Case studies are one of the most compelling content types in your arsenal for helping prospects understand the problems your company can solve and the unique approach you offer. But to convey all of this important information, you have to get the content right.
Crafting a winning case study not only means finding relevant customer stories to tell, but packaging them in a way that draws readers in and keeps them engaged. Here we give you seven tips that can help you create case studies that bring your value to life and drive results in the middle and bottom stages of your marketing funnel.
1. Find a willing customer
The first step to writing a great case study may seem obvious, but finding a willing customer isn’t always as easy as it seems. Getting a company to agree to take part and invest the time can be tough. You can improve your chances by letting customers know they’re not only helping you, they’re going to be positioned as forward-thinking whiz kids who are using the best technology in the business. Or something like that.
2. Don’t bank on a brand name
The customer you choose for your case study is important, and it’s tempting to get excited when you have a household name attached. But it isn’t uncommon for recognizable brands to request anonymity once a case study gets into the approval process. Your story needs to be compelling even when there’s no company name attached to it – and that means putting on your investigative journalist hat and unearthing an angle that can stand on its own.
3. Accentuate the positives
As marketers, sometimes our first instinct is to make “the before picture” of our case studies as dramatic as possible and paint the subject as a company rescued by your solution. That approach can backfire when the company reads the first draft and finds that it’s portrayed in a negative light. One way to avoid going overboard on negativity is to focus on opportunities rather than problems.
4. Pick a story with tangible results
Readers don’t love it when they get to the end of a case study and realize you don’t have a concrete outcome to share. This may happen because your customer doesn’t want to divulge proprietary information or because the tangible results are obscured in a sea of fluff. Either way, vague assertions about increased productivity are unsatisfying. Including the right details sometimes means digging deep and finding new ways to ask about the important benefits – or even making some correlations of your own. If you go that route, just be sure to have them validated by the customer.
5. Focus on the breadth of your solutions
Look at your current library of case studies. Are you favoring one vertical over another or telling different versions of the same story over and over? If so, it’s time to broaden out. Telling your complete story means offering case studies that cover the full range of your key use cases and vertical markets. Building them can also help you keep your content fresh and relevant.
6. Lead with the good stuff
People are busier than ever before. And while long-form content has its place, it’s a good idea to make the results of your case study easy to find with bullets, sidebars and call-outs and list them at the beginning. It may seem like you’re spoiling the ending, but making your value easy to find helps improve the likelihood that people will want to read the whole story. And even if readers simply skim the results, at least they’ll walk away with the value you can bring to their company.
7. Tell an epic story
The best case studies create a narrative with a hero, a villain, a conflict and a resolution, making them one of the most engaging content types you can create. Fight the urge to fill your case study with technical details or write about the internal workings of the deal – and instead tell a tale that draws in even the busiest of professionals.
If you keep these seven tips in mind when creating your next case study, you’ll be on your way to creating a new piece of content that engages readers, ushers them deeper into your marketing funnel and provides a springboard to your call to action.