One Is Not Enough? Benefits of Multiple BI Tools

The business intelligence/analytics tool category is one of the few categories in which we find that few startups stop at just one service. Instead, we see upwards of 46% of users taking advantage of two, three or even more tools, recognizing that each tool has its own nuances and advantages, but that not one solution really rises above the others to do it all.

What are the benefits of using multiple business intelligence tools?
Some founders seem to relish the opportunity to use multiple services, really taking advantage of the benefits of each tool. Mattan Griffel, founder of One Month, explains, “We use a lot of analytics tools, including Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Optimizely, Intercom and Olark--but mostly Mixpanel and Google Analytics. Mixpanel is event-based and tracks events according to people, so if we want to do queries on what percentage of people have moved through a certain funnel, that's easier to set up in Mixpanel. Google Analytics doesn't automatically thread people together by event, but it does other great things, like search and AdWords.” Dan Friedman, founder of Thinkful, explains his BI and analytics tools similarly: “We use a combination of Mixpanel, Optimizely, Google Analytics and our own internal tools. Mixpanel is great for tracking by person; Google Analytics gives us easily accessible aggregate visitor data; Optimizely offers the easiest A/B testing; and our own internal tools provide precision, measuring exactly what we want and how we want it.”

Which are the most popular BI/analytics tools in the Stacklist community?

  • Google AnalyticsRecommended as a “must” for all startups, Google Analytics is free, and ideal for for early-stage startups. “In the early stages, GA is definitely the way to go, and then your needs tend to become more sophisticated,” says Brian Fitzgerald, founder and CEO of Tinkergarten.
  • MixpanelMore robust than Google Analytics, Mixpanel is focused around funnels and optimizing the way traffic moves through your site. Users love its real-time, big-picture data and out-of-the-box reporting capabilities. “Something we found about Mixpanel over Google Analytics is that they have reports that highlight retention,” explains Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Point. “When you’re in the seed stage, Mixpanel gives you great insight into determining holistically how your product is doing, the overall health of your app and user interactions. Once you have that holistic pic and you start looking into micro-optimizations, it’s time to move onto a service like Looker.”
  • KissmetricsA strong competitor to Mixpanel, Kissmetrics optimizes website traffic, and provides strong user-level data, including the ability to maintain user identity across the entire conversion funnel--for both logged-in and logged-out users. But it isn’t great for aggregating all of that  data and doesn’t have the out-of-the-box reporting that Mixpanel customers appreciate. “Kissmetrics is really powerful once you get over the initial setup, which 80% of people don't do,” according to Dan Putt, founder and chief product officer at Reboot.
  • OptimizelyThough it lacks many of the customization features prized by Stacklist respondents, Optimizely boasts the easiest A/B testing on the market. “It’s easy for non-coders,” says Shane Snow, co-founder of Contently. “It’s also very easy to set up and use,” adds Adam Seifer of Everplans.
  • RJMetricsA BI and analytics tool that doesn’t just give you the numbers, but has in-house staff who analyze your data and present it to you in a neat little package. Derby Games co-founders Walter and Tom Hessert state, “We’d recommend RJMetrics for larger startups. RJMetrics allows you to get your reporting dashboards set up and helps you focus on your key metrics. It only costs $500 a month for us. You basically send them your entire database and they can run all sorts of queries against it.”
  • ChartioBoasts highly customizable charts and graphs enabling users to view their data from a number of different perspectives, but lacks the scope of some of its competitors. Gregg Carey, co-founder and VP of Operations at Voxy tells us, “We've been pretty happy with Chartio. We have a pretty complicated product, and it’s customized for each user, so the analytics process/collection has been complicated. Chartio gives us a beautiful display with inputs into our database. It's visually great, updated in real time and connected to our database. You put your variables in and get returns immediately. We use it for so many things, including company KPIs, lower-level tracking, hypotheses that we want to run, etc. Anywhere we're collecting data, we're plugging that into Chartio. But if you really want to get value out of it, you have to do a little work--it's certainly not a plug-and-play solution. ”

If you do end up using multiple business intelligence services, here’s a bit of advice: Run your BI tools through Segment, which gets rave reviews from Stacklist users and enables you to view all of your data on one platform. Mattan Griffel of One Month uses Segment to manage his arsenal of BI tools. “To centralize all of our data, we use Segment and send all of our analytics there, where we track to all of these different services.” In fact, he adds, “a lot of the tools we use are dependent on what is easy to set up through Segment.” Segment is universally loved among all Stacklist users.

Finding the right BI can be a daunting task, but with a little trial and error and a measure of patience, you’ll find the right mix that suits your growing business needs.