Image from Jacopo Romei used under CC license.
Case studies are a staple for most B2B marketers. But once written, case studies can often lead a sad lonely life, rotting on some back page of a company website. A case study has three purposes: (1) to be seen and read by your potential customers; (2) to be relevant to your potential customers, and (3) to create interest in your product or solutions. Unfortunately, most case studies never get seen or read. Here are nine critical steps to consider when developing a customer case study.
- Have a plan. What is the purpose of your story? Storyboard what it looks like and understand the audience you are trying to reach.
- Sounds elementary, but many case studies don’t tell a compelling story. When was the last time you read a customer case study and could not tear yourself away? Think like an author or a movie script writer. Build a case study around a plot and characters and avoid formula and cliché. Consider cadence, tension and crescendo. Every story, even the story about how a new technology changed a customer’s business, should have a rhythm that keeps readers hooked.
- Stats. Include actual, quantifiable stats that are easily understood and appreciated by the reader. This will enhance the credibility of your case study among your potential readers and make it more relatable for would-be buyers of the same product or service.
- By now you’ve hopefully heard it a million times over—visuals make content compelling. Whether you use graphs, infographics, flowcharts, images, videos, etc., make sure your customer case study is more than “words on paper”. Do not publish a customer case study without accompanying visuals.
- There is a tendency for writers of customer case studies to want to capture everything but this is simply too much. Once you write a customer case study, be hard on yourself, and if you can’t be, ask someone to be hard on you. Edit it. Cut out the dribble and tangential information. Give the case study a singular purpose and take out any sub plots, trivia or noise. Brevity is key in case studies, but so is focus. Keep your case study content focused for impact.
- Write a headline that sticks. You only have a few seconds to capture a reader in today’s content-saturated world. Read some headlines that attract you and try to replicate the same tone and excitement level in yours.
- How is this story going to be distributed? Stories can just sit on your web site and be static—but what’s the use of that? Get your story out there. What is your plan for publishing it over social media? How will you draw readers to it? Can you use it as part of a social selling program? Can it be curated into bite-sized pieces of content that consumers—your key audience—will eat up?
- Call to action. Don’t forget who your audience is—other potential customers. So build in a call to action in your customer case study that links to whatever marketing automation platform you have so you can track interest, collect contact information and begin working that potential customer through the funnel.
- Get the buy-in of your customer. Include them in your process, invite them to co-write and edit with you rather than writing it on your own and asking for their approval. This provides you an opportunity to bond with your customer, glean authentic insights and create a more compelling case study.
Follow these nine tips to case study success!