How to create an empathy map in 5 easy steps!

To address your audience at an emotional level is to empathize with your target persona. By creating an Empathy Map, you'll be able to plan for and create content that inspires at every touchpoint in the buyer's journey.

What is an Empathy Map?

An Empathy Map is a human-centered design tool initially created by David Gray to help design teams empathize with their end users. I’ve also found that this is a useful exercise that you, the content creator, can use to gain more in-depth insight into understanding the needs and wants of your audience to outline a transformation that makes a connection and inspires!

Empathy mapping will help you keep your user at the forefront of your mind so that you never lose connection while telling your story online.

How is empathy different from sympathy?

Many confuse empathy with sympathy. I saw this video,  Brené Brown on Empathy,  a few years back and it helped my language in communicating the difference.

How do I use this tool?

The best way to approach the exercise is with a whiteboard and post-it notes so you can quickly and effortlessly move your insights around. If you don’t have access to a whiteboard, a blank sheet of paper will do!

Creating an empathy map can help you better understand the needs and wants of your target persona.

Step one: following the example above, draw 4 quadrants labeled, and label each section with the following:

  • think/feel

  • say/do

  • see

  • hear

Step two: include a human head in the center as a reminder that you are documenting insights into the behaviors of an actual person.

Step three: add two additional sections below labeled:

  • Pain

  • gain

Step four: the order in which you work doesn’t matter. Start with the section you have the most insight on, then work your way around, using a single Post-it to capture each thought or idea.

Step five: as you work through the exercise, ask yourself the following guiding questions:

  • What do you want them to think while experiencing your content and brand story? (Experience)

  • What do you want them to feel while experiencing your content and brand story? (Connection)

  • What do you want them to say after experiencing your content and brand story? (Communication)

  • What do you want them to do after experiencing your content and brand story? (Your call to action)

  • What do you want them to see as they experience your content and brand story? (Get visual)

  • What do you want them to hear as they experience your content and brand story? (Get anecdotal)

  • What are their pain points that you wish to have your content and brand story to address? (Their problem)

  • What is the type of gain that you want your content and brand story to communicate? (Your solution)

Get creative and review all your current client interactions (such as emails, social media, blog comments, etc.) for inspiration. Include quotes from testimonials, too!

Final (optional) step: capture it. Take a photo of your work for your digital archives and refer to it often while designing your web content marketing strategy.

An emapthy map I created for a digital marketing campaign

Your answers to the questions above will be combined with your findings on the empathy map to inform your target persona!

Rest assured that there’s no right way to do this. Empathy Mapping is merely a tool to help you better cater your content and brand story to the type of person that you wish to serve. As a result, you'll be able to gauge better the kind of media (and themes) that will best resonate with your desired audience by integrating the results you offer (solutions), and what you stand for (values) to create a compelling brand story!

Kirsten, web content strategist and designer

Save time and money by creating a compelling brand optimization content strategy in alignment with your business goals and your user's needs. The Evokery is here to help you get your story out of your head and into their hearts. Curious? Then let's chat!