Why Does Geographic Data Segmentation Matter?

Business mapping users generally import customers, prospect, patient or client addresses into a business map application for visualization and possible segmentation of their data. We’ve talked a lot about data visualization. There’s real value in seeing your customers or patients spread out across an organized business map. But what is the value in segmenting your address databases?

Divvy Up the Work

The most obvious answer for this question can be related to email or direct mail marketing. Segmenting your lists geographically creates manageable chunks of data that are more easily assigned for distribution, follow-up, and results analysis.

Think of it this way. If you’ve got a list of ten thousand names and addresses you’re probably going to divvy that up among a group of sales people or associates for follow-up. No one person is going to contact ten thousand people in a reasonable amount of time. It’s so much more manageable to hand a list of several hundred names to a sales representative and ask them to contact people and record results, then it is to overwhelm them with 5,000 names.

Geographic segmentation of lists makes sense because:

  • States, counties or zip codes are easily queried, generating quick segmented lists for work and review. Segmentation of some sort, is required for marketing tests
  • Geographic groupings may reveal commonalities across customers, patient, or prospect lists. Commonalities can help with messaging. Geographic commonalities could be: weather, sports teams, vernacular, gas prices, epidemics, product interest
  • Geographic segmentations easily incorporate Census demographic statistics, enhancing market comprehension and revealing consumer patterns
  • Travel and delivery related scheduling can be better managed and analyzed through geo-segmentation.


Another way to segment imported data is by filtering.  Sure, you can filter your data in Excel, but Excel doesn’t display those filtered results against a zip code map of the USA.

Filtering can be a good way to manage an assignment. Let’s say you’ve been instructed to reach out to every contact in a zip code list. In a business map, you can import your list, then filter by zip code. Maybe you can contact fifteen people in an hour. Filter your data by a few zip codes that approximate an hour’s worth of calls.  This limits the list on the map to just those zip codes. Do your work and color those complete records as done – use whatever symbol and color you’d like to assign.

Later you can view the map to see how much progress you’ve made and how many green dots are still left to contact.  Notes on each the contact discussion can be included in the map data.

Market Analysis & Profiling

Filtering and segmenting supports testing your marketing lists. Everyone in the marketing business knows the mantra “Test, Test, Test.”  Business mapping software provide wonderful segmentation tools that let you test markets with applied science.

For instance, based on your existing list of patients, you could establish a zip code profile for your most challenging or expensive clients. Those zip codes will include demographic characteristics that will, upon review, expose patterns. In this way, you can determine your business’ optimum and worst performing zip codes, establishing a profile by zip code. Your zip code profile establishes optimum demographic criteria for you business. Armed with this information you can look for new target areas to conduct market tests in.

Business mapping software will visually expose demographic areas of interest based on your target profile. Pick three areas and send an email or direct mail piece into each area. Analyze the results. Double check the demographics. Are there new demographic categories to consider? Glance over your data by zip code. Look for anomalies in the data and ask yourself, “Why?”

An example of geo-segmentation and area profiling is an outdoor retailer from Maine. They sought to sell products outside the state of Maine. Through testing and demographic analysis they found similar markets in northern sections of Minnesota and Wisconsin which helped to rapidly expand their retail presence across the whole USA.  Business mapping enables the construction of a demographic market or customer profile which can then be pasted across the entire country.

Zip Code Demogrphic Profile

Arrange Your Business Data

With business mapping, users can segment their address data based on their own data classifications.  Any business data you import into a business mapping software should include columns of data that can be color coded on the map.  Area color shading can be applied to numeric data like sales dollars, gross profit, or record counts. Color shading can also be applied to descriptions by type or category like customer type, product preference, or lead source.

In this way, your data can be segmented on the map view by color, symbol type or even color shaded geographic districts. You could still filter your imported data to show only certain records. For example, you could filter for only those records associated with customer type “house account.”

Filtering your imported data by your particular business classification adds value to your map analysis. In addition to geographic segmentation, zip code demographic profiles, by applying your work’s custom classifications you are leveraging information only your company has available.

You could learn that a specific demographic segment tends to purchase more of product X during the fall time-period, in this section of the USA, or through retailers. There’s a lot of business intelligence to unpack there. But you may find that by using a business map you’ve discovered new questions to ask about your business. Questions your competitors may or may not be asking yet.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives geoffives@spatialteq.com or Jason Henderson jhenderson@spatialteq.com (800) 425-9035, (207) 939-6866

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About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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