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2022 Guide: How to Create and Leverage Case Studies (and Win More Business)

Case studies have the information people want when they search online for the stuff they need. That’s why more and more marketers are learning how to use case studies to establish the proof companies need to attract more business for their products and services.

What Is a Case Study?

We like this recent definition from MarketingProfs:

“At its best, a case study is a story … [It's] the epitome of the hero's journey, but in the realm of business rather than romance or drama. It's a nonfiction tale of a relationship, expert help, success and transformation, and a customer who in the end is thrilled with the results … it's a success story with data and metrics to back up its claims and, best of all, it contains a radiant testimonial.”

  • A case study is real-world information with something useful that you can learn from it.
  • A case study is like a friend’s recommendation you don’t have to ask for.
  • A case study is a showcase of something you can use to solve a challenge and answer your question.
  • A case study is that internet search (90% of consumers use them) combined with that customer review (82% of consumers read them) that convinces you to buy in (or learn even more).
  • A case study is the big picture of how a company succeeds in helping people reach their goals.

According to HubSpot, 13% of marketers use case studies in their content strategies. It’s the fifth most popular type of content after videos, blogs, eBooks, and infographics. And they’re a bit underutilized. Why? Because they’re quite capable of driving conversions and improving sales.

How to Create Effective Case Studies

  1. Have a production process in place.

Every great case study starts with research. When one of your projects garners great success for a client, make sure there’s an immediate way to produce a case study that highlights this milestone. Create a promotion plan for how to use the case study. Then use this process for any of the case studies that follow. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask your client how your company, product, and/or service helped them reach their goals.
  • Have them give you detailed results in a short form you can email to them. Or offer to have someone on your team (or your agency partner, like 11outof11) interview the client by telephone or in-person (remember to audio-record the conversation -or better yet- record your client on camera, so you can produce a video).
  • Make sure to also interview your internal team members who worked on the project for specific data, insight, and analysis.
  • Draft the case study in the preferred format you intend to use, first (such as a web page).
  • Have your internal team perform the initial review of the case study, then provide it to the client for review (if required).
  • Rework elements of the case study to fit all other requested case study formats (i.e., .pdf, infographic, video, blog post, etc.), then deliver them.
  1. Write for your ideal customer.

Create empathy with your ideal customers by understanding how the details of your case study story relate to their specific needs. This gives your prospects a chance to see how someone else’s success with your company, product, or service can also work for them.

  1. Tell a simple story of conflict and resolution.

The story of your case study should include a beginning, middle, and an end. In its entirety, the story leads the reader to a transformative resolution. What happened? When and where? Who needed help and why? How did you help? What was the outcome?

  1. Make the content scannable.

Utilize visual formatting elements to enhance the readability and comprehension of the case study story, such as:

  • Headlines and subheads
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Short paragraphs (no more than five lines)
  • Photos and other images
  • Graphics, dashboards, bar graphs, etc.
  • Video
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  1. Always include data and strategy.

Strengthen your proof with exact and accurate data for the improvement. Whether it’s web traffic, subscriptions, revenue, or something else, relate the data to real goals. Most important, provide content for why it matters. Share details about how you arrived at the improvement. This enables the reader to see where the case study star started their journey and how it ended with your help – and how it can work for them as well.

  1. Highlight a customer testimonial (or two).

Hearing a firsthand account of how a company, product, or service helped to improve someone’s life is marketing gold. Learning how thrilled and happy the person is with the result is like icing on the cake. Ask for a positive review. Don’t be afraid to present the good feedback in different ways, such as a full testimonial, snippet, quote, headline, and more. It helps build trust.

  1. Craft an appropriate call-to-action.

Marketing case studies are tied to the buyer’s journey and convincing prospects to take the next step. They’re great for enabling the transition from the consideration stage to the conversion stage. Give prospects the opportunity to access robust resources like how-to videos, in-depth seminars, and comparison data.

15 Quick & Easy Ways to Leverage Case Studies and Win More Business

  1. Create case studies in a downloadable format – Great for free bonuses in marketing email campaigns, as gated content to increase subscribers, and leave-behind sales one-sheets.
  2. Showcase case studies on a dedicated page on your website - Make sure to include easy-to-find page navigation from a main menu.
  3. Optimize case studies for search – just like you would a blog post.
  4. Use case study content on your website home page – Add a happy client quote that links to the full case study, create a visual call-to-action linking to your case study page, call out your desired customers with case study content that’s relevant to them, and more.
  5. Add case study content to pillar and landing pages – Couple the case study with a landing page that focuses on a topic that’s relevant to the case study success.
  6. Convert case studies into compelling blog posts – You can highlight the challenge first, then wow them with the solution.
  7. Create videos from case studies – If you haven’t recorded your client or internal team members on video, that’s okay. Consider an animated explainer video instead, with a voiceover. If you do have video, that’s great! You can produce a compelling testimonial-type video or a storytelling-type video that uses sound clips as support.
  8. Promote case studies on social media platforms – Many marketers consider case studies ideal sharing material, whether on LinkedIn (publications list and relevant LinkedIn Groups), Facebook, Twitter and others.
  9. Include case studies in segmented email marketing campaigns – Especially in lead nurture workflows to re-engage people interested in specific products and features that a case study supports.
  10. Highlight case study successes in your newsletters – As a great way to retain great clients, reward them with a feature in your newsletter. They’ll feel like they’re part of a community.
  11. Beef up email signatures with case study content – Especially great for members of your sales force to support overall company marketing efforts.
  12. Use case studies in training materials – To develop buy-in while onboarding new employees.
  13. Include case studies in evergreen presentations – To show consistent, often extraordinary success over time.
  14. Also make case studies part of lead generation content – Including eBooks, tip sheets, webinars, seminars, podcasts, and other gated content.
  15. Create SEO-friendly SlideShares based on case studies – To attract SlideShare’s 60 million-plus user audience and capture leads directly from the slides.

11outof11 Knows Content Marketing

Case studies are highly effective inbound marketing tools. If you need help with researching and writing case studies for your business, connect with 11outof11. Request a complimentary call with an 11outof11 expert. Contact us to learn more.

Topics: Marketing, Content Marketing