Case studies are a powerful tool to increase sales and drive conversions.
They provide real-life examples of how your brand helps customers reach their goals.
An in-depth case study highlights your successes and allows you to show rather than tell prospective customers how you can help them reach their goals.
However, creating a solid case study can be a challenge. Many of the examples I see online are boring, thin, and just don’t deliver the value they could.
It’s time to change that. Here are actionable tips to help you create a better, more effective case study.
1. Write About Someone Your Ideal Customer Will Relate To
Do you know who your ideal customer is? If it’s someone in the education industry, then make your case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, then make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers.
The goal is to ensure that your case study will show prospective customers that you are:
- comfortable in their industry
- understand their industry’s specific needs
- know how to give their industry targeted results
Think about it on a smaller level, such as when you’re reading a how-to blog post — most posts are geared toward average readers.
But when you come across a post designed specifically for your needs (such as online marketing for the healthcare industry), you are more likely to understand and apply the information.
The same is true with case studies – people who read about results in their industry will feel like the same approach will work for them.
This means you may need to create multiple case studies to connect with different target audiences.
2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish
Storytelling is a powerful marketing strategy. A great case study allows readers to really get to know the customer in the case study including:
- Who is the sample customer and what do they do?
- What were the customer’s goals?
- What were the customer’s needs?
- How did you satisfy those needs and help the customer meet their goals?
But don’t stop a month or two out. Follow up with the customer in the case study and update your case study a few months down the road to show how your solutions continue to provide long-term benefits.
Be sure to highlight emotional benefits as well as hard numbers. Did your solution improve morale, increase employee retention, or allow workers to focus on less tedious tasks?
This gives readers the opportunity to see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs but also ensure long-term results.
3. Make Your Case Study Easy to Read
No one wants to read one huge chunk of text, no matter how interesting and informative it might be. Case studies, like blog posts, should be scannable and easy to read.
Be sure to use good content formatting elements as you would with articles, blog posts, and copywriting on your website, including:
- bulleted lists
- bold or italicized text
In addition to providing great SEO value for your case studies page, these formatting elements will help your readers (especially those that like to skim) find the most important parts of your case study and understand the value you deliver.
Consider adding multi-media elements in addition to written content, such as videos, PDFs, and images to mix it up and make the content more engaging.
Images of the actual customer, dashboards of results, and even video interviews will make your case study easier to read and more compelling.
4. Include Real Numbers
Have you ever read case studies where a business states they “doubled traffic” for the customer in their case study, and wondered if that meant they went from 100 to 200 visits or 10,000 to 20,000 visits?
To create a stronger case study, use clear, direct numbers. Share exactly how much your increased traffic, revenue, or whatever goals matter to your customers. This makes your case study more believable and helps build trust in your brand.
You want your case study to be as precise as possible. Instead of saying you doubled their traffic, provide specific, accurate numbers and (if possible) real proof in the form of charts, graphs, or analytics data.
Remember that not everyone is as familiar with analytics technology as you are, so highlight the most important pieces of data and provide context as to why it matters.
This way, the reader can see where the customer began and where the customer ended up with your help.
Plus, having the picture proof can help the reader envision exactly what you might do for them, making your case study that much more powerful.
5. Talk About Specific Strategies in Your Case Study
So you doubled a website’s traffic or sales, right? How did you do it? This is where you sell your products or services simply by saying which ones you used and how they led to the desired result.
Don’t just say “our online marketing services led to these results.” Instead, say something like, ” A three-month social media campaign focusing on Facebook and YouTube and a five-month link-building campaign led to an increase in rankings and an increase in traffic from 2,000 to 15,000 per month.”
Don’t worry about giving away your secrets — the goal is to establish your brand as an industry leader and you need to show you know your stuff.
6. Test Different Content Formats
Case studies do not have to be fit into a story form every time. Try different types of case studies, such as an interview format where you have your clients answer the same questions mentioned earlier about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them.
Quoting your customer in their own words will make the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.
Infographics, webinars, and even podcasts can also be used to highlight case studies. Don’t get stuck in the same old text-only format — get creative and see what type of content your users respond to.
Here’s a case study example from Venngage that uses a brochure-style case study to highlight how Vortex was able to grow conversion. (Notice the results section that highlights specific gains.)
7. Appeal to Different Types of Learners
While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study. So consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:
- A podcast
- A YouTube video
- An engaging infographic (such as the one below)
The bonus with YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. This means that your case study may go further than just your own site, leading to more of your potential customers finding out how they could benefit from your products or services.
Case studies can also be embedded in other types of content — such as an ebook, how-to blog post, or resource guide. You might also link to your case study from other posts to prove your value, mention it in a webinar, or include numbers in a presentation.
8. Make Your Case Studies Easy to Find
What’s the point of having great case studies if no one will ever read them? Be sure that your case studies are organized and easy to find. This means listing them on your website, optimizing them for search, and promoting them in email and on social media.
Here are a few examples of good case studies that are easy to find — and therefore, much more powerful.
AWS provides case studies right on their homepage. They also make it easy to look for an industry-specific case study in manufacturing, financial services, fitness, and more.
Drupal provides case studies right in their hero image. Users considering using their solution don’t have to look far at all to see how other brands are finding success with Drupal.
Quick Checklist: 8 Steps to Create a Better Case Study
An in-depth case study helps highlight your successes and turn prospects into customers. Here’s how to make them more effective.
- Make it relatable
Highlight a customer who is similar to your ideal customer so they can relate to the results.
- Tell the whole story
Don’t just tell how you helped a week out — carry the story through and show how your product or service delivered values weeks or months down the line.
- Make it easy to read
Your case study should be detailed, but don’t make it dissertation-level. Use clear formatting and casual language.
- Include numbers
Storytelling is valuable, but so is proof. Use precise numbers to prove your value.
- Be specific
Get specific about strategies. If you helped a client double their traffic, talk about how you did it. Did you up their content production, increase on-page SEO, etc.
- Use different formats
Case studies don’t have to be in blog form! Consider videos, infographics, webinars, or even podcasts.
- Appeal to different types of learners
Not everyone responds to the same type of content. Consider including multiple elements, such as an infographic in a blog post, to appeal to all types of learners.
- Make your case studies easy to find
Highlight them on your website, optimize them, and promote them on social media.
Ready to Create More Effective Case Studies?
A great case study starts with case study research. Ask your customers to fill out a short form that highlights how you helped them reach their goals — and be sure to ask for specific results.
Explain how the case study will help them by increasing brand awareness and link opportunities. Remember, a highly effective case study helps both you and your client build trust and reach a wider audience.
Have any case study best practice tips or examples of case studies you have enjoyed? Please share them in the comments!
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