Today’s consumers are becoming less and less susceptible to the big, bold promises made by marketers.
In many cases, even the most relevant, well-crafted copy isn’t enough to drive conversions.
But it turns out that case studies can help tip the scales in your company’s favor.
What We’ll Cover:
- What is a Case Study?
- Why are Case Studies Effective?
- How to Write a Persuasive Case Study
- Examples of Compelling Case Studies
When executed correctly, a case study can be an invaluable asset to your marketing strategy.
Before we take a more in-depth look at how to write a case study, let’s first cover the basics.
What is a Case Study?
A quick “Google” search will reveal that case studies can mean different things to different industries.
However, most will agree that storytelling is an essential component.
Potential customers who may not be familiar with your brand need cues that tell them you’re trustworthy.
And while marketers are encouraged to “sell benefits, not features,” too much benefit-laden copy can actually discourage prospects who are already on the fence about making a purchase. It turns out that tooting your own horn in the absence of providing meaningful evidence can ring ineffective in today’s increasingly skeptical marketplace.
With that being said, case studies are a great way to showcase your company’s success to potential buyers and demonstrate your value.
Using data-backed metrics as a foundation, a typical case study will establish the problem your customer was facing, explain how your product helped your customer overcome that problem, and help leads see how they could experience similar results with your services.
Why are Case Studies Effective?
We know that case studies work.
In fact, according to a study commissioned by Hawkeye, 71 percent of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77 percent in the evaluation stage cited case studies as being the most effective types of content in the marketing toolbox.
The question is why do they work?
- For one, case studies help you “show, not tell.” After all, telling you I can get your company more qualified leads is one thing. But showing you how a similar business to yours received 175 percent more leads with 32 percent lower marketing costs is another.
- Prospects are seeking solutions specific to their industries and they’re eager to understand how others have achieved the results they want for themselves. A well-constructed case study cannot only help position your brand as a topical authority but allows key business decision-makers see how your solution fits their needs.
- Once completed, a case study doesn’t have to be a standalone piece of content that sits on your website collecting dust. It can easily be repurposed into various other forms of content with little-to-no effort. For example, you could launch a multi-part email campaign aimed at your prospects, create a video testimonial, or use the case study as a basis for a series of social media posts. You’ll be surprised to learn how many ways you can present the same information in different formats.
- Case studies are packed with weighty, no-fluff content, which means they’re as shareable as it gets. With so much valuable data, your prospects will undoubtedly want to share your case study across their social media platforms. After all, when you put high-quality content out there, you can expect to have your readers help you spread the word since it makes them appear informed and resourceful too.
Now let’s explore how to properly structure a case study, followed by some top marketing case study examples for you to replicate.
How to Write a Case Study
The process of writing a case study involves several moving parts. But by streamlining your workflow and following these six simple steps, you’ll be sure to get the job done.
1. Identify the main subject
When choosing the right customer for your case study, make sure the candidates in consideration are thoroughly vetted. Ideally, it should be someone with a solid understanding of your product or service who will give you the best endorsement possible—one that will translate into a powerful case study.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- How often does the customer use your product or service?
- Do they have a strong brand identity?
- Have they seen impressive positive results that would make a good story?
- Did they choose your product over a competitor’s?
- Do you know what their industry’s pain points are?
2. Get their permission to share their experience
Once you’ve decided on which customer you want to feature in your case study, it’s time to get their signoff.
To strengthen your credibility as a professional, avoid simply pulling information from their website and throwing it into your case study. You want to motivate them to tell their story and go on record with it.
They’ll be more comfortable moving forward if you send them a permission letter detailing what the data-collecting process is going to look like and what they will get out of it.
You can also ask your case study subjects to fill out a legal release form so you can freely use their information.
3. Craft thoughtful interview questions
When it comes to how to write a business case study that converts, asking thoughtful interview questions is key to ensuring that you get all the information you need to write a well-researched case study.
Remember—you want to ask enough questions to cover your bases, but not enough to overwhelm your subject. You generally want to keep it between 10 and 15.
Here are some of the heavy hitters:
- When did your team first encounter the problem?
- What solutions did you try before coming to us?
- What criteria did you have when looking for a solution?
- What tasks did our product or service simplify for you?
- How did we help you achieve your goals?
4. Schedule an interview
Everyone has a different preference when it comes to interviewing style. Some shine over the phone. Others excel face-to-face.
Keep in mind—no matter how you’re conducting your interview, make sure you have a way of documenting the interaction.
By note-taking or using a recording device, you won’t have to worry about missing any important details.
5. Use the information gathered to write your case study
Now that you’ve done all the legwork, it’s time for the fun part.
To ensure the long-term success of your case study, it needs to be laid out in a concise, yet hyper-engaging format.
No one is inclined to read huge chunks of text anymore. Instead, break the content up using headers, bulleted lists, and multimedia elements (images, videos, infographics, etc.).
Here’s a basic outline to help you get started:
- Start with an attention-grabbing title that summarizes the results achieved.
- Go into your customer’s background, or the “before” scenario. What was the flashpoint that led them to seek out your help?
- Here’s where you use facts and figures to illustrate how the outcome was achieved. Emphasize how your methods differed from the standard approach, or anything that highlights the main benefits.
- What progress has your client made since they started using your product or service? Hard data is your best friend at this stage, so you’ll want to include any key metrics to support your major points.
- A strong testimonial adds texture and credibility to your cases study and gives your customer the opportunity to tell their story in their own words.
- Call to action. This is where you nurture the relationship with your reader by asking them to contact you or request a free consultation.
6. Promote your case study
Once your case study has been approved by your customer, it’s time to get it out there for the world to see!
You can routinely share on social media, send to prospects and clients via email, as well as distribute at trade shows.
Examples of Compelling Case Studies
Taboola: The Line
Why it works: The Line’s ultimate goal was to increase the number of first-time visitors to their site. Not only do they clearly lay out the business problem that they were experiencing, but it visually sets the stage for the content marketing solution that the agency came up with. Their efforts resulted in more than 72 million impressions within three months, and an email subscriber growth of 12 percent.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Mendix
Why it works: Rapid hosted cloud app development is a relatively complex subject. But this case study breaks everything down in a way that’s easy to understand for the average consumer. All the elements are perfectly balanced as the use of images, bold fonts, and numerous headers doesn’t distract from the story. HPE also made a wise decision of providing links to additional content so readers can learn even more about the solutions the company offers.
Forge and Smith: Happy Planet
Why it works: This case study uses a unique design approach by dividing the text into three different phases, in addition to real mockups and examples from the work they did for Happy Planet. Another great feature is that the finished website hyperlink is specifically called out so that readers can see their work in action. No need to sift through the entire case study to find the hyperlink.
As a marketer, we know you already have a ton on your plate.
But case studies have proven time and time again that they have a place in your business.
Whether you’re a dentist, or a restaurant, or a consulting firm, what you do has value and a case study is a great reminder of that.
So now that you know the basics of writing a case study, it’s time to start telling a story of your own!