Hotjar vs Google Analytics in 2021: Pros, Cons, Differences

If you’re looking to choose between Google Analytics (also known as GA) and Hotjar, you may find the approach in this article unexpected, as we would recommend using both, each for a different goal.

It’s rather hard to compare Google Analytics and Hotjar, as they offer a completely different set of features, and therefore in many cases are used by product managers, marketing specialists, and UX experts as tools that complement one another.

TL;DR: The main differences

  • Google Analytics is great for tracking web traffic, audiences, conversions, bounce rates, and other numeric metrics.
  • Hotjar is more visual, mainly focusing on heatmaps, visitor session recordings, and user surveys.
  • Use Google Analytics to get the numeric metrics, and Hotjar to analyze the visual aspects of your website.

Why you should use Google Analytics

Google Analytics main dashboard

Google Analytics will track practically any numeric metric you’ll need, to understand your website and its traffic. A few examples of what you can get with Google Analytics’s features:

  • Learn how you acquire customers – are they arriving organically from search, or maybe from social posts, or paid ads.
  • Measure active users, new users, and returning users to better understand who are the visitors in your website.
  • Learn about the behavior of users, the paths they take on your website, and which content keeps your users engaged.
  • Analyze the performance and behavior of users who clicked on your ad campaigns and used your website or app.
  • Track conversions and learn which users/traffic converts best and why.
  • Ask questions about any type of metric, without asking data analysts to get the data for you.

Why you should use Hotjar?

Hotjar is great at visuals. It can help you better understand how users are really experiencing your site, without drowning in numbers. These are the main capabilities Hotjar is offering, which are not offered by tools such as Google Analytics:

  • Heatmaps – easily understand where most users are clicking, scrolling, or moving their mouse.
  • Session recordings – view recordings of how users are you using your website or app, as if you were behind them watching their screen, while still protecting their privacy.
  • Surveys – ask your users questions and get instant replies. Help you users help you, by telling you what can be improved in your website or app.
  • Incoming feedback – collect feedback and scores such as NPS to better understand how pleased users are from your product.

What about other tools such as Mixpanel?

Google Analytics and Hotjar are very useful in tracking the numeric metrics and visual aspects of your website or web application. If you’re looking to track user behavior in large scale though, you may need to look elsewhere.

Tools such as Mixpanel and Amplitude are event-based analytics tools. Those tools will allow you to track how users behave in your website, build behavior funnels and track their retention.

Event based analytic tools can help you understand user behavior at a larger scale than tools such as Hotjar, as you’ll be able to view digested information, rather then having to look at recordings of individual users to figure out how they used your website.

Looking for a simple Google Analytics alternative?

It's not surprising that you're looking for help finding your way through Google Analytics. Over time, Google Analytics has grown to be a very useful, but at the same time very complex tool. Finding your way through hundreds of reports, filters and visualizations can become very cumbersome when all you want to do is get some very simple metrics about how your website is doing and whether you're gaining more traction to it.

With Visualime Analytics, you can get simple analytics set up within a couple of minutes. It's also privacy-first, so it doesn't use any cookies and doesn't track any of your users personal information.