Are you using case studies to promote your business? If you’re not, it’s a good idea to consider including them in your content marketing.
Because 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, writing a solid case study can be a challenge. Many examples I see online are bland, thin, and don’t deliver the value they could.
It’s time to change that. In this article, I detail 11 actionable tips explaining how to write a case study.
Let’s get started with tip number one.
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, make case studies about your university customers. If it’s someone in the automobile industry, make your case studies about auto parts and accessories manufacturers. Whatever niche you’re in, case studies give you the perfect way to reach your target market.
The goal is to ensure that your case study shows 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.
However, when you see a post explicitly designed 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 can see the possibilities. Writing case studies also positions you as an expert in your sector, helping to boost your authority and give consumers confidence.
2. Tell the Story from Start to Finish
In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, storytelling matters. Telling a memorable story as a content writer sets you apart and positions you as the go-to expert in your industry.
Storytelling is the most powerful way to breathe life into your content and brand. It’s the art of communicating an event, project, or experience in an interesting and relatable manner.
In a nutshell, it’s about time you tap into the power of storytelling if you want your readers to really know your customers.
When you’re considering writing a case study, look at:
- 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 customers meet their goals?
Then, apply the same rules as you would with any other form of storytelling by including a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The image below shows how Nick Francis from HelpScout started his story with a strong line. You have to keep reading after such a captivating beginning.
Remember that this is the meat of your story – the main body. It must resonate with people. Here are some tips to help you achieve that:
- Use persuasive words, encouraging people to act.
- Lay out your thoughts and advice clearly by using bulleted points.
- Include interactive videos to make your story truly engaging.
- Go straight to the point; avoid needless words.
- Outline the results your existing clients and students achieved by working with you.
For inspiration on the above, look at the NP digital case study library.
Make your conclusion action-oriented. In other words, tell your prospects what to do next and how to do it.
However, don’t bore readers and potential clients after you’ve persuaded them with a high-quality expository middle.
Remember to include a course of action in every phase of your client acquisition process. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on motivated clients.
When concluding your story-based case study, you can ask simple interview questions to avoid being sales-y or pushy.
Later, you can follow up with the customer in the case study and update it to show how your clients continue to reap the benefits.
Finally, highlight emotional benefits and hard numbers. Did your solution improve morale, increase employee retention, or allow workers to focus on less tedious tasks?
This allows readers to see that your goal is to help with immediate needs and to deliver long-term results.
3. Structure Your Case Study to Persuade
Writing a case study only builds credibility if you know how to structure it. Don’t forget there are a gazillion case studies out there that no one cares about.
How do you write a case study that gets noticed above the noise? You need the power to persuade. Think Robert Collier, David Ogilvy, and Gary Halbert.
These copywriters are still talked about today, and they all know how to create persuasive copy by:
- Using emotional language to connect with an audience
- Focusing on the benefits of a product or service and not just the features
- Highlighting your audience’s pain points and positioning your product/service as the solution
- Including testimonials, or social proof as we most often refer to it today
You can apply these same steps to writing a case study that resonates with your audience. However, there are other approaches you could take, like telling the story from the perspective of a happy customer.
Case Study Outline Example
Here’s an example outline for a case study:
- Introduction: Start with a brief overview of the problem your customer faced. Include a background of the company and the product/service you used to help resolve their issues.
- The Challenge: Clearly define the challenge or issue that led to the case study. This should include the impact, scope, and duration of the problem.
- The Solution: Next, explain the solution or strategy you implemented to address the challenge. Include the unique approach, resources, and other vital details.
- The Implementation: This section should cover how your company executed the solution, including timelines, roles and responsibilities of team members, and other details about the implementation process.
- The Results: Highlight the outcomes of the strategy, including the specific impact on customer satisfaction ratings, customer retention, and other metrics. Use graphs and charts to showcase the results.
- Conclusion: Finally, conclude with a recap of the problem, the solution adopted, and the results achieved. Also, include any additional insights, learnings, and recommendations for future improvements.
- References: Include references or sources that support the case study. This ensures credibility and can help readers further understand the solution and outcomes presented in the case study. For instance, include a screenshot of the increased conversions and quotes from your client.
4. Make Your Case Study 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 excellent 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 multimedia 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 results dashboards, and even video interviews make your case study easier to read and more compelling.
