Why Empathy Maps Are Important?

Empathy Maps

I lost count on the number of times a teacher of mine emphasized the importance of empathy. Quite maddening, but worth it. But what is empathy? Isn’t it synonymous with sympathy? No. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. But empathy is when you feel what the other person is feeling, putting yourself in their shoes.

Sterling K. Brown aptly defines Empathy in this quote: “Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.”

I did not realize how critical empathy is until I entered the professional realms and had to interact with clients, consumers, employees, and peers; and anticipate their needs. To anticipate their needs, give them what they want or persuade them about something, I had to know what they are thinking and feeling, not what I think they are thinking or feeling. Of course, not everyone is going to sit with me and tell me in excruciating detail the inside environment of their mind, their hopes, and their fears. I will have to figure that out on my own, which is where an empathy map comes in handy.

This version of Empathy Map we have used was introduced by Dave Gray and is prevalently used in the design world, to visualize what we know about our target customer, and gain deeper insights into their attitudes and behaviors. The map also helps reveal any gap in our knowledge of the customer.

But should this important tool be used only by UX professionals? No, no matter who you are, a marketer, a designer, a manager or boss, or any other stakeholder in the business world – learning empathy is crucial. While an empathy map’s primary purpose is to capture a persona in a single picture, there are myriad of reasons why we should draw empathy maps.

Generating Ideas for Content

Determining what the reader is most interested in reading on your blog, what questions they want to be answered, what problems they are facing and their solutions.

Devising a Message for Your Audience in the Marketing Campaigns

Learning your audience’s needs, wants or demands, what is going to pique their interest, why they should buy your product or service, how to let them know you care about them. All this knowledge is going to facilitate you in crafting the right message for your audience, in order to persuade them what you want them to do.

Developing Reports

While preparing a report, whether it’s a marketing plan or a business proposal, it’s imperative that you understand what the reader wants to find in that report. The reader may be your boss, client or an investor, you will need a glimpse into their mind over what they expect.

Disseminating an Unpleasant Message

The message you have to share may not always be pleasant. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions in unfavorable circumstances and communicate that information to the stakeholders involved. How you craft that message may make a lot of difference in handling the ensuing chaos. Hence, it’s important to learn how those stakeholders think and feel before you communicated anything to them. E.g. communicating about upcoming redundancies to your employees.

How Empathy Maps Are Drawn?

There are usually five or six quadrants in the Empathy Map, with the persona surrounded by all the quadrants. Different users label the quadrants according to their requirements. Here we’ve labeled the map and defined the persona of an employee in a stressful environment, to indicate how empathy maps need not be used for consumers only.

Each quadrant specifies different aspects of a persona.

In the THINK and FEEL quadrant, we glimpse into the persona’s emotional state. Their thoughts and worries are highlighted. Ask yourself questions like what the user feels through the experience? What worries them? What makes them sad or happy?

In the SEE quadrant, we specify how the persona sees his surroundings or himself. Ask what the user sees when they look into the mirror? What they read or watch? What do they see in the marketplace?

In the SAY quadrant, we look at what the user says out loud in situations, what they say in an online review and what they say when they saw your product?

In the HEAR quadrant, we see what the user hears or chooses to hear. Which news they chose to tune out and which they listened to intently? What did they hear their friend saying?

In the PAIN quadrant, we determine the sacrifices made or the opportunity-cost the user has to make in order to achieve their goal.

In the GOALS quadrant, we determine what the user’s ultimate goal is. Which needs are they trying to satisfy? The need for security, the need to belong to a place, the need for recognition, etc.

How to Garner Information?

There are myriad tools for a marketer to gather information about their target market i.e. focus groups, surveys, experiments, interviews, etc. While these research tools can also be relevant in gathering information for a different stakeholder apart from the consumer, but may not be always feasible. The best thing you can do is listen. Listen and observe what that person is doing, their behavior, routine, habits, and complaints. Imagine yourself in their place and visualize how you would feel or react.

Empathy Maps

Author Bio

Baldwin Jackson is a vivacious writer and digital marketing consultant, involved in taking businesses a notch higher. Since I am a part of the digital marketing industry for over 6 years, I know exactly how to use creativity and analytical abilities to assist a variety of online businesses. Also, I can proudly say that I have helped different brands improve their online visibility and create great lucrative opportunities for them. Well, in my spare time when I’m not working which is not often, you will find me engrossed in playing online games– thanks to my stable and steady Spectrum Internet for giving me a lag-free gaming experience!