Data Tracking Programs: A Comparative View

I've recently started an internship for an online company interested in launching an ecommerce section to their site. I love getting a chance to geek out over their ideas and delve into areas that I find so interesting. For as long as I've been blogging, there are gaps in my knowledge of programs that I'm starting to fill in. Data mining programs is one of them. 

Google Analytics has been my go-to, but there are large areas of data that I feel it cannot adequately flesh out. As I was searching for other useful tools, I took the chance to review several of the programs suggested and felt that other people might benefit from the review. If you have any experience with these programs or know of others, please comment below to let me know! Or if you know other tech-savvy people, please share this post with them and see what they have to say.

Terms and Ideas

One of the new terms I learned is "K-factor". I had no idea what this meant and had to look it up. Generally speaking, it's the measurement of how your ideas go viral with social media, tracking how far and fast it spreads. It's a very useful measurement to keep in mind. I would posit though that you may not need to rely on one of the above programs to track your k-factor. A combination of programs might do the trick. Conversely, if you do not have a presence on social media than it may not be a factor at all.

The idea of data mining is something I think has not gotten quite as much attention as it should. I previously worked with a company that was obsessed with updating their website regardless of the fact that it was unattractive, hard to navigate, and no one knew where there traffic came from, how they used the site, or how to get them more engaged. Their social media followed the same path of logic. It's hard to answer questions about who your audience actually is and make plans to further engage them when you're not mining your own data. You can do this many ways including tracking how they use your site (events, triggers, funnels), studying the demographics, and finding your referral and action correlations.

There are plenty of tools out there, both free and paid, that will get you where you need to go. You can start slow and go as deep or as shallow as you like. Just start somewhere. However, this is one area where if you want the full impact of opportunity you have to dig in. It is not enough to know; you must understand. That is the true core of this "big data" craze.


Below is a quick review of some of the larger available programs for data mining and analytics. Granted, every company is different and has its own short list of what they would like to see and accomplish so keep that in mind as I have reviewed the systems to our own end.

I have bulleted some notable points and written a usability summary below with suggestions for use.

As a general rule and drawing from past experience with implementing other systems, I always like the idea of using something “ready-made” before attempting to build an individual system. It allows you to try out features you might not have implemented yourself and gain some knowledge of how similar systems work, what stat you like, and how the pieces fit together before taking on the task and cost of creating from scratch.


  •  Unlimited (multi-step) funnels that would allow for very good tracking once tests are set up
  •  Cohort reports available
  • Customer profiles available, to track individuals
  •  Ruby compatible
  • Funnel focused
  •  More expensive, but scaled to volume
Kissmetrics looks like a good tool for very precious detailing of where customers drop-off or initiate actions. Makes it easier to track, optimize site, tweak conversion process, and estimate what might attract a buyer back to make repeat purchases. Also helps with tracking efficacy of out of site campaigns and various other modules. However, this is one of the most expensive options and some reviews have mentioned that it has what I like to call "funnel-vision" wherein it operates beautifully for tracking funnel operations at the expense of the other modules.


  • Free
  • Able to use funnels for events
  • Focuses on aggregate numbers and not individuals
  •  No K-factor or ability to see virality
Flurry is a mobile-based tracking program similar to Google Analytics though provides much more information for apps. This may be something to use in tandem with Analytics to focus on that section of advertising and activity, but does not look like it can offer the level of detail required to really target customers, especially on an individual basis, necessary for ecommerce. 


  • Able to use funnels (though seems to be harder than Kissmetrics and you have to pre-set them)
  •  Individual and group models to analyze data in aggregate or individual basis
  • Allows you to send e-mail notifications based on data
  • The individual v. aggregate plans are separate monthly charges based on volume
  • Some people suggest it’s harder to set up
  • No k-factor or virality
Mixpanel seems to be able to dig deep into data to answer more complex questions. It is not expensive, but some reviews suggest that the ability to dig into date is tempered by some difficulty in setting up the account. For example, it seems your funnels must be pre-set as you either can't edit them later or can't add new ones. That seems like such a large hurdle that it seems like it must be in the works on getting fixed. It does not seem as user-friendly up front and would require tweaking and testing for anyone responsible implementing or using the program. However, this seems to be the most capable of using data to improve ad campaigns, customer experience, and influence buying behavior.


