Case studies are an incredibly valuable marketing tool and should make up a part of your arsenal wherever possible. They work on the part of your audience that’s somewhat disinterested in a bid to show social proof and turn them around. Case studies are a great opportunity for you to show the world how well your business works for others.
A case study should solve a problem for the client(s) that features in it. It should clearly demonstrate what their problem was and exactly how it was overcome using your product or service. For this reason, it’s necessary to interview customers during the research process. Whilst some companies do carry out case studies that don’t implicitly mention a client directly, these are not as effective as when client interviews have taken place. It’s very easy to spot a case study that’s just been fabricated without customer involvement, as it usually appears insincere and lacking in any meat.
Case studies give value to your website and to your business. They can be used in creative ways in order to boost leads and conversions. They can be placed on your website on their own page, so that there’s plenty of material to make that sale. Or they can be sent to leads personally in order to take them further down the sales funnel. According to Hubspot, they can also be made into videos to really boost engagement.
Getting Started – Planning
The first step in writing your case study is in planning and research. You need to identify those clients that are both willing to be interviewed and that your business has provided value to. You will also need to understand the purposes of the case study. For example, is it being written to promote a certain product or service and what are the aims. It could be that you’re looking to increase sales on that specific product at a set percentage. Understanding the goals will help you to write the case study up in a more focused manner.
When it comes to identifying the right customers, think about:
- How well they know your product/service – choosing customers who know what your product or service does well will help to provide a voice within the case study that clearly demonstrates the value in what you offer.
- Great results – choose customers that have had excellent results when it comes to how your product has solved a problem.
- Recognisable brand – if you have customers that are well known in your industry or area, then use them as this can increase the credibility of your case study significantly.
You should also look for customers who your company may have won from competitors to really cement the idea that your products or services are superior. Make yourself a list and pare it back until you have a couple of customers that have had a strong and successful partnership with your business.
Getting in Touch With Participants
The next step will be to contact your prospects to ask for their participation. Keep emails brief and to the point, but ensure that you communicate clearly and honestly the time that will be necessary and how you intend to conduct interviews (on the phone, email, in person).
Give participants a clear timeline for the case study being carried out and make sure that they have the authority to sign it off at the end. Getting in touch with the wrong person can hold the process up quite a lot.
Include in the mail:
- Timeline – including suggested interview and completion dates.
- Product/service details
- Information – on how the case study will be used, and why it’s being carried out.
- Contacts – should the customer need to contact anyone involved with the case study.
- Methodology – will the customer need to complete a questionnaire before the interview, time they will need to spend, where data that concerns the customer will be pulled from and so on.
Crafting Your Questions
Once you have the right customers in place, you can begin to work on questions. Here you should again consider the goals of your business and what you hope to achieve with the case study.
You should avoid asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no and craft open-ended ones instead. This allows the customer to think a little more about their answer and give you more valuable information.
For example, rather than ask if a customer found the product valuable and if it solved their problem, ask them to describe how. Wherever possible, ask for cold hard facts and data such as how using a service increased the business’s leads by #%. In the actual study, the more data that you can use, the better, as to most people, numbers don’t lie.
Try to work to a structure too with the questions, so that when it comes to the time of writing, you already have a logical flow in place.
Structure as follows:
- Introduction – include who the person is that you’re interviewing, their position in the company and an overview of what the company does.
- Present the problem – find out what the problem was that the company had and what measures they had taken previously in order to overcome it before choosing your company.
- Introduce the product/service – why did the company choose your business? How did the product solve their problem, what proof is there that it helped the company overcome a problem.
- Present the data – in the interview, ask the participant for data or another form of proof as well as quotes that you can include in the study.
Writing it Up
Once you’ve done all of the above, you should have enough information for the case study to all but write itself. Make sure that you present the study using language that resonates with your target audience.
Use the above as a skeleton structure and use the following format.
- Title – keep it short and snappy
- Executive summary – an overview of the entire case study
- About – a section about your company and the customer’s
- Challenges – a section that sets out the challenges faced by the customer and the problem that needed to be solved
- How your business helped – how you solved the customer’s problem
- Results – detailed analysis of how you solved the issue with data and customer quotes
You can and should use images and graphs and charts where applicable to further demonstrate how your company has added value for the customer. Once you’ve done all this and got the study up on your site, you can then write up promotional blog posts and schedule it on social media.