So your company’s content marketing has a strong foundation: You’ve got a blog, an email newsletter, and you’re regularly posting on social media. That is awesome — but your work isn’t over quite yet.
Another type of content you can leverage is sales collateral, or content that will help your sales team close deals with prospects. Case studies are an amazing tool in this sphere; nothing shows a prospective client how you can help them better than showing how you helped someone else with the same problem. That’s why case studies are the fifth-most popular content marketing tactic after social media, email newsletters, blogs, and website articles.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing compelling case studies that showcase your business and ultimately support your sales team.
1. Determine Who to Showcase
First, decide what you want to illustrate with your case study. Instead of setting a vague or broad goal to demonstrate “overall business success,” narrow your goal to a more specific objective. Think about the problems your customers have, and the ways you’ve helped remedy those issues.
These problems and solutions could look like a number of things:
- A client had a process that was time and effort intensive, resulting in wasted billable hours. Implementation of new technology reduced time spent on that process, increasing overall profit.
- A client had a low converting website. Creation of new gated content and forms for lead capture increased conversions and grew their email list.
- A client had a bad reputation resulting from a slow and difficult customer service experience. Implementation of a customer service management system and a new process resulted in improved customer service and a higher net promoter score.
Keep in mind your subject should be relatable to your prospective clients — in the same industry as your target market, or facing similar challenges to many of your prospects — and should have seen improvements as a result of using your product or service. A recognizable name is a bonus, as well-known brands add credibility to your own brand.
2. Compile Your Information
Before you interview your client, put together all of the information you have on your success. Look at the benchmark data you collected before you implemented your strategy. What kinds of improvements have you seen? Identify these improvements in quantitative measures. Did you reduce the cost per lead acquisition, or did you increase the average customer lifetime value? What metrics can you use to show the value you added to your client?
Think beyond new deals signed or increased profits to identify additional metrics that would show a prospective client exactly how you can deliver lasting value. Did the processes you implemented change the way that your client worked? Are new ways of working saving your client time or reducing the headache associated with a necessary workflow? All of this data can be collected and quantified, so gather as much as you can.
3. Approach Your Client
Now it’s time to approach your client and make your case. Bring the data you’ve collected so you can clearly show them the impact your work made on their business.
Be clear on exactly what you’re asking them to do, how you will use the case study, and what they’ll get out of it. Emphasize that your case study will equally promote their business and will acknowledge them as being good at what they do. Some clients will hesitate about releasing too much information about their processes or customers; in these instances, remind them they will see the case study before it goes live and have final say over it. You can also let them know that you won’t promote it without their permission.
When your client has agreed, be sure to get permission in writing. Some may go as far as to get a legal release form. Talk to your legal team to determine whether this is necessary for your company.
Having quantitative numbers is great, but they won’t make an emotional connection with your readers. Including a testimonial or impression from your client adds context to your case study. Get details on specific outcomes related to your objectives. How did your client’s internal team feel about working with your business? What are the stories they’re telling around the work you did together? Do they have any anecdotes that speak to how their business has improved?
Other questions you should ask to form a complete case study include:
- What problem were they having before working with you?
- What about your offering made them decide on your product or service to help with that problem?
- What would they tell someone else interested in giving your product or service a try?
If your client is comfortable, record an interview with them so you can easily refer back to their answers as you write your case study. You can also get their answers in writing via email, a shared document, or a digital form.
5. Create Your Case Study
This is the fun part: deciding what your case study will look like! A case study should be visually appealing — remember, you want prospective customers to feel enticed to read it. Be creative with color, logos, icons, and other design elements.
To make your case study even more engaging, consider using an alternative format like an interactive infographic. If you have an outgoing client and high-quality video shooting equipment, you can also create a video case study in addition to a written case study.
Whatever format you choose, your case study should include:
- A title that highlights the most compelling accomplishment and makes clear the impact your product or service had
- A summary of the entire story and the outcomes for the client
- An introduction to the customer or client and their industry
- The challenge the client faced before using your product or service
- The desired objectives of using your product or service
- The results achieved, with concrete data and numbers to demonstrate the impact.
- Supporting visuals to make the presentation pop; emphasize impressive figures, key quotes, and company logos
Take into consideration not only the format that you’ll use but also where your case study will be published. A case study on your website’s homepage should only be a few paragraphs long, while a case study written as a blog post or published on a dedicated case study section of your site could be much longer.
5. Make Your Case Studies More Effective
Case studies are a powerful way to show prospective clients what your company can do for them. Once you have some case studies created and published, make them even more effective by taking the following actions:
- Geo-target case studies. Show different case studies to website visitors from different states or countries.
- Pay attention to design. Include high-resolution photos of clients if possible. We’re naturally drawn to pictures of people, which is why so many website testimonials include headshots.
- Set aside your modesty. Other types of content marketing, such as blogs, have a softer touch when it comes to promoting your company, but case studies are not where you want to be humble. A case study is an opportunity to really let your company’s strengths shine, so capitalize on that.
Want More Help Writing Case Studies?
With these tips, you’re ready to write a case study that will show off the great accomplishments you and your clients have achieved together! And if you’d like to make use of this collateral but don’t have the time or resources to craft case studies yourself, reach out to RelationEdge’s Digital Marketing Services team.
We are experts in content marketing who do it all — case studies, blog posts, thought leadership articles, infographics, e-books, and more. Our content professionals will partner with you to create high-quality content that makes your unique organization stand out.
To find out how we can help you show off your strengths and connect with prospects, contact us today.