Start Your Mixpanel JourneyGet started with Mixpanel. This page covers strategies to implement Mixpanel correctly, and serves as the starting point of your Mixpanel journey.
Welcome to Mixpanel
Mixpanel offers the tools needed to acquire actionable user analytics. Its reports aid in creating product strategy, achieving business goals, and having a comprehensive understanding of a product’s user-base.
In order to get the most out of Mixpanel, it is important to understand its fundamentals. Mixpanel uses event-based tracking at its core. While it is common to see metrics such as page views and overall user traffic as the foundation of other analytics platforms, Mixpanel goes a step beyond and focuses on individual actions, also known as events.
Focusing on events gives a more granular and meaningful perspective into how users interact with a website or application. While tracking page views is helpful, it will not provide the focused and detailed perspective that tracking a user action like a button click, sign-up, or login will.
Understanding the specific actions that a user takes allows for confident decision making. By taking the time to understand and use event based tracking, you will be able to obtain actionable insights. Mixpanel will help you understand your users, and that will let you build strategies and make decisions based on actions that positively affect your KPIs.
The following pages will provide an overview that will help you understand best practices to follow when building a Mixpanel implementation, as well as give a high-level understanding of how to use Mixpanel reports.
Mixpanel uses a fictional music service called Music Finder when teaching how to use its product. The example Music Finder website can be seen on the introduction webinars. 'Start Your Journey' will use Music Finder examples to help share knowledge on Mixpanel and how to best utilize it.
Events and Properties
Mixpanel’s event-based tracking is built on three key concepts: events, their properties, and people profiles.
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.
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 more detailed insight into event-driven data.
When a new user signing up is tracked as an event, the name of the person 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.
Once tracked, an event and its properties will not change.
Lastly, there may be properties that should be tracked with every event, regardless of what that event is. This could be a detail such as user’s plan type, or the domain where the user came from. For details that are deemed important in every event, a super property can be used. A super property automatically attaches as a property to every single event, ensuring that important details are always sent with events.
A people profile is a collection of information about an individual user.
Like events, people profiles have properties that describe the profile. Unlike events, however, people profiles constantly change to reflect the most recent information about a user.
A people 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.
Create a Tracking Plan
Mixpanel recommends creating a tracking plan that presents business goals and analytics questions while setting up Mixpanel. The tracking plan should clearly outline the events, event properties, super properties, and people properties needed to align a Mixpanel implementation with quantifiable KPIs and business goals.
Ultimately, your tracking plan will serve as a map for implementing Mixpanel and a reference ensuring that meaningful events and properties are being collected. It should be treated as a mutable document that is continuously updated with any implementation changes or notes that can be referenced by your team. A tracking plan should be the source of truth for questions about your Mixpanel implementation.
What to Include in a Tracking Plan
Before even determining what possible events are, it is important to write out what you hope to accomplish through tracking. After that, consider the path within the application that you would expect a user to follow to reach your goal. Lastly and most importantly, transfer that path to specific events and the properties that describe them. This can then, for example, be viewed in in a Mixpanel Funnels Report that calculates how many users are completing this path.
To break this down, start building your tracking plan by determining:
- A business goal (i.e., something you're trying to accomplish to improve your business or product).
- A related question about user behavior.
- The user flow, or chain of behavior, you would need to look at to answer that question.
- The specific events, event properties and people properties that define that user flow and those user behaviors.
- Events and properties needed to target and send Mixpanel messages and campaigns.
For example, let's say you work for a music sharing application and you're building a tracking plan to get started with Mixpanel. You've decided that the most important metric for your business is revenue, so you'll start by addressing a goal related to revenue, connect that to a question, build a user flow, and then select items to track:
Goal: Drive more song purchases.
Question: What music artist is generating the most revenue?
User flow: Log in -> Listen to Song -> Purchase Song
Specifics to track:
Event name: Log in
-Property 1: Username | Example Value: (dexter)
-Property 2: Age | Example Value: (29)
-Property 3: Gender | Example Value: (female)
Event name: Listen to Song
-Property 1: Song Title | Example Values: (Stairway, Flow, California)
-Property 2: Song Artist | Example Values: (The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys)
-Property 3: User Plan Type | Example Values: (Free, Premium)
Event name: Purchase Song
-Property 1: Song Artist | Example Values: (business, personal)
-Property 2: Song Price | Example Values: ($0.99, $1.00, $2.00)
-Property 3: User Plan Type | Example Value: (Free, Premium)
Mixpanel’s client-side libraries add many important properties by default, so you don’t have to worry about generic properties like device type, browser, operating system, city, etc.
Sample Tracking Plans
There are many ways to approach building a tracking plan. Whether it be flowcharts, spreadsheets, or napkin sketches, there are many ways to record what events and properties should be tracked.
A music service, for example, could have an implementation specification spreadsheet. This spreadsheet would serve as a single source of truth, and could be used to both implement Mixpanel as well as answer ongoing questions about the implementation. It would look like:
To view the entire specification spreadsheet from above, view this Google spreadsheet.
Make a copy of the template sheet used above using Google Sheets. Instructions on copying a Google Sheet can be found here.
It is important to ensure that tracking plan information is available in your Mixpanel projects. Lexicon allows you to label events and properties so that all information available in a tracking plan is also easily viewable from within a Mixpanel project.
Mixpanel works across platforms, addressing the multitude of networked devices and technologies currently available. These implementations include websites, iOS applications, and Android applications.
Not only that, but Mixpanel is also able to track individual users as they move across platforms, ensuring that the full user journey through a service is captured.
It also is possible to track events using either a client-side implementation, or build a server-side implementation to have more granular control over the backend implementation.
View the Mixpanel developer documentation to see all of the libraries currently supported by Mixpanel, and the various platforms where Mixpanel can be implemented.
Next Step: Set up Your Tracking