Clearly understanding customer and prospect locations, behaviors, and preferences for operations, sales and marketing teams is crucial in driving better engagement and results. Choropleth maps offer an insightful visualization tool to uncover hard-to-see patterns and reveal untapped opportunities from quantitative data.
This post will define choropleth maps, explore what kinds of data they can display, and discuss their pros and cons for sales and marketing use cases.
What is a choropleth map?
A choropleth map uses geographic boundaries to plot quantifiable attributes. These geographic areas, such as ZIPs, counties, states, or other regions, are colored or patterned in proportion to a variable shown on the map.
For example, a choropleth map of the United States could color states based on average household income, with darker shades representing higher income levels. This immediate visualization makes comparisons and spotting trends effortless.
You create choropleth maps using geographic information systems (GIS). Data is assigned to a geographic layer, such as state or county boundaries. The mapping program then assigns visual values corresponding to the data values, such as color shades or heatmap intensities. It marries spatial and statistical data to reveal patterns embedded within geography.
What does a choropleth map show?
Choropleth maps visualize data that has been aggregated and is tied to predefined regions on the map. Some common examples of choropleth map applications include population density, income levels, sales figures, customer concentration, and more. In short, they empower analysts and decision-makers to comprehend patterns in their business metrics quickly.
What are choropleth maps used for?
Before we get to the advantages and limitations, let’s first answer one crucial question: what is the purpose of a choropleth map in the first place? Simply put, choropleth maps aim to visually communicate data that has a geographic component by mapping variable rates or values across an area using color gradients or shades.
Some common applications include:
- Visualizing sales performance by region to compare territories
- Market analysis and segmentation based on demographic tendencies
- Identifying underserved regions with market potential left untapped
- Territory management by optimizing workloads across high-value areas
- Campaign effectiveness analysis of response rates on the map
- Forecasting likely activity levels through indicator correlations on the choropleth
- Global insights via world choropleth maps
Choropleth maps' diversity makes them versatile storytelling tools for various strategic business objectives. Let's discuss some key advantages and disadvantages to understand their utility better.
5 Choropleth map advantages in sales and marketing
For ops, marketing and sales teams, choropleth maps unlock several compelling benefits compared to tables of numbers alone. Some of the most persuasive choropleth map advantages in sales and marketing include:
1. Easy comparison
Choropleth maps simplify scrutinizing multiple regions simultaneously at a glance. This scan-and-compare ability reveals outliers that numbers cannot. Marketers gain insights far faster through visual patterns than by wading through reams of data.
By coloring entire regions on a map, sales and marketing teams can spend more time analyzing spatial relationships between high and low-performing areas, uncovering insights that spreadsheets cannot easily show.
2. Visually striking for pattern identification
Distinct color gradients, heatmap intensities, and other visual cues jump off the page, literally coloring in trends. Unusual clusters or geographic consistencies become undeniable, sparking new hypotheses.
The eye is naturally drawn to areas of darker shades that stand out on a choropleth map in a way that raw data does not. It makes spotting anomalies or unexpected correlations instinctual, even for those without specialized analytical training.
3. Enhanced data interpretation
Seeing statistics mapped to their geographic context imbues numbers with real-world meaning. Relationships between place-based factors emerge more holistically than those involving detachment from location.
Mapping data spatially allows observable patterns to tell stories that tables of figures cannot. Overlaying a company's performance metrics gives context to third-party metrics like demographics.
4. Effective communication tool
Choropleth maps convert mountains of raw facts into a digestible visual story. They engage audiences efficiently, helping non-analysts grasp takeaways at a glance. Interactive features amplify this utility for public presentations, reporting, or team discussions.
Like no other format, choropleth maps can synthesize complex insights and nuanced relationships in a universally understandable manner, making them precious aids for everything from sales pitches to executive briefings.
5. User friendly
No GIS expertise required — choropleth maps eliminate barriers to entry for easy data access. Intuitive color schemes ensure comprehension without specialized training. Even novice users can leverage location-based intelligence from these simple, scannable graphics, especially in modern GIS software.
Choropleth map disadvantages and limitations
The advantages of choropleth maps are plentiful, but it's also essential to understand some of their inherent limitations, as no single report type will perfectly convey all insights. Here are a few limitations of choropleth maps:
1. Generalizes data
Aggregating stats to boundaries results in a loss of location-specific accuracy. However, their trade-off unveils macro trends better than dot distribution maps for quick strategic understanding.
While this level of generalization can still provide insights, in some cases, a dot distribution or pin map may preserve more granular detail than a choropleth map loses.
2. Relies on predefined boundaries
The predefined geographic partitions that define choropleths, like census tracts or county borders, may not align with natural market seams. Heat mapping, which utilizes kernel density estimation to display graduated symbols according to the density of underlying points, can offer an alternative view of concentrated activity not constrained to rigid borders.
3. Can distort values
Choropleth maps have the potential to spatially distort data values as they are aggregated to unevenly sized predefined regions. Bubble maps, where circles proportional to data values are placed on a map, can avoid this issue by accurately representing quantities rather than values influenced by boundary geometries.
Mapping solutions for businesses from eSpatial
With a cutting-edge mapping platform like eSpatial, teams can leverage the full choropleth map advantages in sales and marketing through location-based insights without barriers to entry.
Give your sales and marketing strategies an edge with data-driven location intelligence. Explore eSpatial's territory management software to begin seeing your markets with new clarity. Act now to transform latent opportunities into realized results!