In some respects, case studies are the Rodney Dangerfield of the marketing world: they get no respect.
Case studies are considered marketing that showcases a company’s best customers. These are customers that have benefited from using a company’s product and, of course, they’re happy.
It all seems too good to be true, particularly in a world in which it has never been easier to learn what people really think about brands and products. Whether it’s social media or Websites like Quora, you can quickly uncover a product’s good and bad sides.
Nevertheless, case studies are a key part of the marketing mix. They demonstrate how customers are using a product and provide prospects with validation and social proof.
Case studies tell stories about how what you do, who you serve and how your products deliver value in tangible ways. They make it easier for a prospect to see how they could use your product to address their own needs and problems.
It explains why 82% of companies use case studies as part of their B2B content marketing programs.
So why are case studies so popular?
In a world teeming with options, making a purchase decision can be difficult.
How, for example, does a customer decide between products that look, work and cost the same? You need to demonstrate value and help a customer envision the experience of using your product.
If you embrace the concept of case studies, here are some keys to success:
Use the classic problem, solution and results format but leverage creativity, storytelling, and drama. Provide context about the challenges faced by a customer before they started to use your product.
What were their pains, frustrations, and needs? How were they trying to deal with these issues? What products or services were they using? Why weren’t they working? How did they discover your product and what made them decide it was the best option?
Then, talk about how your product met a customer’s needs. How were they able to embrace your product? Did they do it themselves or was there customization and/or training involved so the customer could get going? How long did it take for the customer to get going and see results?
Finally, talk about results. Provide tangible results about what happened from using your product. How much did sales rise? How much time did they save? How much more were they able to accomplish?
Put the spotlight on how your product meets the needs of customers in different ways.
Not every customer will use your product in the same way or for the same reasons. They could leverage different features to address different needs.
As a result, case studies should feature different types of stories. Customer “A” may have used the product to reduce expenses, while Customer “B” was more interested in driving operational efficiencies. The more scenarios that are showcased, the better the chance a prospect will see how it could meet their particular needs.
Don’t bury case studies on the “Resources” page.
Highlight case studies on blog posts, newsletters, and social media. Send cases studies to prospects as links or PDFs, and prominently feature them on Product pages.
So, how do you create case studies?
As mentioned earlier, variety is a key to good case studies. You need to reach out to different types of customers; customers using your product in different ways, long-time customers and customers who switched from a competitor.
After identifying case studies candidates, reach out to them via email or telephone. Be clear about what you’re looking to do and why you would like them to participate. As important, position case studies as a win-win scenario. You get to showcase success stories, while a customer enjoys the spotlight and earns kudos for selecting the right product.
Once a customer agrees to participate in a case study, interview them on the phone, via video or in person. Research the person being interviewed to gain insight into their interests and experience.
Write a draft version of the case study. Get feedback internally and make sure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes.
Then, send the case study to the customer for their edits and final approval. This can involve a form that documents how the case study will be used, the information to be included (e.g. logos, photos, names), and who is responsible on both sides for edits and approvals before the case study goes live.
After making edits, publish the case study and distribute it on your Website, blog, newsletter, drip email campaigns, press releases and social media. As well, ask case study participants to share it on their social media networks.
Looking for case study inspiration?
HubSpot is an example of a company that has leveraged the power of case studies. Its case studies put the spotlight on how its CRM software is delivering value for different types of customers. Most of the case studies feature eye-catching metrics.
HubSpot also does a great job of displaying case studies on its Website.
On its “Resources” page, there are small boxes featuring a logo and about 10 words that explain the results enjoyed by a company. Clicking on a box makes a pop-up appear with more details and a quote from the customer.
Then, there is an option to read the entire case study.
I work with B2B technology companies looking to generate more high-quality leads. Through strategic planning and tactical services, I help clients drive brand awareness and customer engagement.
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