When done right, case studies are highly effective content marketing tools that help you build trust and a better defined identity in your local market.
If you're going to spend the time and effort to create a case study, which should involve an in-depth client interview, some high quality photograph, professional copywriting, and graphic design, then you should be trying to get every little bit of marketing impact that you can.
Here’s are some tips that we've gathered over the years that help services firms make their case studies the chef's kiss.
1) Make Sure They’re Targeted at a Specific Audience
The goal of the case study isn’t to talk about the story of your success, nor is it to tell the story of how you helped a business solve a thorny problem. The idea is to demonstrate to a specific set of buyer personas how your solution can solve their problems.
Start the case study process with some internal strategizing to identify those personas and determine where the case study will fit in with your marketing funnel.
What roles within the target company are you writing your case study for? CEOs, CFOs, CIOs each have unique concerns.
Who’s involved in the decision to buy your product or solution? How can the case study best speak to each of their interests at the same time?
2) Plan Your Interview Carefully
While it may be tempting to just leap into the case study development process, it’s always important to start case study development an interview of the client. Interviews help you discover benefits and other important details that you would have otherwise ignored.
When doing a case study interview, the goal is to inspire the client to give you all the details, along with all the personal details you need to build into a comprehensive narrative around how they engaged your firm.
That means coming up with interview questions that tease just the right information out so you can tell the story of the client’s success.
What were the challenges that led them to begin looking for a new solution?
What other solutions did they consider as they
What other vendors did they consider during the buying process? Who made the decision to go with your solution and what were the deciding factors?
3 - Try a Different Case Study Format
Most businesses structure their case study this way: A background section, then a solution section, and then a “results” section where you talked about the benefit of your solution.
There’s nothing wrong with this format, but it’s a bit predictable and could be boring. Yes, you’ll convey the information but it’s not going to set you apart from the other case studies your prospect is receiving. That is the goal, right?
Here are some other approaches you might try:
The Q&A format – Why start with an interview and then turn it in to same old thing. Why? Just edit down the interview and keep the whole thing in a Q & A format that’s informal and relatable.
Infographic case study – Have you thought about breaking the key points of your case study out into an infographic? Taking the key points and making something that looks good on social media can help extend the reach of your case study.
You may also want to try a video case study. Over the last 10 years, the use of video has increased dramatically in content marketing marketing. The reasons are simple: People tend to remember information better when it’s presented in video-visual formats, and the we all know that video is more crucial than ever to good SEO results.
Better yet, make a written, video, and infographic form of each case study, and hit all your marketing channels with customized content!
4) Offer Specific Numbers and Statistics
Case studies succeed when they’re specific. So instead of saying that you doubled the speed at which a company was able to gain actionable insights from their business data, say that you improved it by 194%, and that the accuracy of the data increased by 24% as well.
This precision makes your case study helps create a more vivid picture of how your solutions helped the client and re-focuses the reader attention, when they otherwise might zone out when presented with familiar marketing hype.
5) Include (Lots of) Images in Written Case Studies
This is an important point that lots of firms ignore when creating case studies. Your audience is serious about finding the right firm to work with, with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. You have one chance to wow them, and that
The fact is that human beings – no matter how serious – are drawn to images. Did you know that social media posts with images deliver 180% stronger engagement? Or that articles with images get 94% views than those without? Case studies benefit in just the same way.
Pictures of real people at the client or within your company
Both people from the company and the client together
Stock photography is a last resort -- actually, nope, avoid stock photography!
6) Make Sure to Include Customer Quotes
You’ve gone through the trouble of committing the man-hours to the project, make sure that you gather quotes from your clients that will help. It may mean a bit more legwork on your part – as the quote will likely need to be okayed from the client – but it’s worth it.
Need some questions that will invariably lead to a strong customer pull quote?
What was you’re your favorite part of working with (my company) to solve your problem?
“What made you choose our solution over the competitors?”
According to research from Nielsen, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer
7) Don’t Neglect Your Visual Layout
Good graphic design and layout are the keys to making my words pop. When you do commit to a case study in the written format, it’s important that all the elements to maximize your case study’s impact are in full effect.
Make it scannable Don’t confront your reader with an intimidating block of text, because they will not read it. Instead, chunk the text into the most succinct and powerful paragraphs you can and then use compelling H1, H2, H3, and H4 headlines to keep the reader’s eye moving.
Highlight key points In order to get prospects to read your whole case study, it helps to provide bulleted points somewhere at the beginning of the case study to provide a high-level overview of the case study. Rather that dissuading the reader from going further, this actually piques their curiosity and helps stimulate them to learn more.