  • Aggregate of all social media plus analytics to see overall impact
  • Pricing seems to be a “conversation” after a free trial
Sumall seems to be an interesting addition to other programs instead of something to replace them with, unless you wanted to replace Google Analytics. Does not appear to use funnels to collect data that would allow for conversion information. Upon signing into their interface, I couldn't make heads or tails of their graphs. It just seemed to be a big mess of lines and it was not intuitive enough to really figure out how to set our accounts in a way that would show us useful information. 


  • Adds typical Analytics, but adds extra information for blogs
  •  Integrates with existing CRM and email marketing services
  • Ability to see application separately (blog, e-commerce, website, ect)
  • Metrics at product and category level for e-commerce
  • Tracks contents and conversions of shopping carts
  • Triggered actions for e-commerce (abandoned cart of 5/15, send e-mail 6/15, ect)
  • Analyze subscriber services and campaign tracking and seo keyword conversion
  • Customer acquisition, conversion, and retention help
  • Monthly pricing by volume/services offered
I admit that I got sucked in by this one and spent quite a bit of time there. The integration services and multi-faceted approach to e-commerce, data tracking, conversion, and marketing sounds like they really thought this through. I found this to be the most comprehensive and seemed that it could be used on its own as opposed to combining several options. However, it was hard to find many reviews to see what kind of obstacles other people have found and it appears that to receive full functionality that one must purchase the full suite.

Keen IO

  • Can track analytics as well as cohort analysis, funnels, and segmentation
  • Pricing based on volume and starts free
  • They can help you set up and get started
  • If you want to track something, you must insert code – cannot auto track anything to start
  • Stats you want to track must be done individually across each device or platform
There isn’t as much information or reviews about Keen IO. Since there is a lot of “from scratch” work to track the data, you can customize it to fit your needs. However, that may require quite a bit of up-front work before you know whether you’ve tracked the right stats. It may be something that you move to after trying out another service or to replace it. It would also require a more in-depth conversation to see if it would be a true fit.


  • Allows you to see the information relevant to your position within a company and industry
  • Has an application specifically for tracking social media and gathering data
  •  Funnels for mobile and social
  • Access to user-level data with no data cap (meaning no sampling)
Interesting ability to quickly see which campaigns or product lines you are running and show both a cost and revenue per download/sale/click that leads to profits – on the same page. Pricing is a mystery and there are no reviews to speak of online, though it sounds like it might be a very flexible platform. Three separate applications provide 3 different services and probably price-points as well.


Overall, we decided to start playing with Foxmetrics and signed up for the trial version. I had several questions related to usability and they answered all my questions thoroughly and in a timely manner. My contact, Ryndal, was really nice and explained things in a way that I could understand since I told him that the tech details were beyond me. I had a problem getting anyone on their live chat, but I'm not sure if that was because I was on the site too late at night.

The other downside is that the ecommerce tracking only starts on their large subscription. It's $120/month which is not the highest but it is still not standard on the smaller packages. I'll report back on what we end up purchasing and what we think.

If you have any experience using data tracking programs, please leave me a comment below and tell me how it went! Or find me on Google+ and let me know there.

Making Money Online: Mypoints

I've taken the last week to kick back and relax. I haven't had a vacation in since the summer breaks where I didn't work in college. That was years ago, so it's been nice to take it easy. It's also been nice to get $50 in free gas by redeeming my points for a gas card from MyPoints so I can take a little road R&R. I've been looking at my reward programs recently and decided to start a series reviewing some of them for those of you who are not already getting rewarded for your everyday activities.

As you can see, that's actually my account. I've got $10 left after redeeming a $50 gas card. Not bad! Overview

MyPoints is an online program that allows you to redeem your points for merchandise, gift cards, paypal cash, and charity donations. You accumulate points by doing online shopping, receiving e-mails, doing surveys, and completing special offers. I originally signed up to get even more benefit out of online shopping and have used it primarily for that reason since. I generally click through the e-mails, but have found some great unexpected deals there too. For example, I always file my taxes online. This year, I used a click through for my tax prep and earned 1,000 points for something I was going to do anyways. They also have a new store where you can buy gift cards for yourself or as gifts and earn points. Most programs won't allow you to earn points by buying gift cards, so this is a huge bonus and really sets it apart.