- Include a clear introduction that offers context and outlines the main problem or challenges your case study covers.
- Use quotes and testimonials from customers or clients to add credibility and make the case study more relatable.
- Include a conclusion or summary that ties everything together and highlights the key takeaways.
Another way to produce case studies is with before and after images. We’ll look at an example next.
5. Provide Clear “Before and After” Examples
Fitness experts tend to use this strategy most effectively. You’ve all seen the “Before and After” example images of people who have lost a dramatic amount of weight.
When people want to lose weight or build muscle, purchasing any product or program often depends on the “before and after” images. Take a look at this example from Fit Father Project:
These case studies work well because they show what’s possible and what the program can help you achieve. There are few better ways to advertise a fitness business.
However, even as an internet marketer, you can still use the “before and after” when writing a case study.
You’ve got to understand that when prospective clients are seriously looking for the best solution or service provider to hire, they don’t want to hear or see anything except the results.
It’s not enough to highlight product features and benefits. That can help, but the real motivation usually comes from measurable results.
In your case study, you can showcase your clients’ challenges before they began using your product.
Showing the transition from before to after that product, strategy, or approach can persuade clients to hire you more than any other tactic.
I always do this when I host a live webinar or write a post, and you can do this when writing a case study, too.
6. 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?
When writing a case study, you need to be specific. Share exactly how much your increased traffic, revenue, or whatever goals matter to your customers. Put the numbers out there. Including this data makes your case study more believable and helps build trust in your brand.
Instead of saying you doubled their traffic, provide specific, accurate numbers and (if possible) actual proof through charts, graphs, or analytics data.
Remember that only some people are as familiar with analytics technology as you are, so highlight the most important pieces of data and provide context as to why it matters.
Here’s an example from Page One:
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.
7. Talk About Specific Strategies in Your Case Study
You’ve 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.”
Consider including metrics and data to support the campaign’s success, such as click-through rates, conversions, or engagement metrics. This helps to back up your claims and establish credibility with potential clients or customers.
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.
8. Test Different Content Formats
Writing a case study doesn’t have to follow the typical format. Try different types of case studies, such as video testimonials, where you have your clients answer questions about what they do, their needs, their goals, and how you met them.
Quoting your customer in their own words makes the case study even more relatable to your ideal customer than you telling the story.
Infographics, webinars, testimonials, 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 grew conversion. (Notice the results section that highlights specific gains).
9. Find the Right Competitor to Profile in Your Case Study
Who are your competitors, and what results did they achieve? Profiling your competitor in your case study analysis is a great way to show how your product works.
Not sure how to get started? Check out our step-by-step guide below.
First, let’s find your competitors, in case you don’t know yet who they are.
i). First step: Go to Semrush.com. Enter your blog URL (e.g., neilpatel.com) into the search box. Then, click on the “search” button.
ii). Second step: Analyze your competitors. Scroll down through the results, and you’ll see your “Main Organic Competitors”:
iii). Third step: Research your competitors. From the list of your main organic competitors, you can pick one of them to research.
Visit their website and read a couple of posts. Look for experiments, split tests, case studies, client testimonials, interview questions, etc.
Then, leverage that data in your case study.
In the client’s mind, since a brand offers the same service or sells the same product and it worked, your own offer may also work – all things being equal.
For example, if you’re a software marketer who just started out, you probably don’t have much data or any compelling success stories yet.
However, you can profile other SaaS marketers. You could share the results that Pat Flynn’s clients got or profile Derek Halpern and his students.
Here’s a recent case study where I profiled some of my competitors. I shared how these competitors increased their email open rates.
You don’t even have to showcase data from your core competitors as part of your custom paper.
If you see a brand that’s doing great and making a real impact, you can share its journey and revenue (assuming you have access to it).
Way back in February 2016, Pat Flynn generated over $65,000. You could share a case study on your blog to inspire clients on what’s obtainable.
Your titles could be similar to these:
- Case Study: How Pat Flynn Generated Over $65,000 in February [3-Step Process]
- 7 Steps to Making Over $100,000 From Blogging [Must Read for B2B Marketers]
Is there a benefit of this case study, seeing that it’s not directly related to my blog or the results from my clients?
Well, take a look at the title again. See the underlined section. That’s what matters to any client.
When showcasing the results from competitors or other brands, find a way to provide value.
