Easy tools to put data on a map

Michiel Destoop
June 8, 2017
⏱ 2 min. read

‘We need to put our company on the map’ is something that can be read in a marketing plan. Let’s do that, literally. And your customers, or your competitors.

Update 05/2019: Now it's possible to embed these maps from Google My Maps and Tableau as a dashboard in Results for Projects. More info.

Where are your offices or shops? What are the blind spots? How do you combine it with the average revenue per customer, or average income per person per city? Where are your customers from? Which customers did you lose? For sure you'll gain insights for determining where to find your next shop, where to plan your next commercial action or which route to follow for your roadshow.

Have you ever put your customers geographically on a map? It's not that difficult actually. We'll show you how.


The focus of this article is on marketers and therefor not on developers or data analists. For those who aren't afraid of some code, check out https://developers.google.com/chart/.


Pin your customers

For starters, we're going to use standard functionality in Google Sheets. If you have location data, such as postal codes, you can put them on a map.

However, think about these conditions. The map display functionality has some limitations: simply dealing with a bunch of Belgian postal codes doesn't work just as easy. Google puts some Flemish cities in the Pacific Ocean. Not quite as accurate, as you would like it to be.

If you enrich that data in a second column with the name of the city and in a third column which country, then you'll be fine. But Google Sheets needs to have all that location data in one column. That means you need dig up your formula magic: CONCATENATE does the trick.

=CONCATENATE(A1;", ";B1;", ";C1)

Select your data and add a new chart. You choose the option Geo chart with markers. Then you'll see all data on a world map. It's still possible to change the settings if you want to limit the display to a certain region, but you can filter it down to one country. You can zoom in temporarily, though.

For this analysis, that's not enough. But if you're OK with that level of zoom, then you can have an insightful chart really easy and fast.

The functionality of Google Sheets can be extended, for instance with the extension Mapping Sheets. That one allows you to make a Google Map based on your data. The free version, however, is limited to the first 50 data points.

Now it only gets better, prettier and easier if you start off on Google My Maps. You upload a CSV, XLSX, KML or GPX file and you instantly get all those locations on a map. Pick your color coding and you have your insights immediately.

Standard view of customer data in Google My Maps

 

Google My Maps with color coding enabled

Deeper analysis

Would you like to see where most of your customers are? Or the customers that are most profitable? Then, we can easily recommend Tableau. For data visualization it's a great tool that allows you to offer interactive data on your site or intranet.

 

It's a bit more difficult to work with at first (definitely look at the introduction movie!), but you'll be creating stunning dashboards in no time. The have a free trial and a monthtly subscription. The time you're saving and the insights you're gaining justifies the price without any doubt.

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