Editor’s note: Derek Roach, digital marketing specialist at Pro Pacific Pest Control, Escondido, Calif., has spearheaded his company’s use of “heat maps,” a colorful representation of data (collected from CRM software), or values that offer an easy way to digest large amounts of information in a visually appealing graph. These types of charts can be used for a variety of analyses, including where eyes tend to focus on a webpage or forecasted temperature differences on a geographical map. In the following article, Roach describes how these maps are developed and how Pro Pacific is using them.
Pro Pacific Pest Control has developed a rainbow-colored map that represents the susceptibility of obtaining an infestation for a variety of pest types (bed bugs, fleas, cockroaches, wasps, etc.) within their service area. Using Google Maps and their Fusion Tables application, the highlighted maps offer a unique visualization of vulnerability to pest problems within southern California.
The analysis was conducted by totaling all of the inquiries for each type of pest problem serviced, then categorizing into a city or Census-Designated Place (CDP). For the results, the total number of households within a specific area, provided by the United States Census Bureau, was divided by its appropriate inquiry count to produce some very advantageous maps. To avoid duplication issues, all addresses with multiple services for the same pest problem were removed.
While the project started as a fun way to share its service inquiry data to customers, it is now being used internally to influence business decisions. The idea initially stemmed from wanting to provide a helpful resource for customers to be able to identify and prepare for common pest problems in their neighborhood. Since then, the analysis has been determined to be a useful tool for business initiatives. For example, the data can be used to influence the direction of our marketing campaigns; it offers useful insight to which areas are most prone to a specific pest type. So, if wasp services show to be more prominent in San Diego, then its logical to have a push in our marketing efforts for wasps in that area.
But before all the marketing decisions are based off this type of analysis, Pro Pacific is going to include other factors in their research. We want to make sure the data is consistent and that it’s not a fluke year. We would like to eventually go a step further and find a reason for any consistencies or anomalies. Advertising cost within a given area, weather conditions, and rainfall data are all factors they would like to consider in future analyses. Comparing dataset from previous years and including these elements will allow them to be able to use the data to their advantage and make better judgment calls.
Not only can this research be used for future projections, but also serve as a way to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. The company stresses the need for accountability and this will allow them to identify and eliminate any advertising expense not working for their business. Pro Pacific will continue to refine their research to create a solid reporting tool that will allow them to make strategic decisions based on an accurate forecast.
The response on the heat maps has been positive from its current customer base and has also intrigued some universities and trade organizations as well. While the company will continue to develop its internal uses for the maps, other purposes from third-party organizations have been propositioned. A bee scientist from a southern California university exclaimed these heat maps are an “especially good chart for bee scientists doing research work.”
Given the recent decline of domestic honeybees, the analysis can be a tool for comparing domestic and feral populations. Areas with a growth or decline in both populations can be identified and further investigated to find reasoning for these correlations. A larger sample set will provide a more accurate analysis; so including other data sources and groups can help with accuracy and speculations.
For internal uses, the future goal for this heat map analysis is to include other factors that will provide defined reasons or causes for more pests in one area over the other. Merging the heat maps with data elements such as advertising spend, weather conditions, rainfall data, and related items will give a much clearer picture of what the data is representing and why.
There is definitely some potential for these types of analyses and can be very interesting to just about any audience. We plan to conduct this research more frequently and hopefully collaborate with other organizations for input and larger datasets. Our goal is to use this innovate method to not only enlighten our own company, but a whole industry as well..
To see the analysis and heat maps, visit http://www.propacificpestcontrol.com/2013/pest-control/where-were-pests-problems-in-southern-california-2013-data/