It’s not uncommon for marketers to shy away from creating case studies.
Customers are often reticent about publishing those telling numbers and details and, more importantly, revealing their secrets to competitors.
Or perhaps, like many, you underestimate the impressiveness of your results and success.
In this post, we'll address each of those challenges, but not before we touch on some of the most vital features of a case study.
Case studies can be important content marketing tools. There is ample reason for considering them as a part of your strategy. So let's dive straight in; here's how you can craft a winning and most a crucially, a converting case study.
Tell a story
Case studies enable you to analyse a situation and demonstrate the effect of your services or product through storytelling.
Stories are told to us as children to illustrate a point or teach a lesson, and they tend to stay with us through to adulthood.
The human brain is hard-wired to relate to stories. And because stories tend to follow a logical narrative structure, they're easier for the brain to process and retain. Which means stories are memorable, especially when the reader identifies with the protagonist or the challenge.
That's why it's not only what you write that deserves attention, but how you write it, too. When your case study has a story structure, it stimulates other areas of the brain compared with simple 'benefits' and 'features' copy, or the egocentric “this is why you should work with us...”
Harness the full power of storytelling by outlining each of the following within your case study:
- The customer
- The challenge
- The journey
- The discovery
- The solution
- The implementation
- The results
Position your content correctly
The buyer’s journey suggests that a potential customer is moves through the awareness stage to the consideration stage, and finally, to the decision stage. We can assist them with relevant and correctly positioned content and other offers of help or information.
A prospect will get 70-90% of the way through the buyer's journey before they are ready to speak with a sales person. And by the time they make their purchasing decision, they will have consumed around 11.4 pieces of content.
Case studies can be crucial as consideration stage content along with product comparisons, FAQs, product webinars, and data sheets.
At the consideration stage, potential customers are evaluating the options to solve their issue or challenge. A case study will help them understand how your product helped solve a similar challenge for another organisation.
Know the reader
Which of your buyer personas will this case study be targeted at?
The buyer demographic is a determining factor in how your case study is written, promoted, and which problem it will be focused on.
The aim here is to gather as much information as you can regarding the goals, challenges, values and obstacles of your chosen persona.
Is there an anti-persona involved that might push back on the sale? Identify them in your story and highlight how their objections were overcome during the process.
Go back to the drawing board here. Refresh your memory, or if you haven't already, create your buyer personas, and use these to mold your story.
Play with formatting
One of the cardinal rules of online or digital copy is that it should be easily scannable.
Tactics such as the use of white space, sub headers and bullets makes this achievable, but it’s also important to realise that people tend to pay more attention the introductory copy than any other section of your text, so try your best to sum everything up in an engaging first paragraph, giving the prospect a reason to keep on reading.
Using videos, images, and pull quotes adds visual engagement and authenticity. When the story is told or supported by your satisfied customer, prospective buyers will identify easier with the success. This also caters to readers who prefer visual content.
The ultimate goal of your content is always to convert, so don't forget to include a further conversion opportunity - perhaps a demo or a consultation. If your case study did its job well, the reader may have moved even closer to a buying decision.
Measurable results and tangible success helps the reader better understand the value of the product and what it can do for them.
It’s not enough to simply state, "they grew their customer base". Readers want specifics. They want numbers.
Remember, the person reading your content might not always be the decision-maker. They may need to persuade others. Provide them with ammunition to make a case for choosing you. This will build further trust as you will be helping them look competent and decisive.
However, as mentioned earlier, your customer might be reluctant to reveal specific numbers. In this case, you could opt for percentages to illustrate measurable results and value, without revealing too much about their metrics.
Specifics: “Grew organic traffic from 5,000 to 7,500 visitors per month”
Percentage: “Increased organic traffic by 150%”
This can be just as effective at illustrating the measurable improvement.
For your case study to be effective, it should be both valuable and compelling. Make it easy to read and easy to understand the key takeaways. Lose the jargon, but assume the reader is intelligent.
Case studies are a storytelling mechanism and proof of a job well done. They don’t simply tell the reader how great you are, they show it. Give the reader recognisable challenges and measurable results. This highlights the benefits and capabilities of you and your product.