Heap vs Amplitude: A Deeper Dive
Heap and Amplitude are both event-based analytics tools used by thousands of websites and
mobile apps today. Both tools are real-time, have advanced conversion funnels, segmentation analysis,
and other ways of analyzing data that are important to modern apps.
Beyond that, however, there are significant differences. Amplitude requires you to manually write custom
tracking code for each event you care about. Heap, however, offers automatic event tracking, where user
interactions are captured automatically without any code.
Automatic Event Tracking
One of Heap's main features is its ability to track events on
your website or mobile app automatically. On web, Heap tracks every pageview, click,
form submission and more without any work on your part. On mobile, Heap automatically tracks
every touch, swipe, tap, and other gesture events. Amplitude, on the other hand, requires manual
instrumentation for each and every event you want to track, using the Amplitude
track method. As a result, with Heap, you can start generating conversion funnels
after a 1 minute installation. Amplitude can take weeks to properly instrument for complex apps,
and requires significant ongoing maintenance.
All events defined in Heap are applied retroactively. If you've only defined a "Visit Signup
Page" event today, but have had Heap installed for the past five months, then you'll view the
past five months of data on this interaction instantly. This allows you the flexibility to
define events and run queries whenever they're needed, rather than accounting for every
possibility from the outset. Amplitude's events only begin tracking data once you've written
tracking code and deployed it live.
Complete User Histories
Both Heap and Amplitude offer the ability to drill down into individual
users. However, Heap tracks everything users do automatically. This means that only Heap
shows a comprehensive picture of every single thing a given user has done on your website or
mobile app. Amplitude will only display actions for each user that you've explicitly chosen to
Getting event and user data into Amplitude requires code to be written, no matter what source
that data is coming from–web, mobile, or server-side. Heap, however, automates data collection
across a multitude of sources. Heap offers automatic, codeless data collection on web and
mobile, as well as seamless integrations with best-in-class third-party tools. Heap brings in
data from tools like Salesforce, Marketo, and more.
Retroactive Data Warehouse
Heap and Amplitude both allow clients to ETL their event and user data
into Amazon Redshift. This means you can run SQL queries directly against Heap or
Amplitude data, or integrate that data with a BI tool like Looker or Tableau. However, only Heap
provides retroactive warehousing capabilities. You can define an event within Heap's UI, and in
just a few hours, you can query it in SQL. Heap SQL includes all historical data for the event
from the day you installed Heap.
Heap provides a simple, point-and-click interface that
allows people to create events without knowing any code. Product managers, marketers, designers,
and anyone else can setup conversion funnels or do segmentation analysis in seconds. By
contrast, Amplitude requires custom development work for each event you need to track. (In case
it's necessary, Heap still offers the ability to manually track events in much the same way as
When Should I Use Amplitude?
Amplitude is built primarily for mobile apps. Their clients include many mobile gaming and social
apps. If your business is mobile-first and falls into one of these categories, Amplitude may be
a better fit than Heap.
When Should I Use Heap?
Heap is well-suited for any product manager, marketer, engineer, or data analyst that wants to
better understand their users without spending engineering time on implementation. The automatic
event tracking in Heap eliminates work for engineering work, plays well with constantly changing
websites and apps, and enables retroactive analysis. Additionally, Heap excels with an ecosystem
of integrations with best-in-class third-party tools. The Event Visualizer makes analytics more
accessible to anyone in a business than Amplitude's approach.