I've been a members since May of 2006, so I can report with some authority on the program. My favorite way to redeem points is for gas cards, but I have occasionally redeemed them for shopping at other retailers. Since I became a member, I have never had a problem receiving my points or gift cards. They are always delivered on time and customer service is friendly and prompt.

Earn Bonus Points

If you are interested in signing up, go to Or if you'd like to earn bonus points, contact me through social media or leave a comment and I will send you an invite. By clicking through the invite, you earn 750 bonus points simply for making a $20 purchase which is roughly a $5 reward. Easy peasy and you're on your way to getting more bang for your buck.

Wednesday Links 6-12-13

Planned transitions are lovely. Too often it seems like everything is a fire drill. But when you know change is coming, you can prepare. This is my last week (of freedom!) before I start grad school. On one hand, it's lovely knowing that I'm taking an entire week to get things ready for the grind. On the other hand, now I've got an entire week of doing things I've been putting off since I've moved into this apartment. So let's get motivated.

How can you not have this video when talking about motivation? You can't.
  • Plan for your business like a pro with, surprise, Business Plan Pro Software that can guide you through it all with interactive charts and examples. 
  • A whole pageful of articles geared towards preparing you for college and grad school. 
  • An interesting article on how to deal with upcoming change, not by focusing on the change itself but by focusing inward on what should NOT change. 

How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse and Get Ahead in Business

The Walking Dead has eaten my brains! Seriously, I got through all three seasons in the last week and have been obsessed with it to the point that I can't shut up. Zombies are my thing. They are both my biggest fear and biggest obsession. I've been making zombie escape plans since I was six and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. Now, as a long-time Z-Day planner, I feel like I've got a handle on what I would do in any given situation and like to nit-pick other people's (obviously flawed) plans.

I feel like the world is already zombified to an extent. The business world is constantly eating itself and we as consumers sort of follow the heard as we cannibalize everything around us. I don't necessarily this is all a bad thing, but preparations for a post-apocalyptic world does have quite a bit of relevance in getting ahead today (mid-apocalypse). 

How to Not Get Eaten

Run faster than everyone else

Whether your vying for the next promotion, a new position, or trying to top your industry, everyone is running. When it comes down to zombies, business, and bears - you don't have to kill them, you just have to outrun the next guy.

There is strength in numbers

Very closely related to speak softly and carry a big stick, seek strong partnerships where there is synergy and you make each other stronger, but don't let them use you to chum the zombie waters. Think Star Fleet - everyone had a place and they complemented each other. Your team can go faster that way more efficiently. Stand back to back while you fight and you stand a better chance. Also, by carrying your own weight you will help insure that they won't hamstring you while they run in the other direction.

Get up after you trip

In the horror movie of life, we all trip. The next step is pivotal: do not stare into the jaws of death! Get up and run, Forest! Letting your mistakes keep you down is the only sure way to fail. You can cry for a bit, scream your head off, even think about just laying there for a while. But after your bout of crazy, put on your big-boy pants and get back to it.

Turn around a bit more often

I LOVE that I found the picture below because it's so true. Don't let your past control your future the same way you can't just lay down after mistakes. But look back to see what you can do differently or how to repeat past victories. Also, you know, literally watch your back. 

Don't be a dick

I feel like this is a life rule in general, but it's especially true in any situation that involves stress. Some say that being able to eat your competition will get you ahead, and it will for a while. But the second they can, people will join together to beat you with sticks. We remember that really great person who kept their head. Be that guy.

Don't neglect to plant your seeds

Just because you're running now doesn't mean that you always will. If you never take the chance to plant your seeds for the future, once you get settled (or stranded) you won't have anything to rely on. Never miss an opportunity to plan ahead and try to better your situation, even if they don't all pan out. You'll have enough experience doing it that you'll just get better until you can reap what you've sown. 

Did I miss any? If you have survival techniques that should be added here, comment below or tell me via Google+ or Twitter!

If you couldn't tell, I'm still on a zombie kick and decided to forgo the usual Wednesday round-up. I hope this was a good substitute. If you missed it, last weeks round-up was also brought to you by zombies - the survival round-up with infographics that won't take time while you're running away.