How To Get Started in Mixpanel

Published by Drew Johnson · December 15 2023
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If you’ve worked in digital product management, on a cross-functional tech team, or are interested in app development then you’ve probably run across a myriad of analytics tools. From Amplitude to Zoho, there’s a lot to sift through. Queue Mixpanel, one of our favorites here at Rapptr. Question is: what is it and can it help your product team discover meaningful user insights?

What is Mixpanel?

Mixpanel is an analytics tool with a focus on event tracking and reporting for a variety of platforms, making it a good fit for digital products, web apps, and mobile app analytics. It’s got a leg up on other tools for product development teams too, with a couple of big standout differences in the Mixpanel vs Google Analytics showdown. If you’re a GA4 user then Mixpanel features like real-time reporting, deep analysis options, and easy-to-use segmentation will make you miss Google’s Universal Analytics tool even more than you already do. Take it from us,

“Somehow, Mixpanel combines both flexibility and ease of use. As long as the data is structured well, it’s so quick for me to build a report for pretty much any question I may have about a product. Google, on the other hand, makes it so difficult to glean valuable information from the data.”

Luke Westbrook, Director of Product at Rapptr

What kind of events should I track?

It’s tempting to jump right in and get your hands dirty. While you might be inclined to track everything, we can’t recommend that tactic. Having too much data can be just as troublesome as having too little. Rapptr’s product team recommends thinking through what questions you’d like your data to help answer before you decide what kinds of events to track. Establishing key metrics ahead of time will help set you up for success and lay down a quality foundation that you can build your data-tracking plan on. The importance of identifying your key metrics can’t be overstated enough—slowing down now will save you time, and maybe a headache or two, later.

How to set up Mixpanel events

Once you’ve got your plan in place, your Mixpanel project set up and your data connected, you’re ready to start tracking events. Depending on your configurations you might be tracking some metrics by default, such as page views. You’ll probably want to set up some custom events though, to do this you’ll need to write a bit of code. For example, if you wanted to collect data about when a user completes a specific action you might write something like:

mixpanel.track('Specific action', { 'Completed': true, 'Times completed': 0, });

As you can see in the example above, you’re also able to include custom properties. In this case we’re tracking whether or not an action has been completed (true or false) and how many times the action was completed (an integer value). Additionally, your custom tracking code needs to be updated to match your product’s codebase and accompanying SDK. The example above is intended for a web app and written in JavaScript, whereas an iOS app written in Swift would need to have custom events added using Swift.

What are Mixpanel cohorts?

Before we get into cohorts we need to address user segments: what are they and why do we care about them? In short, segmentation is the process of sorting users into groups based on shared properties. These groupings can range from geographic to type of device used (technographic) to the time of day users are interacting with your product (behavioral). If you can track it, you can segment it.

So what are Mixpanel cohorts then? Essentially they’re segments that include filters, allowing you to round up users who share multiple behaviors or properties into a single group. For example, you can create a cohort for users that interact with your product daily, have purchased a subscription in the last 90 days, and are based in the US. Additionally, you can manipulate and analyze these cohorts further when you create a report. Being able to compare, cross-reference, and analyze both cohorts and segments can give you greater insight into your users. It feels like magic, but it’s science—really, really, cool data science. 

How does Mixpanel reporting work?

Mixpanel includes a variety of different report types to help you quickly and easily understand product management and marketing topics like funnels, user journeys, and more. Data visualization comes standard too and includes a variety of charts you might be familiar with: donuts, stacked columns and stacked lines, funnel visualization, and retention charts. We asked our product team to give some insights on reporting too and they reiterated the need to track the right metrics. Good reports start with good data,

"Whether it’s a retention curve to see how sticky your app is; or a value funnel to see where users are dropping off before they get to the real value of your product…setting up the right reports to answer key product questions is very straightforward. And when you take advantage of cohorts and filters and breakdowns and any of the myriad options that Mixpanel provides, you’re able to slice the data any which way you may need…But it cannot be overstated—no matter how easy Mixpanel makes reporting, if you’re not collecting the right data in the right format, which is up to you to plan out, you won’t be able to get the insights you need.”

Luke Westbrook, Director of Product at Rapptr

Mixpanel also provides options for how to present your reports by creating a custom Board or selecting from a variety of premade dashboards that include industry standard information. There’s options for privacy and automated sharing too. These features allow you to decide who can see your reports, as well as if and how you’d like them delivered to stakeholders on a regular cadence.


To recap, Mixpanel is a powerful analytics tool that can help product management and marketing professionals discover unique user insights. Customizable event tracking combined with best-in-class segmentation and reporting continuously help Rapptr’s product team discover new user insights. Having an event tracking strategy is a must, and with Mixpanel you make the most of yours. If you’d like to learn more you can find Mixpanel’s full documentation and blog, The Signal, on their site.

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