When considering a purchase online, on Amazon for example, you are unlikely to buy a product that has a lot of negative reviews – especially if this is the same price as another product that has positive reviews. The same applies to business.
A case study that walks prospects through a story of how you helped a similar customer, is one of the best ways to show off your results and persuade potential customers to work with you.
So to help you produce effective case studies that will demonstrate your business credentials, here are a few things you should start to think about…
Consider potential objections and solutions
Before you begin creating your case studies, think of the reasons why customers would put off buying your product or service. Your case study should be carefully worded so you can eliminate any doubts a customer might have.
You also need to consider the top solutions you want to showcase to your potential customers. Does your solution save people time and money? Is your product easier to use than others? Make sure you choose your case studies with this in mind, so that you can get these points across.
Collect customer testimonials
To help you really demonstrate the success of your product or service you need to collect testimonials from your customers. These are often formatted differently to the rest of the case study text in order to catch the eye of internet browsers, who tend to skim content rather than read it thoroughly.
To help your case study seem as authentic as possible, include the name of the person, their company and their position within the company alongside their quote. You could also consider including a link to their Linkedin account. But make sure you have the person's permission before you publish this information!
Consider your target audience
Try to collect customer testimonials from the perspective of the person who made or will be making the purchasing decision. For example, if an MD is most likely to make the decision to purchase your product or service, then try to source a quote from the MD of the company featured in your case study.
Before you start writing your case studies you also need to consider the level of your target audience. If your customers won’t understand the technical jargon that your product or service involves, you need to make sure that your case study is more accessible.
Choose past clients or customers that your current target market can relate to. Is there a specific industry you would like to do more work in? Is there a certain problem that you are really good at solving? Being specific in this way will help your case studies resonate with clients in certain industries or situations.
Writing a case study: Think problem and solution
Every case study that you create will need a title that clearly outlines the results. This will catch the attention of audiences that want to achieve the same results or have the same problem.
2. Introduce the customer and their problem
Like a story, good case studies have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the introduction, you should outline who the customer was and the problem that you needed to solve. This will help the reader to identify with, and draw parallels to, the customer in your case study.
You could also perhaps include the steps that this customer took to solve the problem themselves before coming to you, including products or services they used along the way.
3. Your solution
In the next section you should begin to discuss your solution, but don’t worry about being too promotional. What did you do to help the customer overcome their challenges? If you offered a service, demonstrate how you worked alongside your customer and the good relationship that you formed.
4. The results
Finally, it is always a good idea to provide some real, hard results when concluding your case study. If you claim that your product or service ‘saves people time and money’ or is the ‘best value on the market’, this is where you will want to back up your claims with evidence. Be as specific as you can in this section and provide some numbers if this is possible. This might be savings (money or time), growth, ROI or similar.
But don’t worry if you don’t have any hard numbers to demonstrate your success – as is often the case with print campaigns – just be as specific with the results as you can. For example, the fact that your customer became a repeat customer on the back of your product or service, demonstrates the value that your work/product provided to them.
Include images or different formatting options
In our online world, time is a limited resource. So to encourage potential customers to read your case study and to keep them engaged, you need to break up the text using subheadings and images.
If you have a particular piece of data from your results that you want to draw attention to, you could show this using a graph or a visual. You could also format your quotes so that they appear in boxes, or highlight the main points of your case study using different formatting or bullet points.
Whatever you decide to include, images are a must. By providing an image of a small group of customers, your process, or the end result or product, your case study will appear more authentic, engage the reader for longer, and help the reader to better understand the case study. Also, if applicable, you should include your client’s logo – especially if it is a big name in your industry.
Make the most of your case study
To make your case studies easy to find, it is a good idea to create a web page for each project and include a link to these in the navigation bar on your website. You could also draw attention to your very best projects by featuring these on your homepage.
You should also consider sharing these case studies on social media along with a link to the complete story. In these posts, you can pick out the most compelling points of your project (for example the main statistic) to encourage people to click through and read, and you should @mention the client or customer if possible.
Another way to share your case studies is through the use of emails. If you have a case study that you think a potential client would be particularly interested in (maybe they are from the same industry or have closely worked with this business before) then consider emailing them a link to this case study after an introductory meeting or sales call.
Finally, you could produce these case studies in a print format to use in client meetings, display at conferences and hand out at industry events. You could also repurpose your case study into an infographic or video to encourage different types of people to view and engage.
Some good examples
We have used many of the techniques discussed above when designing and creating case study pages for our clients’.
For example, 2bm’s case studies are separated by the headings ‘the requirement’, ‘the challenge’ and ‘the solution’. The solution is broken down into bullet points and the customer quote is highlighted in a different format to make it stand out.
In Morecroft’s projects, the main points of the case study are highlighted in a different format to the right of the screen, including the client, location and services provided, and the client quote is in a prominent position at the bottom of the case study.
If you need more help to design or produce your case studies, we will be happy to help or advise you. Just get in touch!