Help the reader see the possibility of getting similar or even better results. You could showcase results from competitors and use those as a benchmark for your own performance.
Showcasing competitors’ results also gives you the opportunity to create content highlighting your brand’s unique value proposition or competitive advantages. This can help to differentiate your brand from the competition and make it more appealing to potential customers or clients.
10. Appeal to Different Types of Learners
While some people enjoy reading, others may prefer audio, video, or visual representation of your case study; consider taking your text-based case studies and re-purposing the content as:
- A podcast
- A YouTube video
- An engaging infographic (Hubspot has a list of 20 to inspire you).
The bonus of YouTube videos and infographics is that they are easy to share. Your case study could go beyond your site, helping more potential customers discover the benefits of your products/services.
You could also embed your case studies into other types of content — such as an ebook, how-to blog post, or resource guide. Additionally, you might link to your case study from other posts to prove your value, mention it in a webinar, or include numbers in a presentation.
11. Make Your Case Studies Easy to Find
What’s the point of writing a case study if no one reads it? For easy discoverability, keep your case studies organized and easy to find. This means listing them on your website, optimizing them for search, and promoting them in email and social media.
Here are a few case study examples that are easy to find — and, therefore, much more powerful.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services provides case studies from multiple niches. AWS also makes it easy to look for industry-specific case studies.
AWS mixes it up with podcasts, videos, and other media types.
What AWS also does well is detail specifics, as we suggested earlier. For instance, in a case study for its client Silverblaze, AWS highlights the 66 percent reduction in annual infrastructure costs.
Drupal provides case studies right on its homepage. Users considering using the solution don’t have to look far to see how other brands are succeeding with Drupal.
Quick Checklist: 11 Steps to Create a Better Case Study
Writing 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 similar to your ideal customer so they can relate to the results.
- Tell the whole story from start to finish. That means including a beginning, middle, and end and using storytelling. Don’t just tell how you helped a week out — carry the story through and show how your product or service delivered value weeks or months down the line.
- Structure your case study to persuade.
- Make it easy to read. Your case study should be detailed, but don’t make it dissertation-level. Use clear formatting and casual language.
- Provide before and after case study examples. .
- Include numbers: Storytelling is valuable, but so is proof. Use precise numbers to prove your value.
- Get specific about strategies. If you helped a client double their traffic, discuss how you did it. Did you up their content production, increase on-page SEO, etc.
- Find the right kind of competitor to profile in your case study. Look for competitors in your niche and profile them. Detail their results and let readers know what’s possible.
- Use different formats: Case studies don’t have to be in blog form! Consider videos, infographics, webinars, or even podcasts.
- Appeal to different learners: Some people respond to different kinds 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.
Case Study FAQs
What makes a good case study?
A good case study focuses on the customer’s experience and how they benefited from using a product or service. It should be concise and evergreen, providing contextual details without being overly wordy. Rather than solely promoting the company, a case study should focus on the customer’s problem, how your product or service provided a solution, and the results your customer got.
What is the format of a case study report?
Typically, a case study details your customer’s problem, followed by the solution provided by the product or service, results, and data analysis. It also includes any limitations or challenges encountered and a conclusion with key takeaways. Case studies can come in a variety of formats from videos to infographics to text with images strategically placed throughout.
How long should a case study be?
The length varies, but they usually range from 500-1,500 words. Be sure to keep it to the point and don’t add copy just to make it longer.
What are the most important parts of a case study?
The most important parts of a case study typically include:
- The problem or challenge faced by the customer or client.
- The solution or approach provided by the product or service being studied.
- The results and data analysis of the solution or approach.
- The limitations or challenges encountered during the process.
- A conclusion or key takeaways that summarize the overall impact of the solution or approach.
Additionally, you can include a well-crafted title and executive summary that capture the reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of the case study.
Make it relatable, easy to read, and use storytelling. That’s the simplest way to build a case study.
It starts with research. Ask your customers to fill out a short form highlighting 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.
Then mix it up with different formats, ensuring you’re appealing to different learners, and apply the other tips in this article.
I bet that was easier than you thought, wasn’t it?
Keep trying different methods to find the ones that hit home with your clients, and you’ll soon be writing case studies that secure new leads.
How do you feel about building a client case study and then using them on your website? Share your thoughts below.
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