and properties among other things.  See this article for an overview of the Lexicon tool.

 Organization

The controlling entity that links individual accounts, projects, and a Mixpanel plan together.

 Organization Role

Each account within an organization has one organization role which determines what that account has access to in the Organization Settings.  Different organization roles and their permissions can be seen here.

 Plan

A plan defines the features and data volume limits for the organization over a specified term length. All projects housed within said organization are subject to the plan's specifications.  Plan information can be seen in the Organization Settings menu.

 Project

A container for your product's analytics data.

 Project Role

Project roles determine what features an account will have access to in a project.  An account can have a different role for each project it is a part of. Different project roles and their permissions can be seen here.

 User Profile

Collection of information about a user.  Consists of one or many user properties.

 User Property

Detail attributed to a user profile.  Structured as a key:value pair where key is the property name and value is the value given to that property.

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