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How to Create a Data-Driven Map

By: James Nathan

 

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You’ve likely encountered digital maps used by GPS devices and phones. Many of us have become so dependent on these maps that we wouldn’t be able to get around without them.

Maps for Business Presentations

But another important use for maps is in business presentations. They can help to illustrate or educate. In these circumstances, the maps are often less realistic and often more symbolic of their regions. For example, if you’re trying to show the countries where your company has locations or the cities, you may enlarge those areas or distort the distances between them with lines.

You can also use maps to outline territories in sales and marketing or illustrate how subway lines cross a city, where stores are located in a mall, the hiking trails in a park, or the layout of a historic battle.

After all, the primary purpose of a map is to display where things are located in relationship to one another. A map is simply a scaled and flat visual representation of a geographical area that shows topographic details, roads, and sometimes buildings. This can be useful for several reasons. Primarily, maps help you travel from one place to another. They also help you organize information.

To create your map, you might consider using free mapping software. Mapping software is a computer program that lets you map, model, query, and analyze vast quantities of data according to their location. With this software, you can create maps for a variety of purposes.

Although there are many ways to use maps, to create a map, you need data.

What Data Do You Need to Create a Map

To create a map, you will need location data. Location data is information that pinpoints an area geographically. This includes things such as:

  • street addresses
  • city, state
  • zip code
  • longitude and latitude

In some cases, you will need to combine several data points to define a specific location. For instance, it’s common for several places to have the same street name and number. Therefore, you will have to specify the city and possibly even the state to ensure you have the correct location. Essentially, the more information you can provide about a location, the more accurate your map will be.

However, depending on the purpose of your map, you may need to include additional information. For example, if you want to create a customer map, you will need to include the customer’s first and last name in addition to their location information. Likewise, if you’re plotting competitor stores’ location, you will want to include the shop’s name and perhaps some additional information like what differentiates their product from yours. As another example, if you’re creating a sales map, you may want to include information such as the customer’s name, location, amount of the sale, and the sales rep’s name.

Essentially, when you create your map, you will want to include any information that is pertinent to the purpose of the map in addition to location data.

How To Organize Your Map’s Data

In most cases, the mapping software you use will require you to upload a spreadsheet, copy and paste data, or input it manually. For best results, you will want to organize your data before you upload it.

A spreadsheet is the easiest way to organize your data. For each piece of information you want to add to your map, you should create a separate column in your spreadsheet. For instance, you should list all the first names of your customers in one column and their last names in another column. Additionally, you need to title your columns appropriately so the software program understands each column’s content.

Depending on the mapping software you’re using, there might be other criteria you need to follow regarding your data’s organization. Therefore, make sure you read all instructions carefully. You might also want to see if the program provides a template for organizing your data.

Summary

Mapping software uses specific location data and descriptive information to create maps for a variety of purposes. To create a map with mapping software, you will need to provide as much of the following information as possible:

  • street addresses
  • city, state
  • zip code
  • longitude and latitude

Additionally, you may want to include information based on the map’s purpose, such as sales data, customer details, or information on competitor products. Furthermore, you want to make sure you organize your data in a spreadsheet according to the specifications of the mapping software you’re using.

Published: April 6, 2021
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James Nathan

James Nathan is a Geek & Internet freak currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in marketing information technology. He’s a die-hard digital marketer fan who keeps track of every little happening in the SEO industry.

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