Case studies are an effective part of a company’s marketing portfolio. They showcase your company’s ability to solve problems, deliver your product or service and build relationships with customers – conveying all the important messages that define a happy customer experience. What’s more, they are real-life scenarios that prove you have made your customers’ lives better.
Case studies also serve an important purpose during the buyer’s journey. Your prospect is most likely already familiar with your company and may have downloaded some of your content, read one of your blogs, or interacted with you on social media. The aim of the case study is to build on this trust and convert them into a customer.
Make case study writing a monthly objective, part of your regular marketing activity. The more that you have, the more credibility you will build with your prospective buyers. Here are 10 steps to follow in order to create an effective case study.
1. Identify good case studies to write
Writing case studies requires time and budget. This is why it is important to choose the right case studies from the onset, for maximum return on your marketing investment. Trust can be built by featuring big brands and recognisable industry names within the scenarios. But this alone will not win buyer conversions. You also need to secure a good anchor, something that makes the case study worth reading and compelling. Finding a strong angle will give a clear focus on the purpose of the article.
2. Collaborate with the sales team
You’ll need the expert help of your sales team to help identify and develop the best case studies. With their help you’ll be able to find the best examples of where your company has solved a problem for a customer. Cooperation is key in building strong relationships with the sales team, support staff and customer services, in order to gain the valuable background knowledge and in discovering clients that are willing to take part.
3. Communicate a clear process
Give the chosen client a quick call to explain what’s involved in the process, and how much time the subsequent interview will take, then book a convenient time in your diary. It’s worth checking if they’d like a few questions in advance to help them prepare, although be aware that during an interview, answers often spark further questions.
It’s also a good time to ask for the company logo or other imagery to use with the case study. It will help speed the process up if you gain this material as early as possible, especially if the images need to come from another department.
4. Get the case study interview booked
Coordinate the interview and arrange for an account manager to be on the call at the same time. This gives you someone on your side with expert knowledge, such as technical know-how, and ensures that no details are missed.
5. Conduct the case study interview
Make sure you record the interview – with their permission. It’s much easier to listen to what your interviewee is saying when you’re not scribbling away taking notes. Prepare ahead and build a framework of questions that will help develop the final story you write. Try and build a rapport with the interviewee to help them open up and expand on their answers, allowing you to then ask furthermore probing questions. Clever information gathering will result in more carefully considered and constructed story.
Think about how the particular product or service you are writing about has helped the interviewee on different levels. Perhaps efficiency has increased in the workplace and KPIs are up, but they also see that their staff are happier. How have you helped them be more successful in their job? This is where you’ll find a far more valuable message to convey.
6. Put it together
Case studies follow a certain structure which always goes back to ‘making an impression’. Secure a good anchor headline and outline the main benefits that the client will receive within the introductory paragraph. Often, although not particularly lengthy, these two aspects can take the longest to get right.
Next, it’s time to set the stage and give a brief background on the company, the challenges they face and the problems they are trying to solve. Tell their story, explain the solution and what problems were solved, but break it down into easy to read and digestible components. Short sentences work well. Sub-headings are another useful device.
Powerful quotes will add significant value to the case study and give the story integrity. They can also be ‘pulled out’ in the design phase to create emphasis and add a different pace to the design. Positive quotes help to support the case of the product or services you are writing about, but make sure to support your claims with real data.
7. User-friendly design
An effective design, will result in a case study that is clearly laid out and easy to read, with headings and imagery where needed, while also considering the company’s branding and editorial style guide. This will also be accompanied by a landing page located on your website, where visitors can download the case study.
8. Internal approval
Once these stages are complete the case study and landing page are checked and edited internally before being sent to the client for approval.
9. The client’s check
The client has this opportunity to check that the content is correct and that the messaging is inline with the marketing plan. Any requested changes are discussed and corrected before the case study can be published.
The task is almost complete, but for the case study to make an impact, it needs exposure. A plan of action is essential for effective promotion. After uploading the case study to the website, attention can be grabbed on social media with a number of different messages across whichever social media platforms you use. And don’t forget the power of video. Creating a video testimonial will gain more exposure faster and easier than any amount of words will ever be able to do.
Don’t stop there, keep building up a portfolio of problem-solving case studies that future customers will be keen to read. If you feel you could do with some support with interviewing or writing, we’re here to help you out. Get in touch.