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Case Studies: Why They Should Be More Than A Boring PDF

A case study is one of the most powerful pieces of content you can publish. Potential customers are much more likely to pull the trigger if positive results can be shown for previous customers.

In fact, case studies are among the top 6 most effective forms of content, along with research papers, infographics, reviews, videos, and blog posts. Case studies work because they give a window into the actual use of the product or service, and real opinions from a client’s point of view.

Done right, a case study comes across as genuine and inspirational, working as a lead magnet for your company. Here are some tips on how to write a white paper or case study that can have a positive impact on sales.

Involve Your Stakeholders

Because this piece will include the actual name and words of your client, the first step is to get their buy-in. Work with your account managers to find willing clients and express your appreciation for their participation. After all, a great case study is good for both you and the client, offering positive publicity for both.

The ideal clients for case studies have a certain blend of characteristics:

  • They’re relatable to your target market
  • They have a neutral to good reputation
  • They’re quotable and open to an interview
  • They’re comfortable sharing a bit of detail about their purchase publicly

Don’t worry too much about your customer saying something negative or controversial about your products and services. With careful editing, you can present a case study that is positive but honest. You are in control of the final result.

Plus, your audience is looking for real feedback. If the case study comes across as too gushingly positive, they may be inclined to mistrust it and regard it as a sales piece instead of a case study. Your goal is to deliver something that is real, trustworthy, and truly comes from the customer’s point of view.

Speak to Your Customers’ Needs

The goal of a case study is to prove that your company can follow through on its service promises. So before you interview your customer, jot down some interview questions for your customer based on the promises your company makes.

Speak directly to the needs of your case study customer, plus the overall needs of the audience at large. What pain points do they typically experience? How are these pain points addressed by your products/services?

Write open-ended questions that encourage feedback beyond “yes” and “no” answers. Ask your client at least 5 to 7 questions, because interviewees typically relax and open up more as they continue to speak. 

Here are some great questions to ask a client during a case study interview:

  • Please describe the challenges you were facing when you came across our products/services. 
  • What appealed to you about our offerings?
  • What concerns did you have?
  • What was it like to use our services, compared to the competition?
  • What’s the #1 best feature of our product/service, in your opinion?
  • How have our services improved things for you?
  • What would you tell another customer who is considering our company?

Use Creative Storytelling 

As you use your client’s feedback to start writing your case study, use creative storytelling to give potential customers something compelling to read. They don’t want a boring, dry piece of content. They’re looking for a good story.

They’ll want to know more about the customer and build a picture of them in their minds. Who is this person? Is it someone I can trust? Are they well-respected in their industry? What did they really think of this company?

The reader will also want to know about this person’s challenges, and why they sought out your services in particular. Did they have a bad experience with another provider? Were they under a tight time deadline? Your readers will be able to relate to issues like these.

Most of all, make the case study memorable and persuasive. If possible, hire a professional writer to add some creative flair to the piece.

Add Facts and Figures

When people read ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, and other web-based content, they read differently than when they read printed documents like books and mail. They scan. 

Time-pressed web readers often can’t resist scrolling through the document quickly for facts and figures. So give what they’re searching for. Add real statistics, pulled from your client’s records, and highlight them in bold numerical text. 

Instead of writing “they doubled their traffic” - which blurs into the rest of the text, say “traffic climbed from 15,000 to 30,000,” which draws the eye directly to the statistic. 

The more facts you can include, the better. Your readers want to see real proof they can rely on and discuss with other people. B2B buyers in particular need ammunition in the form of facts, so they can seek company approval to purchase from you.

Include Bonus Content

Finally, wherever possible within the case study, include proof of the claims. Add links to your client’s website. Link to online reviews where they gave additional information about their positive experience.

Visual proof is also very compelling for readers. Include a headshot photo of your client, plus photos of them using your products. If they’re willing to share a short video clip, it will further enhance the experience for the viewer.

This is also the perfect opportunity to link to “for further reading” content you produce, like product guides, ebooks, and blog posts. Guide your readers along the customer journey, using the power of content to move them from the lead stage to the conversion stage and beyond.

Let’s Create Your Next Case Study

Do you need help developing compelling case studies? Connect with 11outof11. We have a creative team that can help you deliver powerful content that has a positive impact on your bottom line.


Topics: Market Your Small Business, Content Marketing